From the captivating and historic center of Ljubljana to scenic Lake Bled and the medieval towns along the way, Slovenia (formerly part of Yugoslavia) offers a complete vacation, in one compact country. Guest blogger, Neala Schwartzberg of Off Beat Travel, explores this captivating Country.
The capital city of Ljubljana will claim your heart. The Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) defines the grace and style of the city. Designed by the famous Ljubljana architect Josef Plecnik, the picturesque crossovers provided enough room for traffic without creating a huge artery running through one of the most charming parts of the city.
Be sure to visit Ljubljana’s riverside market. It’s a beautiful space put to very practical use. Built by Plecnik between 1940 and 1944 it has a large central open area. On the side overlooking the river the market halls have large semi-circular windows –beautiful from the river. The side overlooking the street are designed as a colonnade, classically lovely. Throughout – delicious breads, cheeses, meats, and gorgeous flowers.
Also on that side of the Ljubljanica river is the oldest section of the city with picture perfect side streets, shops, and cafes. Add the museums, music venues, and the university area, and there’s enough to keep any visitor engaged for days.
Caves at Postojna
It was hard to tear myself away from Ljubljana (and I did vow to return), but the lure of the country’s other sights was a siren’s song I could not resist. One of the premier attractions of Slovenia is its system of caves. Slovenia has an extensive belt of karst –the limestone stratum that produces the spectacular caves, and the Postojna system is the largest in Slovenia.
A visit to the cave lasts an hour and a half. The first part of the tour actually begins with a tiny train ride –more like the kind found in an amusement park. We all disembarked and guides took us on a well-paved trail explaining the history of the caves, and their formations. Mostly what I did was gawk as one huge impressive formation followed another.
Sitting atop a mountain with 360 degree views of the distant valley and fields, the medieval town of Stanjel is a photographer’s dream. Stroll through the ancient stone streets, buy some honey, stop into a gallery, or just wander up and down the narrow lanes. The countryside is dotted with vineyards and wineries, and delightful towns to discover and explore.
Often prefaced with the words ‘fairy-tale’ Bled easily offers one of the most charming vistas in Slovenia. It does look like something from a fantasy –a clear blue lake reflecting the town, the woods, and the castle on the mountain. Set into one end of the lake (the only glacial lake in Slovenia) a tiny island comes complete with a tiny chapel, a steeple, and ringing bell. The whole tableau is surrounded by mountains.
Slovenia doesn’t attract huge crowds… yet.