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I need a 3 day itinerary for Slovenia

I need some suggestions. We will be arriving in Zagreb Croatia picking a rental car up and driving to Ljubljana. We plan on staying one night in Ljubljana checking out the sites than driving to lake Bled.
We will have two nights to explore the lakes and the alps. Where is the best place to stay for seeing the main attractions. Bohinj lake, the caves, castles, gorges etc.
suggestions on must see places is welcomed. After we tour Slovenia we plan on driving to Rovinj Croatia.
What is the best route or loop to take? We are 2 adults 1 senior and two children ages 10 and 13.
Thank you
Ilana

Posted by
446 posts

Base yourselves in Ljubljana. From there you can take a day trip to Lake Bled and visit the Postojna Caves. There is also plenty to do and see in Ljubljana itself.

Posted by
346 posts

I agree about basing in Ljubljana. We stayed there for 4 nights. Did a day trip to Lake Bled that included the Vintgar Gorge. Spent another day at Postojna caves and Predjama castle. One day it rained most of the day, and we lounged around our apartment, then did some shopping. That’s another benefit to having one base: if the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can change your plans. We had planned to be at Lake Bled the day it rained. Switched it to the next day, when it was gorgeous. The drive to Bled is less than an hour, and there really isn’t much of a town there. Ljubljana is beautiful - explore the side streets under the castle. I felt like I was in a mini Paris.

Posted by
4062 posts

With such a large group, pick one base, which should be Ljubljana.

Do not underestimate the time it will take you to cross the Slovenia/Croatia border, which you are doing twice. Lines can be very long and take more than an hour.

Posted by
467 posts

Three nights really isn’t a lot of time for everything on your list. You basically have two full days and two half days at best.

Some general advice: It’s best to stop at the caves on your way to Rovinj, you won’t have time for the Soca Valley side of the Alps or Vrsic Pass, so concentrate your time on Lakes Bohinj and Bled. Base yourself in Ljubljana. It’s an hour from there to the lakes and finishing your stay in Bled will just add an hour of driving to an already long day of visiting the caves and driving to Rovinj. Also, I’m not sure exactly which castles you mean by “castles”, there are hundreds scatteres around the country in various states of (dis)repair, but if you are referring to Predjama, that one is a couple of miles from the Postojna Cave so best done when visiting the caves.

When do you plan on doing this trip? A lot will depend on the season, ie. the Vintgar Gorge will probably be closed until mid to late April. On the other hand, it’s packed in the summer, so go there very early in the day or skip it and head to Mostnica Gorge near Lake Bohinj. Also depending on the season, the cable car to Mt Vogel in Bohinj is a great way of getting into the high mountains and enjoying the views without having to hike for hours. In summer and around major holidays, prepare for lengthy queues at the Croatian border, which you will have to cross twice.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks for all the great tips.
So if we base ourselves out of Ljubljana will we be able to make day trips to Trivglav national park, Vintgar gorge, Vrsic pass etc. We definitely want to see the lake bled, Bohinj, Triglav, Bovec if possible.
We will be in Slovenia June 23-26
on the 26 we planned on driving back to Croatia through Istria.
Spend 2 nights in the Rovinj area and then drive to Zagreb
But maybe we should only spend one night in Rovinj and add an extra day to Slovenia.
Here is the total itinerary we planned
June 23 Arrive Zagreb- pick up rental car drive to Ljublijana Night 1
June 24 Julian alps Night 2
June 25 Julian alp Night #3
June 26 See one more site TBD in Slovenia and drive to Rovinj Night 4
June 27 Rovinj Pula explore Night 5
June 28 see more sites in pula drive to Zagreb Night 6
June 29 Leave Zagreb early drive to Plitvice lake Night 7
June 30 Explore Plitvice Lake drive to Split Night 8 return car in split
July 1 Split Night 9
July 2 Split maybe day tour to Mostar Night 10
July 3 ferry to Hvar Night 11
July 4 Hvar Night 12
July 5 leave Hvar ferry to Dubrovnik Night 13
July 6 Dubrovnik NIght 14
July 7 Dubrovnik Night 15
July 8 Dubrovnik Night 16
July 9 fly home early

We are flexible on the time spent in Slovenia by adding one more day and taking a day out of Rovinj. We have to be back in Zagreb on the 28 to meet other family. After reading the suggestions maybe we should only book 3 nights in Ljublijana and not book hotels for June 26 & 27. This way if we want to spend more time in Slovenia we can. And just book those 2 nights when we are there.

Posted by
4062 posts

Just skip Rovinj and Istria altogether and add that time to Slovenia. Head from Ljubljana to Zagreb. 2 nights in Istria is not worth it and you have plenty of Croatia coast time elsewhere in your itinerary. It’s a lot of effort for very little return. Plus there is nothing like Slovenian mountains/Alps in the rest of your itinerary.

Posted by
17 posts

Ok that sounds smart. Would it be best to split the time and stay a couple of nights in the alps and 2 or 3 in Ljublijana or vise versa?

Posted by
4062 posts

Honestly, it depends on what you want to do. I would pick one base. Your group is large and changing accommodations will eat up a lot of time.

Base in Ljubljana if you want to see the city, day trip to Bled/Vintgar, the caves, Predjama and the horses.

Base in the mountains (Kobarid, Bovec or Lake Bohinj) if you want hikes, Alps, waterfalls, adventure, stomach turning drives.

You can’t do both.

Posted by
1840 posts

Thanks for posting your entire itinerary. That is very helpful. I tend to think more in terms of nights than days when I'm planning. If I a am reading your itinerary correctly, your original plan is...

  • Arrive Zagreb
  • Llubljana x 1 night
  • Julian Alps x 2 nights
  • Rovinj x 1 night
  • Pula x 1 night
  • Zagreb x 1 night
  • Plitvice x 1 night
  • Split x 3 nights
  • Hvar x 2 nights
  • Dubrovnik x 4 nights
  • Depart Dubrovnik

So... you have 6 nights before arriving at Plitvice

Thought #1: All those one-night stops look a little brutal at the beginning of the trip. There is one guy on the forum who says his family loves to travel this way, but most of us would find that much packing and unpacking miserable and very costly with respect to time.

Thought #2: Is there a reason you are returning to Zagreb mid-trip? That seems like a big detour in your original plan -- it turns a 3-hour journey from Istria to Plitvice into a 5-hour journey and adds a travel day. if Zagreb is on the list of places to see, I would stay there the night your arrive in Europe and avoid back-tracking there.

Thought #3: If you decide to stay in Zagreb the first night, you have 5 nights left until Plitvice. You can do the standard US traveler "greatest hits" trek through Slovenia in 3 days (Ljubljana, Bled, Postonja/Predjama) + Croatian Istria in 2 days. As others noted, the "greatest hits" option is likely best accomplished through a single lodging locale -- Ljubljana. You could explore Ljubljana on arrival day, do a day trip to Bled/Bohinj (leave early so that you can get to Vintgar Gorge by 8 am), have a free day for a not-so-US-American destination (Velika Planina + Kamnik?), and then do a cave on the way to Istria. I would be inclined to do Pula as a day trip from Rovinj to save another day of changing lodging.

Thought #4: For caves, you have 2 choices -- the theme-parkish Postonja Cave or the "true nature" Škocjan Caves. Slovenians like nature, so all the ones with whom I talked during a 25-day trip through the western half of the country recommended the latter, which is what I did. I thought it was amazing. The scene from one of the Lords of the Rings movies where Gandolf says, "You shall not pass!" kept flashing through my head. Your choice may depend on the condition of your senior traveler.

Thought #5: You could use all 5 of the remaining days between Zagreb and Plitvice for Slovenia, which would make 2 stops in Slovenia a little more manageable. This opens up a lot of options. To narrow them down, it would be helpful for you to answer the question that Emily hints at... What do you want to get out of your time in Slovenia? Ljubljana? Mountains? Hiking? Rafting (as may be implied from another post to which you responded)? If rafting is on your list, you want to spend some time on the western side of the Julian Alps. Tourist Farm Kranj just above Drežnica (which is near Kobarid) has a couple of family rooms that would meet your family's needs and give easy access to that side of the Alps.

Posted by
17 posts

Dave thanks for all the tips. You have so many suggestions I will try to answer as best as I can lol.
So a little about us, we are not your typical American tourist. We love to travel off the beaten path experience the local life, eat street food, stay away from all-inclusive hotels, etc. A couple of years ago we spent 25 days backpacking in Thailand with our children. This trip we are taking is more of a touristy trip since my mother in law will be with us and we don't have as much time to explore.

We are meeting up with extended family (five more members) in Zagreb on the 29 of June. We aren't as interested in seeing Zagreb as we are the rest of Croatia, so I'm not leaving much time there. The first leg of our trip to Slovenia is because we want to add another Country onto our Croatia trip. We do want to try and get some easy hikes in to see the amazing sites in the alps, like the gorges. It sounds like Bhohj will be better for us than lake bled. We are now considering not driving to Rovinj and spending that time in Slovenia as Emily suggested. However, we were thinking maybe we don't book the last two nights in Slovenia leaving it open to whether we want to stay and explore more or head to Rovinj as previously planned for two nights.
Response to your thoughts
Thought #1
Yes I agree those one night stops will be brutal so we will change it up to stay longer in one place.
Thought #2 We have to get back to Zagreb to meet up with more family. So we will spend one night in Zagreb, and leave the next morning to see Plitvice lakes. That part of the itinerary will have to be 2 back to back one night stays.
Thought # 5 What we want to get out of Slovenia. Explore Ljubljana. Day trip to the lakes. Would like to see part of Triglav NP. We are interested in easy to moderate hikes, seeing Soca valley. We probably won’t do a rafting trip. I am interested in finding age appropriate adventure sports that my 10 & 13 year old would like. The 10 year old does not like zip lining and is not too adventurous, so that will probably limit our choices. We are open to more great suggestions
I think we are now leaning toward staying 5 nights in Slovenia and taking out the Istrian Peninsula. If we do that this is what we are thinking.
Day trips from Ljubljana to see the lakes, Postonja/Predjama or Škocjan Caves, or maybe Piran to see the Istrian P.
And stay in the Soca valley for some exploring and activities in this area.
Arrive Zagreb
Llubljana x 3 nights
Maybe soca x 2 nights
Zagreb x 1 night We are thinking on the drive to Zagreb from Soca we could break it up and see the SKocjan caves.
Plitvice x 1 night
Split x 3 nights
Hvar x 2 nights
Dubrovnik x 4 nights
Depart Dubrovnik
Thanks Everyone

Posted by
1840 posts

Thanks for providing the additional information. I write from the perspective of someone who started with a two-week itinerary similar to yours after Christmas last year, expanded the itinerary to 24 nights because I found so much I wanted to do, and then cut out everything except the western half of Slovenia because Slovenia looked so grand to me. If you have interest, my trip report is here.

For your consideration:

  • I'll mention the Velika Planina. I don't know if it will hold interest for you. It is home to a centuries-old summer herdsmen's settlement in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. It's the one thing in Slovenia that you may not be able to visit in the future. There were 32 herdsmen during summer 2018; there were 17 during summer 2019. The settlement will likely soon die out. It can be done as a day trip from Ljubljana. A gondola and then a chairlift whisk you up to a mountain plateau where there are really nice views of the surrounding Alps and, of course, the herdsmen's village. It's a great chance to hang out with cows, to have everyone in the family try traditional sour milk, and to eat the herdsmen's cheese. All the buildings have been built since 1945. All the prior buildings were burned by the Nazis after a US B-17 Flying Fortress crashed on the adjacent Malika Planina during WWII and the herdsmen refused to give information about what happened to the crew. The "museum" -- the oldest building on the mountain -- has a door that is reinforced by the hatch of the Flying Fortress. It was staffed this summer by a guy who spent every summer of his childhood and adolescence beginning at age 4 on the plateau. Irena Grmek is an excellent local guide who could enhance your experience here if interested.

  • Vintgar Gorge is a popular gorge with wooden walkways near Bled. It is a worthwhile activity. Most people walk out and back on the gorge's wooden pathways. To make it far better, turn it into a loop hike by walking in, hanging a right at the end of the gorge to ascend through a wooded area to St Katherine Church, go through the gate opposite the nearby pizza joint and walk through an alpine meadow with cows and great views of the valley below and Bled Castle in the distance. The path will take you back to the Vintgar Gorge parking lot.

  • As mentioned above, Mostnica Gorge provides a fine easy hike to a waterfall (and snack hut where Emily recommends the blueberry streusel and I now concur). That could be paired with the Vogel Cable Car at Bohinj for a nice day trip to Bohinj. Take the chair lift on to Orlove Glave for even better views of the surrounding mountains -- then hike back or ride back to the cable car.

  • There is the cool Motorail that can take you through the mountains (rather than over them), making for a relatively short trip from Bohinjska Bistrica to Most na Soči.

  • The Kobarid Museum is an excellent museum regarding the Soča front during WWI. You can hire a guide to give you a tour of the museum and even to guide you on a hike of the historical Kobarid trail, which includes Roman settlement ruins, Italian WWI trenches, and a very nice waterfall. Or you can do both on your own, if they are of interest.

  • I'll mention one more excellent guide. Vesna knows the Soča Valley extremely well and can offer a number of experiences there, from hiking to bee keeping. I spent a full day hiking with her plus another day doing cultural activities. I was very pleased.

Posted by
4062 posts

If you want an Istrian coastal town, then consider Piran, in Slovenia. It is gorgeous and you won’t waste time crossing the border. Is only about an hour from Ljubljana. It is nearly on par with Rovinj.

Posted by
467 posts

If Soca Valley is on your list, you will indeed need more than three nights in Slovenia, so skipping the Croatian part of Istria is a good idea as you wouldn’t be doing it justice at all.

To get something similar to an Istrian experience, consider doing a loop from Ljubljana to Triglav NP and the Soca Valley, spending the night in the valley and continuing south to Piran in the Slovenian part of Istria as Emily suggested, driving through the scenic Goriska Brda or Vipava Valley along the way, visiting the Karst region (look into the stud farm in Lipica and scenic tiny Stanjel) and the Istrian hinterland in Slovenia, places like Hrastovlje, Korte or Padna, seeing the caves and returning to Ljubljana. With five nights you could see a good amount of these sights at a normal pace and as the sightseeing areas follow one another you wouldn’t waste time on driving from one place to another.

Another option is to avoid the coastal areas altogether and instead turn north and do an ultra-Alpine itinerary, visiting Logarska dolina, Jezersko and Velika Planina in addition to Triglav NP.

Definitely don’t leave things to chance and leave two nights unbooked in late June, though. It’s the start of summer holidays in school and accommodation will be a chore to find on the go, especially with a large group. There are no chain hotels or motels in the country to fall back on should you be unable to find a place. Small hotels and B&Bs will often be your only option.

Posted by
17 posts

Guys my head is spinning with all this info. It has all helped so much. Thank you to all who replied. I might post a tentative itinerary one more time with activities, attractions, and places we will stay just to make sure it sounds good. Thank you.
Ilana

Posted by
1840 posts

I thought about mentioning the Logarska dolina. I'm glad Dejan did. It was one of my favorite places in Slovenia. And not very crowded. I took a picture similar to this one on someone else's Flicker account. It's from a stop on the Solčava Panoramic Road. I stayed at a place in the small patch of light green at the very end of the valley and had a great view of those rocky mountains from my balcony. A good website for the Logarska dolina and surrounding area is the Solčava Panoramic Road website. It includes hikes in the area under the "Where to Go" link at the top of each webpage on the site. It is definitely not on the typical US traveler's Slovenia plan.

I second Dejan's suggestion on not doing seat-of-the-pants lodging in late June.

Posted by
17 posts

Ok here is a tentative itinerary
June 23 arrive Zagreb pick up car drive to Ljubljana Night 1
June 24 explore Ljublijana Night 2
June 25 drive early to Lake Bohinj, Bled tram up to Mt Vogel. . Drive Vrsic pass to Bovec. Check in to hotel in Kobarid for 3 nights
June 26 explore soca valley (maybe do a beginner canyoning excursion)
June 27 Explore Tolmin Gorge or other day hike
June 28 Leave early drive to Zagreb. On the way to Zagreb see Skcocjan Cave or Postonja/Predjama

Thoughts or suggestions are welcome.
This is just the Slovenia part of our Itinerary
Thanks

Posted by
16567 posts

Be very careful about using a GPS or electronic mapping program to route yourself to the Skocjan Caves. There are many places is Slovenia called "Skocjan", and you could easily end up heading in completely the wrong direction. In fact, Google Maps even finds two different "Skocjan Caves". I believe the caves you want are near the town of Divaca.

Posted by
467 posts

There is only one place called Skocjan Caves but Google does indeed show two results for Skocjan Caves. Just one of the many inconsistencies of Google Maps, such as routing via closed roads, through people's driveways, through etc. Never blindly follow your GPS and never ever use Google Maps for hiking. We've had many tragedies happen in our mountains in the past couple of years where hikers would simply enter something like "Triglav Lakes" in Google Maps on their smartphones and blindly follow the walking directions.

Posted by
17 posts

Maybe it would be a good idea to get an old fashioned road map. We will definitely take precautions when using google maps for directions.

Posted by
1840 posts

I'm going to introduce one more resource... the Earth Trekkers' Slovenia website. I first ran into this family when the parents decided to take a year off work and travel around the world with their kids a few years ago; the kids made entertaining YouTube videos to document the trip. The family's time in Slovenia came after this; it may be helpful to you to see how they "did" Slovenia -- including, for example, a day at Lake Bohinj.

As for your proposed schedule...

June 25 -- Sadly, you will not be able to accomplish all of that. For example, I did Mostnica Gorge in the morning and the Vogel cable car in the afternoon. That was a full day. My opinion would be -- given your limited time -- skip Vintgar/Mostnica Gorge if you're going to hit Tolmin Gorge. I liked Tolmin Gorge better than Vintgar (Tolmin seemed more like nature to me; Vintgar seemed more like an attraction); the Earth Trekkers liked Vintgar better. I don't hold it against them.

There is a really nice hike along the Vršič Pass that multiple Slovenians recommended to me -- the path to Slemenova Špica. The initial assent is a little steep, but at the end of the out-and-back hike there are really nice views of the Slovenian and Austrian Alps. The Earth Trekkers did that hike, too, but as part of a loop.

June 27 -- Tolmin Gorge takes 3 hours at most (in fact, that's the time limit on parking!). Nearby is the very interesting Memorial Church of the Holy Spirit, built by WWI Austro-Hungarian Empire troops for their fallen comrades. A little white-knuckle driving up an old one-lane WWI supply road allows you to reach the parking area, then there's a short (20-30 minutes?), somewhat steep hike up to the church. In the PDF at the link I provided, look for "Tip for a hiking tour." This is a very easy hike that an be picked up from the parking area; it takes you through an alpine pasture and down to the Tominska River, where you can cross the river on a hand-cranked platform called a "kurukula."

Posted by
4062 posts

My comments -
I hope you won't be driving with jet lag.
June 25 is impossible. Lake Bled, you can just look at. Lake Bohinj is for hiking and exploring. The lake itself isn't really notable. It is a very long drive over the mountains/Vrsic pass.

You don't need to do Tolmin and Vintgar. I preferred Vintgar, but half of Tolmin was closed when we visited. You can't make a wrong choice, but make sure that all parts of both parks will be open before making your decision.

Neither of the cave systems are on the way from Ljubljana to Zagreb. You'll do a lot of back tracking.
You are trying to do too much and you just need to cut some things or give Slovenia several more days.

Posted by
467 posts

They’ll be driving from the Soca Valley to Zagreb and the caves are indeed along the way.

I agree with Dave and Emily about June 25, though. Impossible and a public holiday to boot, so Bohinj will be packed. There’s no need to visit all of the gorges. Just pick one and skip the rest. As I’ve said before, Vintgar will be packed at that time so maybe give yourself some breathing room on June 25 and opt for Tolmin or do the lakes over two days.