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Road Trip Slovenia – Visiting Ljubljana & Lake Bled
Hello Mr. Road Trip Slovenia! Thank you very much for making me wait almost 4 hours at your border crossing from Croatia into your country. I was thinking that morning: “Hmm, what would make my day extra interesting?”
Well, how about an amazing slow service and 4 hours waiting in line ? Sure, that will do the trick! My road trip in Slovenia was off to a great start.
Sometimes you are just having a bad day and unfortunately this happened to be one of those days. A burning sun, rude people on the roads, slow custom officers and long lines, it is all part of the adventure!
Yes, road trip traveling might not be as glamorous as we all like to show on our Instagram feed, but if you can’t appreciate the tough times you won’t enjoy the good times. And let me tell you, my road trip in Slovenia was about to show me some amazing times!
Road Map of Slovenia
In order to plan your journey you need a good road map of Slovenia. Below I show the route that I took from Croatia to Novo Mesto, Ljubjlana, Lake Bled, Tolmin towards Marburg and eventual into Austria.
Rent a car in Slovenia
When you want to rent a car in Slovenia, you will quickly find out how easy this process is. Bring your EU or International driver’s license and make sure you make a reservation with the large rental companies before you arrive. You need to be at least 18 years of age and have your driver’s license for at least 2 years to rent a car
If you fly to the international airport you will find a whole variety of car rental companies. Click here to see a full list of all the car rental companies
Slovenia – The little brother of Austria
You might not know this, but Slovenia is often referred to as the little brother of neighbouring country Austria.
The landscapes and roads are very similar and once you cross the border you will have a pleasant introduction to this small underrated piece of paradise.
My first stop would be in Ljubljana (Laibach), but because of the long drive I decided to book my hotel half way.
Road trip cost
In Slovenia you will find plenty of pub hotels that are normally bed and breakfast combined with a pub bar and restaurant. Mine was based nearby Novo Mesto and I paid around 25 Euro for one night.
Even though the country is still part of the Balkan region, you will encounter normal European prices here for food, drinks and gasoline.
Slovenia – Road tax or road toll?
When you enter the country you will also need to buy a Vignette (road taxes) of 15 euro (7 days) or 30 Euros (1 month). You can buy the vignette at any gas-station, but I recommend you buy it already just before you cross the border from Croatia.
Put the Vignette in the top corner of the driver’s side and you are good to go!
Things to do Ljubljana
I visited the capital on the weekend and the city was very vibrant, but not crowded at all. The atmosphere reminded be of a small village community instead of a large capital city. “Good morning” and “How are you today, sir?”.
Ljubljana Central Market
Well, that is a pleasant surprise when you enter the central market. The friendly locals are keen on telling you all about their country and city and the food is absolutely amazing. The market consists of a variety of different local products and services. The local cuisine is served on almost every corner by small grill places run by the locals
There is just something authentic about spending your day on the market. It is buys, but it does not feel crowded. It feels more like strolling on a calm Sunday afternoon, which was a real relief after the busy cities of Croatia.
The market has some excellent local dishes (between 10 and 15 Euro per dish) and serve some amazing local draft beers. And the best part? The converted a few old Van’s into transportable beer machines, which is of course something The Road Trip Guy loves!
At the end of the market there was even a display of a the local Slovenian Dance club. They celebrated their anniversary by showcasing a local dance, which reminded me a lot of the local Spanish dances. It was fascinating to see that the Slovenian people were extremely proud of their heritage. The support that this dance group received was overwhelming and it almost felt like I was at a Bon Jovi concert. Just wow!
I highly recommend visiting the Dragon Bridge. The bridge is covered with guarding dragons that has become a famous landmark in the city of Ljubljana, therefore If you did not get your picturing taking with a dragon, it is like visiting Paris without a shot with the Eiffel tower. Don’t be that person! 😉
It was constructed in 1901 and was called the Jubilee Bridge of Emperor Franz Joseph the first. According to the original designs it was supposed to be winged lions instead of dragons.
I am just glad they made something so cool out of it! The bridge’s original decorations also included the parapet lamps, once powered by gas.
The Ljubljana Castle can be found on top of the city hill. This beautiful castle has been watching over the city for the last 900 years, and is one of Ljubljana’s main attractions. The Outlook Tower is known for its stunning views and you easily spent hours in the houses and museums. There is even a puppet museum for the families!
It is also hosts a series of cafes, a nightclub and two restaurants. In the summer they host movie nights, which is an outdoor cinema event. Enjoy your favorite movie with the castle in the background. Not bad right?
Castle ticket including return funicular fare
- €10.00 per person for adults
- €7.00 per person for children and young people aged 7-18, students, senior citizens, and groups of more than 15 people
- €26.00 for families of up to two adults and at least one child aged 7-18
Castle ticket only
- €7.50 per person for adults
- €5.20 per person for children and young people aged 7-18, students, senior citizens, and groups of more than 15 people
- €19.00 for families of up to two adults and at least one child aged 7-18
Castle and funicular:
January, February, March and November – from 10 am to 8 pm
April, May and October – from 9 am to 9 pm
June, July, August and September – from 9 am to 11 pm
December – from 10 am to 10 pm
Info Center, Viewing tower, Virtual castle, exhibitions:
January, February, March and November – from 10 am to 6 pm
April, May and October – from 9 am to 8 pm
June, July, August and September – from 9 am to 9 pm
December – from 10 am to 7 pm
Places to stay in Ljubljana
Spending the night in Ljubljana is a great experience. During the day you can visit all the monuments, castles and markets, whilst in the evening the entertaining nightlife because an experience you will never forget. Thankfully, there are several good and affordable accommodations in the area.
Hotels, Hostels and Bed & Breakfast
City Hotel Ljubljana
Located in the heart of, just 300 m from the central Prešeren Square, City Hotel Ljubljana is one of the best hotels in the city. It comes with à la carte restaurant and free bikes to explore the city. It might be a bit pricey, but it has a good location which makes it suitable for short city trips.
Ljubljana Triple Bridge = 350 metres
Ljubljana Old Town = 500 metres
Ljubljana Railway and Bus Station = 850 m
Castle = 1km.
Tivoli City Hostel
Tivoli City Hostel is one of the best hostels of the city. It is located next to Tivoli gardens and offers different types of accommodations for the budget-traveller. The price includes breakfast and you even get your own set of bathing slippers when you arrive! Everything was new and clean.
The best part? There is free private parking for your car if needed. You just need to call beforehand and tell them you are traveling with a car.
Visiting Lake Bled
It is true that Lake Bled is as beautiful as you have seen on all the pictures online. The blue water and the church on the island makes it feel like you took a trip back in time.
It is the most popular destination in Slovenia and don’t be surprised if it gets really busy during the summer. You will see plenty of Russians, backpackers, honeymooners and campers cruising across the lake hunting for a place to swim, park or hang out.
The lake overs a wide variety of aquatic sports and hiking options.
It is absolutely lovely!
Lake Bled – Things to do
There is a 6 km long trail around the lake. It is perfect for small walks and bike rides. The path leads to some of the best sightseeing locations – Castle Hill and nearby hills with splendid views.
Relax, and enjoy the view on the lake with an island and the Karavanke mountains in the distance. You will see large variety of wildlife here with mostly ducks and swans enjoying the beautiful waters of the lake. Another popular sports activity in this area is rowing. Lake Bled can pride itself with a long tradition of the rowing sport and with hosting international rowing competitions.
During the summer visitors can cool down in the lake or enjoy on the Castle beach which each year attracts a great number of tourists. In extremely low winter temperatures the surface of the lake freezes. It gives some amazing photo opportunities!