Day 5 – Ptuj & Maribor

Slovenia might be a small country, but there’s many places worth visiting, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot, which give me the idea to write “Slovenia on Budget”. Although you will need a car, as I don’t cover the transport and accommodations.

If you want, you can read my previous posts

Day 5 – Ptuj & Maribor

Slovenia looks like a chicken on the maps, and today we’re going around its neck, in the Podravska region. As you drive, you will notice how the landscape will change.

Ptuj, the Home of the Kurant

When I think about Ptuj, the first thing that come into my mind is Pust, the Carnival. Pust is a very traditional celebration where children and adults wear disguises and roam the streets. It is similar to Halloween, only their goal is not to get treats but to chase the winter away.

Parade of Kurenti |

Parade of Kurenti

Every year, two weeks before Easter, the Carnival is celebrated in grand in Ptuj. Visitors from all around come to take place in the celebration.

The mascot of Pust is the Kurant, a figure with a colorful mask, cows bells and ribbons on its head, wearing sheep skin.

While visiting the Ptuj Castle, you can pass by the Slovenian traditional costumes Exhibition (near the Gift Shop). Make sure to go all the way to ring the lucky bells and take a picture!

The Ptuj Castle is sitting on a hills, the walk up is fairly easy. From there you can have a nice look over Ptuj and the River Drava, one of the most important river in Slovenia.

Old Town of Ptuj

Old Town of Ptuj

You can visit the collections inside the Ptuj Castle (5€), but we decided not to go in.

Maribor, the Oldest Vine

Maribor is the second most important city in Slovenia. Walking along Drava, you will find one of the local attraction: the House of the Stara Trta, the Old Vine – in fact, it is THE oldest, still producing vine in the World.

During the harvest season, a lot of people come to Maribor to witness the careful harvest of the Old Vine. The wine produced from its grapes is a highly valuable protocol gift. Therefore, not for sale for us, the commoners. Although, you can get your hand on a bottle of Modra Kavčin, which is produced from the same sort.

Extra Info: Slovenia has two wine-producing regions: Podravska and Coast – Primorska, there’s a lot of “wine roads” that you can follow and discover the vineyards – do not drink and drive though. The famous wine in Primorska is indeed the teran, and in Podravska, the cviček and a variety of white wines. Also, in Slovenia, on November 11th, the Feast of St. Martin celebrates the “turning of wine”.

Bonus: Slovenian Toplice

There’s many nice TopliceSpa in Slovenia, and a lot of them can be found in Podravska and Savinjska . I’ve been to only two spas in Slovenia: Olimia Thermal Spa, a more high-end natural spa and to Terme Vivat, which is smaller but cozy.

If you’re in for a relaxing 3hrs break, you can visit one of the many Slovenia spa for about 10€ (you can also look for special discount with Spar Discount Card or on 1nadan).

In five short days, I tried to show my parents as much as possible of Slovenia, in a hopefully expenses-wise way.

We also went hiking in the Dovžanova Soteska – The Hiking Path near our house.  My parents were amazed by the closest of the water and the nature.

I hope you enjoyed reading my series “Slovenia on Budget”, if you have any questions/comments/suggestions or personal experiences about Slovenia that you would like to share, please write to me via the comment box below!

Until next adventure,

Day 4 – Tolmin & Around

Travelling is already so expensive (the cost of transport and accommodations…), so let me show you some free/low-cost activities to do, follow my series “Slovenia on Budget”.  It is for people who will travel by car.

If you want, you can first read

Day 4 – Tolmin and Around

The Forest covers about 60% of Slovenia. When I think about Slovenia, mountains, forest and waters come to my mind. In this post, we’re going hiking and seeing a lot of water courses. We’re going to the West side of Slovenia, in the Goriška region.

Tolminska Korita in Tolmin

The drive from Tržič (where I live) to Tolmin is quite tricky, it has a tons of mountains roads and turns. I’m always a bit worried when we drive to Tolmin, as I’m not sure how my stomach will take it… but the Tolminska Korita – Tolmin Gorges is soooooooo worth it! And a plus, it’s not crowded by tour bus tourists, but hikers.

For a little fee of 4€, you can hike in the Tolmin Gorges, which is part of the Triglav National Park. The paths are well maintained, but a good pair of shoes is recommended, as it goes up and down and near the water courses.

Beautiful Tolminska Korita

The water, believe it or not, is turquoise and very very clear. You can easily see the protected marble trout in the waters. I’ve always enjoy listening to the flow of water and childishly play in it – it’s just so relaxing! Within the Tolminska Korita, you can see Thermal Spring, the “Bear’s Head”, the Devil’s Bridge and so much more. For more information, you can visit the Dolina Soče Official Website.

Hidden gem in Kobarid

On our way back, we visited small hidden gem in Kobarid: the Kozjak Slap, which consists of six succession of waterfalls, but only the two last can be seen. The Veliki Kozjak is beautiful sight of nature: a 8 m high white  waterfall, surrounded by a half dome, that drops into a pool of turquoise water. The only path there is by walking on a narrow and tiny wooden bridge and at the end, you get to stand on a platform of approximately 1 m large. Which makes taking photos a bit challenging!

We took the smoother road via  Škofja Loka/Idrija on our way to Tolmin, but we drive back by via Kranjska Gora/Vršič Pass .

Driving through Vršič Pass

The Vršič Pass is the most famous and highest mountain pass in Slovenia. It was built during World War I, with a total of 50 turns. Each turn is numbered from 1 to 50 with the elevation.

Beautiful View from the top of the Vršič Pass

Beautiful View from the top of the Vršič Pass

The sight on top is breathtaking, you can see waves of mountains in attitude. There’s also a small inns for travelers and adventures. It’s a quite famous cycle-challenger for bikers as well!

Be aware that the weather is chiller at the top (1611 masl), so wear an extra jacket.

Let me know how you’re liking the nature side of Slovenia by dropping me some comments below. Don’t forget to dress accordingly for hiking and to bring snack with you, but don’t forget the principle of “hiking without trace” – meaning, don’t throw your garbage in the nature.

I forgot to mention, there’s a surprise on Turn 17 of the Vršič Pass – make sure to make a stop. And if you can’t wait to find out, you can visit my Gallery for the answer. Tomorrow, we’re going around the neck of the chicken: Day 5 – Ptuj & Maribor.

(I’ve also randomly came across this post: This May Be The Most Beautiful River On Earth, from the Huffington Post.)

Let’s travel,

Day 3 – Predjama Castle, Lipica & Piran

Visiting more at a lesser cost, looking for free/low-cost activities alternatives is what motivated me to write my series “Slovenia on Budget”. It’s for people with a car, that like to visit many highlights and spend less. I don’t include accommodations or transports in this post.

If you want, you can first read

Day 3 – Predjama Castle, Lipica & Piran

Impressive View of the Largest Castle above a Cave

Today, we’re going to the southwest part of Slovenia, visiting two regions: (Coast-Karst and Notranjska-Karst. Don’t forget your camera, sun cream and your brilliant smile! Let’s go!

Predjama Castle above a Cave

The simple view of the 800 years old Predjama Castle is astonishing. It holds the title of the largest cave castle in the world. Its position is also peculiar: in the middle of a 123 m cliff and above a cave.

The ticket to visit the Predjama Castle is 11€, but we preferred to take photos from outside. After all, some sites are prettier from the outside

We didn’t go inside the Postojna Cave or Predjama Castle due to our tight schedule.

Lipicanec, the Noble Horse

Graceful Lipicanec gazing in the Endless Pasture

I’ve always been fascinated by horses, therefore, Lipica near Sežana was a must-must-go for me. In Lipica, the horses roam “freely” within very large pastures. You can therefore walk from the parking lot and easily admire them for the whole day (and for free).

You can also go inside the Lipica Stud Farm with a guided tour (12€) and learn about their history. It is good to mention that the Lipica is the oldest stud farm in Europe that breed only one breed of horse: the Lipicanec, a breed of noble dressing horses from the 16th century.

Nowadays, all modern Lippizans trace their bloodlines to only 8 stallions and 35 mares. The Lipicanec are born dark and as they grown, they gradually become grey (not pure white as some might think) with white hair.

If you choose your day of visit well, you will be able to see a 45 mins presentation of the Lipica Classical Riding School combined with a guided tour (19€). From April to October, every Sunday at 3pm. From May to the end of September, every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday at 3pm.

My parents were happy by photographing the Lipicanec from the pastures (for free) and they do come very very close, so you can pet and take selfies with them!

Piran, the Sea Coast

Slovenia only has a 46 km long coast along the Adriatic Sea, the main cities in that region are Piran, Izola, Portorož and Koper. Walking by the sea, smelling the salty air, taking a good dose of Vitamin D, watching the boats, suntanning, swimming, eating ice cream… is so relaxing.

Piran is the last town, at the edge of Slovenia and it attracts a lot of tourists every year. Driving to Piran, you will pass by some very pretty streets sheltered by tall trees. Finding a parking in Piran is a bit tricky, that’s why we park at Fornace, which is about 800 m from Piran main square – Tartini Square. There’s also a free shuttle bus between Fornace and Tartini Square.

Sunny Day at the Slovenian Coast

The streets in Piran are very smalls and paved with stones. It gives a feel of being in Venice, Italy. The architecture of the houses is also very similar.

You can easily visit the St-George Church and have a very nice view at the Adriatic Sea. You can also walk up to the Piran Town Walls and climb it for a mere 1€ , from there you can easily see the amazing peninsula of Piran.

If you’re looking for a souvenir, make sure to visit the store Piranske SolineSlovenia is famous for its gourmet salt, which is called Solni cvet – Fleur de Sel or Flower of Salt. (More information: Traditional Salt-Making in Slovenia.)

BONUS: Slovenian Caves

Indeed, the World Famous Touristic Cave in Slovenia is Postojnska Jama, with its train across the cave do attract a lot of people. The admission fee is not for free (22.90€), although you can get a small discount if you get combined package (details).

The Škocjan Cave is a good alternative, it is part of the UNESCO’s natural and cultural world heritage protected sites since 1986. The admission fee is  (varies from 6 to 16€, depending on which path you choose to go) and it’s a walking path.

When visiting caves, please dress warm as the temperature are much colder (8-10°C) and wear a very good pair of shoes, as the terrain will be quite slippery.

Don’t forget to check the weather before you go, especially if you’re going to be outside for the whole day! Don’t forget to bring your sun cream and let me know how you enjoyed your day, via the comment box below!

Have a look at my Gallery and our next destination: Day 4 – Tolmin & Around.

Let’s travel,

Day 2 – Bled & Bohinj

I’m writing this post as being part of my series “Slovenia on Budget”, for those who likes to drive around and visit places but at an affordable price (or for free). Please note, this is about Places to Visit, and not accommodations or transports.

You can also read my previous post

Day 2: BledBohinj

Today we’re travelling to the Gorenjska region of Slovenia, situated in the Northwest part of the country. The biggest town is Kranj, but we’re not heading there this time.

Bled, the Fairy Tale Island

If you were visiting Slovenia with a tour bus, your guide will certainly bring you to Lake Bled. The view is simply breathtaking: a castle sitting on a rock hill, looking down on a lake with the sole island of Slovenia, topped with a Church. Isn’t it just simply beautiful?

Although, being such a touristic emplacement, spending will be hard to avoid, especially if you want to do the “normal” tourist routine: visit of the Bled CastleBlejski grad (9€), going to the Island with the Pletna boat (12€) and ringing the Bell in the Church of the Assumption (6€)…

We walked around the lake and took amazing photos, my parents were thrilled. We visited the Bled Castle because the view from above is a “must”, especially when you get a 50% off (we uses our Spar Discount Card). Once you’re in the castle, you MUST try the famous Slovenian Kremšnita, which is a cake pastry with layers of light cream. Yummm!

Delicious Slovenian Cream Cake, Kreamšnita, in a Paper Boat in Castle Bled, Slovenia

Delicious Slovenian Cream Cake, Kreamšnita, in a Paper Boat in Castle Bled, Slovenia

If you must pick one activity around Lake Bled, I would recommend that you go visit the Bled Castle and enjoy a Kremšnita (4€) while admiring the panoramic view of Lake Bled. Also, with your admission ticket, you get 1€ discount on food and in souvenir shop.

(For more details, you can check my post Lake Bled – the Fairy Tale Island.)

Bohinj, the Glacial Lake

Situated in the heart of the Julian Alps, Bohinj Lake is the largest natural lake in Slovenia. It’s perfect location for water activities: canoeing, rafting, kayaking, swimming and so on, although the water is usually colder than others lakes. Around the lake are hiking paths. All these activities are for free (if you have your own equipment)!

The Savica Waterfall is also close by, and it’s known to be the source of Sava Bohinjka. For a small fee of 2.50€, you can access the path to the Savica Waterfall.

You can also visit the 700 years old Church of St. John the Baptist, which is just next to the bridge.

The statue of the ZlatorogGoldenhorn, the legendary white chamois, can be find next to the Bohinj Lake. A summary of the Legend can be found on Wikipedia: Goldenhorn. Basically, the horn of the Zlatorog is the key to a hidden treasure in the area. A greedy hunter tracked down and shot the Zlatorog, but he revived by eating a magic flower, then he revenged himself and killed the greedy hunter.

A little Red Ant Climbing Wood in Bohinj, Slovenia

A little Red Ant Climbing Wood in Bohinj, Slovenia

My parents were satisfied just by walking around the lake, admiring the landscape and taking beautiful photos. Just being in the nature is such a wonderful feeling!

Bonus: The Stone Castle

Grad Kamen in Begunje na Gorenjskem |

Grad Kamen in Begunje na Gorenjskem

On the way from Tržič to Bled, you can see Mount Triglav, one of the symbol of Slovenia. You will also come across a hidden little germ at the entrance of the Draga Valley in Begunje na Gorenjskem: the ruins of the Kamen Grad, the Stone Castle. You can see the skeleton of the castle, which was built in the 12th century.

It’s a little excursion, although, the visit of the premise is at your own risk, so be careful if you decide to pass by.

Activities at Lake Bled or Lake Bohinj can easily take one whole day, but I usually decide to go to both lakes during the same day as they are “in the same area”.

So, did you have a swim in Lake Bled or Lake Bohinj? Let me know via the comment box, and thanks for reading my post. You can follow me to the next stop: Day 3 – Predjama Castle, Lipica & Piran, and be sure to look at my Gallery as well!

Let’s travel,

Day 1 – Ljubljana

At the end of August, my parents came visit me and I had about a week to show them around Slovenia. We had a car and I wanted to bring them to many places but didn’t want to spend too much on admission fee, so if you fall into that category, keep reading!

There’s a lot of free/low-cost interesting “touristic” alternative activities all around Slovenia and here’s just a few, that I’ve selected to show my parents.

To avoid writing one big wall of text, I’ve divided it into a series of post: “Slovenia on Budget”. Please note, this is about Places to Visit, and I don’t cover accommodations or transports.

Day 1 – Ljubljana

On the map, Slovenia looks like a big chicken. Today, we’re going to visit the biggest city and it’s in the Osrednjeslovenska region.

Ljubljana, the City of Dragon

Ljubljana is the Capital City of Slovenia, also known as the City of Dragon – a must-see.

We walked around the old town Center (Prešernov trg squareMestni trg square, Dragon Bridge, the Triple Bridge and so much more…) and my parents took tons of photos.

Beautiful Fountain of Robba with glimpse of a Church in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Beautiful Fountain of Robba with glimpse of a Church in Ljubljana, Slovenia

There are many  beautiful statues, fountains, street arts in the old town of Ljubljana, you just have to look and explore every streets and little corners for them! I will give you a little clue: look for the street Ključavničarska ulica.

Looking up the Bell Tower of St-Nicholas Church in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Looking up the Bell Tower of St-Nicholas Church in Ljubljana, Slovenia

And sometimes you just need to look up and around to spot something worth photographing.

Romantic Love Locks on the Butcher's Bridge in Old Ljubljana

Romantic Love Locks on the Butcher’s Bridge in Old Ljubljana

There’s also an Open Market, filled with locals goodies. Also, every Friday from March to September, there’s an event Odprta kuhna – Open Kitchen, in Ljubljana – where you can taste traditional Slovenian and International dishes, from 8am to 8pm.

Beautiful Ceiling and Chandelier of the St-Georges Chapel in Ljubljana Castle

Beautiful Ceiling and Chandelier of the St-Georges Chapel in Ljubljana Castle

The Ljubljana Castle, sitting on top of the hill, looking down on the Center.  If you don’t want to walk up to the castle, you can use the Funicular (ticket is 10€, which includes admission to the Virtual Castle, Outlook Tower and the exhibitions). We decided to walk up (of course) to the castle. It was a nice hike up, about 15-20 mins. We visit the inner courtyard of the castle for free and the St. George’s Chapel.

The largest park in Ljubljana is Tivoli Park. If you need to take a break from walking the city streets, you can enjoy a nice relaxing walk in Tivoli for free. It reminds me of Central Park in New York, a big piece of green inside a city.

And if you’re in for a coffee break, I suggest that you go to Nebotičnik – the Skyscraper, a coffee shop with a roof terrace, where you can enjoy an awesome view over Ljubljana, Tivoli Park, the mountains… at the cost of a nice cup of coffee, which you can pair with a serving of cake (I recommend to try the Famous Ljubljana Cake – Torta Ljubljana, gluten free with buckwheat flour, pumpkin seeds, almond, figs and chestnuts, and it’s covered in some yummy chocolate. Miammm…).

Ljubljana, being the capital city and center of cultures, has indeed many more free events. Feel free to share them with me via the comment box below 🙂

Thanks for reading my blog and if you enjoyed your day in Ljubljana, follow me on my next destinations: Day 2 – Bled & Bohinj and visit my Gallery.

Let’s travel,