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  • Writer's pictureMona Shah

Slovenia - Where the Alps meet the Mediterranean Sea

Must Visit Places: Bled and Lake Bled, Vintgar Gorge, Ljubljana

Next we crossed the border  to Slovenia. Nestled where the Alps meet the Adriatic Sea,it  is one of Europe's unexpectedly charming destinations, with spectacular natural beauty and a fascinating recent history — yet much of it is still far off many tourists' paths.

Lake Bled:

Our first stop was Lake Bled. Nestled up against the northeast side of the rugged Julian Alps, just south of the Austrian border, Lake Bled is l every bit as lovely in real life as it is in photographs. With its bluish-green lake, picture-postcard church on an islet, a medieval castle clinging to a rocky cliff and its famous Kremiste cream cakes, what’s not to love?

The four-mile path that rings the lake is great for a stroll. At a leisurely pace, it’s an hour and a half on foot, as you pass several villas and the former residence of Yugoslav president-for-life Marshal Tito — today the Hotel Vila Bled, a must see for sure, and a coffee pit stop.

Visiting the island in the middle of the lake on the romantic flat-bottomed pletna boats is a unique experience. The pretty Church of the Assumption, atop the tiny island's summit, stands on the site of an eighth-century Slavic pagan temple. According to local superstition, ringing the church bell three times with one big pull on the rope — which hangs right down to the altar — will grant you a wish.

Bled Castle

Perched atop a steep cliff more than 100m above the lake, Bled Castle is a medieval fortress with towers, ramparts, moats and a terrace offering magnificent views. You can walk up via three trials signposted 'Grad'. The main path to the castle starts just above the Grajsko kopališče public lido. A 10-minute moderate walk through the forest overgrowing the castle hill and further up the laid-out path delicately lit during the night will reward you with spectacular views of the lake, Bled and its surroundings.

Vintgar Gorge

The 1.6-kilometre long gorge is carved amidst the glorious vertical walls of Hom and Boršt hills, and it is highlighted by the Radovna River and its waterfalls, pools and rapids. A study trail runs across the gorge which is a great experience walking by the rushing gorge waters on boardwalks that crisscross their way along the Radovna River, creating an enchanting landscape. 

Vegetarian Dinner Recos:

Public and Vegan Kitchen Bled: great vegan burgers, salads, and desserts.

Tavci Vegan Cafe: a lovely atmosphere with locally sourced vegan burgers, daily lunch menus, desserts.


A 45 minute drive gets you into Ljubljana, Slovenia's capital and cultural epicenter. Car traffic is restricted in the center of town, and pedestrians and cyclists line the leafy banks of the emerald-green Ljubljanica River, which flows through the city's heart. Cafes and restaurants are everywhere and it is so beautiful and green. 

We picked a large two bedroom airbnb a 20 min walk from the town center in a residential neighborhood. This gave us a daily glimpse of local life as everyday we would take a different path to the sights, giving us an opportunity to get an impromptu invite to art gallery openings, pop up restaurants and the city’s best ice cream joint–Vigo’s. (have the black currant if its in season, it is delicious.)

For the locals, walking everywhere is a way of life, and they have over 10,000 cultural events that take place in the city every year, among which there are 10 international festivals. It is home to numerous theaters, museums and galleries, and boasts one of the oldest philharmonic orchestras in the world. 

Ljubljana castle is an 11th century medieval fortress, an architectural mishmash, with most of it dating from the early 16th century when it was largely rebuilt after a devastating earthquake. The easiest way to get to it is by funicular, that takes you up from Old Town. Or you can take the train or walk up to it. I would recommend the 90-minute Time Machine tours, led by costumed guides for a better understanding of its history.


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