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5 September nights in Slovenia

I just finished 5 nights in Slovenia, which was nestled midway between several weeks in Croatia (still 11 nights in Croatia left). I admit I basically only added Slovenia because my friend asked for it and we had a car, which made it easy. But I was in love the moment I made it through the (looong) border crossing. Covid info separately below.

My friend really wanted to go to Lake Bled, so that’s where I started planning. The Slovenia portion of our trip ended up being 1 night in Sezana, 3 nights in Bled, and 1 night in Ljubljana before heading toward Plitvice.

Coming from Rovinj, we went a bit out of our way to avoid crossing through Italy. I had mapped the closest gas station to the border, which was a mile or so off the highway, so that we could get our Slovenian vignette. Then it was back to the highway to sit in the almost 2 hour line to cross into Slovenia. As we all waited, people were getting out of their cars, walking their kids, changing drivers, holding babies, having conversations - a 2 lane party of patience. Ha!

From the Jelšane crossing, we went directly to the Lipica Stud Farm - this was for me. We made it just in time for the 3:00 show, followed by a 4:00 English tour where we were able to get up close and personal with some of the breeding stallions (but none of the performance horses, of course). The show was basically the same as the one I had seem in Jerez, but I just enjoy horses.

From there it was about 10 minutes to a small apartment in Sezana. For this trip I booked everything on for the easy cancellations, if needed. However late afternoon before leaving Rovinj, I got a cancellation notice from the apartment I had booked for our first night. They said they had an error in their system and had double booked the apartment. I admit it’s possible, but I had already had at least 2 emails a couple of hours earlier asking for my arrival time and then giving me contact info for the person meeting me. My unproved suspicion is that it had more to do with new Slovenian restrictions that took effect the day before our arrival. However, I quickly found a cute replacement (Studio Doroteja) and it worked really well. It was in the middle of a family enclave: three generations, runaway dog, and curious cat. It was obviously decorated by an artist, with free and easy parking. :) Dinner was Slovenian pizza around the corner and breakfast was a croissant and coffee across the street.

The following morning we headed for Bled. I found a really cute 2 bedroom apartment (Victoria Apartments) for a very reasonable price. Victoria herself was wonderful. Her info says “laundry for an additional cost” but when my friend asked to have a load washed, Victoria just ran the washer and wouldn’t take any extra money. It was about a 5 minute walk from Lake Bled (uphill on the way back), with free easy parking (sense a theme here?), lots of space, and our door faced the large, green garden/yard.

This was a pretty relaxed part of our trip. In addition, it was also a week of rain and a drop in temps to mid 50°s. So we did less than we might have otherwise, but fall had arrived and everywhere I turned, it was gorgeous. You just can’t complain about water, mountains, and turning leaves when you are from west Texas - actually you can’t even complain about gentle rain!

Our first full day, we drove up to Lake Bohinj and wandered, beginning at the furtherest end of the lake. We just stopped along the road wherever possible. We even drove up the mountain about 3/4 of the way toward Savica Waterfall before I turned around. I knew we weren’t ready to hike the rest of the way to see the waterfall, so there wasn’t really a reason to go all the way up (on a narrow steep road). The town of Bohinj was cute to wander for a couple of hours.

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Our second day, we spent in Bled. In the morning, we drove over to Bled Castle for an hour or hour and a half, then parked back at the apartment and in the afternoon walked down to ride the boat to the iconic island, then walked the edge of the lake to see St. Martina Church. The boat ride was enjoyable, but I also know it would have been more enjoyable in better weather. Still, you take what you get. :) That evening, we splurged (for me) on a really nice steakhouse near our apartment (Steakhouse Berc) that we noticed as we would walk by on our way down toward the lake, but not on the main tourist drag either. Totally worth it.

I would like to have gone to Vintgar Gorge (and would have had time), as well as Savica Waterfall, but I admit it was just too cold and wet for us after the rest of our mostly outside time.

Our last day, we had a slow start (our next reserved parking spot wasn’t available till 11:30) with a 1.5 hr drive to Ljubljana via no toll roads, because I am always willing to trade 30 minutes of my life for the countryside views, less traffic, and slower pace. :) We stayed at the Adora Hotel, just inside the pedestrian-only old city. Breakfast was included at the Adora - our first, since all other stays have been apartments, and that was a nice treat. It was fun to talk to the receptionist as we left: she raises and sells salukis and sometimes delivers them to the U.S.

We spent our afternoon and early evening just wandering. We went up the funicular to Ljubljana Castle, into the Cathedral, through the market, and by the river. We had a nice late lunch at Janis’s recommended Julija and saw min’s cute little green tourist bus. :) I really liked this town.

Total border crossing back into Croatia via the A2 took about 10 minutes. I promise the guy working Coatia immigration took enough of a look at my passport to tell I had one and just waved me on. He never even held it in his hand….the 10 minutes was in the line to exit Slovenia. Lol!

Other side notes:
1. Driving in Slovenia (and in Croatia) has been easy with my small automatic, although maybe that is because this trip followed driving in Greece in July. Ha! I prefer public transportation when it’s logistically beneficial but that doesn’t really seem to be the case here.
2. Parking can definitely be an issue. It’s worth the time to plan ahead.
3. With the colder weather, I really didn’t have the right kind of clothes, but I just layered up and it was fine. I think even a different week in September, I would have been ok - but I didn’t realize how much higher elevation it would be.
4. I can’t say Bled Castle or Ljubljana Castle were highlights - enjoyable but a lot of reconstruction and places to sit for something to eat or drink. Doing it again, I might take the funicular up to Ljubljana Castle for the view but not pay for anything else.

I will definitely put Slovenia back on my list of places to come spend more time. There was nothing “blockbuster” about what I saw except the scenery, but that’s enough. My absolute favorite thing was driving the back roads through the country - it seems like the perfect place to just come and stay a while.

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Covid related - feel free to skip:
We arrived in Slovenia on Sept 17, with new restrictions having been implemented on Sept 15. That being said, being fully vaccinated none of them affected our trip plans. I think the border crossing times might be lengthier because of that, but maybe not. Our passports and CDC cards were inspected but no problem.

Our hosts were required to see that we had proof of vaccination, but not to document it. We had to show it to enter the Lipica Stud Farm, Bled Castle, and Ljubljana Castle (really the only “tourist attractions” we did).
I saw signs regarding vaccination or tests being required at various restaurants/coffee shops but not for anything outside. We ate inside twice because of the weather. Our nice meal in Bled made no mention of it at all, but the server for our quick dinner inside in Ljubljana was checking everyone’s QR codes for indoor dining - our CDC cards were accepted with no problem.

Apparently the new rules say you have to show vax or neg test to even get gas, but the place in Bled just had a sign - no follow-through.

Masks seemed to be worn by guests mostly (but not 100%) inside shops near Bled but 100% in Ljubljana.
The U.S. moved Slovenia to Level 4 shortly before our scheduled time but we didn’t change our plans because of that. But I was prepared to change course to stay in Croatia, had it been necessary, and I just stayed up with the latest regulations.

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Thanks for the report. I adore Slovenia. I'm sorry you had cold weather while you were there. Outdoor activities are what make Slovenia really shine. It's unfortunate the weather removed some of that luster and left your with a summary of

There was nothing “blockbuster” about what I saw except the scenery

I got to spend 25 days there in late August and September 2019. My trip was focused on nature, but I did a lot of other things, too. And I had great weather -- comfortable temperatures, only 1 rainy day out of 25.

I looked up my 2019 trip report to see my summary statement, which was:

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.

Bled gets all the press. Contrarian traveller that I am, I decided just to do a day trip there. I thought it was a nice place, but there were many places I liked far better in Slovenia, including Lake Bohinj. Bohinj's Cow's Ball was scheduled for September 19 this year but was cancelled due to COVID. That's sad. It was my favorite thing I did in Slovenia.

As for Ljubljana, I have to admit I thought it was a pretty great city, though I tend to think everything is great 🙂. I worked in some nature/hiking while there, too... at Šmarna Gora and Peckel (Hell) Gorge.

I hope the weather improves as you had back to Croatia!

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Thanks for sharing your wonderful report from Slovenia. So glad you enjoyed Ljubljana and that you had the opportunity to have a meal at Julija! I brought home the wonderful pumpkin seed oil they serve. We were there in September 2018 X 4 nights & the weather was comfortable enough to eat outdoors. It definitely merits another visit. Looking forward to your Croatia report!

@Dave, thanks for sharing your 2019 trip report again! Always enjoy reading your adventures.

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Lol, Dave! I tend to think things are great, too! I read your report after your trip and remember thinking I might not enjoy Slovenia as much because I am a walker, not a hiker. But that was NOT the case. I could be a happy sitter and like it. 🤣 But you are right - Bled is really nice but a day would do it. I think there are a lot of other great areas to see and I think I need to see them! I did try to see the Cow Ball, but alas, as you say, cancelled….. I was there on the right date, by accident.

Janis, I forgot about the the pumpkin oil! I ordered a salad in Sezana and the young server asked me what I wanted on it. I asked her what she would eat and she brought me pumpkin oil. It was good!

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@ Travelmom, just reading this now after reading your Croatia report and Dave adding the link to this one, so just seeing your comment about the cute Ljubljana mini buses, lol.

Sounds like you had another wonderful trip! thank you for taking us with you through your fun (and informative) trip reports :).

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It’s surprising how small they are for seating several people, not sure I would have noticed them if not for the kind Slovenian who arranged a ride for me when I couldn’t walk.

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Travelmom & Min,
We couldn’t get over how “green” & pedestrian friendly Ljubljana was. The link below gives a wonderful description of their “Kavalir.” We actually used the Kavalir to transfer from our apartment on the river to our RS Tour Hotel. Our Apartment host arranged the complimentary service. We were willing to walk but it was a treat to take the ride. We joined another couple for our ride. One of the other passengers had a fractured arm so it was appreciated. ;) It is a wonderful service for the people of Ljubljana as well as the tourists. Ljubljana is the best!

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We had similar thoughts Janis!

The pictures in the link above reminded me of how the first time we rode it was a regular golf cart (no roof like in pic 1) and my son and I chuckled that a golf cart was referred to as a ‘mini bus.’ Well, the next trip was a vehicle like pics 2 - 4 and we were like, oh! That’s what they meant by mini bus, lol. Super helpful service.

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TravelMom, I so enjoyed reading this and tagging mentally along with you through beautiful Slovenia.

Did you not want to cross into Italy because of a COVID restriction? We crossed into Slovenia 3 times (in Sept/Oct) once from Croatia near the coast and twice from Trieste heading towards Lipica and later Ljubljana. Coming from Italy, on a smaller road - not a highway - we barely even realized we had crossed, presumably since both are in the EU. Leaving Slovenia later on a highway, we did go through border patrol to get back into Croatia, but at most 5 minutes, not 2 hours!

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CWSocial, you should have been with me in person! :) Yes, I chose not to cross through Italy for Covid reasons. Maybe it would have been simple (and I know it would have been closer) but with the newer “test” requirements, I decided it wasn’t worth the potential bother.

Who knows on border crossing: we sailed through on the way back in to Croatia. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Or maybe it was just a more commonly used crossing. Can’t remember if I mentioned that the hold up was getting in to Slovenia - there wasn’t anyone working at the “leave Croatia” part, so officially never left. Ha! Both parts were open on the way back, but that was where Croatia person never even looked at my passport…. :)

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When we were entering & exiting the Bosnia border in 2018 our Tour Guide warned us of possible delays. We ended up waiting about an hour. Our passports were collected and our guide waited patiently outside their office. You just never know.

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I’m confused. Croatia doesn’t border Italy so why would you go through Italy to get to Slovenia? We have driven between Slovenia and Istria many, many times and the highway doesn’t go through Italy at all.

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Emily, not knowing any of the roads “in person”, I feel like there would definitely be better ways than I went! Google Maps’ first choice of routes between Rovinj and Lipica was the E751 up the coast, which looks like it cuts first through Slovenia, then through Italy, then back into Slovenia - so I opted not to do that. But I may be looking at it all wrong!