SLOVENIA: Julian Alps, Lake Bled, Skocjan Caves

Our fun Slovenia trips in summer 2013 and 2011 produced the following travel tips, photographs, and suggested itinerary.

Triglav National Park in Slovenia makes an excellent driving loop of 2+ days from Venice, Italy. View Slovenia photos including: Skocjan Caves (Skocjanske jame), Predjama Castle, the Julian Alps, Mojstrana, Lake Bled (Blejsko jezero), Bled Castle, Triglav National Park (Triglavski narodni park/TNP), Vintgar Gorge (Blejski Vintgar/Soteska Vintgar), Vrata Valley, Pericnik Waterfall, Krma Valley, Tolmin gorges (Tolminska korita), Soca Trail (Soska pot) along Soca River gorge, Kluze Fortress, Boka waterfall, Veliki Kozjak Waterfall.


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Summer 2013 was one of our best ever trips: a month starting with 4 nights in Venice, then day-hiking the Dolomites of Italy, plus looping through Croatia and Slovenia. This page also includes Tom’s 2011 Slovenia photos taken after his Alps Photo Workshop.

Itinerary recommended for Slovenia 2-8 days

From Venice (Italy), drive about 3 hours one way to popular Lake Bled in Slovenia via Trieste and Ljubljana, and return via Kranjska Gora and Udine. Lake Bled is halfway around this loop of mostly fast autostrada/expressway. The worthwhile Vrsic Pass option (below) takes a few hours longer via twisty mountain roads in scenic Triglav National Park. The Julian Alps are most impressive on the north side of Triglav National Park between Kranjska Gora and Mojstrana on highway 201 in Slovenia (3 hours from Venice).

If you have a week (or at least 2 days), drive this loop itinerary counterclockwise from Venice to Ljubljana (Lubiana) and Triglavski National Park, in Slovenia:

Key:  ***Must see.  **High priority.  *Do it if time allows.

  1. Drive on the autostrada from Venice towards Trieste, taking the E70 into Slovenia towards Ljubljana (Lubiana).
  2. **Piran is a picturesque walled medieval village on a peninsula in the Adriatic Sea, easily seen in a few hours or absorbed overnight. Stroll along harbor-front ambiance and Tartini Square, ascend the bell tower, see the Maritime Museum, and admire sunset glow. Park in a lot by the town gate, €8 per day. Optionally drive into the restricted center to drop off luggage at your hotel, with a pass good for 6 hours. **Val Hostel and Garni Hotel, www.hostel-val.com, has good value private rooms €25 per person (2013) with breakfast, shared kitchen available, tel (+386) (0)5 673-2555, address: Gregorčičeva 38a, 6330 Piran.
  3. ***Skocjon Caves (Skocjanske jame) are a fun walking adventure for 2 hours (2 miles) along a raging underground river, guide required, departing hourly on summer days. Don’t miss part 2 of the tour, a self-guided extension over exciting bridges and dim passageways along the underground river. Directions: Exit the A-1 expressway in Slovenia at Divaca and follow signs to Škocjan Caves. €57 was a great value for a large new apartment with kitchen at ***Apartmaji Domacija Jankovi, www.kmetija-jankovi.com, address: Vremski Britof 11.
  4. Cliffside *Predjama Castle looks interesting but has little to tour inside. (Exit the A-1 expressway at Postojna.)
  5. In the capitol of *Ljubljana (Lubiana), sights include: unique ambiance; Joze Plecnik House, home of the idyllic city’s architect; Riverside Market; Ljubljana Castle; and the National Library.
  6. ***Lake Bled: I walked a trail up the hill on the south side of Lake Bled for famous views. Also enjoy walking 3.5 miles around the lake for relaxing, ever changing views. The Chapel in Bled Castle was photogenic. Paddle or ride a boat to Bled Island (Blejski otok, the only natural island in Slovenia) to visit the romantic Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary, built in the 1400s, now popular for weddings.
  7. ***Vintgar Gorge (Blejski Vintgar / Soteska Vintgar) is an enchanting canyon of pools and rapids 1.6-km long (1 mile) four km northwest of Bled, near Zgornje Gorje.
  8. ***Triglav National Park: Drive from Lake Bled through Jesenice, to highway 201 to Mojstrana village.
    • In 2013, we enjoyed an inexpensive large apartment with kitchen in idyllic Mojstrana, but adjacent Dovje has a better view of Mount Triglav. The Mojstrana Tourist Office is super helpful for finding lodging and things to do!
    • Drive through **Vrata valley, the most dramatic in Slovenia, under a nice mixed forest of beech, spruce, and fir, along crystal clear Triglavska Bistrica creek. On right is beautiful **Pericnik waterfall, which you can walk behind in an alcove lightly misted by spray. At the end of the road at Aljazev Dom hut (overnight option), admire the mighty north face of Mount Triglav and the Skrlatica group to the south.
    • The best hike in Slovenia may be ***Mount Triglav (the highest peak of the Julian Alps, 2864 meter/9396 feet). Mount Triglav is a national symbol proudly depicted on the Slovenian coat of arms and flag. Drive south from Mojstrana to the trailhead in **Krma valley. Hike to spectacular Kredarica Hut (2515m, Slovenia’s highest, a worthy destination unto itself), staying 1-2 nights. Or hike to scenic Stanicev Dom hut 2332m or Planika hut 2401m. (A popular multi-day route on longer, gradual trails starts from other roads to the southeast.) Above the huts, demanding iron routes (vie ferrate) provide cables and hand grips on steep, exposed (non-technical) paths to the summit of Triglav, not advised for those with fear of heights. Climbing info:  www.summitpost.org/triglav/150787
  9. Gozd Martuljek is a nice village where my overnight lodging looked upon the spectacular **Martuljek mountain group.
  10. On highway 201 at Kranjska Gora, either continue west to the autostrada in Italy (to Udine and Venice), or turn south over the longer but worthwhile **Vrsic Pass:
    • **Vrsic Pass (Slovene: Prelaz Vršič; Italian: Passo della Moistrocca; German: Werschetzpass) in Triglav National Park:
      • From highway 201 at Kranjska Gora, turn south into town, then up the side of an awesomely steep valley in Triglav National Park on a twisty mountain road. Continue over historic Vrsic Pass to Soca River valley.
        • History: Vrsic Pass (1611 meters elevation) is the highest pass road in Slovenia. The military-built Russian Road supplied the Isonzo front of World War I. Opened in late 1915, the road was originally named after archduke Eugen of Austria-Hungary but in 2006 was renamed as Ruska cesta (Russian Road) to honor the prisoners of war who had been forced to build it. Russian Road connects Upper Carniola with the Trenta Valley, rising from the town of Kranjska Gora in a series of 50 hairpin bends before descending into the Soca (Isonzo) Valley.
      • After a sharp descent on hairpin turns south of Vrsic Pass, a signed walking trail goes 20k from the source of the Soca River downstream along the tumbling crystal clear green water, through attractive little gorges, sometimes following the road. Hikers can be dropped off at various places and picked up further down the **Soca River Trail, and drivers can step out of the car at several places to admire the natural beauty.
      • *Boka waterfall (Slap Boka) plunges freely 106 meters plus another 30-meter cascade below. View from the road between Zaga and Bovec.
      • South of Bovec, at Kobarid (Caporetto), either drive westwards back to Venice (2.5-3 hrs) through the mountains, or continue a loop southeastward within Slovenia.
      • *Veliki Kozjak Waterfall (Slap Kozjak, 15 meters high) is a pleasant walk in a gorge near Kobarid.
      • **Tolmin gorges (Tolminska korita) are among the longest and deepest gorges in Slovenia and are the lowest point (180 meters elevation) in Triglav National Park. Walk a trail to the confluence of two gorges (Tolminka and Zadlascica rivers), then along Zadlascica river canyon (locally called Skakalce, “the jumps”) up to a chock stone called the “Bear’s Head.” Walk onwards to the scenic Devil’s Bridge (Hudicev most, built 1907), which carries Tolmin-Cadrg road sixty meters above Tolminka River, then loop on foot back to the parking lot at the Triglavski narodni park (TNP) sign, near Zatolmin.

Julian Alps: Lake Bled and Triglav National Park (expanded gallery)


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Skocjan Caves and Predjama Castle (expanded gallery)


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Slovenia travel tips

  • An ATM is called a Bankomat. Slovenia began using the Euro  in 2007.
  • Hours:
    • Shopping is usually 8am-7pm weekdays, to 1pm Saturdays.
    • Chain stores in big city centers may open Sunday morning, plus a few bakeries, all else closed Sundays.
    • Banks 9am-12:30, 1:30-4 or 5pm weekdays.
  • Phones: Slovenia uses tri-band GSM. Buy €10 SIM card from Mobitel or others. Our Italian SIM worked fine in Slovenia. Ignore the number within parentheses +386 (0)2 when calling Slovenia from outside, but within Slovenia you must dial it plus area code, for example: 02 etc.
  • Internet cafes: 2-3€ per hour or free at hotels, libraries, and TIC tourist centers for 15 min. Look for WiFi Točke. 
  • US Embassy telephone: Ljubljana (01) 200 5500, (1) 200 5555
  • TIC = Turisticno Informacijski Centers generously provide free maps and lodging referrals for local rooms. A sobe will be much a better value than hotels:
    • sobe = room with registered star ratings:
      • ***private bath/AC, **bath down hall, *basic.
      • Call between 9-10am on day of arrival, and most sobe or hotels will hold until 4pm without deposit.
      • Ask for dates in the form day/mo/year through day of departure.
    • apartman = private apartment w/bath + small kitchen
    • Guesthouses (pension, gostisce, privatno prenociste, prenocisca) are cozy and a better value than hotels. Rates for a Double are often quoted per person.
    • omladinsko prenociste = youth hostel
    • Booking with travel agencies costs 10-30% extra but is free at TIC (which may ask you to carry a paper for the lodging’s accounting). Save 20-50% on 3+night stays compared to the listed rate.
    • Planinski domovi (dom) = mountain huts
    • Toilets: Moski/men, Zenske/women
    • Tourist Farms:  www.turisticnekmetije.si can be an interesting cultural experience.
  • Young people speak good English, older people speak German, and most everyone speaks Slovene/Slovenian.
  • Slovenian/Slovene language:
    • Two-word place names use lowercase on 2nd word.
    • ulica = ul. = street
    • Trg = Square
    • cesta = c. = road
    • Cankarjeva ul = poet Ivan Cankar’s street = possessive case in street names.

Recommended Slovenia guidebooks from Amazon.com:

Search for latest “Slovenia travel books” on Amazon.com (look for updates every 1 to 3 years).

2013: 2014: 2013: 2013:

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