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25 Days in Slovenia

So, I spent 25 days in Slovenia in late August and September. Yeah, it surprised the Slovenians I was there that long, too. But for me, it was great. I recall driving down a mountain on a narrow two-lane road late in the trip, admiring the granite peaks that perfectly framed Drežnica’s gleaming-white church, creating a postcard-perfect view before my eyes. I started thinking about other grand scenes and memories from earlier in the trip; finally, I blurted out, “This trip is going to be hard to top.”

I owe a debt to this forum for ending up with a trip that evoked such utterances. I didn’t even have to post many questions because so much helpful information is already archived here. Hopefully, I’ll add a little to the archive.

I am a single guy in my 40’s. My big interests are hiking, history, architecture and music. Slovenia hit my travel radar due to the opportunity for a fairly active vacation in a “less discovered” place.

Major resources for planning the trip (in addition to this forum) included The Rough Guide to Slovenia, "official" national and local Slovenian tourism websites, The Cicerone guide Walking the Julian Alps of Slovenia, Trip Advisor, and some random blogs found via Google.

So… how does one spend 25 days in Slovenia?

Bases & Activities…

Kranj x 3 nights. A not-so-common stop in Slovenia, Kranj first attracted me due to the network of tunnels built under the city by the Nazis during WWII to shelter the populace (particularly factory workers) from Allied air raids. Kranj is also very close to the airport, which made it a good stop following the 2:40 pm arrival of my flight. I liked it quite a bit because it seemed like a real, breathing town.
• Day 1: Arrive LJU airport; Taxi to Kranj; walked around town, including in the gorge running through the middle of it
• Day 2: TI office’s Tunnels Tour; old town walking tour; Grad Khislstein; Prešeren Museum
• Day 3: Day trip to Bled (Vintgar Gorge, Bled Castle, walk around lake)

Logarska dolina x 4 nights. The Logar Valley and surrounding area are gorgeous, peaceful, and uncrowded. I loved staying here.
• Day 4: Picked up rental car at airport, Radovljica, Begunje, scenic drive through northern Slovenia/tiny bit of Austria to Logar Valley
• Day 5: Hiking, including Slap Rivka and Okrešelj
• Day 6: Solčava Panoramic Road
• Day 7: Velika Planina & Mala Planina, hike to the former location of Bela Partisan Hospital, Kamnik

Ljubljana x 5 nights. As others have noted, a great city.
• Day 8: Drove to Ljubljana and dropped car near the old town; LublyanaYum food tour; caught bus to Kranj in the evening for its end of summer celebration
• Day 9: Hike Šmarna Gora + National Museum of Contemporary History
• Day 10: Day trip to Idrija, Franja Partisan Hospital and Skofja Loka
• Day 11: Full-day Ljublana city tour
• Day 12: Full-day Plečnik tour + short hike in Pekel/Hell Gorge (which was rather refreshing despite its name)

Piran x 4 nights. I adored this little town on the Adriatic coast.
• Day 13: Transfer with guide from Ljubljana to Piran because I didn’t want to deal with parking in Piran; Predjama Castle, Park of Military History Pivka, Škocjan Caves; wandered Piran
• Day 14: Opening events of Neptune’s Baptism, long nap (rain), chamber orchestra concert (Tartini Festival)
• Day 15: Super fun tour along the Istrian Coast with Saša in his restored classic Citroën Dyane; more Neptune’s Baptism events, another chamber orchestra concert
• Day 16: Bad weather forecast knocked out hiking and biking along the coast; it was replaced with a day trip to Izola, Koper, and Hrastovlje

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Koseč near Kobarid x 3 nights. The village was a gorgeous place to stay while learning WWI history and taking advantage of hiking opportunities in and around Kobarid.
• Day 17: Picked up rental car at Koper, Brda region (visit beekeeping family, Šmartno, walking through a vineyard with a guide and eating grapes off the vine), hiking Tolmin Gorges
• Day 18: Hikes throughout the Soča Valley; Javorca Memorial Church of the Holy Spirit
• Day 19: Kobarid’s WWI museum, hiked Kobarid Historical Trail.

Ukanc on Lake Bohinj x 5 nights. I received excellent advice from this forum to stay at Lake Bohinj instead of Kranjska Gora for exploring the region. Ukanc is at the quieter end of the lake.
• Day 20: Motorail (car train) from Most na Soči to Bohinjska Bistrica; walked the trail around Lake Bohinj
• Day 21: Mostnica Gorge hike, Vogel cable car and then chair lift to Orlove Glave
• Day 22: Drove Vršič Pass, Slemenova Špica hike, boat ride on Lake Bohinj
• Day 23: Cows Ball
• Day 24: Hiked in the Pokljuka area, visited the athlete training center at Pokljuka, wandered around the busier end of Lake Bohinj
• Day 25: Dropped rental car at LJU airport and departed for the US (via Amsterdam)

Fun Local Annual Events

Kravji Bal (Cows Ball) at Bohinj. This was my favorite activity of the trip. A one-day festival where cows which had been grazing in mountain pastures for the summer were brought down to the valley for the fall/winter. A cow parade. Traditional music and dance. All kinds of food. Power equipment demonstrations. A skinned/cleaned cow carcass turning on a spit over a fire. It was Alpine culture at its finest.

Pomorski (Neptunov) Krst (Maritime/Neptune’s Baptism) in Piran. This is the annual initiation of the new students into the town’s maritime secondary school. Neptune and his pirates take over the town in a ceremony that includes Kindergarten kids showing up in pirate outfits and doing cute little skits. The next day, there is a procession of Neptune, his pirates, and a band; Neptune is carried on his throne by the new students who are dressed as slaves. There are a few speeches and then the slaves get chucked into the Adriatic Sea – their baptism.

Kranj’s End of Summer Bash. This is just street food vendors and a concert at Grad Khislstein. The band was the energetic, socially-conscious Bosnian band Dubioza Kolektiv. Awesome show. Think hip-hop + rock + electronica + Balkan music with a lot of jumping up and down. Happily, they played their hit “USA.” The pre-show DJ played about 90% music with English lyrics – probably 70-80% of that was US music, which I guess gives insight into the reach of US music culture (as did the 12-year-olds near me singing along with Funky Cold Medina).

Favorite “off-the-US-tourist-beaten-path” Sites
• The Chapel of Edith Stein at Radovljica. A former German WWII bunker behind St Peter’s church that has been converted into a chapel for a nun of Jewish descent who was killed at Auschwitz
• Begunje
• Velika Planina and its herdsmen’s settlement. There were only 17 herdsmen this summer after 32 last summer. Without some sort of intervention, it probably will not last much longer… see it while you can!
• The small memorial at Mala Planina for a US B-17 Flying Fortress that crashed there during WWII + the former site of Bela Partisan Hospital where Lt Otto Hinds, the pilot of the plane, died from his injuries
• Mercury mine at Idrija
• Franja Partisan Hospital
• Šmarna Gora – be like a local in Ljubljana on Sunday and hike to the top, where the reward is great views and delicious food
• Plečnik’s Church of St Michael at Črna Vas
• The Park of Military History Pivka
• Hrastovlje Church’s 15th century frescoes with the dance of death
• Javorca Memorial Church of the Holy Spirit
• Any Hiking

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Overrated
• Lake Bled. I wish I would have had the courage to skip it. The contrarian traveler in me wanted to do that. But then I wouldn’t know what I was missing… which is a church (the likes of which are sitting all over the country) that rests on a lake. I drove by the lake my last morning as I headed to the airport. It disgusted me. I gave it the finger. Well, maybe that’s a little hyperbole (okay, okay… a lot of hyperbole!). Honestly, Lake Bled is an above average site. Let’s say a 7/10, but it sits in a country with a lot of 8-10/10 sites. So, it’s not a bad place, but, gee, there are so many better things to see in Slovenia.

Things that worked well
• Doing Vintgar Gorge as part of a loop hike instead of an out-and-back walk. Walk through the gorge; turn right at the end, following the sign pointing to the Church of St Katherine; ascend to the church for great views of the valley below and Bled Castle in the distance; go through the gate opposite the nearby pizza joint to follow a path through alpine meadows/cow pastures (with continued nice views), and then continue following the path as it descends back to the parking lot. I saw two people on the non-Vintgar part of the hike.

• Traveling to the Logar Valley via the scenic route through northern Slovenia and a tiny bit of Austria (recommended by Danijel, my great guide in Kranj!). It was gorgeous.

• Hiring lots of local guides. So far, I’ve mainly discussed sites, but people of course make our trips special. I’m an anxious introvert, so impromptu conversations with the locals are not of high likelihood. So, I’m a fan of hiring local guides, especially on this trip, which was by far my longest solo trip. The guides gave me (1) someone with whom to share the joy of my travels, (2) great insight into life in Slovenia, (3) great recommendations for things to do and places to eat, and (4) access to things that I otherwise would not have known about or would not have experienced. Nearly all my guides were warm, friendly, and eager to share their experiences as Slovenians.

Examples of Guides Enhancing My Experience
• Sašo in Begunje. Sašo gave an excellent tour of Begunje while giving much insight into village life. He went with me to the Museum of Hostages, a rarely-visited museum located inside a mansion that was used by the Nazis as a prison for resistance (“Partisan”) fighters and their sympathizers. The museum preserves the cells in the wing where those condemned to death were housed, along with the graffiti on the walls. Sašo could read the graffiti to me in this museum that has zero English translation, which made the visit much more meaningful (the reason I hired him, to be honest). After the museum, we walked to Sašo's house to pick up his car, and he showed me a project there that he had been working on with some friends from the village. We then drove out to the village's castle ruins. He is part of a group spear-heading preservation of the castle and knows it well. He also had a great story about one of his friends getting stuck in a pipe in the ruins when they were exploring there at around 10 or 12 years of age. He has a key to the tower of the castle, so he offered to open the tower so we could climb to the top. Yes, please! We left the castle, and Sašo offered to show me something cool farther up the hill in the woods. I needed to leave that moment to get to the Logar Valley on time AND this sounded like the beginning of a Dateline NBC story, but... sure... why not? We hiked up to something very cool indeed... the well-weathered walls of a mini-castle built in medieval times well above the castle ruins. It was built to be inacessible (no one can enter) and reportedly housed/trapped a demon inside (perhaps to symbolically represent Christianity imprisoning/ridding the region of pre-Christian pagan beliefs).

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Examples of Guides Enhancing My Experience (cont.)
• Mojca in the Logar Valley. Mojca traveled with me on the Solčava Panoramic Road. I know minimal Slovene. Mojca's native Slovene got us an invitation from a farmer for blueberry schnapps and fresh homemade fudge. After we chatted for a while, I was invited to see the farmer's bee house, complete with sitting room for humans. Much later, we finished up the tour in Mojca's mother's kitchen, sipping the mountain herbal tea that her mother packages/sells while I met the family. I had been drinking and enjoying the mother's tea every morning at Lenar Farm. I wanted to tell the mother, but she spoke no English. Happily, she spoke some German. I was able to whip out the German I've been learning the last few years to express how much I enjoyed her tea every morning. Mojca's mother beamed, left the room, and returned with a bag of tea as a gift for me.

• Irena in Kamnik. Irena and I spent a long but EXCELLENT day together at Velika Planina, Mala Planina, Bela Partisan Hospital, and finally, Kamnik. We had talked about my interest in Plečnik during the day. In Kamnik, she took me to a candlemaker’s shop to see if they would show me their still-preserved black kitchen. While there, she scored us an invitation to see a dining area in the candlemaker’s father’s apartment; the dining area was created by Plečnik himself for the family. It was spectacular.

• Saša in Piran. For me, spending a day with Saša was kind of like spending a day as a kid with my free-spirited uncle that my parents hoped I wouldn’t grow up to be like. He picked me up in Piran in his restored Citroën Dyane. Yes, “I hope that you don’t mind that I’m not wearing shoes” was uttered early in the encounter. Saša’s goal is to give guests an authentic, non-touristy experience. After a few stops in Slovenia, we headed to Croatia; he used all sorts of back roads to beat the back up at the border. After crossing the border, we stopped for a wine tasting. As we drove further, he noticed some of his friends were home, so we stopped by, had a drink, and visited with them for a while in their restored stone home. We then had an amazing late lunch, sharing a grilled meat plate that came with wonderful sides. I had a ton of fun with Saša.

• I also heard a lot of good (and not-so-good) stories. For example, the guide who said she still remembers how scared she was as a kid when the tv tower near her home was bombed after Slovenia declared independence. Or the guide who recalled her brief one-film career as a child actress and how weird it was to go Ljubljana as an 8-year-old and have people recognize her on the street. Or the guide who had a grandfather who couldn’t keep his mouth shut and got imprisoned by both the Nazis and the Yugoslavians. Or the guide whose grandmother hates winter because, when she was a child, the Nazis burned her village to the ground and she had to walk miles in the snow to another village where there was family who could take her family in. Or the guide who was with me in a museum watching video of the ceremonies related to Slovenia’s declaration of independence in 1991; when I asked where he was during the ceremonies, he looked at me incredulously and said, “In the mountains with a rifle, of course, waiting to be attacked. That’s what every man my age was doing.”

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Lodging
• Guesthouse Stari Mayr in Kranj. Restaurant (since 1852). Guesthouse. Taxi. Taxi service is free to guests. Very friendly owner and staff. I had a large, updated room with a window that opened onto the main street (pedestrianized) in the old town. Recommended.
• Tourist Farm Lenar in Logarska dolina. The family that owns this place is about as lovely as people can get. The room I stayed in was country-farm sweet with a balcony that provided a spectacular view of the mountains. Breakfast was great and served beginning at 8 am. I needed to leave early one morning, and the owner insisted on making breakfast for me at 7 am. They did laundry for me, too; it was either free or cost 8 euro (I don’t remember which). Highly recommended.
• City Hotel Llubljana. An efficient, comfortable, modern hotel. Rooms have been recently updated/remodeled. I dropped off laundry at the front desk. It was a pricey service, but worth it to me. Recommended.
• Memento B&B in Piran. This was one of my favorite places I have ever stayed. Opened in January 2019, it is located in a renovated building on a narrow medieval street, just off Tartini Square. Brick. Plaster. Metal. Wood. Stone. Glass. All sorts of textures inside the building. My room was fabulous and had a balcony that overlooked an outdoor common area and had a view of the city’s bell tower. Very highly recommended.
• Tourist Farm Kranj in Koseč. Another cute establishment owned by a lovely family. I went for half-board here because it was so inexpensive. Dinner was very good each night. Breakfast was amazing. They also did laundry for me for 8 euro. Highly recommended.

• Vila Park B&B at Ukanc. This cute classical Alpine house has spotless rooms, a balcony for every room, and spectacular breakfasts starting at 7:30 am. The B&B sits in a beautiful, peaceful location, away from what little hubbub there is on the lake. The kind owner did laundry for me for free (and got me caught up on all the community gossip). Highly recommended.

Memorable Food
• Kranj Kielbasa aka Carniola Sausage. Wonderful. It is now my favorite sausage.
• Logarska dolina: Tourist Farm Govc-Vršnik (in nearby Robanov kot). Mojca and I shared the meat sampler plate for two that came with 3 traditional meats from the area plus so much more (soup, salad, dumplings, vegetable sides). It was amazingly wonderful.
• Ljubljana: LjubljanaYum Food tour. Fun group and guide with tastes that included dishes from hot new restaurants, market samples, old Slovenian favorites, and gelato from Gelateria Romantika
• Lake Bohinj: Restavracija Lovec at Ribčev Laz. An extraordinary meal. Locally-sourced food that is cooked wonderfully.

• Lake Bohinj: some random food stall at the Cows Ball. I orderdered the “Bohinj Burger.” The best hamburger of my life. Bohinj beef, Bohinj cheese. Pulled off the grill right before it was served to me. (In another tip of my hat to a local guide, I learned about the hamburger and was promised it would be good by the guy who makes them, when our paths crossed on a hiking trail and he stopped to talk to my guide [whom he, of course, knew].

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General Impressions
• Slovenia is awesome. It’s a beautiful, clean country with absolutely lovely, kind people. It rocketed towards the top of my list of favorite countries.

• Woo-hoo! During the hiking-heavy trip, I lost 10 pounds without feeling like I deprived myself. I ate plenty of local cuisine, including desserts. I did limit ice cream/gelato to 3 nights.

• The prolonged solo journey went well. I have to admit when I stepped off the plane onto the jet bridge in Ljubljana, I had a minor panic attack, thinking, “Oh my gosh, what have I done? I’m here for 25 days all by myself.” Drawing on those anxiety-reduction techniques learned in therapy 25 years ago, I calmed/composed myself. Once I reached the cute old town of Kranj, the pleasure from seeing it melted away my worries, and Slovenia’s impressive sites just kept coming, leaving no room in my mind for anxiety. I enjoyed being able to contemplate my daily experiences more deeply in the evenings since there was no pressure on this introvert to be a good, social travel partner.

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4075 posts

Dave. Shhhhh. Seriously.

Glad you had an awesome trip.

Posted by
1568 posts

Incredible trip report, Dave! I’m impressed you spelled the names of the places you went. I’m a good speller but these names seem very difficult.
Did you use an iPad to take notes as you went? Your details are spot on.
Did you take a lot of pictures too?

Your account just brims with all the locals you met and stayed with, Wow! So glad for you, now, you have wonderful memories! I hope you can make it to our travel group meeting soon and share your trip with us. Nov. 2 and Nov. 23 are our next dates.

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6170 posts

Great report, Dave! I'm in awe of all the meticulous detail you put into it. I have to ask though....how does a guy in his 40s (my age) get to take 25 days of vacation all at once? Do you own your business?

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1949 posts

Emily...

I probably should keep Slovenia a secret. Thanks again for your helpful posts -- new and old -- on the Slovenia section of the forum, including the Mostnica Gorge/blueberry strudel recommendation.

Judy B...

Thanks for the compliment. The spelling part comes from having a perfectionist mother who passed that trait on to me, though the attention issues inherited from my Dad result in many careless errors that I see later (and then must correct!). I have a small MacBook that I take on trips, and I use it for journaling/note taking. As for photos, I use my iPhone. I don't take a ton of pictures, but I definitely take some.

I've been trying to get to the Atlanta meeting for almost a year now! Nov 2, I'm visiting my parents in Kentucky. Nov 23, they'll be in SC, but maybe I can escape for a few hours! :)

Agnes...

I work for a company that is pretty generous with time off (30 days/6 weeks per year). In addition, my work has some seasonal variation. It's very busy during summer and winter; it's fairly slow the month school begins and the month it ends. So... I work extra days during summer and winter and then take those days as extra vacation in late spring and early fall... benefits the company by matching staffing to need, benefits me by giving me the opportunity for long treks through Europe.

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46 posts

Dave, what a fantastic trip report, and trip. Thank you for all the useful details. I've seen your comments on others' posts recently and I'm glad to finally see your full trip report. My husband and I will take a 26 day trip May 2020, 9 of those days in Slovenia (to also include Croatia, Hungary, and Italy), and I will be re-visiting this report for reference. My initial impression: didn't think we'd have time for Piran, rethinking this now; toying with skipping Lake Bled (gasp); added Kranj as possible stay; will remember how impactful a guide can be; will look into The Cicerone guide Walking the Julian Alps of Slovenia.

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1705 posts

This is such a good trip report that it makes me want to scrap the trip I'm currently planning and start over. Fantastic!

Can you provide the names of the websites for all the guides you used? It would be nice to try to track them down - I just did a little search but could not.

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1936 posts

I love the Cow Festival and the "power equipment demonstrations". Sounds like county fairs in the USA, which I like to go to, but my wife is not so enamored with.

Really enjoyed your report. We have been 2x to Slovenia, but mostly in Ljubljana. I think we need to get out into the country more.

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16824 posts

I am truly envious. What a lovely, comprehensive trip you put together.

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1952 posts

WOW, JUST WOW!! What a detailed, heartfelt report. The first time we heard about Slovenia was in 2006. We were on an Italy tour and our bus driver was from Slovenia. We vowed to visit one day. We finally did in 2018. Although we were there briefly, it made a lasting impression.

Thanks for reiterating the importance of local guides to enhance your experiences! Your examples were inspiring. Your general impressions of Slovenia- "It's a beautiful, clean country with absolute lovely, kind people" was spot on. (Have to say Ljubljana is at the top of our list of favorite cities.)

Your report will be an inspiration to others who have been considering visiting this amazing country.

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1949 posts

Rena--

Thanks for the kind words. It sounds like you are putting together your own amazing trip. A few thoughts for your trip...

  1. I'm not sure what your plans are for Croatia, but the folks in Slovenia all told me they go to Croatia to go to the beach. I haven't been to Croatia, so I can't make much of a comparison between the Croatian Adriatic experience and Piran, but my understanding is that the Croatian coast is the place to see the Adriatic Sea.

  2. From looking at your other posts, it looks like Slovenia will be your big chance for mountains on your trip. I think the Julian Alps definitely are worth some time. They almost define Slovenia as a country -- Triglav (a mountain there) is on the country's flag. Because of where Lake Bled sits, it's hard not to at least drive by it if you're visiting the Julian Alps (which lets you tell your friends you saw it).

  3. As much as I liked Kranj, I would not rank it as a first-tier Slovenia destination and probably would not include it on a 9-day Slovenia itinerary. I would rank Škocjan Caves, Ljubljana, Julian Alps, Velika Planina, and Logarska dolina (and Piran) all above it on the list of priorities (depending on your interests, of course).

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1949 posts

Valerie... I'll add a list of guides and some contact info in a separate comment.

Paul... The demonstrations included heavy-duty, industrial-type equipment. Like a huge machine that would pick up a bunch of brush/downed small trees all at once and drop it onto a conveyor belt that carried it into an enormous wood-chipper. It was cool stuff. Your wife would have hated it.

acraven... I didn't keep track, but I would estimate I put approximately a bijillion hours into planning the trip. I'm an obsessive planner.

Janis... thanks for the kind words.

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16824 posts

I can well imagine it took a huge amount of time. Back when I was working, but in a job that didn't absorb 50 hours a week as it did toward the end, I used to figure that it took every bit of my time in the evenings and on weekends for two solid months to prepare for a one-month trip. That was pre-Internet. The Internet is a mixed blessing. It makes it easy to get up-to-date information about facts (museum hours, trains schedules), but it also offers up a huge amount of subjective information, so one can spend nearly limitless hours exploring ones destination options. Just reading all the pertinent posts on this forum for the last few years can be extremely time-consuming.

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1949 posts

Guides

Here is my list of guides for the trip -- it's long! They were all excellent. I'm also listing how I found them to give some insight into ways to find local guides. It used to be so easy to find them on TripAdvisor; now it's almost impossible to find them there.

Kranj

  • Danijel. A young, energetic guy in his 20's who was a native of Kranj. I couldn't find a guide anywhere online for Kranj, so I e-mailed the guesthouse asking if they knew anyone. The owner arranged Danijel as my guide. We met the night before and Danijel said to pay him what I wanted -- he was even willing to do the tour for free "as a friend." I feel like we were friends at the end of the tour, but I still paid him, so he bought me a drink, and we chatted for a long while. I have an e-mail address for him but would have to get his permission to give it out. PM me if you want more info.

Begunje

Logar Valley

  • Primoz. Young mountaineering guide who did a morning of hiking with me. Couldn't find anything on-line, so contacted Lenar Farm, and they hooked me up with him. I have an e-mail address and have permission to give it out. PM me.
  • Mojca. Licensed guide but not for mountaineering. Did Solčava Panoramic Road with me and gave me a very, very local experience. I also got her name from Lenar Farm (the owners' niece/cousin!). I have an e-mail address and have permission to give it out. PM me.
  • Irena Grmek. I spent a very long day with her -- something like 9 am to 7 pm. I found her by googling "Private Guide Kamnik." We did Velika Planina, Mala Planina, Bela Partisan Hospital, and Kamnik. I was going to cut out at around 5 pm after Bela Partisan Hospital, but Irena knew Plečnik treats awaited me in Kamnik and gently pushed me to complete our original plan. Oh my, I'm so glad I did. She has her own website: http://www.irenagrmek.com/home2/turizem/

Ljubljana

  • Mateja. Friendly, pleasant, extremely professional. I did a full-day Ljubljana tour with her and a full-day Plečnik tour with her. She was also to be my guide for going to Piran, but she needed to give a tour in German and hooked me up with another guy (whose name I can't find in my notes). I found her on the Tours by Locals website. But there was enough info there that I could google her and find her private site, which resulted in a lower cost for me than the TBL price. http://www.sloveniaguides.si/en/mateja-kregar-gliha
  • Nina. Friendly, pleasant, professional, open. I wanted to do an Idrija Tour and contacted Slovenia Explorer because they had one on their website. They weren't running it on a regular basis any longer but told me they could do it as a private tour. My negotiations with Slovenia Explorer evolved into Idrija + Franja Partisan Hospital. Nina was assigned to my tour. She added Skofja Loka on her own (and I'm glad she did!). She was more expensive than the others because I went through a larger company for the tour. They also offer small-group tours with no more than 8 people. http://www.slovenia-explorer.com/
  • Alenka. I got directed to Alenka's company by Pia from LubljanaYUM (food tour). There is a loose network of independent guides who are trying to provide really personal, local, intimate experiences. Pia and Alenka are part of that network. The plan was to do a Sunday hike together at Šmarna Gora. She brought along her significant other Gasper. It was more like hiking with friends than a guide. Lunch was great. Gasper told of his time in the US as a high schooler and how the US education system (read this and analyze it) was different from the Yugoslav system (read this and repeat it like a good comrade). They invited me to go biking later in the week -- as a friend, not a client. https://www.ljubljanaguides.com/
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Guides Part II

Piran

  • Saša. Tour described above. I have an e-mail address and have permission to share. PM me.
  • Another Guide. I was scheduled to do a hiking-biking along the coast tour. The weather forecast was not good for it, so it got switched to a car trip to visit other villages along the Slovenian coast. The one tour that I would say was just "okay." The guide was technically fine, but I just didn't connect with him like the other guides. Of course, this may have been a function of doing a tour that was not my first choice, so I think it unfair to give the guide's name under the circumstances.

Kobarid

  • Vesna. Tour guide and herbalist! Pia also helped me find Vesna, who is another guide committed to trying to give visitors authentic, local experiences. She did a great job of that for me. We did the Brda Region + Tolmin Gorges one day. We did a variety of Soča Valley hikes another day, with a visit to the memorial church built by WWI Austro-Hungarian soldiers to honor their comrades who fell in battle. https://slocally.com/
  • Bristin (or something like that). The Kobarid Museum (WWI Museum) has guides who will guide you inside and outside the museum. My guide, who had turned down the director's job at the museum to instead pursue a career as a bio-energy practitioner (but still did tours part-time), was great and did a tour of the museum, followed by hiking the Kobarid Historical Trail with me. The museum offers other outdoor guided hiking options, too. https://www.kobariski-muzej.si/en/visit-to-the-museum/201802121027238702/admission-and-opening-hours/

Bohinj/Julian Alps

  • Monica and her sister Sabine. I actually spent parts of 4 days with these very pleasant young ladies doing hikes. They work for their mother, Elizabeta, who runs a company called Top Agencija in Bohinjska Bistrica. They can handle simple hiking to Triglav mountaineering (along with any team building needs you may have!). https://www.topagencija.si/en/home
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679 posts

WOW! Fantastic trip report. We loved Slovenia and only spent about a week there. Now I want to go back. Great people and the most amazing scenery.

Posted by
183 posts

Dave, your report is so incredibly helpful and just wonderful to read. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm taking notes like crazy. We're making all our travel arrangements and are so looking forward to our trip. The only thing we don't yet have are our flights. The fares keep rising. We hope that they'll go down soon.

We have been blessed to travel quite a bit in the past few years (Amsterdam, Bruges, England, France, Italy, and, most recently, Spain). I feel terrible every time since I tell myself to write a report, but have not succeeded in doing one so far. We return from our trips and life gets more hectic than ever it seems. You have inspired me for next time.

Posted by
2092 posts

What a fabulous trip you had! Slovenia has been on my upper to-do list for a couple of years now, might be time to really research and make a plan.

Posted by
1949 posts

Bookaholic... Glad you found the trip report helpful. I'm sure things will go well with your trip. Happy travels!

Posted by
78 posts

I put the link to your trip report in a file where I keep my travel daydreaming ideas in. Slovenia is likely to be part of my holiday next summer, so thanks for spilling some secrets!

Posted by
27 posts

Dave- Just returned from 2 weeks in Slovenia, and your comments are spot on, what a beautiful country. Combined with how friendly the people are, most outdoor information signs are in English, often with Italian and German...the place is well set up to handle tourists, and it seems like they put money back into the industry. The free info guides from the TI offices were quite good. A few times we just had people circle interesting towns in a 45 minute or so driving radius, and head out. Never disappointed with what we stumbled across.

Union Red is a good beer, happy to report that. Amazing lodging is out there, stayed in a former palace in Lju, and a 17th Century Villa in Lovran, both for under for less then $100usd.

You've given me a list of a few places to check out when we return. Great write up.

Posted by
1949 posts

Thanks, all, for the kind words. For those thinking about a trip to Slovenia, it is well worth it.

Posted by
178 posts

Thank you Dave for the fantastic report. I got a lot of tips from your report for my upcoming trip this summer.

Posted by
178 posts

Hi Dave! Can you please be more specific on "Traveling to the Logar Valley via the scenic route through northern Slovenia and a tiny bit of Austria". I"ve looked at a map but can only see one route that goes all the way thru. Thanks much!

Posted by
1529 posts

Thanks for your report Dave. Wow. 25 days! I don’t know when I will make it to some of the areas you explored, but hopefully, someday soon before everyone discovers!

Posted by
1949 posts

@Lori... Get off the highway near Kranj and take road 210 through Preddvor, Kokra, and Zgornje Jezersko. At the Austrian border (complete with abandoned border guard facilities), the road becomes road 82; turn right from 82 onto the small road marked as "Vellach" on Google Maps; the road is before Bad Vellach. This road re-enters Slovenia and goes to the Logarska dolina. It's a little narrow and curvy in places, but certainly manageable and offers lovely views of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.

Posted by
178 posts

Thank you so much Dave! We will definitely do this route. I have Ricks book on Slovenia but you have added a few things I didn't see in there. The sunrise hike from Ljubljana for one.

Posted by
28 posts

Sounds like an awesome trip. My question pertains to the time of year. We would be going from Mid-May to late May. In general, what will the weather be like temperature wise and rain? We will have 10 days not counting travel days. Where should we focus? Thanks so much for the info. Jeanie

Posted by
1949 posts

Weather Spark has a lot of helpful information on historical temperature averages, rainfall, cloudiness, etc. The page for weather in Ljubljana in May is here: https://weatherspark.com/m/77419/5/Average-Weather-in-May-in-Ljubljana-Slovenia

Keep in mind that with climate change, temperatures tend to be a little higher than historical norms.

Where to focus your time depends on your interests and travel goals. History, music, and nature are big interests for me, so those drove my choices. I found your "If you had to choose another destination..." post and you mentioned loving Rome, Tuscany, and Umbria. Places to consider include:

  • Ljubljana. The capital. There is much that is interesting regarding Ljubljana itself, but it is also a good base for day trips to nearby places
  • Goriska Brda. If you enjoy wine, this is one of Slovenia's major wine regions. Some call it the "Tuscany of Slovenia."
  • Piran. Very cute town on the Adriatic Sea. Can serve as a base to dip down into Croatia and try some Croatian wines. It does require a border crossing, which can take up to a couple of hours. If you do this, consider spending some time with Saša whom I mentioned above. He knows a lot of back roads to get ahead of the border traffic. He can also arrange for an olive oil tasting, a wine tasting, a great meal, and/or whatever else comes to his mind while driving you around in his old Citroen (an experience in itself)
  • Mountains. Slovenia has great mountains. Everyone goes to Bled, so that's an option (though I wasn't so impressed). The Soča Valley is nice.

I would suggest picking up a guide book, reading about the different areas, and then sketching out an itinerary. Post the itinerary in the Slovenia section of the forum, and (as you know) you will get much feedback.

Posted by
55 posts

Dave -

I just found this trip report. Wow, thanks so much for putting all of this down here. So valuable for the rest of us to read your thoughts and opinions. Seriously, thank you!

I have a trip coming up with 4 full days in Slovenia before moving to Italy. This will be the front end of my trip (so, getting over jet lag). Will have my family - kids 12, 9, 6, 3.

Reading your trip report brought out several questions. Obviously my much shorter trip makes a difference, but I wanted to ask.

  1. You mentioned being glad you stayed in Bohinj instead of Kranjska Gora. I was planning to stay in Kranjska Gora, can you elaborate? My reasoning was this: I would be leaving Ljubljana in the morning going to Vintgar, Bled, and maybe Bohinj if we have time, then spending the night that night in Kranjska Gora. The next day, we planned to drive up to the Vrsic Pass, hike, drive down toward Soca Valley, and then back to Kranjska Gora (likely going around, and not back over Vrsic). I figured, if we were doing that day of Vrsic and Soca Valley, it would be too much driving to try to do it from Bohinj/Bled area. But from Kranjska Gora, it wouldn't be that bad - especially with stops to hike and sight see along the way.

  2. You raved quite a bit about Velika Planina and Logarska Dolina. I have considered taking my first day in LJ on Sunday (arrive Sat night at 5:10pm) and organizing a tour of Velika Planina. We would have the potential of being jetlagged, and this would take our only "full" day from Ljubljana. We would maybe be at VP for morning and early afternoon, and then walk around LJ in the evening both on that Sunday, and again on Monday (after our day at Skocjan Caves). What are your thoughts - should I set up a tour and do VP or use it as a rest day exploring LJ?

Here's a brief summary of our trip for your reference:
Saturday - Arrive LJ 5:10pm - stay Ljubljana
Sunday - Explore LJ or Velika Planina - stay Ljubljana
Monday - Road trip to Predjama Castle, Skocjan Caves - stay Ljubljana
Tuesday - Road Trip to Vintgar Gorge, Lake Bled, Bohinj if time - then stay in Kranjska Gora
Wednesday - Drive Vrsic Pass, Hike, stop at Soca River, Bovec, etc - then drive back to Kranjska Gora
Thursday - Morning hike in Kranjska Gora, then drive to LJU airport to drop off rental and catch GoOpti Transfer

Any other thoughts or recommendations would be more than welcome. Thanks!

Posted by
1949 posts

Drew,

You mentioned being glad you stayed in Bohinj instead of Kranjska
Gora. I was planning to stay in Kranjska Gora, can you elaborate?

I was looking for nature on my trip, and Lake Bohinj provided that -- particularly at Ukanc at the far end of the lake. Kranjska Gora is not a bad place. But it has a little more of a vacation resort atmosphere. That's not a bad thing, but it wasn't what I was looking for. I will readily admit, though, that I stopped for lunch there one day and enjoyed the place. Ukanc is pretty quiet, but I really liked that; there is more happening at the other end of the lake.

If you wanted to stay at Bohinj Lake, you could do Vintgar Gorge - Bled - Bohinj on Tuesday. On Wednesday, you could do a loop that involves going to Kranjska Gora (about a 1-hour drive), driving the Vršič Pass, Bovec, Kobarid, Most na Soči, and then catch the Motorail (car train) back to Bohinjska Bistrica. If you search the time table, it looks like there is a train 860 during the summer that leaves Most na Soči at 18:43. I thought the Motorail was pretty cool (though I like all things transportation) -- you go through the mountains (via tunnels) instead of over them (via road). There are multiple YouTube videos that allow you to see what it's like.

Kranjska Gora is certainly fine, too.

What are your thoughts - should I set up a tour and do VP or use it as
a rest day exploring LJ?

I would use it as a rest day and explore Ljubljana. Even if your are up for a drive to VP, I wonder about the kids (especially the 3 year old!). You may want to google something like "things for kids to do in Ljubljana" -- you should get many ideas from many sources.

Posted by
1949 posts

Oh, yeah... Škocjan Caves is a great place to visit. The enormous cavern at the end is very impressive.