Thursday, 25 April 2019

3 Walks To Take in Slovenia

Greetings! Last month, my sister and I went on a guided tour to visit Croatia and Slovenia. Our itinerary included a day trip to historic Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I wrote about that picturesque and interesting day trip here.

Slovenia is a small country in south central Europe, with Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the east, and Croatia to the south. Slovenia's population is about two million. Its official language is Slovenian, and its currency is the euro.

Today I'm sharing three fun walks that visitors would enjoy in Slovenia. I'd allow at least half a day for each walk since there are lots to see. Feel free to pick one, or two, or all three. The first walk is an urban walk in Ljubljana (Slovenia's capital), and the next two are nature walks by the lakes. Will you join me?

WALK #1 - LJUBLJANA OLD TOWN

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. It is not to be confused with Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Ljubljana means beloved. The best buildings are in and around Ljubljana's finely preserved Old Town, along the Ljubljanica River, with bridges linking the two banks.

A good place to meet and start our walk is at Presernov Square by the bronze statue of France Peseren (1800-1849). From the statue, it's fun to watch the constant ebb and flow of people, or admire the architectural details of the buildings around it, such as the red Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, or Centromarkur, Ljubljana's oldest department store, marked by an Art Nouveau awning over the entrance. Click to enlarge the pictures.

Franciscan Church, Presernov Square, Triple Bridge

Running south from Presernov Square to the Old Town is the much celebrated Triple Bridge. The bridge was originally called Špital (Hospital) Bridge and was built as a single span in 1842. Between 1929 and 1932 architect Jože Plečnik added the two pedestrian side bridges, furnished all three with stone balustrades and lamps, and forced a name change. Stairways on each of the side bridges lead down to the poplar-lined terraces along the Ljubljanica River.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

After crossing the Triple Bridge, we're in the Old Town where some of the interesting landmarks include the Robba's Fountain (1751), and the Town Hall which we can visit for free. Exhibitions are occasionally held in the interior courtyard, like the lovely Pratneker's art exhibit that I discovered here.

Ljubljana Town Hall

Among several important religious buildings in Ljubljana's Old Town is the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, in baroque style, defined by its high dome and massive bell towers. The cathedral was designed by Andrea Pozzo in 1701. Its interiors are famous for frescoes by Quaglio, depicting miraculous moments in the life of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of all seafaring people. Worth a look are the bronze sculpted church doors, added for the 1996 visit of Pope John Paul II, whose image can be seen looking over the history of Slovene Christianity on the main doors.

Cathedral of St Nicholas' bronze sculpted doors

Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Market. Just north of the market, crossing the Ljubljanica River out of Old Town, is Dragon's Bridge, designed by Jurij Zaninovich and completed in 1901, with four fabulously sculpted dragons adorn each corner of the bridge.

Market in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Sculpted dragon at Dragon's Bridge, Ljubljana

Leaving the Old Town, we can walk uphill or take a funicular to reach Ljubljana Castle which overlooks the entire city. It’s free to ramble around the castle grounds, but you’ll have to pay to enter the Watchtower and the Chapel of St George, and to see the Slovenian History Exhibition, visit the Puppet Theatre, and take the Time Machine tour.

Ljubljana Castle, Slovenia

This discovery walk #1 gives an introduction to charming Ljubljana. The city is small and compact so one can see plenty of it with little effort. Aside from the various visually interesting and historic landmarks in the Old Town, what I enjoy is the vibrant, youthful, and relaxing atmosphere along the river. There are plenty of coffee bars and restaurants to take a break or linger until sundown and mingle with the locals.

WALK #2 - LAKE BLED

From Ljubljana, it's an easy drive to Lake Bled. Bled is located 50km (31 miles) NW of Ljubljana, and Bohinj is 26km (16 miles) SW of Bled. It's doable to combine walk #2 and walk #3 on the same day. Click to enlarge the pictures.

Lake Bled is a lake fit for a fairy tale, complete with dramatically situated cliff-top castle, an island church, and wraparound mountain scenery.

Lake Bled and Bled Castle, Slovenia

Let's start from Bled Castle, located atop a sheer cliff, 138m (or 460 ft.) up. One can reach Bled Castle by foot (a 15 minute uphill walk) or 5 minute by car and a short climb up the final stretch. Bled Castle traces its history back to 1004. Today it houses a museum, a chapel, a historic wine cellar, a printing shop showing how printing was done in medieval times, a restaurant, and an ice cream shop.

Bled Castle, Slovenia

The views from the castle ramparts are magnificent: Mount Triglav (Three Heads) the highest peak of the Julian Alps on one side, Bled Island and Lake Bled in the middle, and the Karavanke mountain range on the other side.

Mount Triglav (Three Heads): The 2864m limestone peak has been a source of inspiration and an object of devotion for Slovenes for more than a millennium – it even appears on the country's flag. The early Slavs believed the mountain to be the home of a three-headed deity who ruled the sky, the earth and the underworld.

Mt. Triglav (Three Heads), Slovenia

Bled Island: As the only island in Slovenia, Bled Island forms a perfect centerpiece in Lake Bled. You can row (or be rowed) to Bled Island. On the island is the delightful Church of the Assumption, dedicated to both Mary the Virgin and Mary Magdalene. People from all over Slovenia come here to tie the knot on Saturdays. The tradition includes the groom carries the bride up the 99 stairs to the church.

Bled Island, Slovenia

Bled and Kavaranke Mountain Range, Slovenia

Going from Bled Castle down to the ground level, there is a lovely walking path and boardwalk along the shore of Lake Bled to enjoy its beauty. The surface of the water changes through the day, wearing its striking turquoise facade when the sun is brightest, and maturing to a silver-blue as dusk descends.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

The reward for walking the entire perimeter of Lake Bled (6km or 3.7 miles) is the famous local cream cake at a lakefront restaurant. I had the cream cake with a sweet wine as recommended by the waiter and it was divine!!!

Cream cake at Lake Bled, Slovenia

If you prefer a different dessert, the choices are staggering so no worries :)

Slovenian sweets by Lake Bled

WALK #3 - LAKE BOHINJ

As mentioned earlier, Bohinj is 26km (16 miles) SW of Bled. It's doable to combine visits to Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj on the same day, or do separate visits and stay longer at each. Click to enlarge the pictures.

Measuring over 4km (2.5 miles) long, Lake Bohinj is the largest permanent lake in Slovenia. Because it's inside Triglav National Park, it has been protected from development which has affected Bled, so there's no town on its shore.

Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

The walk to the lake is flat, scenic, and tranquil. On a sunny day, a few kayaks are out on the lake. Spring flowers start to appear on the ground as some shown in the photo below.

Kayak on Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Spring flowers, Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Jezernica, the second shortest river in Slovenia, flows from Lake Bohinj, and after it joins the Mostnica river (100 metres from the bridge), it is called the Sava Bohinjka. The water is incredibly clear and the reflections of the surrounding scenery are stunning. It's easy to see why Slovenians love to come here to enjoy nature, relax, walk, hike, or swim.

Jezernica river, Bohinj, Slovenia

Scenery by Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

At the head of the lake, visible on the local flag, the Church of St. John the Baptist, is Bohinj's best-known man-made attraction, mostly built in 1520 and renowned for its interior frescoes.

Bohinj, Slovenia

Near the Bohinj green sign in the photo below is a statue of three Slovenian guides and an Austrian mountaineer who climbed from Bohinj to reach the Triglav summit in 1778. I find this story truly inspiring!

Bohinj, Slovenia

I enjoy the three walks in Slovenia very much. Each walk offers something unique. The capital city is charming. The mountains and the lakes are simply stunning. I look forward to returning to Slovenia and exploring other parts of this beautiful country.

Thank you for joining me. I'd love to hear your comments.

48 comments:

  1. Hi, Natalie - I absolutely LOVE traveling vicariously with you. Your photos and descriptions are very captivating. I am impressed by all of the walking that you do....especially walks that end with cream cake and sweet wine!

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    1. Hi Donna - Thank you for your kind comments. It's wonderful to walk in Slovenia. I really liked what I saw there and the cream cake was irresistible. I didn't think it would go well with wine but it did with the light sweet wine the waiter recommended. You must be getting excited with your upcoming long walk.

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  2. Ljubljana - don’t you love the name of that city!? I’ve always been captivated by it, but so far, I’ve only driven through, so I truly enjoyed the urban walk with you. The lakes are stunning as well and you lucked out with the weather.

    Slovenia seems to become more popular as a tourist destination these years. I have good (Belgian) friends who took a family vacation there last summer and I read a book set in the Slovenian mountains not too long ago. I’d ove to explore this tiny country one day! Thanks for the virtual walks, Natalie!

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    1. Hi Liesbet - Thank you for your comment. We totally lucked out with the weather on this trip, considering we went in March, a transition month from winter to spring. We had sunny and warm days, up to 25C, and only one cool and cloudy day for the entire trip.
      I hope you get to visit Slovenia soon. I really like the country and look forward to returning. They have some amazing caves that would be cool to see.

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    1. Thank you, Lydia, for your comment. Slovenia has nice scenery packed in a small country.

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  4. Hi Natalie, we visited Lake Bled when we stopped at Ljubljana on a cruise. It was beautiful and I would certainly love to revisit Slovenia and stay longer. thanks for the virtual visit. #lifethisweek

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    1. Hi Sue - Sounds like we're on the same page about Lake Bled and Slovenia. Thank you for stopping by.

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    2. Yes my daughter and her husband had visited there and said we just had to see it. Thanks for joining us at #MLSTL and have a great week. x

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    3. Thank you, Sue, for hosting MLSTL. Have a great week!

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  5. Hi Natalie, this is another great post showing us the joys of walking in this beautiful area. Thanks for your descriptions and photos which let us feel like we're walking with you :) #lifethisweek

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    1. Thank you, Deb, for your kind comments. It was a pleasure to do these walks in Slovenia. I'm happy to share them on my blog.

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  6. The architecture, the markets, the waterways, the sweets, the castles, the three-headed deity, the dragons! A fairytale indeed. High on my list of places to visit but it will be a few years before I am back in Europe. As much as I love what man has made here, I think it is mother nature’s artwork at Bled and Kavaranke Mountain Range, Slovenia that I love the best.

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    1. Hi Lisa - I share your love for mother nature's artwork in Slovenia. Thank you for stopping by. I look forward to reading about your stop in Brazil.

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  7. Beautiful sites and great history. Loved the sweet delights too!
    Wonderful to have the experience of travelling isn't it?

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    1. Thank you, Deborah, for your visit and comment. Yes, it's wonderful to have the experience of travelling. I greatly appreciate it.

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  8. Slovenia looks so serene and beautiful. I enjoy looking at your travel photos. #globalblogging

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you enjoy looking at my travel photos. I like Slovenia's natural scenery.

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  9. No wonder you needed to do these walks with all of these fabulous desserts!!
    XOOX
    Jodie

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    1. For each cream cake slice, one round of Lake Bled :) Thank you, Jodie, for stopping by.

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  10. I had no idea Slovenia is so gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your photos.

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    1. Slovenia is a gem. Thank you for your comment.

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  11. Sorry I'm a bit slow today! Isn't it a stunning country? Such short distances to the lakes too- makes the whole thing irresistible! Many thanks, Natalie :) :)

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    1. Yes, Slovenia is compact with stunning scenery so it's easy to go from city to mountains to the lakes. Thank you, Jo, for stopping by.

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  12. Another lovely bit of vicarious travel - thanks Natalie! lol I'm so impressed with the architecture and scenery over there - just beautiful! Thanks so much for linking this post up with #ZTT xo

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    1. Thank you, Min, for your comment and hosting ZTT. I hope you have a great time in Sydney.

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  13. It looked like such an epic trip. I also want to take the same trip someday.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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    1. It was a wonderful trip! I hope you visit Slovenia. Thank you for stopping by.

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  14. Such a beautiful place. You go to the best places. Thanks for sharing. #MLSTL

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    1. Thank you, Patrick, for your comment. I greatly appreciate it.

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  15. Natalie you get to see so many fantastic places. The scenery and architecture here is just beautiful - and to top it off they even have delicious cakes! What's not to love?
    Thanks for linking up to #MLSTL and I've shared this on my SM :)

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    1. Hi Leanne - There is even the word love in Slovenia :) Thank you for hosting MLSTL. Have a great week!

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  16. Every walk should end with cake :-) Europe is brilliant part of the world and the wonderful area of Slovenia that you described so beautifully is one we haven't been too. Maybe one day I will, you never know.

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    1. I agree, Suzanne, every walk should end with cake. It's a motivating combo :-)

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  17. I don't think I could choose one over the other--the water and bridges and scenery are all just gorgeous! Thanks for joining and making My Corner of the World a success!

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    1. Thank you, Betty, for hosting MCoTW. My pleasure to share Slovenia's beautiful scenery on my blog.

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  18. You do take me to some amazing places on your travels Natalie.

    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week's optional prompt is Taking Stock 18/51. Hope you can join in and link up. Denyse.

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    1. Thank you, Denyse, for hosting LTW and joining me on my virtual walks. I look forward to the next link up.

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  19. Thanks for sharing about your travels, Natalie. Those walks look as if they were both beautiful and good for the soul with all that natural beauty. And the food :-)

    SSG xxx

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    1. Thank you, SSG, for stopping by and commenting. The food was an attraction :)

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  20. Like everyone else I live vicariously through your travels. I doubt I'll ever get to Slovenia and if I get back to Europe at all I probably should go to the basics, like England! :-)

    Such beautiful scenery though and I guess (in some ways) exactly how I expect that part of the world to look. (Though greener than expected!)

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    1. It's far for you to travel to Europe so I understand your choice to visit England. Thank you, Deb, for stopping by.

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  21. Those photos are great. My son went to Slovenia a few years ago and he loved it too. So many places to visit while you are there.

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    1. Thank you, Deb. for your comment. Slovenia is a small country and it's easy to get around there.

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  22. So gorgeous. Definitely on my to-visit list.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I think you'll enjoy Slovenia.

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  23. Slovenia is a place I only know from bloggers who've posted photos of it. What a beautiful country!

    janet

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    1. Thank you, Janet, for your visit and comment. Slovenia is not too well-known yet and some people confuse it with Slovakia. Both countries are beautiful.

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