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It was already dark when I reached the border in mid-October and after explaining the border controls what a German guy coming from Krakow, my previous destination, plans to do for three days in Slovenia, they finally allowed me to enter.
I had almost no expectations of Slovenia, the state in the northwest of the Balkan peninsula. But it didn’t take long to realize that I was about to have the time of my life in this small but incredibly beautiful and diverse country.
If you are wondering about how to spend three days in Slovenia, then keep reading!
Day 1: Vintgar Gorge and Lake Bled
The next morning, I had a wonderful breakfast (scrambled eggs and bread with various spreads and cold cuts) with a view I couldn’t enjoy in the night of my arrival: majestic, snowcapped mountains rising above the small town!
I scraped my plate and was ready to explore all the places that my good friend Ania had recommended.
Vintgar Gorge: Walkways Through a Miracle of Nature
The first place on my list was Vintgar Gorge, a 1.6 kilometers long gorge in Triglav National Park. It was a sunny Saturday morning, I packed provisions for the day and only 20 minutes later I arrived at the entrance.
Ready to explore the narrow canyon that has been formed by the Radovna River, I paid the 10€ admission fee and started to follow the one-way wooden pathway underneath the sheer rock walls. The turquoise shimmering water weaved its way through the narrow canyon – a mesmerizing spectacle of nature! I struggled between trying to capture this magical moment and simply enjoying it without holding a lens in front of my eyes. The whole walk took about one hour and ended with a big bang: the 15 meters high Šum waterfall!
Since it was a one-way trail, I had to choose between a long, scenic walk back to the parking lot and a short one. I decided to hike the long path which was supposed to last 1.5 hours – and I should not be disappointed!
At the halfway mark, I reached the first viewpoint. The welcoming committee – a herd of cattle – celebrated my arrival with tinkling cowbells while I ensconced myself on a nearby bench, enjoying the view of the valley, snowy mountain ranges and a cute little church to my left.
About an hour later I parked my car not far from the castle and started to hike up the steep hill. I decided against exploring the castle’s interior and instead, I climbed up a few rocks right next to it, unwrapped my sandwiches and ate lunch while having a fantastic sight of the small island and the famous pilgrimage church that was dedicated to the Assumption of Maria.
The legend about the origin of Lake Bled says that a bunch of reckless, young shepherds let their sheep graze on the holy, green pasture where the chapel was built on. God judged this behavior as an act of desecration, which is why he decided to protect this holy place by creating a lake around the chapel. Today, Lake Bled is considered Slovenia’s most famous tourist attraction and climbing Mount Ojstrica on the other side of the lake made clear why that is the case. The steep hike took no longer than 20 minutes, but the view from up there was priceless!
From here you can not only see the island with the pilgrimage church, but also the castle on the rock hillside right behind the island, snowcapped mountains in the background and the forest around the lake, shimmering in red, yellow, orange and green, which made this scenery perfect.
The air was clear and fresh and the silence on the mountain peak was only interrupted by the church bell that was tolled by tourists every few minutes, cheering parents and the announcer of a canoeing competition that took place that day at Lake Bled.
The sun began to set, a magical day was about to end, and slowly and with a bright smile on my face I moved off to walk around the lake and head back to my accommodation.
Day 2: Vrsic Pass and Soca Valley
My second day in Slovenia was at least as sunny as the last one and knowing what I planned for the day excited me from the moment I opened my eyes: driving the Vršič Pass through the Julian Alps!
Vrsic Pass: Driving Through Winter Wonderland
Built by Russian prisoners in 1915 for military purposes, the Vršič Pass reaches an altitude of 1,611 meters which makes it the highest mountain pass in the country.
It took about half an hour to reach the mountain range, but as soon as me and my car started to fight our way up the mountains, every additional meter rendered me speechless in astonishment and gratitude.
The perfect weather conditions offered clear sight of the snowy mountains and since it was impossible to enjoy the view while driving this winding road, I stopped several times to calmly enjoy the flood of impressions. After taking a walk and trying to resist the temptation to climb one of the snowy trails without proper gear at the highest point of the Vršič Pass, it was time to go down and explore the next highlight that was just around the corner: Soča Valley!
Soca Valley: Heaven for Outdoor Junkies
The Soča is a 138 km-long river that is especially known for its turquoise (some say emerald green) color. What impressed me the most in Soča Valley was the so called “Grand Canyon of Soča”. In this section of the river, the Soča winds its way through a narrow canyon of sharp and rugged rock formations.
It was the perfect place and time for a lunch break and while I made myself comfortable with a hot cup of coffee which I brewed with my gas cooker, a group of Italian photographers joined and made bold attempts to find the best spots to take the perfect picture. Soča Valley is a paradise for outdoor junkies. Rafting, canyoning, paragliding, zip-lining and mountain biking are only few things you can do there. Check the official website of Soča Valley to learn more about the activities there.
One thing I would’ve liked to do was to visit one of the many limestone caves in Soča Valley, but since I was running out of time, I had to keep driving to make it my next stop: Boka Waterfall!
Boka Waterfall is considered one of Slovenia’s mightiest waterfalls. Situated right on my way south, it took only 15 minutes of hiking to reach the viewpoint which revealed the two-stage waterfall with an overall height of 139 meters. Beautiful to watch and definitely worth visiting!
Finding a Camp for the Night
Right after that, it was time to find a good spot for the night since I intended to spend the night in the car. Although I looked up these spots in advance, usually parking lots and deserted places, I never knew exactly what to expect.
Almost two hours later, I found myself right next an old, abandoned, and overgrown government building. It was already dark, and the scenery appeared as if it was straight out of a horror movie, but only for a moment. I prepared my car for the night, went outside and recognized something I haven’t seen in five years: the Milky Way!
It was not as clearly visible as in the outlands of Utah and Arizona, but enough to leave me speechless – again, for the third time of the day. The reason why most of us never see the Milky Way in many parts of Europe and other populous places of the world are the lights of the cities.
This night proved what I suspected ever since I started to explore the country: Slovenia is full of nature, forests, mountains, valleys and lakes, and big cities are scarce. Happy as a clam, I jumped into my sleeping bag and made myself comfortable in my uncomfortable, tiny car. Time to get some rest before the last of my three days in Slovenia.
Day 3: Postojna Cave and Piran
A new morning has dawned which meant that my third and last day of my road trip through Slovenia had begun. It seemed unimaginable to me that my previous days could be surpassed, but that last day had some surprises in store that were like the cherry on the cake.
Postojna Cave: Delving Into Another World
I started the day by visiting the Postojna Cave, a place that was highly recommended and touted by my travel planner Ania. But checking the prices in advance left me with mixed feelings. Almost 26€ for a ticket and 5€ for parking. Would it be worth it? Let me anticipate the answer: YES! It was an experience of a lifetime and so much better than any cave I have ever seen in my life before!
The karst cave system has a total length of 24 kilometers which makes it the largest cave system in Slovenia. It is Europe’s most visited tourist cave and already in 1818 the Postojna Cave was prepared for visitors, back then particularly for Franz I, the first Emperor of Austria. 53 years later, they laid the first cave rails and until today, more than 38 million tourists boarded the train.The train driver carried me, seven other tourists and our tour guide 4 km into the cave, and already the train ride left me speechless since the sheer fact of riding a train inside of a cave appeared kind of surreal to me.
We were exploring the most beautiful parts of the cave by foot and the tour ended in one of the biggest chambers of the cave which is often used as a concert and event hall. It was time to get back into the train, and what felt like a short excursion into another world ended after 90 minutes.
Next Stop: Predjama Castle!
Still thinking about what I have just seen, I set off to drive to the next attraction which was only 10 kilometers further. Ania, who also recommended this place, sent me a picture of Predjama Castle in advance, but as is mostly the case, seeing such a place in real life was far more impressive. Located in the village of Predjama, this castle was built within the mouth of a cave already in the 12th century! Thinking about that moment, leaning on the railing, feeling the sunshine on my face, and listening to the birds singing and the muttering of locals drinking coffee still makes me feel pure ease and comfort. I took one last deep breath and then it was time to for my last stop on my road trip through Slovenia.
Piran – Pearl of the Mediterranean
With Piran as my next stop on the list and my plan to cross the Croatian border and drive to Pula in the evening, I knew that I didn’t have the time to dwell in one place for too long.
So I drove south and bit by bit the landscapes around me started to change. Two hours later, rugged mountain ranges and thick forests were replaced by promenades with palms, medieval buildings and above all – the Adriatic Sea!While I was fascinated by all sceneries I have seen on my trip until that moment, the Alps, the Tatra Mountains in Poland, Franconian and Saxon Switzerland in Germany, gazing at the vastness of the sea and listening to the sound of the waves evoked emotions that go far beyond pure fascination.
All of a sudden, I realized that everything I have done in the past years was meant to lead me to this moment. Deep down I knew that I was on the right track – and that my journey was just about to start.
In the beautiful old town of Piran, kids were skimming stones, locals were fishing, some tourists were sitting in almost empty cafes and restaurant sipping coffee and listening to relaxing music. I strolled through narrow alleys and took pictures every few meters while the sun slowly began to set.
At the coast, I made myself comfortable and started to book accommodations for my upcoming adventure which was just around the corner – one week in beautiful Croatia!
Three Days in Slovenia Come to an End
Considering its size and population, Slovenia is among Europe’s smallest countries. It is a country that is often overlooked as its bordering countries Italy, Croatia and Austria seem to enjoy a much better reputation among travelers all around the world. I was one of them, until my three days in Slovenia disabused me from this misconception.
Its diverse and breathtaking landscapes made a lasting impression me, which is why I highly recommend every single one of you to not miss the chance to visit this wonderful country as well!
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