We arrived into Slovenia at the end of our five month trip around the Balkans tired and “travelled out” so to speak.
We’d heard so much about the country that we deliberately kept it until the end to visit, so that we could enjoy it as much as possible.
Eight full days was more than enough time to explore this luscious green country and give us a good indication as to whether Slovenia lived up to the hype or not!
Slovenia stole the show right at the death by all accounts! It was Florence’s favourite country on this trip overall, while Albania was mine.
However, Slovenia certainly did live up to our expectations and it’s yet another country that we’d love to revisit again at a later stage.
Ljubljana – The charming capital of Slovenia
We arrived in Ljubljana from Zagreb in Croatia and almost immediately Florence fell in love with it.
The Ljubljana river runs straight through the old section of the city and provides a gorgeous backdrop for photo opportunities when the sun is shining, as the colour of the water is like an emerald green.
There are many huge buildings pebbled dashed around the centre of the old town, and the streets have an abundance of little cafes and other quaint eateries to choose from.
We took the walking tour while we were there and it had about 60 people in it, meaning that the group had to be split up in two, in order to keep things manageable.
While the tour was interesting (we did about 12 of these walking tours on this trip) it didn’t engage our interest as much as other city tours. The tour guide was great, but the content felt a little too political for our interests. Either way, it’s always good to get a feel for a new city, and these walking tours are the perfect introduction to a city when you arrive.
The city is the administrative, cultural, political and economic centre of Slovenia and has a population of about 280,000. We couldn’t believe that the entire county only has a population of two million!
An interesting feature about Ljubljana is that it was awarded the European Green city award for 2016 – a testament to just how eco-friendly the city is.
There are bicycles EVERYWHERE!
We heard that there’s more bicycle lanes just in Ljubljana than in the entire country of Canada!
Novo mesto in the region of Dolenjska
After spending a couple of days in the capital we decided to head eastwards over to the region of Dolenjska where we worked with a local tourism board called Visit Dolenjska.
We met up with one of their representatives, Simon in a small little town called Novo Mesto where we were given an informative and detailed introduction to the area. Simon was extremely helpful and arranged for a quick private tour of the museum there.
Dolenjska itself is located in the south-eastern part of the country between the Sava River and the Ljubljana basin.
The landscape boasts of beautiful forests that contain huge trees, valleys, rivers and is the habitat of some rare animal and plant species.
Up in the hills, the sun drenched grapes grow to produce some of the finest wine you’ll ever drink!
Staying in a 150 year old Slovenian cottage
Simon from the Visit Dolenjska tourism board arranged for us to stay in a cottage in the mountains for a night which we were extremely excited about – as we never stayed in a cottage before on our travels.
This wasn’t just any old cottage though, it was 150 years old and had been restored and refurnished. However, some of the furniture is more than 100 years old.
We met with the owner of the cottage – Matjaz in Novo Mesto and he drove us to the cottage from there.
We’ve stayed in some pretty cool places around the world over the past few years, but this place was definitely the most unique by a mile.
Matjaz owns two of these vineyard cottages, the one we stayed in was called Skatlar 1. The other cottage is literally a stone throws away.
Each cottage is perfect for a couple or small family. There’s a balcony overlooking the stunning region of Dolenjska in each cottage too.
In the mornings you are gently awoken by the birds and the soft knelling of the bell at the nearby church. Deers have also visited the cottages in the early mornings too – but we didn’t see any during our stay.
Each cottage has one bedroom but there’s also another two beds up in the attic which is covered by a straw roof.
When you arrive to the cottage, Matjaz gives you the key to your own wine cellar – where you’re free to sample the different wines available.
How cool is that? We’re not wine drinkers, but we thoroughly enjoyed all the various wines that Matjaz introduced us to…our favourite being Cviček! Seriously, this was as easy to drink as water is and tasted so nice.
I don’t bring much home with me at the end of a trip – but I did bring a bottle of Cviček because it was sooo nice.
Also, when you arrive at the cottage first, you get a welcome package that includes delicious salami sausage, home made bread and a sample of that Cviček wine I’m raving about!
Matjaz invited us down to his own family home for dinner that evening as we were only staying for the one night, so he wanted to show us more about Slovenian culture etc.
When we arrived at his house, his daughter Anna gave us an excellent intro talk about Slovenian history and culture before inviting us into another cottage for a sit down feast.
The meal was a glorious traditional Slovenian meal – and we also enjoyed a short 30 minute documentary about the history of wine in the region as we eat it.
We honestly can’t speak highly enough about Matjaz or his cottages. The whole experience was exactly the reason why we love to travel – meeting great people and exploring new cultures.
If you ever get a chance to visit Slovenia then take our word for it – go check out these cottages – http://www.matjazeva-domacija.si/eng/
Give our regards to Matjaz if you do!
Travelling in Slovenia by Car
We quickly decided that in order to explore the other parts of the country that we had planned, we’d need a car of our own in order to do so.
Slovenia is well connected with public transport, but having your own set of wheels allows you a lot more freedom there.
When we got back to Ljubljana we hired a car for 4 days from Europcar for €110! Cracking deal in fairness!
Over the next few days we visited Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, the Julian Alps and Postojna.
While we were in the Julian Alps area we stayed in a really nice apartment that had its own Sauna and Jacuzzi!
We’ll be back!
This country blew us away! It was so spectacular in terms of scenery, culture and locals.
It’s not expensive, but also not as cheap as the likes of Albania or Bosnia for example.
As I said at the start, out of all 12 countries that we visited on this trip – Slovenia stole the show right at the end.
Put it on your list if you already haven’t – it’s dame impressive!