SLOVENIA IN FALL
“One afternoon, Sunday, the Old Market Square:
The trumpets and fiddles and zithers all played,
From all of Ljubljana, lo, every fair maid
Lightheartedly danced in the linden-tree’s shade;
Among them queen Urska the beautiful reigned:
For long she to join in the dancing disdained.”
-Excerpt from France Prešeren’s poem, “The Water Man”
Never heard of Slovenia? You’re not alone. Frankly, that’s one of our favorite things about this undiscovered gem of a country in Central Europe. The best way to describe Slovenia is a combination of the best parts of Bavaria, the Italian Riviera, the Danube River, Venice, Tuscany, and the Balkans. We believe there is something for everyone in Slovenia and that is why we are OK with letting you in on Europe’s best kept secret: mountains, lakes, rivers, castles, Alpine forests, vineyards, meadows, beaches, island resorts, Michelin star restaurants, hipster neighborhoods…the list goes on...
Honestly, you could go at any time of year because you will not have to dodge hordes of tourists during the summer like other European destinations and you can enjoy the Alpine snow sports in the Winter. But we’re suggesting an autumnal visit. Autumn offers mild temperatures, beautiful fall foliage, decreased lodging prices, and a handful of wine festivals.
Ride bikes around downtown Ljubljana’s pedestrian zone. Ride in a pletna boat across the fairytale scene that is Lake Bled. Taste the wine everywhere, but especially the “Tuscany” of Slovenia, Goriska Brda. Restore your mind and body at one of the many thermal spa resorts in the country.
The world-famous white Lipizzaner stallions at the Lipica Stud Farm. The world’s oldest wine vine in Maribor. The stalactites and stalagmites in the UNESCO World Heritage sites: Postojna and Škocjan caves.
Slovenian cuisine is diverse due to its regional influences. On the Istrian peninsula, expect a Northern Italian influence. Don’t miss the highly coveted white truffles that are locally harvested! Elsewhere in the country, make sure to look out for the vanilla and custard cream cake, Kremsnita (Lake Bled), the traditional holiday nut roll, Potica, and the Kranjska Klobasa, kielbasa-type sausage. Did we mention the wine yet? Try the wine. All the wine!
There is going to be a heavy culinary theme in this list and for a good reason! Piran salt is some of the best salt in the world. The same goes for Slovenian olive oil and honey. Use these items not for cooking, but for finishing a dish as they’re so high in quality, they’ll elevate any dish immediately. You can also bring home some really nice, relatively low-cost wines and special liquors made from honey (Medinica) and pear (Pleterska Khruska).
Our favorite places to stay in Slovenia range from glamping sites, to thermal spa/ resorts, to boutique hotels, to 5-star waterside hotels. Glamp at Chateau Ramsak among the vineyards. Recharge at the Terme Olimje Spa and Resort. Enjoy an urban experience in the boutique Hotel Cubo in Ljubljana. Enjoy water views and 5-star luxury at the Grand Hotel Toplice on Lake Bled or the Kempinski Palace in Portoroz.
The weather varies throughout the country between the coastal, plains, and Julian Alps regions, but September and October temps in Ljubljana are highs of 71 °F/ 60°F and lows of 52°F/ 45°F respectively. September is a rainy month, so remember to bring rain gear!
Slovenia uses the Euro. We recommend using ATMs in the country for the best exchange rate. Slovenia is a rather affordable European destination. You can visit the country with a wide range of budgets. The largest expense will be airfare, which is why we recommend flying into nearby countries. We typically work with four and five-star accommodations to ensure our clients get the best service while traveling. Expect to pay $150-250/night for most of our recommended accommodations in Slovenia.
Did you know that Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” was based on the author’s experience on the bloody Isonzo Front (Slovenia’s picturesque Soca Valley)? One of the world’s highest-rated World War I museums is the Kobarid Musej and another place for military history buffs is the Park of Military History (Parku vojaske zgodovine).
You’ll probably want to rent a car or link up with some escorted tours to see the best parts of the country. However, if you’re going to stay in Ljubljana the whole time, you can get by with walking, biking, or hailing cabs. Rail service between destinations is possible but can take a lot longer than driving or hiring a ride. (The country is very small – only about 2.5 hours from Venice to Ljubljana.)
We recommend flying into Venice and getting a transfer, renting a car, or riding the train from there because flights to Ljubljana can be somewhat expensive and less available. You can also fly into nearby Austria, Hungary, or Croatia and get cheaper flights, combined with rail transportation.
How long do I need?
Many people add Slovenia on to a trip to a neighboring country like Croatia or Italy. With an add-on trip like this where you’re just looking for a taste, we recommend no fewer than 4 nights to be able to get out and see some of the must-see’s like the caves and Lake Bled. However, to really experience the best of Slovenia and savor your time there (believe us, you won’t want to leave), give yourself at least 7 days!
Riding the train through the Postojna Cave system, visiting the nearby castle-in-a-cave, Predjama Castle, all the dragons around Ljubljana (especially at Ljubljana Castle), and the many waterparks situated in or near the thermal spa resorts. Slovenia is very family friendly!