Going to the Balkans has been on my mind for such a long time that it's hard to believe for me that till this summer I've only been to Greece. Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia... - hopefully I'll manage to visit at least some of those countries. This year however, I've been lucky enough to go to Slovenia for the very first time.
This relatively small country, counting only about 2 millions inhabitants, seemed to be perfect for a rather short stay (only 10 days). And I wasn't disappointed as it turned out that mountains, lakes, sea and all kind of must-see places were located within a 2h drive from each other.
Still, in spite of short distances, 10 days would never be enough to visit the whole country and some hard decisions concerning itinerary must have been taken in order to enjoy the trip with no rush.
Quite naturally Ljubljana was our first stop, very convenient and necessary to pick up our car. The city definitely surprised me with its positive, easy-going and friendly vibes. As much as I liked it, a 1 day sightseeing was quite sufficient. Especially since the tiny capital was so full of tourists that it was only possible to actually enjoy it very early in the morning.
After a day in one of the loveliest European capitals, we headed to lake Bled which turned out to be just as beautiful and crowded as I expected. Making it possible to take only one decent photo...
As it was almost impossible to park a car somewhere nearby, we decided to come back another day at dawn. However, the plans changed after seeing lake Bohinj, located not far from Bled. Smaller and less crowded Bohinj was so enchanting that we decided to shoot at sunrise there and not at Bled.
Hard to imagine a better place to enjoy a misty morning:
Located close to lake Bohinj, Savica waterfall is definitely worth a detour. Although it's not as accessible as one might like it to be...
Once in Triglav National Park, I was totally captivated by the most beautiful mountain sights and spectacular waterfalls, like this one called Pericnik:
With a possibility to go behind the waterfall too.
Our way up to Vrscic Pass was no less breathtaking.
After few days in Triglav, I was more than happy to set off for Soca Valley. Famous for water sports opportunities, even more waterfalls and probably some of the most incredible places to take a dip - I was really looking forward to discover that place.
Starting with Kobarid and a picturesque Napoleon's Bridge was really great.
However, the best spots are definitely out of the town, such as this beautiful bridge on Nadiza river:
And this rope bridge, offering some extra adrenaline to more audacious swimmers.
My all time favorite is Kozjak waterfall that happened to be probably the best surprise of the whole trip and the most amazing place to swim. Especially that it was all for me :)
When exploring Soca Valley, I highly recommend staying in Most na Soci which is a very charming little town, less touristic than Kobarid and perfectly located too.
Just a short drive to another great place to see - Tolmin Gorge.
It was also a perfect starting point to visit a less known Vipava Valley and its gentle slopes covered with vineyards, among which a little village of Smartno looked like from a fairytale.
Exploring Vipava Valley wouldn't be complete without tasting its treasure and for this the best company and organization were provided by Winestronaut.
Tasting local wines and traditional tapas, meeting people passionate about wine and learning about their work which has basically become the way of life, was a wonderful, unexpected experience, after almost a week spent in the mountains.
During just a few hours we tasted countless wines, made new friends, met the Wine Queen and... even tried some cognac straight from the barrel!
One of Slovenia's must-see's are Postojna cave and Predjama castle. As much as visiting those exceptional places in high season might not be the best idea, we were very lucky to get a private visit of both, thanks to Slovenia tourism board. This was particularly great while visiting the cave. So far the most impressive and breathtaking one I've ever seen, full of absolutely stunning rock formations.
And most incredible textures:
Impressive, built in a rocky mountain, Predjama castle was no disappointment neither. Although extremely photogenic, practically only one angle offers the best view on the castle.
In spite of this, I managed to get at least one decent shot from the inside too ;)
As during a 10 days trip it wasn't possible to spend nights by the sea, we decided to go to the lovely coastal town of Piran only for half a day. Still it was definitely worth it and it's only 1h drive from Postojna cave.
Slovenian coastline is rather short and there are basically 2 towns worth visiting: Piran and Portoroz, that we didn't visit due to short time.
Being very close to the Italian border, Piran has definitely some strong Venetian vibes about it...
Above all it's a very charming, little town with narrow, cobblestone streets, cozy restaurants and nice beaches. A very nice change after all mountain landscapes. Last but not least, I really love the unexpected mix of Slovenian and Italian:
A day in Piran was also marking a near end of the whole trip and the next day we were heading to Celje, located some 50km east from Ljubljana.
On the way to Celje a few places were to be visited, such as Idrija and Kamnik. Although these were a very short stops, there was just enough time to appreciate their tranquility and surrounding mountains.
It's hard to believe, but this same day we even had some time to do the last one little hike, in Velika Planina. A way of saying goodbye to those beautiful mountains.
We arrived to our destination quite late at night and the visit to the old castle of Celje was reported to the next (and last) day.
Unfortunately, the visit turned out to be quite disappointing, as the most extraordinary view was completely spoiled by this:
Although a bit sad about that, I still did enjoy the visit and the view over Celje and the mountains was simply magnificent.
Even more sadder to leave Slovenia, I told myself that I definitely need to come back! Maybe this winter...