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Need advice on transportation from Rome to Ljubljana

Hi
My husband and I are going to be in Greece and Rome in April 2018 on an organized trip. Afterwards we plan on leaving Rome for a few days and go to Ljubljana. We have never been to Slovenia and have 3 days to explore and hopefully find some of his family roots. Our question. The best way to get from Rome to Ljubljana is it by train? The plane seems very pricy and long!! What town in Italy would we take a train to in order to cross over into Slovenia? With such limited time would renting a car be a better way to go once we arrive in Slovenia? Thank you for your help with this.
Best Regards, Pam

Posted by
4878 posts

What a shame you have only three days for Slovenia including getting there. Where are you departing from after Ljubljana? Do you have to get back to Rome? If you are flying out of Italy, then renting a car in Rome and driving all the way might make sense, then return the car as you fly out of Italy (from say Venice?) Obviously you can fly out of Ljubljana directly.

The best train option is Rome to Trieste, then take a bus from there to Ljubljana. If you want to save time, there is a night train from Rome to Trieste; get Trieste in the morning, and take the first bus to Ljubljana. I've never taken a night train - doesn't look like my cup of tea, but if I had limited time as you do, I'd consider it.

Posted by
10 posts

Andrew
Thank you your information is a big help in our planning. We will have to return to Rome, Italy to fly back to the States. We will have 3 full days in Slovenia so I will read the other posts to find out the best area to spend our limited time. Looking forward to the trip.

Posted by
4878 posts

Ljubljana is lovely - I'd just spend your three days there. You can take a day trip to Lake Bled - maybe not so exciting in April, but it's still worth checking out. You don't need a car in Ljubljana, but if you drive up there from Rome you can take some pretty drives. Between Bled and Ljubljana, stop in the town of Skofja Loka, and do the scenic drive from there to Bled through the mountains via Jamnik and Kropa, not the fast route via the freeway. Really lovely!

If you drive an Italian rental car into Slovenia, MAKE SURE you buy a vignette driving sticker at the border! You need the vignette to drive on Slovenian highways, otherwise you risk a steep fine!!!

Posted by
5525 posts

You're right about long flights . . . it looks like many of them connect thru one or more other airports (Amsterdam, Brussels, etc.), making for a long overall journey and less time in Slovenia. Plus, factoring in the time you need to arrive early to check in, go thru security, etc. just adds to that time. On the other hand, if you're flying out of Rome in the end anyway, maybe you might consider going to Ljubljana by land, but coming back to Rome by air, assuming you can find a flight that allows for a reasonable route, price, and time of day. On a trip 5 years ago, we had to leave Rome very early in the morning, so we stayed at the Hilton right at Fiumicino Airport, which worked really well for us.

A dozen years ago, we rented a car in Venice and drove to Slovenia (then on into Croatia), eventually returning the car in Venice. Driving was easy and convenient, but we had more than 3 days, and we started in Venice, without having to get across Italy from Rome in the first place. Also, I don't think we had a vignette on our Italian rental car, so either that policy wasn't in effect back in 2005, or we just lucked out and didn't get fined.

Posted by
4878 posts

Cyn:

Also, I don't think we had a vignette on our Italian rental car, so either that policy wasn't in effect back in 2005, or we just lucked out and didn't get fined.

Right - that policy wasn't in effect until 2008 when the vignette was introduced in Slovenia.

Posted by
470 posts

Rome to Ljubljana is a large distance, around 500 miles and high-speed trains cover only a portion of the trip. With such a short stay, the absolutely fastest (and often cheapest) way to get from Rome to Ljubljana is to fly to Trieste. Alitalia and Ryanair have regular direct flights on the route, one from Fiumicino and the other from Ciampino. Trieste Airport is 15 miles from the Slovenian border and less than 90 minutes from Ljubljana by car, so just rent a car at the airport.

As Andrew noted, make sure to buy a vignette for Slovenia, the shortest duration is 7 days and costs €15. If you cross the border on the highway, there will be a service area with a gas station a couple hundred feet after you cross into Slovenia. You can buy a vignette there, or earlier while still in Italy.

Regarding finding family roots, have you done any prior research? Do you know which area the family comes from or have the village name? Three days is a very short time, so it's best to research as much as you can in advance.

Posted by
10 posts

Great Information thank you! Since our stay is so short we were wondering about a possible tour availability while in Ljubljana and surrounding towns. Or, is it simpler to just hop on the train and explore? When we leave to return home we decided to fly out of Ljubljana instead of returning to Rome.
Thank You...Pam

Posted by
4878 posts

Slovenia has a good bus system, but their train network isn't quite as extensive. You can get most places by bus e..g. getting from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, probably the country's biggest tourist destination. But you really don't need to take a tour - it's easy to get around. Ljubljana itself is small, very walkable, and easy to explore on your own. You would probably see more with a tour than doing it yourself by bus- small towns, countryside, etc. Just depends what you really want to see in the time that you have. If you take a tour, you don't have to do any planning.

An easy self-guided day trip would be: bus (or train) from Ljubljana to the town of Radovljica, cute little town with a tiny bee keeping museum. Give in an hour or two, then take the bus on to Bled. Take a shuttle up to Vintgar Gorge and hike an hour or so to a beautiful waterfall at the end, then hike back, take a shuttle back to Bled. Or just spend the day around the lake (which is a developed tourist resort), see the castle, etc. The lake is beautiful with the church out on the island, but the town of Bled is nothing special (Radovljica is nicer). Then take the bus directly back to Ljubljana.

It's really easy to rent a car too even if just for a day - driving in Slovenia itself is a piece of cake. But you should probably make sure you have an international driving permit (IDP) to drive there; some say you don't need one but others do, so best to be on the safe side. IDPs can be bought from AAA in the US (if that's where you live) for about $20 USD and are good for a year.

Posted by
4645 posts

A car is the best and most efficient way around Slovenia. The roads are excellent.

Posted by
10 posts

HI
This information is great. I really appreciate it. My husband is not too excited about renting a car and driving in a foreign country so if we fly into Trieste Italy from Rome are there buses available to take us into SLovenia probably Ljubljana?
Pam

Posted by
470 posts

Flying into Trieste Airport, the quickest way to reach Ljubljana is to book a shuttle transfer, Go Opti is a major provider.

While not direct, there are buses to Ljubljana with a stopover in Trieste. There were some press releases by the Slovenian and Italian railway companies of a new direct train connection between Ljubljana, Trieste, Trieste Airport and Venice being introduced in 2018, but don't count on it until it is officially confirmed (or not) with the 2018 timetable release in December. A shuttle transfer is probably the best option at this point.

By the way, if you'd like to explore your husband's family roots in Slovenia, it will be a difficult if not impossible task without a car. While some people did emigrate from the larger towns, most came from small remote villages. Although these are nowadays easily reached by car, they generally have poor bus connections.

Posted by
4878 posts

Wow - a direct train from Venice to Ljubljana would be both a blessing and a curse. I fear i would turn Ljubljana into a big tourist trap if the mobs of tourists in Venice could get to Ljubljana so easily.

Just completing a direct train connection from Villa Opicina to Trieste Centrale would help a lot: at least people could make the trip by train with only one connection, but that might still deter too many tourists from making an easy trip.

Posted by
470 posts

Don’t worry Andrew, even if it is a direct connection it will take over 4 hours to complete the journey between Venice and Ljubljana, thanks in no small part to the detour to Trieste.

That said, poor connections haven’t stopped tourists so far - Flixbus has already turned out to be quite the curse by bringing in buses full of tourists, often at ungodly hours. Students returning home from nights out in Ljubljana report seeing lost souls with bags on the sidewalk in front of the train station, no doubt waiting for their 3am Flixbus to Milan.

There’s no escaping it - we’re being discovered. I do fear Ljubljana may turn into a tourist trap in the summer months when locals go on vacation, which would be a bit absurd given just how few of the city’s inhabitants live off it. Luckily, we far outnumber visitors during the rest of the year.

Posted by
10 posts

Again, we appreciate the input, What hotels are the best for location in Ljubljana? If we spend one night in Bled is there a particular hotel that you would recommend? Thanks,...Pam

Posted by
4878 posts

Dejan can probably recommend specific places in Bled. I did a day trip up there in May but haven't spent a night there since 2011.

Ljubljana is a compact walking town with several pedestrian-only areas. Anywhere relatively close to Prešeren Square (triple bridge, Franciscan Church) which is about the center of town, you'll be fine. It gets more complicated if you have a car in Ljubljana because of the pedestrian areas, but there are big parking lots around the edges of the pedestrian areas. It's small enough of a town that it doesn't really matter greatly where you stay as long as you are relatively close to the center. Visit the website booking.com and use the map feature to look for places to stay, relatively close to Prešeren Square.

Last time, I stayed near the Dragon Bridge at a hostel-type place, but I was just being frugal. The best place I've stayed in Ljubljana is the Grand Hotel Union, a fairly pricey place a block from Prešeren Square. Not only was the location perfect, but I had breathtaking views of Ljubljana from my room. Sometimes the hotel is lightly booked and they offer a cheap rate at the last minute, which is the only reason I stayed there. For a splurge I would recommend it.

Lake Bled is beautiful, though it is a developed tourist resort, not a pristine natural area. I didn't think much of the town of Bled itself, though it is a convenient place to spend a night. I think I'd prefer nearby Radovljica, a little town with some old-world charm, which Bled kind of lacks. It's really not a mistake to day trip to Lake Bled and spend all your nights in Ljubljana, either.

Posted by
470 posts

I rarely spent the night in Bled, but over the years there have been a couple occasions and the hotel I enjoyed the most was the Lovec Hotel. It has a central location, the architecture is nice and the service was good. It was a while ago and there are plenty of quality properties in Bled, so don't feel too bound to book that one. Another interesting hotel, although one where I haven't spent the night, is the Vila Bled. It's in a park overlooking the lake and was once the summer residence for the communist elite. It's from the 50's and it hasn't changed much since, it's a luxury hotel with "tastefully dated" decor.

The best hotels for location in Ljubljana are probably the Grand Hotel Union and the Slon, although the latter has small rooms. To be fair, any hotel between the castle and Tivoli Park will do, it's such a compact and walkable city centre that it really does not make much of a difference.

Posted by
10 posts

Is it a doable trip from Ljubljana to Metika Austria in one day? In doing some research I have found it to be about 100 miles as far as the crow flies (or by air). But, by land unsure if it can be accomplished in a day trip and back to Ljubljana.
Pam

Posted by
4878 posts

No idea - try Rome2Rio, or if you are going to drive, just check Google Maps for driving directions.

Posted by
20838 posts

I tried to check that for you on ViaMichelin, but it doesn't recognize Metika. Is there possibly a typo there? I'm not very familiar with Austria and cannot guess where you are trying to go.

Posted by
470 posts

Do you mean Metlika in Slovenia by any chance? I can’t seem to find any town called Metika in Austria.

Posted by
10 posts

I have no idea. A relative gave me this information. Could be. I will check further.

Posted by
470 posts

The town you are looking for could very well be Metlika, Slovenia. Up until the end of WW1 (1918), the vast majority of what is now Slovenia was part of Austria proper, including Metlika. So Metlika, Austria or alternatively the German variants "Möttling" or "Merling" can be accurate names, depending on when your husband's ancestors emigrated.

Posted by
470 posts

There are also direct trains from Ljubljana to Metlika (2.5 hrs), as well as buses with a change in Novo Mesto (2 to 2.5 hrs). However, if you wish to do any sort of exploration of the surrounding Bela Krajina countryside (and I encourage you to do so!), renting a car is much more practical.

Posted by
50 posts

I'm with Dejan, rent a car is the best option. Metlika and Bela Krajina are out of way in Slovenia and public transport options are very limited.

Posted by
5 posts

Hi, for the hotel in Bled I would go for Vila Istra or Vila Prešeren, both are along the lake, you will have a great time there. For Metlika: as it was mentioned: train is ok, however I am sure your family was from the village close to Metlika so you will need a car. There is a great scenic route along the river of Krka, you are going to enjoy it! Have a great time!