We stayed three days in Slovenia: the first we spent exploring the capital Ljubljana and on the second and third days we took two easy day trips from Ljubljana city centre to see some more of Slovenia’s nature and culture.
On the first day we took the bus from Ljubljana bus station to Postojna, the town closest to Predjama Castle and caves. The bus fare was pretty cheap and at the desk they even gave us the chance to buy entrance tickets to the castle and caves there, which would have saved us time later but we weren’t sure yet what combination package we wanted so we left it for the meantime.
The bus didn’t take too long – about an hour or so- and took us through vast fields and past dense forests. I was itching to get my camera out and snap away at the sights. Arriving in Postojna, we found quite a small and sad town and struggled to find anywhere to eat. We successfully found a tiny little supermarket and bought some lunch, then sat in the next-door café for a quick coffee to boost our energy levels.
Arriving at the Predjama tourist centre after a long walk from Postojna town, we realised quickly how popular of an attraction Predjama actually is. There were throngs of people, as well as restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, all centred on the famous caves. We bought a ticket for just the castle as Josh didn’t want to see the caves and waited in a massive crowd of people at the shuttle bus stop, which only came once an hour. We pretty much wrestled our way onto the shuttle bus through a surge of incredibly inconsiderate tourists. The shuttle bus took longer than I expected and weaved its way through the Slovenian hills. As soon as the bus started to slow to a stop near the entrance of the castle, the sound of thunder cracked in the sky and the looming grey clouds poured upon us the brunt of their strain. I’d not seen rain like it since I happened to witness the monsoon season in Mexico. It hammered upon our heads relentlessly as we ran for shelter under a nearby canopy. Not being a fan of storms, I stared up at the sky uneasily… at least we would be inside the castle for the most part of the day.
Despite the weather, Predjama Castle was absolutely stunning. It seemed like something straight from a fairy-tale. The immense cream stone castle is built into the caves, so that it appears to have grown out of the dark rock. Below each of the windows there are little flower boxes painted in stripes of blue and white, which boast bright red roses in each. Predjama had been on my European bucket-list for a couple of years, gracing the list under my ‘Slovenia’ heading with pictures copied and pasted from Google that I lusted over. I found it strange to actually be there, in front of its grandeur. It lived up to my expectations in its beauty, but I found myself a little disappointed in some strange inexplicable way. To find that the mysterious castle in the rocks was not all that mysterious nor shrouded in isolated Slovenian forests like I had imagined and was in fact extremely accessible by bus and swamped with tourists daily ruined the fantasy somewhat.
We got a free audio guide with our entrance ticket that played informative tracks in many different languages, educating us all about the castle, its past residents and history. Back in the day Predjama Castle was extremely uncomfortable to live in, cold and damp due to them being part of the caves, which didn’t allow for much insulation. However, this was a small price to pay for the protection the caves would give the residents during enemy attacks. In the 15th century, the castle was excellent refuge to its owner Erazem of Predjama during a siege, as the tunnels beneath it lead him and his people to freedom and was also an excellent place to store food and arms.
After spending a couple of hours wandering around the castle and eating lunch in the caves alongside a stormy soundtrack, we got the shuttle bus back to the entrance and walked back to Postojna in the rain. We wanted to take a look at the caves underneath the castle where residents used in the past to hide and escape to freedom (these are open from May-September), but unfortunately we’d missed the last tour, as it was pretty late in the day. Back at Postojna bus station we were appalled to find out that the next bus back to Ljubljana wasn’t for a good 3 hours. After a few failed attempts to hitchhike on the main road, we gave up and went into a tiny, seedy pub next to the bus stop, where we had a few pints of beer to help the time go faster.
To check out the different ticket packages on offer along with prices, check out the Predjama Castle website. If you want to see the Predjama caves as well as the castle, it can get a little pricey at around €37 but I personally recommend just seeing the Castle unless you’re hellbent on the caves. Underneath the castle you can see some cave tunnels with the ticket for just the castle, so you won’t be completely missing out on some cave action with just the cheaper €11 castle option. I’d say that Predjama is pretty much perfect for a day trip from Ljubljana- the only thing that doesn’t make it 100% accessible from the capital is the more infrequent bus timetable which nearly left us stranded in Postojna. Remember to check the bus times beforehand and plan your day around them!
- Accessibility from Ljubljana: 4/5
- Value for Price: 4/5
- Wow Factor: 4/5
Lake Bled is one of those destinations that seem to have become extremely trendy for people of our age these days. In the past couple of years, I’ve seen countless Instagram posts and Facebook albums hailing from the beautiful Bled. However, the tourist track is usually well-tread for a reason, so Bled was high up on my list of places to visit in Slovenia. Like Predjama Castle, Bled can be reached from Ljubljana by a short hour long bus ride, making it perfect for a day trip but you can also spend your entire stay in Bled, there are so many activities to keep you occupied, and a lot of accommodation for backpackers.
We shortly arrived in the whimsical town of Bled, and I loved the wooden chalets and surrounding pine trees. However, the town was clearly completely centred on its booming tourism. There were posters and shops everywhere advertising adventure activities: trekking, zip-lining, kayaking, canoeing, paragliding, you name it, it can be done in Bled. There were also a lot of cute souvenir shops, and a small hitchhikers’ museum, which looked interesting.
We went for a coffee in the cutest little café that we found on the walk down the hill to the lake. Inside, where I ordered us drinks, there were cute pastel pink tablecloths and wooden animal trinkets. However, we sat outside in the midday sun, where we made friends with the tiniest of birds with mousy brown feathers that had taken an interest in us.
Lake Bled certainly lived up to the hype, on the grassy banks there were adorable beds of bright yellow and pink flowers, floating in the aqua blue water were ochre wooden boats with striped multicolour roofs, in the centre of the lake on a little island was a bright white and red church with a tall spire and up high on a cliff, overlooking it all, a castle.
Walking along the path around the lake, behind a broken wire fence and some bushes, we found a large red brick and timber, abandoned house. We clambered under the fence to explore it further, creeping gingerly up the steps onto the porch and across the rotting floorboards, expecting any moment for them to collapse under us. We wondered who had lived there in the past, why they had left it behind, why it hadn’t been bought up again and imagined what we could make of it had we the money to take it under our wings and patch it back up.
Back on the path, we came across several opportunities to take a boat out onto the lake, but sadly didn’t have any change on us. However, as dark clouds began to loom, threatening the same storms as the day before, we weren’t too disappointed as the idea of being stuck in the middle of a lake in a storm didn’t seem too appealing. As expected, about half an hour later, whilst we were mid-picnic, the heavens opened and we were soaked within minutes. I wrapped my poor trainers in plastic bags to save my feet getting wet (the worst feeling in the world) and we cowered under some trees for a while before accepting finally that the rain was here to stay.
The idyllic fairy-tale lake had turned into a horror set within minutes; the sky was dark, the clouds low, thunder cracking continuously louder and the church on the lake suddenly seemed more ominous than quaint. We didn’t let this dampen our spirits and carried on our walk around the lake in the hammering rain until we returned back to the town and hopped on the next bus to Ljubljana, our clothes evaporating in the warm air and steaming up the windows.
Bled is definitely ideal for a day trip from Ljubljana, its even more accessible than Predjama as the buses are served way more regularly. Unless you want to take part in some of the sporting activities, all you really need to pay is the bus fare so it’s suitable for those on stringent budgets too, especially if you bring a packed lunch from the supermarket, like we did.
- Accessibility from Ljubljana: 5/5
- Value for money: 5/5
- Wow Factor: 5/5
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Much love <3