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Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia itinerary feedback

I am trying to finalize plans for my upcoming trip in June to Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia and would love some feedback on the itinerary and timing.

I have a total of 14 nights on the ground, flying RT JFK to Vienna, prefer to use public transport but am very open to renting a car. I will be doing a mix of airbnb, B&B and hotels, staying in old town/city centers as much as possible. I love churches, history, architecture, scenery, vistas, beer.

upon landing in Vienna late afternoon, immediately leave from airport for Brataslava (via bus?) (2 nights)
Get to Brataslava around 5:00-6:00 pm, and spend the next day exploring the city.
I realize many might think two nights in Brataslava is too much, and I am open to revisiting that, but I thought since I don't get into Vienna until late in the afternoon, that first day is already shot so might as well move on. And I would like to spend a full day in Brataslava and I would like to end the trip in Vienna so that I am closer to the airport for departure. (or should I just stay one night, see as much as I can upon arrival and the following morning and head to Lake Bled mid afternoon and then spend 2 nights in Bled?) decisions!!

Leave Brataslava and get the first possible bus/train to Lake Bled (looks to be almost 5 hours?), (1 night) spend day seeing castle, island, lake; assuming Vintgar gorge isn’t possible.

Lake Bled to Ljubljana (4 nights) - is the bus the best mode?
activities and sites include exploring the city, the castle, visiting Postojna caves (are Skocjan better?)
trip to Logarska Dolina?
day trip to Piran

From Ljubljana, head to Hallstatt (1 night) - undecided what is the best plan for here. I am only planning on staying one night in Hallstatt and I would like to see the ice caves and do some light/easy hikes while up there.
RS book says to allow 5 hours round trip for this; I assume I would also have time to see do a city walk and take a boat ride? which do to first? I have been to the salt mines outside Krakow so I figured I would do the ice caves here.
but if the salt mines are a must see/not to be missed (understanding this is a personal preference) please advise

Leave Hallstatt and head to Salzburg (3 nights)
Cathedral, St Peter's church and cemetery, the fortress, Mozart birthplace and residence
Mirabell gardens and palace, Hellbrunn palace (assuming there is time).
Night time will be music concerts, and possibly the marionette theater, is that fun and a good choice?
I would like to take a side trip to Eagle's nest, is it worth it to take a day away from the city sites?

from Salzburg to Vienna (3 nights)
activities include -
Hofburg Imperial Apartments, Treasury, St Stephen's cathedral, St Peter's church, St Michael's church crypt
State Opera house, Kunsthistorisches museum, Schonbrunn palace, Freud museum

I know there is so much to see and do and I am leaving so many amazing places out, but you have to make choices and just hope you will be back another time to do everything else on your list.

thanks in advance for any feedback, suggestions!

Cheer and happy travels!
Lisa

Posted by
20797 posts

Can really only contribute to the Slovenian part of the trip.

I haven't been to Bratislava, but having two nights there since you're right off a trans-Atlantic flight does make sense to me.

I think you may be underestimating the travel time between Bratislava and Bled. You'll have to travel back through Vienna, and the Vienna-Ljubljana trip alone is around 5 hours by bus or longer by train. By the time you add the Bratislava-Vienna leg, you're talking about an all-day trek. I don't know how wedded you are to seeing Bratislava on this trip, but it appears that if you travel from Bratislava you're going to need two nights at Lake Bled. (With that much time and a very early start, I think you might be able to squeeze in Vintgar Gorge.)

It's too bad the trip to Lake Bled will probably be too long to allow you to get by with just one night there. Lake Bled is lovely, but it is not huge. You can easily walk around the entire lake (probably between 1 and 2 hours), just to give you an idea. Mind you, I didn't go up to the castle.

You can easily get to Vintgar Gorge by bus from Bled, but I don't think there are frequent departures, so you'll need to check the bus schedule and re-verify it once you get to Bled. You can even visit the gorge from Ljubljana, but that would mean extra time on the bus and possibly hanging around the Bled bus station for quite a while, waiting. Another possibility is putting together a small group of people headed to the gorge while you wait at the Bled bus station. There's often a taxi hanging around, and as of 2015 the fares were quite reasonable if split 3 or 4 ways. If you might want to do that, don't rush to buy your bus ticket!

Bus from Bled to Ljubljana is easy and reasonably frequent, but there is often a van-taxi hanging around the Bled bus station, trying to put together a group of people wanting to get back to the city. The going rate in 2015 was 7 euros per person. The bus is a pleasant-enough ride and not terribly long, but the taxi is, naturally, faster, and would be worth the few euros extra to many travelers. As with the trip to Vintgar, don't be in a rush to buy the bus ticket. The taxi may not show up too long before the bus is due to depart. Those buses are not always on time, by the way.

Ljubljana is a fun city. There are some markets on weekends, so check into those and try to manage your side-trips so you're in the city on the optimal days. The castle takes a fair amount of time to visit.

Either Postojna or Skocjan would be worthwhile. Postojna is a bit more developed, with colored lights and a little train. Skocjan is somewhat more natural; for many that's a good thing. But I think it is also a bit darker. I was 64 when I visited Skocjan, and when the guide spoke of different colors of formations, they all looked the same to me. I'm guessing you're a lot younger than I am, so that won't be an issue for you.

I believe Postojna is a bit easier to reach via public transportation, but I got to Skocjan by bus followed by some walking (perhaps one mile?). Then I got a bus back to Ljubljana right from the caves, so I guess my issue outbound was that I didn't get up early enough. Definitely check bus schedules once you're in Ljubljana to be sure you have the latest info. They probably vary by day of week. The Ljubljana tourist office is extremely well-informed and very helpful.

Ljubljana to Hallstatt seems to be at least 6-1/2 hours by train, so I think some of your Hallstatt activities will have to be pushed to the following day, making you rather late into Salzburg.

Posted by
3336 posts

Lake Bled is good for a very full day!
Walk around the lake - 2 hours
Take a boat out to the island church - 1 hour - this can be part of your lake walk-around as the launch is on the east side of the lake.
Walk up to the castle, explore, and walk back down - 90 mins - 2 hours.
Take a cab out to Vintgar Gorge, walk the gorge, cab back - 2 hours. It's very close to Lake Bled...10 minute drive at most.
If the weather is warm there is a really great swim dock on the west side of the lake - it's super modern and designed for kids and adults.
If you spend the night, most of the hotels are fairly faceless buildings with little character.
Right under the castle there is a small corner of the old city...there's a little guesthouse there called The Old Parrish House. It's nothing fancy or luxurious but it has old world character, faces the lake, is on a very old square, is updated and remodeled, and extremely comfortable. Open beam ceilings, huge rooms, great breakfast.
Bled has some amazing restaurants!

Posted by
470 posts

Logarska Dolina is well worth the effort but you'll have to go on a guided day tour to be able to see it from Ljubljana as public transport access is horrendous from the western part of Slovenia. I'd be inclined to maybe suggest some time at Lake Bohinj in addition to Lake Bled, but with all the day trips from Ljubljana I don't feel like you would do well by cutting your time there.

If you were to rent a car for the Slovenian part of the trip, though, that would open up a world of possibilities. You could do Logarska dolina on your own on one day, then do another day trip by combining of one of the caves in the morning with an afternoon in Piran, leaving you with time to visit Lake Bohinj or do a nice driving loop through the Julian Alps, over Vrsic Pass and through the Soca Valley. If you do decide on renting a car I can provide you with some scenic route suggestions for your day trips.

Posted by
1463 posts

Your itinerary is somewhat criss-cross over Austria.

To minimize travel times I would suggest to postpone Bratislava in the beginning and to take the evening flight from Vienna to Ljubljana right away. Depending how long your lay-over is, you can go from Vienna airport to the city (15 minutes train to main train station, 6 minutes subway to St. Stephen's cathedral in the very center).

After having finished Slovenia, take the direct train from Ljubljana to Salzburg (4:25 hours). After having been in Salzburg, go to Hallstatt (either by train [one change], or by bus and train [change in Bad Ischl]).

After having finished Hallstatt, go by train to Vienna for the rest of your stay. Visit Bratislva as a day trip (by train or bus, one hour ride).

Posted by
2 posts

Never been to Slovenia so I can't contribute to that portion. I did a Munich to Budapest trip with salzburg, Vienna in between. Budapest easily my favorite part (Budapest and Lisbon are the 2 most beautiful big cities I've been to in europe good historic walking tours, architecture too). with salzburg very nice too. I saw a Budapest to Venice direct flight for cheap on Wednesday Saturdays and Sundays in june. Not sure how easy it is to get from Venice airport to Ljubljana but only like 150 miles. their version of uber probably best option. I liked salzburg very much but you could easily chop a night off that. Spend your 3 nights in Budapest cut out Bratislava and just e2 nights in salzburg. I'd at least explore it if those flights fit your schedule and Venice transfer is doable. Vienna to Budapest train is under 3 hours.
Itinerary looks good though very busy. I'd look into whether you can make bled and\or halstatt long daytrips instead of overnight. Or for bled maybe just an overnight trip in the middle of Ljubljana stay where you leave most of luggage at hotel. If you're not driving that is. If you're driving then the hassle of luggage is minimal.