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Slovenian Journey - 2/3 weeks?? Help, please!

We are an “older” couple pretty well travelled, reasonably fit, enjoy simple hikes, history, museums, art, architecture, local food and wine. We have the month of Sept in Europe and thought to visit Slovenia (2-3 weeks), where we have never been and then head to Italy, which we know well.

Plan to hire a car and usually like to spend 2 nights minimum in one spot rather than rushing around. We greatly prefer the countryside and visiting smaller places rather than cities (the exception here is Ljubljana). For hotels, we prefer ‘special’ properties, bed and breakfasts, inns or farms, not the chains., A good restaurants and./or table d’hote are pluses.

Have we allowed enough - or too much - time in each place? Have we grouped sites well? Are the hikes reasonable, i.e., moderate difficulty?? I know we’re planning rather late (there were some health issues) and am a bit worried about lodging (many of the Rick Steves and Trip Advisor recommendations are fully booked.

Your thoughts and suggestions would be MOST appreciated!!

Days 1-5 Ljubljana 5 nites
Day 1 Travel from Venice to Ljub - GoOpti? Lodging at barb palace apts???
Walk Old Town and check the TI for tours.
Day 2 Introductory Walking Tour, Cathedral of St Nicholas, Wander Tivoli Park, Museum of Con. History of Slovenia,
Dinner at Pri Škofu or Dinner Trip to a typical Countryside Gostilna -
Day 3 Visit Castle Hill - Castle, Watchtower, History Exhibition Chapel of St George, Time Machine Tour
Dinner at Restavracija Strelec or Gostilna na Grad
Day 4. Visit the City Museum, Nat Gallery, tour Jože Plečnik House. boat tour.
Lunch at Open Kitchen?
Day 5. Take Roundabout Travel - Tale of Maribor, Ptuj and Wine OR Walking tour of Comm Ljubljana and (previously skipped) museum.
Days 6-9 Bled or Behinj 4 nites. Garni Hotel, Berc Alp Pension in Bled
Day 6 Pick up car at the airport (avoid driving in Ljub). Drive north, stopping at Škofja Loka & Idrija. In SL, visit castle and Loka Museum, Church of St James and Plague Pillar. Stop at the church of the Annunciation in Crngrob, outside SL,
Day 7 Bled Island w Church of the Assumption/St Mary, Bled Castle, walk around the lake OR hike Vintner GorgeDinner at Bled Castle
Day 8 Visit Radovljica - city and beekeeing museum; also, a gingerbread bakery/museum and St Peters, beautifully renovated church, with its lovely ceiling and altar, Sivec House Gallery, and the town moat.Then, head to Brezje known for its Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.

Then, Lake Bohinj for a walk and/or boat ride. (question - do the boats run in September??) and visit to WWI cemetery in UdicveDinner at Restaurant 1906
Day 9 Visit Kranj, Khislstein Castle and Gorenjska Regional Mus.- Hike Bled - around lake, to Vintgar gorge, along Sava river, to old villages Selo, Ribno, Bodesce old church.
Days 10 Bovec. 1 nite Hotel Dobra Vila Bovec
Drive to Bovec, via the Vrsic Pass, to see the Russian Chapel near Kranjska Gora. Stop at the Kluze Fort above Bovec. Pay respects at the Bovec Cemetery Mass Grave
Day 11-13 Kobarid/Soca Valley 3 nites. Tourist Farm Kranje. Kobarid
Day 11. Drive to Kobarid, Visit museum.
Dinner at the Hisa Franko (House of Franko).
Day 12. Kobarid. Visit the Ossuary Of Italian Soldiers and do the Historical Trail/Walk of Peace. Tour the Charnel House
Day 13. Kobarid. Tonocov Grad, walk along the Italian line of defense. Visit the Soca Gorge and Kozjak Waterfall.
Day 14 Kobarid. Javorca for the Church of the Holy Spirit, Tolmin for the Museum and Drznica for the Church
Day 15 Head south and visit Predjama Castle. Stay in Postojna Lipizzaner Lodge Guest House, 3 nites
Day 16. Lipica and the stud farm and Vipava OR the defended" church at Hrastovlje and hike the 10 church walk from Landol.
Day 17. Cerkno hike to the Partizan Hosp. Franja OR visit Piran OR Visit the Idrija Mercury Mine and Idrija Museum.
Day 18 Sept 20 Return car to Ljubljana head to Italy

Posted by
1839 posts

I can't really add much since you obviously did your homework well. Just a couple notes- I highly suggest you hike/walk the Vintner Gorge. It was a highlight for us, and I'd rate it much higher than the Castle, but the boat ride to Bled Island was nice. If you have to chose I'd still go with Vintner Gorge. Also, at Lake Bohinj there is a wonder hike up to a waterfall that we enjoyed. We are not huge hikers and our daughter with CP made it, but it was a bit of a stretch for her, but I'm sure you'd do fine.

Posted by
4933 posts

Vintgar Gorge is currently closed due to a slide. Not sure it will be open by September.

Posted by
4933 posts

crooney55, your pace is a little slower than my normal pace, but it might work great for you. Still, ivef nights in Ljubljana is kind of a lot, though, especially if you prefer the outdoors (I LOVE Ljubljana myself, but it's not very big). I see you have one long day for Ptuj and Maribor. I would plan other day trips just in case you get bored - but if you find yourself enjoying Ljubljana, don't take them. It's very easy to take a bus or train various places. Towns like Radovljica (really small), Kranj, and Kamnik are easy day trips by train (or bus). You could even do Zagreb in a quick day by train. No need for any advanced planning except to figure out the logistics (what are the bus and trains schedules?) Just make a list of day trips and how to get to/from each place - and have it at the ready, in case you need it.

GoOpti might be your best bet to get to Ljubljana, all depends. I've still not been able to use them. Depends on your starting point, time of arrival, etc. DRD offers daily pickups at scheduled times from Mestre train station and the Venice airports. FlixBus might have direct buses now too. You may even be able to take the train through Trieste now (direct trains from Trieste to Ljubljana were supposed to start again this month). The only downside of GoOpti (unless you want to pay $$$ for a private transfer) is their sliding pick-up time for shared transfers - if your flight arrives at 10am, you have to pick a range of times (say 11am-2pm) to get a good price, and they won't tell you til the day before what the exact time will be. If it is 2PM, then you have to sit around for four hours. If it is 11am, then you have to worry about your flight being late (or paying extra with GoOpti for some sort of "flight guarantee" I think). GoOpti might make more sense if you are already in Venice and can just go whenever they eventually say they will pick you up.

Rental car: NO NEED to go to the airport to pick up a car! Ljubljana isn't a big city - driving a car out of town is easy. The problem with a car in Ljubljana is the big pedestrian-only areas, so HAVING a car in Ljubljana isn't convenient, but driving out of town with one is not a worry. I've picked up two cars in Ljubljana: one last year from AvantCar and one a few years ago from Sixt. The Avantcar office is in the center of town just north of Preseren Square, and the Sixt office is at the train station. Ljubljana is small enough that you might be able to walk there with your bags (or take a taxi; sometimes these car companies will even pick you up). I've always walked from my lodgings in Ljubljana to pick up my cars. Again, driving out of town was easy. (Driving in Dubrovnik on the other hand was stressful - another story!)

You could drop your car at the end on the coast near Piran instead of heading back to Ljubljana. Options to get back to Italy? GoOpti. Public bus. Even a catamaran to Venice (seasonal). Rental car drops are likely at Portoroz or Koper. Piran is a delightful town to stay over night in and watch the sun set into the ocean. When I visited, I dropped my Sixt car in Portoroz and took the public bus to Piran. If you drive to Piran, you have to park your car at the big lot at the edge of town, because the town is mostly car free (maybe you can drive in to drop bags at the hotel - I think you might be able to). But I didn't have a car by the time I got there, so didn't have to worry about that.

Posted by
199 posts

Many thanks for your comments and suggestions! It's wonderful to know that we're - more ore less - on the right track. Now, I'll check on the Gorge, day trips from Ljub. and rental car options - and dream of going! A million thanks!!

Posted by
1277 posts

I can only share from my 48 hrs in Slovenia, we rented a car at Venice airport, stopped at aquileia to see mosaics, it was. Amazing.
2 nights at mulej bled tourist farm. Highly recommended for their hospitality and a quieter locale w farm animals! We walked into town, took plinka to island, again, highly recommend. We walked all of the way around the lake, including up the hill to the castle. The castle itself I'd class as an "ok" attraction, but you can cash in yr castle ticket for a free drink w purchase at the restaurant. This was my best meal of the trip, great food, amazing views, nice waiters, good wine. Of course, lunch is cheaper than dinner, and if you are going up for dinner, make sure there is sufficient daylight to enjoy the amazing scenes looking at thte lake. We stopped at mystic garden (a small cafe) for cream cake and coffee, another 10+ experience. That was also a 10 miles day, including our walk from the farm.

When we left bled. I think it was Ljubljana we stopped at for an hr of walking around

Posted by
276 posts

Hi crooney55: I'll also be in Slovenia the first 2 weeks in September (flying in and out of Venice; perhaps taking Flixbus from Venice to either Ljubljana or Koper to pick up car). Staying at Lake Bohinj for 3 nights, 1 day/night driving Gorge (if open!), 3 nights in Logarska Dolina (hiking, biking, scenery), 2 nights in (undetermined) spa town, 1 night at Plitvice, 3 nights in Ljubljana. I don't have nearly the detailed plans yet that you do -- your trip sounds wonderful!

Posted by
199 posts

Both of your trips sound wonderful - we'll. be sure to check out both the mosaics and the farm in Bled. It sounds perfect t!!

Posted by
20 posts

WHen you’re in the Bohinj area go to dinner at Pri Hrvatu in Srednja Vas, about a 5 min drive from the lake. It was so good we ended up eating there every night. Hard to argue with perfection. If you like fish get the trout. You’ll be pleased at the prices too, as in all of Slovenia.

Posted by
54 posts

As we too are leaving for a week in Slovenia in mid September, this is all great information for us also. Thanks to all who are contributing.

Posted by
4694 posts

We love Slovenia and have been multiple times. Notable omissions are Piran and the caves. Spend more time around Bohinj than Bled. Bled is not that nice anymore and deserves a day to see the lake, take the photo and go to Vintgar Gorge. It is overrun with buses. I hope you have a reservation already at Hisa Franko!

Posted by
2 posts

Great itinerary. I'd try to find a way to fit Postonja and Predjama in there somehow. Both the Vintgar Gorge and the Vrsic Pass were closed to us when we were there last October. We also used GoOpti as a R/T transfer between Marco Polo and Ljubljana.

Posted by
845 posts

Just wanted to say we were at Vintgar Gorge on 6/26/18 and it was open. We didn’t go all the way through, but I don’t imagine it would be op en if there was a landslide? They must have cleaned it up fast!

Also, the outdoor WWI museum near Kobarid is worth seeing. Follow the directions on their website. People have reported having trouble finding it, but we had no trouble.

Posted by
50 posts

We spent 2 weeks in Slovenia last year and you have started with a nice itinerary and gotten a lot of great advice here as well. I will add my observations.
1. Rental Car: I agree that you should not go back to the airport. We rented when we came in and actually paid for parking on the outskirts of Ljubljana while we stayed 4 nights in the city center.
2. Ljubljana: If you can, stay there over a weekend, because they had lots of festivals and outdoor stuff going on over the weekend and it was really a blast. Also, we did a food tour there which was a fun way to sample different Slovenian tastes. Also, stay as close to the city center as possible.
3. Bled: I know everyone loves it, but I was not impressed. It was SO over-run. The highlight for us was our hike through Vintgar Gorge (But I see it could be closed). Bohinj is quieter and there is a lovely waterfall hike, Slap Savica, I believe.
4. Piran was a highlight for us. We just loved it's quiet pace and fresh fish and winding alleys. We stayed in an amazing rental with a balcony that overlooked the sea.
5. We really loved the caves. I would try to include one or two depending on your interest level.
6. Vrsic Pass: We planned on driving the pass over to the other side to our next accommodation in Triglav National Park and got all the way up to the top and found out it was closed and had to go a very long 3 hour detour around to get to Triglav. It was not a happy moment on our trip, so I would highly recommend figuring out whether it is open or not (there must be a way!)

Posted by
4933 posts

Michele:

Bled: I know everyone loves it, but I was not impressed. It was SO over-run.

How "overrun" Bled is depends on the time of year you visit. I've been there in May and September. Most recent visit (May 2017) was not overrun at all. In the summer, I imagine it can be very busy. Yes, Bohinj is much more laid back.

I also loved Piran, too. A real gem.