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 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|
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!
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.