Falling in love with Ljubljana: Part Two

Falling in love with Ljubljana 2
Ljubljana, nestled in Slovenia, is the capital of the small Central European country. Combining Mediterranean beauty with art nouveau and baroque styles, the city is a potpourri of worlds, all meshing together to create a picturesque and gorgeous place. With thousands of cultural events in town, plus no shortage of attractions, along with having the perfect location for day trips to the coastal cities like Piran, the Karst region and the Alps, Ljubljana is the perfect landing for those craving some nature, people and fabulous gastronomy.

Just in case the first edition about all the reasons why you should fall in love with Ljubljana and go! now!, here are more reasons you should plan to visit Ljubljana.

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Falling in love with Ljubljana: Part One

Falling in love with Ljubljana
There are few cities which render me gob-smacked quickly. In fact, there are only a few I can count which had me fall hopelessly in love at first glimpse: Madrid, Berlin and Split. And, now Ljubljana is also on the I’m-crazy-about-you list. This gorgeous, whimsical capital surrounded by the Alps to one side and the Karst region to the other, is only one of the many gems tucked into the tiny country of Slovenia.

Promise.

For starters, being in Ljubljana makes me feel like I could believe in fairy tales again, complete with the gorgeous and clear river running through the town to the castle topping the hill in the city center. I can just close my eyes and imagine snow flakes fluttering to the ground, donning an Elsa-inspired shimmery dress.

It’s that magical of a city.

Normally, I would just write about the reasons you should fall in love with Ljubljana. Today, I’m going to show you (and tell you!).

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Group tours: are they worth it?

Are group tours worth it?

I’ve been on a few group tours in my day. During this most recent little jaunt from Thailand to Europe I went on three of these outings.

The first was with Abraham Tours in Israel where we experienced Hebron and learned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The second and third were with Roundabout Tours in Slovenia where, on two separate tours, we explored the Karst region (including the magnificent Škocjan Cave) and Piran on the Adriatic, and then the other a tiny slice of the Alpine region which included the beautiful Vintgar Gorge and stops at Lakes Bled and Bohinj.

Here’s my thing about group tours: I love them. And I don’t. At the same time.

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The Medieval Škofja Loka

The medieval Skoja Loka in Slovenia
It’s hitting that magnificent Golden Hour when we arrive to Škofja Loka (Slovene for Bishop’s Meadow), a medieval city only 25 km from Ljubljana.

The day has been a long one, starting with exploring Bled Castle, then on to Vintgar Gorge, exploring Lake Bohinj and Lake Bled to soak up the storybook landscape it offers.

I barely can muster the energy to unbuckle my seatbelt, but when I see the tiny town and its castle a top the highest point, I channel what’s left of my energy to get out and look at the quaint surroundings.

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Slovenia Tourism: Discover Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj

Discover Lakes Bled and Bohinj in Slovenia
The aquamarine, clear water sparkles in the morning sun, setting off tiny glints of gold in the ripples of Lake Bled’s water against the looming Julian Alps and Karavanke ranges. From where I stand, high above the lake itself, it is truly one of the most beautiful, most spectacular places I have ever had the fortune to visit. This is Slovenia tourism at its best.

I stand above Lake Bled, a dream realized.

I’ve wanted to visit Lake Bled for years — since I was in Bosnia and heard of this gorgeous slice of nature deep in Slovenia. The talk I heard is what those enchanting fairy tales spun in our youth are made of. In the summer, Bled glistens and comes alive with cheer and color with a castle and a whimsical island, and in the cooler months, the fog and gray dip down from the Alps, cloaking the area in mystery and wonder.

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Where squatting meets art at Ljubljana’s Metelkova

Metelkova in Ljubljana

What do you get when you take away societal norms and merge like-minded individuals with art, music and an entire underground scene that can go entirely unnoticed to people should they not walk down Metelkova 3 Street in Ljubljana, the capital of the tiny Central European country of Slovenia?

Answer: Metelkova.

Located a quick walk from the center of Ljubljana,  it has created one of the hottest underground scenes in all of Europe and today is a place where youth mingle, bands perform, beers are swilled at funky bars, NGOs work and art abounds.

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Behind bars in Ljubljana: Hostel Celica review

Ljubljana Hostel Celica

You’d think sleeping inside a former military prison would be creepy. I even ask the manager of the property as she guides me down the dark, damp stairs to where solitary confinement used to be, a stone cave-like basement, if it is haunted. She chuckles and responds with a simple “no.”

In fact, other than the darkness of that solitary confinement area, Hostel Celica, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, is anything but creepy. It is perhaps the most vibrant and energetic hostel I’ve ever rested my head.

Seriously.

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Getting to Slovenia from Italy

The easy easy way to travel from Slovenia from Italy via www.dtravelsround.com
For months, I looked for easy ways to get from Trieste to Ljubljana. I searched message boards, read heaps of blog posts until I just got sick of it and decided I’d wait until I got on the ground there to figure out the easiest way to get from Italy to Slovenia. All of the information I was reading was sending me in dizzying circles and frustrations.

According to the great Google and search results, it is pretty much not easy to get to Slovenia from Italy. There are no direct trains, and while the Slovenian Tourist Board does state that one can get to Slovenia via plane, train, bus and automobile, there are no details or links directing ould-be bookers onward.

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Escape of the Week: Radovljica, Slovenia

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Dayna at Wanderlusting. Do you have an Escape of the Week you’d like to contribute? Let me know! Dtravelsround [at] gmail [dot] com. Your Escape could be the next Escape!

I expected to enjoy Slovenia.  A year ago, I looked up photos and videos of Lake Bled, the Julian Alps, and Ljubljana, excited for the ‘someday’ when I would get there.  What I did NOT expect, however, was to fall completely head over heels in love with Slovenia.  In terms of rugged beauty, medieval old towns, and that nagging sense that visitors feel — that they are walking inside of a postcard — it rivals any and all of Europe’s better known destinations.

My guidebook told me to go see nearby (and virtually unheard of) Radovljica for the bee museum, which didn’t really sound that appealing to me, but my cousin insisted I pay the town a visit.  I am so glad I did. It may not have the tourist draw that Bled and Bohinj do, but it is absolutely perfect for an afternoon of unguided strolling, people watching and getting off the beaten path a bit.

The journey to Radovljica from Bled is as valuable as visiting the town itself, especially in the autumn.  Traditional Slovenian houses, fields and forests of every color and the surrounding Alps make it a visual treat.


After peeking around a few corners, I was greeted by a restored and wonderful Old Town dating back to medieval times, locally dubbed Linhartov Trg.  Being a coffee lover, I was impressed by the sheer amount of cafes in their small town square.  On Sundays, as in most of Slovenia, this is the place where locals take a stroll to see their neighbors and
friends.


The streets are immaculately kept, as are the buildings themselves.  Every corner, it seems, is more inviting than the last.  Hanging flower baskets and small orchards are common once you venture a few blocks away from Linhartov Trg.


As with most small Slovene towns, the focal point and highlight is its beautiful, Gothic church.  The Parish Church of Saint Peter sits patiently on a hilltop overlooking the dense forest, and dates back to the 14th century.


While visitors aren’t allowed inside, they are welcome to explore the grounds, the neighboring parish and take a peek through the church doors at the incredible architecture and ceiling murals.


The best gifts Radovljica has to offer are the many incredible vistas of Mount Triglav and the surrounding Alps, the Sava River and the glimpse at everyday life that is best enjoyed away from the crowds.


Getting There: Slovenia’s biggest tourist attraction in its own right is Lake Bled which is only 5 kilometers away from Radovljica.  Buses leave from Bled’s main bus station every half hour, and return just as frequently.

Have you visited Slovenia? What city stood out the most for you?

About the Author: Dayna was raised in Washington State and studied International Studies and Global Development at the University of Idaho, where her interests led her to further explore Islam and the West and African Development.  At the tender age of five, she held up an inflatable globe from National Geographic and declared that she would conquer the world and collect whales.  She is also a seasoned singer/songwriter, hula hoop dancer, poi spinner, coffee enthusiast and avid lover of travel and useless trivia. Follow her on Twitter; Like Wanderlusting on Facebook.

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