With its advantageous geographical location, Slovenia is the gateway to the Mediterranean to the west, Central Europe to its north and the Balkan States to its south. Artisan shops line the streets and there is no shortage of markets, cafés and restaurants.
The Quick 5
How long should I stay in Ljubljana?
The capital of Slovenia is tiny, I managed to walk everything in half a day so one night should be suffice before venturing onwards either domestically or internationally.
Because of it’s location, Ljubljana is served by both train or bus for those coming from neighbouring countries. I elected to travel from Vienna over the course of a six our train ride and then headed back to Munich on a night rider the following evening. Because the nature of this specific trip focused on Central Europe, admittedly it was a hassle getting back and forth for such a short time in Slovenia, but I was determined to make the most of my time and Eurorail pass. As such, to avoid back tracking like me I would suggest visiting Slovenia if you are venturing to or from Croatia. I do hope to return one day using Ljubljana as an entry point, from there I will head to Zagreb which is mere hours away and work my way down through Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia etc.
Where did you stay?
There are plenty of hostels and hotels in Ljubljana to choose from and given the size of the town, you will always be in close proximity to both the city centre and transportation facilities. Unfortunately, I was not a fan of my hostel of choice as I felt it lacked atmosphere given it operates as a boarding school throughout the academic year. In addition, showers and bathrooms were unisex and as a solo female traveller on a floor predominantly filled with drunken male backpackers… Let’s just say shower time was stressful. However, the staff were friendly and helpful and the location superb as the city centre and central train station were just over a five minute walk.
Tips, tricks and advice?
When it comes to my travel aspect of my personality, I am neither black or white. Sometimes I find I am highly organised and have everything scheduled down to the tee. Other times I am more relaxed and go with the flow. When venturing back to Munich from Ljubljana I have never been so thankful that I ignored the latter part of my personality and strongly advise that when leaving Slovenia by train you engage your organisational skills. My reason for this was consequence of the train journey from hell.
As I was aiming to arrive in Munich early morning I elected to catch a midnight train. As I was in the final weeks of my backpacking adventure and was no longer with my brothers I decided to save some money and not pay for a sleeper. Instead I opted to book a standard seat in second class. Catch a midnight train they said. It will be quiet they said. How wrong and innocently hopeful I was.
Throughout the entirety of my travels on the continent I have never witnessed such an overcrowded train to the point I actually was a little bruised and battered after fighting my way through a sea of travellers to get to my assigned seat. The train was that crowded that the majority of people who had not booked seats were subjected to standing through the night crammed in the hallways like sardines, which in turn created no room to access the toilets. So my number one piece of advice would be to BOOK a seat because a ticket alone does not guarantee comfort. You cannot control how crowded the trains will be but you can control whether you spend the night sleeping or standing. Lastly, don’t be afraid to kick people out of your seat as I discovered that reservation signs are small or in some cases not present at all.
In between meals or perhaps for dessert be sure to grab the most delicious chocolate ice cream I’ve had the pleasure of tasting from Cokoladnica Cukrcek If you’re taste buds still are soaring sample a range of infused maple syrup from the Honey House. Here you will come across flavour combinations such as maple syrup and cinnamon, coconut and maple syrup and my personal favourite blueberry and maple syrup. For the best views of Ljubljana ascend her castle, preferably as close to sunset as possible to capture the best lighting for cityscape photographs.
A trip to Ljubljana is not complete without a day trip to Bled. In fact you might fall In love with this little town so much that your day trip becomes an overnighter. Admittedly, though I had seen pictures of Lake Bled, when arranging my Slovenian travel plans I originally limited my exploration to Ljubljana only. It wasn’t until after speaking with a fellow backpacker in Vienna that I extended my plans to include Bled, so thank you wherever you are.
Bled is a haven for those who like water sports, outdoor activities and caters to a variety of travellers from families, friends and solo travellers. Its tranquillity and natural environment is also perfect for those looking to relax by the water whilst surrounded by docile swans. Due to its popularity with locals and foreigners alike, frequent trains and buses service the area from Ljubljana. Trains to Bled roughly take 50 minutes at which point you will then need to catch a bus to the lake, a further 15 minutes. At first glance I know this seems like a lot of changes but it is a simple process and undoubtedly worth it. As you exit the station the awaiting bus sits on the opposite side of the road and when in doubt just follow the crowd. Bus tickets can be purchased on board or at the train station, which takes much longer as they have to be purchased manually from what appears to be a small yet understaffed station.