For the Easter break, we rented a car in Vienna and drove the easy and very picturesque journey down in to Slovenia. Living in Vienna makes it super easy to cross into other countries and even though it’s a short(ish) journey, it feels like we’re so far away from home. I love having a car to explore as I can pack what I want and we can take our time and explore other places. I love having the freedom that a car provides and they’re easy to hire in Vienna. Unlike England, you don’t need a code or faff about providing proof of address, etc. We hired a Skoda with Rentalcars.com for a very reasonable price of €111.47 for 6 days.
We headed firstly to Ljubljana, which took 4 hours from Vienna. We had rented an Airbnb from a superhost that we found pretty last minute. It was pretty perfect, though, and a 15 minute walk into the main city. It was clean, had nice furnishings, spacious, and even a little garden. Ljubljana was lovely; a typical European city with beautiful architecture, a castle at the top of a hill, a river that ran through the city with copious outdoor seating to enjoy a coffee or beer.
We walked up to Ljubljana Castle one morning and got some fantastic views of the city spread out in front of us with the dramatic Alps in the background, still with snow on their peaks. Considering it was the Easter weekend, many of the shops were open and the cafes and bars were also providing service. So many of the bars have themes to them, including a pirate bar and a race car bar. It was obvious that once the summer hits, Ljubljana is a city that parties throughout the night. Even in the cooler temperatures, bars and restaurants provide blankets and outdoor heaters so we were still able to savour the alfresco ambience alongside the river.
We also visited the Museum of Illusions. I’ve never been to one of these before, but I hear they are dotted around in other cities as well, including Vienna. Definitely going to pay that one a visit! We had SO much fun! It was well laid out with so many activities and crazy holograms that tricked the eye. I would highly recommend this museum. You don’t need to spend long here and tickets cost €11 for an adult. Children loved it as much as adults.
On Easter Sunday, we drove 40 minutes to Lake Bled. In hindsight, I would definitely get an early start on this trip if you plan to drive. You can get a bus that leaves hourly from Ljubljana but at 6 months pregnant, I knew I would be needing the toilet a lot so didn’t want to risk being stuck on a bus just incase. We arrived at about 10am and luckily managed to find a car parking spot about 10 minutes away from the lake after only 2 laps of the small town. However, it was easy to see that had we arrived any later, this task would have proved incredible frustrating and taken ages. I would definitely recommend arriving earlier, especially if it’s in peak season. We weren’t sure if we would be bombarded with tourists on Easter Sunday or the opposite. It was the former. We happened to visit Bled Castle at the same time as a coach load of tourists, so there was quite the queue to walk up. Still, it was worth it for the money shot of the lake and the castle museum itself was filled with interesting artefacts.
The story goes that originally the lake was all land and fairies used to come and dance on the soft grass during the night. However, the shepherds brought their sheep to graze and munched all the grass away. The most beautiful of fairies slipped on the now short and slippery grass and broke her leg. To seek revenge, the fairies summoned the water to rise up, not realising how much more beautiful the place would become. They left nothing but the small island in the middle. The best way to see the island is actually to get a boat over to it. We couldn’t do this as the weather was a bit too cold. However, you could easily imagine how beautiful this would be in the summer months. The hike around the lake takes about 2 hours (depending on how fast you walk) and is a lovely, pleasant walk and you’re able to see the island from different angles.
After Bled, we drove 1 hour to Slovenia’s tiny coast line. We stayed at the Kempinski Hotel, in the spa town of Portoroz, where we had managed to get a great Early Bird deal that included the famous Kempinski breakfast. Unfortunately the weather was a bit hit and miss during our 2 day stay here. The first day was a write-off and it rained most of the day. We spent it relaxing at the hotel swimming pool and ventured out in the evening to Gostilna Oštarija, where we dined on fish and scampi. We got pudding from the greatest ice-cream parlour I have ever visited. Cacao also has chains in Ljubljana and Prague and if you happen to pass one, make sure you try the wonderful cakes or ice-cream they have on offer.
A 40 minute walk along the seaside promenade will take you to the small town of Piran. From here, you can see Italy, Croatia and the Dolomite mountains. It’s an exquisite gem of a town, with heavy influences from both Croatia and Venice. We spent the day eating and drinking in Tartini Square, walking the town walls, climbing up to St. George’s church, and exploring the narrow streets in the sun, which had finally come out for us. We absolutely loved this town and would highly recommend it, especially as a stop over on the way to Italy. It’s super easy to drive in to Trieste from here and then on to Venice and/or Verona.
It was sad to say bye to Slovenia and, even though it’s small, it has so much to offer. I would love to return in the summer months, perhaps on a trip down into Croatia or Italy. All three places we visited were very different and offered cultural delights, great food and wine, interesting history and a beautiful coastline.
We visited Slovenia in April 2018.