For such a tiny country, Slovenia has everything. Mediterranean coast, Julian Alps, alpine lakes, midieval castles, winding cobblestone streets. I wish I had longer to explore it, but what I did see was unreal.
I got into Ljubljana mid day after what felt like an unreasonably long train journey from Vienna. The scenery made it worth it – the Austrian and Slovenian countryside was amazing, with castles and churches perched on top of rolling hills and mountains. This city is tiny, like its country, and can be explored entirely on foot which I love. It’s made up largely of Vienna Revival architecture which is meant to emulate nature, so all the buildings are beautiful and detailed. The centre of Ljubljana is entirely pedestrian, a change that was made in 2007 (I think – my walking tour memory is fading). Apparently it was quite the adjustment for drivers and pedestrians alike, but now everyone loves it, and the city has won a few sustainability awards as a result. To smooth the transition they invested lots into bus routes and taxi services around the centre so that people could still get around easily. The pedestrian centre is amazing, and the fact that there’s no cars makes it even better. I think it’s so cool for such a small city to take on something like that.
Ljubljana is called the Dragon City, and as a recent Game of Thrones convert that’s pretty fun. All the tourist shops sell stuffed green dragons and there’s even a dragon bridge that leads into the old town. Supposedly a dragon was defeated here in Roman times and the name just sort of stuck. Our guide joked that it’s no wonder Slovenia has been under occupation for most of its history – it chose a slain dragon for a mascot.
My second day in Slovenia I took the bus out to Lake Bled, which is why most people know the country. Lake Bled is an alpine lake in the Julian Alps and naturally is stunning, but what makes it especially cool is the tiny island in the middle with a beautiful monastery. It was about 40 minutes by bus to get there from Ljubljana, and once I arrived I didn’t want to leave. I had hoped to kayak on the lake but the only boats allowed are these old wooden ones you can take to get to the island. Instead, I opted to walk the perimeter of the lake, which takes about an hour but took me more like 2.5 because I couldn’t stop taking photos or finding perches to enjoy the incredible view.
Lake Bled was unbelievable – I got the most beautiful day and felt so lucky the whole time I was there. All around, Slovenia surprised me. It was so beautiful and people were so nice – you can tell it’s on the up and up in terms of tourists so I’m happy I went when I did.