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kimm06 Jun 22nd, 2016 06:25 AM

drive through Slovenia
My husband and I are planning a trip to Slovenia in September. We have 7 days and 8 nights in Slovenia before flying to Prague. As of now our itinerary is to arrive in ljubljana in the afternoon where we will stay 3 nights, we'll then rent a car drive to Lake Bled for 2 nights and explore surrounding area and then drive to Piran for 2 nights. We would like to visit the Julian Alps, Lake Bohinj and possibly the wine region. I've read many reviews and some mention Lake Bled being very touristy and not worth spending much time. I'm wondering if it might be better to stay in Vipava at a farm stay for a night. I would love input on the best route and how many nights to stay in each location or is there somewhere central to stay where we can explore a few areas at a time. We would like to not be jumping around too much. Thanks!!!

Whathello Jun 22nd, 2016 06:32 AM

We stayed one week in llubljana and did day trips from there.
We did stay one night in bled though.
Some people don't like to be where there are tourists. Not us.

Andrew Jun 22nd, 2016 07:59 AM

Lake Bled is lovely but not big. It is an old tourist resort but not obnoxiously touristy. (Wait until you get to Prague to worry about navigating through the mobs and mobs of tourists.) I didn't much care for Bled the town, but I did spend a few nights there, and it was OK. It makes a practical base for exploring the area. Because it's a town it's got restaurants, stores, and practicalities.

I much preferred Ljubljana as a base to come back to at night, but I wouldn't want to be driving from Ljubljana back up to areas near Bled every day, either. I think if you only had time for a day in Bled, it's better as a day trip from Ljubljana, but you have more time.

I'd consider the farm stay only if you like that sort of thing, not to avoid Bled. If you want a less developed area, stay near Lake Bohinj which is larger than Lake Bled and more of an "outdoor activities" area with hiking, etc.

One suggestion on the driving route is to detour to the cute town of Skofja Loka when driving between Bled and Ljubljana instead of taking the fast highway. The drive between Skofja Loka and Bled through the hills and twisty roads is really breathtaking. Otherwise, I'm not sure there are a lot of route options to get over the Julian Alps. You'll drive over the Vrsic Pass and down into the Soca Valley. That's what I did from Bled. I stopped a night in the town of Kobarid, mostly to see the war museum (not a must-see unless you are a major history buff) and then on to Piran for a few nights.

I also detoured to the cute town of Stanjel on the way to Piran after Kobarid. Worth a visit only if you love little towns - not much to it.

kimm06 Jun 22nd, 2016 08:29 AM

Andrew, thank you for your reply and great suggestions. Sounds like it may be best to go through Alps on way to Bled, stay a couple of days to explore area and then head to the coast stopping along the way. We fly into Ljubljana Friday afternoon and leave to explore the countryside on Monday. Do you think that's enough time in the city?

Andrew Jun 22nd, 2016 08:36 AM

I think that's plenty of time in Ljubljana. It's one of my favorite cities, but it's not very big and there really aren't a ton of things to do in the city. (There are a few museums. I'd recommend the Jože Plečnik house - half hour guided tour of the home of Ljubljana's most famous architect who designed many of its prominent bridges and buildings.) You might even plan to leave Monday morning.

Actually, from Ljubljana you'd get to Bled before the Julian Alps. I did something similar to what you plan. I drove from LJubljana to Bled (with that scenic detour via Skofja Loka), spent a few nights in Bled (explored Lake Bohinj as a day trip), then drove from Bled up over the Vrsic Pass through the alps down into the Soca Valley. You could make it to Piran from Bled via that long drive if you skip the museum in Kobarid, where I stopped for a night, but you might find it more relaxing to split it up like I did. Kobarid is a cute but not amazing town. There is a nice waterfall nearby that I walked to from near the town.

rtt0921 Jun 22nd, 2016 08:58 AM

You're moving in the right direction, some things to consider:

Ljubljana's sights can be seen easily in a day or two, depending on your love of museums, it's the town's atmosphere that's wonderful. From Ljubljana, you can also do a day trip to the caves and/or scenic Logarska Dolina, the latter only with a car.

When moving to Bled or Bohinj, do make the detour to Skofja Loka, or alternatively Kamnik, another medieval town. Tourists on the beaten path are done with Bled and Bohinj in two days or even both in one day. However, if you're interested in outdoor activities, you can easily spend many more days in the area - in Bohinj, for example, you can go hiking into the national park, cycle around the valley, etc. You could include a short visit to nearby Radovljica, as well. In terms of sleeping, Bled offers more amenities than Bohinj, and while very touristy by Slovenian standards, is actually quite okay by European standards. Bohinj is much quieter.

Afterwards, I would move to the Soca Valley, crossing the Julian Alps over Vrsic Pass and visiting the upper Soca Valley on that day and then drive towards the Goriska Brda and Vipava Valley wine regions. If you don't decide on staying in the wine region, sleep somewhere in the Soca Valley, like Bovec or Kobarid - if you're history buffs (WW1 specifically), into adventure sports or outdoor activities like hiking, you'll want to spend more time here, otherwise a day will suffice.

The two wine regions are within a short drive of each other, as is the lower part of the Soca Valley, so you could sleep somewhere in the middle of all three, for example in the lower Vipava Valley, around Nova Gorica, Sempas or Crnice - plenty of tourist farms in that area. The wine regions can be seen in as little as half a day or as much as 3 or 4 days - there are no major sights in this area, it's all about the food, the wine, the scenery, the small towns and villages (like the aforementioned Stanjel), etc. Just relaxing in the countryside, basically. If that's up your street, you're gonna love it. If not, go to a winery, have a short scenic drive around the valley, a nice local homemade dinner at a farm and move on.

Then continue to Piran, where you can again spend a single day or many more. There are some sights out of town, too, like the Secovlje Salt Pans, the church in Hrastovlje, you could visit nearby Strunjan, Izola or even Koper. If you want to keep your visit here short, Piran itself can be done as a day trip from the wine regions or Ljubljana.

Overall, think about what you want to see and do in relation to your interests, and select the places and the amount of nights accordingly. 7 days is not a lot of time, but it's not rushed either.

kimm06 Jun 22nd, 2016 09:01 AM

Would you recommend only staying one night in Bled and adding the extra night to the city or Piran on the coast?

Andrew Jun 22nd, 2016 10:15 AM

How much time you spend in Bled depends in part on what you'll be doing during the day. If you drive from Ljubljana to Bled via Skofja Loka, that's going to add hours to your day. Then Bled has a bunch of sites. You won't realistically have any more time that day to see much else - trying to squeeze in Bohinj is way too much. Going to Bohinj after one night in Bled is in the wrong direction if you're planning the counter-clockwise drive up through the mountains via the Vrsic Pass.

So I think two nights in Bled makes sense.

Piran is a delightful beach town. But it too is tiny - staying there is more about relaxing not exploring, unless you want to do day trips from there. (Croatian Istria is not too far away.) I'd think two nights there is plenty - that's what I spent, and though I loved Piran, I was already getting bored after two nights.

Nonconformist Jun 22nd, 2016 10:35 AM

Bled is really lovely, and not too busy.

rncheryl Jun 22nd, 2016 12:42 PM

Bookmarking. Husbands grandparents from Slovenia and we are considering combining it with a trip to Venice

Andrew Jun 22nd, 2016 01:37 PM

Slovenia combines well with Venice. But curiously, there are no easy train connections between Venice and Slovenia. I think Ljubljana would see far more western tourists if there was even one daily direct train in each direction between the two cities. There are shuttle services between Venice and Ljubljana, though.

kja Jun 22nd, 2016 05:03 PM

I also loved Ljubljana and thought it easily merited several nights, both as a base and as a city that has enough things that interest me (including several museums) to keep me happily busy for a couple of days.

I'm glad I stayed in Bled for two nights, because that allowed me to see everything I wanted to see in Bled itself, plus the Vintgar Gorge, in just one VERY long day. But it it was, IME (2009) quite touristy, and I can easily see that it could be off-putting to some.

Note that Bled is only about an hour from Ljubljana, so IMO, you don't really have a bad choice here.


kimm06 Jun 23rd, 2016 11:27 AM

Thank you so much for all your replies and insight! It sounds like we will have an incredible time and now have a better understanding of the route to take. Cheers!

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