We spent our first full day in Slovenia on an all-day tour. We were picked up somewhere on the edge of Ljubljana city centre and whisked away to the Slovenian countryside.
Our tour stopped at Lake Bled, Predjama Castle, and Postojna Cave.
Our drive from Ljubljana to Bled, home of Lake Bled and the famous Bled Island, didn’t take long, maybe 45 minutes or so. I’m prone to motion sickness and was delighted when our tour guide allowed me to sit in the front seat of the van.
There were only six people, including our guide, on our tour which was fantastic. We all hopped out of the van and walked to Vila Bled, the former summer home of Yugoslavian President, Josip Broz Tito. It’s referred to Tito’s Palace for short.
We were told that we had about 15 minutes before our boat departed for Bled Island and were advised to order a slice of kremsnita which is a type of cream cake. Not a cream cake fan, I think I drank water.
Honestly, I just wanted to get on the boat and explore the island.
Soon enough our boat was ready and a hunk manually rowed our flat-bottomed boat from the lakeshore to the island.
I don’t know how long we were on the boat because I was enamored by the beauty of the lake, the mountains, the island, and Bled Castle off in the distance and perched high on a cliff.
Our boat was the first boat of the day to arrive and with the exception of the people working in the coffee shop so our group of six were the only people on the island. It was peaceful.
The island is a mini mountain. From the boat dock, the only way is up, 99 steps to be precise. I was slightly out of breath when I reached the top but that’s probably due to my alcohol intake the previous day (not something I recommend doing).
The island is very small. We explored the “top” of the island and then walked down 99 stairs on the opposite side of the island. There we found two poor souls who had rowed their own boat from somewhere to the island.
We were allotted more than enough time to explore the island. We even bought a tea mug in the island gift shop.
The island was overcrowded by the time our hunk pushed our boat away from the dock. Next destination, Bled Castle.
Once back at shore, we hopped in our van and drove to the other side of the lake to briefly visit Bled Castle. This castle was… nothing special. The view from the castle, however, was outstanding. My only wish was that the weather would have been better on the day of our visit.
I learned later that Lake Bled is surrounded by the Julian Apls and has its own microclimate.
I’m reflecting on our travels over the past three years and I cannot think of another place that is as stunning as Lake Bled.
If were to return to Slovenia, we’d stay at Lake Bled for a couple of nights so that we could explore the area more thoroughly. It would be the perfect destination to decompress or go adventuring. I can imagine us renting bikes and biking around the Alps, lounging around at one of the beaches, and maybe even being “poor souls” and rowing our own boat to the island.
Lake Bled 10/10.
In all honesty, we booked our tour to see Lake Bled and anything more was a bonus for us. I didn’t review our itinerary until we were in Zagreb and didn’t take the time to research our other stops.
To say that I was pleased to be standing in front of “that castle that’s built into a mountain” was an understatement.
Predjama is actually several connected small castles that were built over time. The oldest castle is thought to date back to the 12th century, though the oldest official records date it to the 13th century.
The interior of the castle was undergoing renovations during our visit. They were trying to restore it to look like it did in the 16th century.
The interior of the castle was a maze of narrow corridors and a lot of stairs. It definitely was not open plan. Unfortunately, between the overcast skies and lack of interior lighting, it was too dark inside the castle for photos.
Predjama Castle 8/10.
Our third and final stop of the day was to Postojna Cave. I was shocked to find out that the cave is the most visited tourist attraction in Slovenia. I could not believe that Lake Bled was not in the top slot but at the same time, this was great news for those of us who want to visit Lake Bled.
Postojna Cave is the second-longest cave in Slovenia. It was created by the Pivka River, which over thousands of years, bore through the rock.
Protip: The temperature in the cave is very cold (46°F / 8°C), so pack accordingly.
During WWII, German forces stored aircraft fuel in the case. This fuel was destroyed in 1944 and the fire burned for seven days, destroying a portion of the cave.
To get into the cave, we boarded a rollercoaster-type of machine. It transported us 1.25 miles into the cave! I can’t say for certain but it felt like this “flat coaster” traveled as fast as our train from Zagreb to Ljubljana.
We hopped off of the flat coaster and our walking tour commenced. We were part of a giant group and the cave guide spoke into a microphone. There were too many people!
She began with the rules.
Guide: “Hello Everyone and welcome to Postojna Cave.”
Then a tour guide for a non-English speaking group repeated her words in the group’s native language. I thought, no, no, no. This is not happening.
Guide: “First, I want to go over a couple of rules. Number one, photography with a flash is not allowed because it creates heat and damages the sculptures.”
This was repeated by the other guide and the cave guide waited until he was done speaking. I thought, this is going to be a very long tour.
Guide: “Sir, please do not repeat everything I say. If you need to translate, you will need to do it after the tour.”
The other guide then spoke to his group, I assume to inform them that he was not allowed to translate live.
Guide: “Sir, I’m serious. Please don’t do that.”
We spent about an hour in the cave and I was more than ready to escape the cold temperatures. Without the use of flash photograph, the cave was too dark to photograph, so, unfortunately, I’ve only got one photo to share. We experienced this same struggle at the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland not too long ago.
Similar to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the cave was impressive but too touristy and commercial for us. At times, it felt like we were being herded like cattle. There were just too many people.
We were in the cave for what felt like an eternity and then rode the flat coaster back to the entrance, hopped in the van, and arrived back in Ljubljana about 45 minutes later.
Postojna Cave 2/10.
By the time we arrived in Ljubljana, we were starving and immediately sorted out the food and drink situation. The following day we spent exploring Ljubljana – it’s so lovely!
Slovenia is a must-see.