Selected departures in September and October 2019
Nestled between Italy, Croatia, Austria and Hungary, with a toe dipped in the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia is an inviting mix of Mediterranean and Central European cultures. Magnificent mountain ranges dominate the northwest, notably the snow-capped Karavanke and Julian Alps, while the limestone Karst highlands in the west feature one of the world’s largest subterranean cave systems. Then there’s the sliver of Adriatic coastline, reminiscent of Italy, where seaside towns bask in a Mediterranean climate and vineyards thrive in the hills.
Slovenia’s history is as intriguing as its landscape. Early settlers lived in pile dwellings dating from the fifth century BC but recorded history begins with the Romans, who established Emona, now known as Ljubljana. In later centuries society was controlled by foreign dynasties such as the Habsburgs, who built castles all over the country; the subsequent Counter-Reformation encouraged the Italian-Baroque style still evident in many towns. Following the Great War, the country merged with its neighbours to form the Kingdom of Yugoslavia then, after years of external influence, the Slovenes gained independence in 1991.
Our base for the tour is the picturesque capital, Ljubljana, situated on a bend of the willow-lined Ljubljanica River. Set on a wooded hill is the city’s most recognisable landmark, Ljubljana Castle, offering unrivalled views of the rooftops below. The city was the European Green Capital of 2016 and has dedicated car-free zones, making it a joy to explore its maze of cobbled streets.
During our excellent walks with specialist guides, you’ll discover Slovenia’s most spectacular natural attractions. Lake Bled is every bit a fairy tale brought to life: a pretty church sits on an islet while a medieval castle looms atop a rocky cliff, all set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Then there’s Lake Bohinj, perhaps Slovenia’s best-kept secret as it’s every bit as breathtaking as Lake Bled yet mainly enjoyed by locals. Located within the country’s only national park, Bohinj is home to the magnificent A-shaped Savica waterfall and a string of idyllic villages.
Slovenia’s tiny slice of Adriatic coastline is the location of the captivating town of Piran, almost within touching distance of Italy, to which it belonged until 1954. If you’ve been to Venice you may experience déjà vu in Piran’s main square when you glimpse the bell tower of Saint George’s Cathedral, clearly inspired by the Campanile of San Marco. We briefly cross the Italian border before re-entering Slovenia at the village of Lipica, where we tour the Lipica Stud Farm for a performance by the regal Lipizzaner horses.
Arrive at the airport for your flight to Ljubljana. We transfer by coach to stay for five nights, with breakfast, at a centrally located hotel in Ljubljana, the four-star Hotel Lev.
This morning we enjoy a walking tour of Slovenia’s picturesque capital with a local guide sharing the stories behind the main sights. Prešeren Square is where national icon, France Prešeren, has been immortalised in bronze, while the salmon-hued Franciscan Church of the Annunciation is a fine expression of the Baroque style. Crossing the Triple Bridge, we enter the pedestrianised Old Town with its many Baroque buildings, piazzas graced by attractive fountains and cobbled alleys, all with a distinct Italian flavour. Within the lattice of red-roofed buildings are the Renaissance Town Hall, which towers over the Central Market, whose stalls sell a variety of tempting goods, from souvenirs to local produce such as cheese, seafood and chocolates in unusual flavours – who knew that fig and prosciutto work so well with cocoa?
You have free time this afternoon. If you’re feeling energetic, you may wish to walk up the hill to Ljubljana Castle for panoramic views of the city. A boat cruise along the river is a tranquil way to see Ljubljana, or stroll along its leafy banks, alive in the summer with inviting cafés offering alfresco dining.
Today we drive through undulating forested hills scattered with quaint villages before arriving at Lake Bled. You may have seen it in pictures, but they can’t compare to seeing the lake in person. The first thing you’ll notice are the dazzling waters, stretching over a mile in length and width. A tear-shaped island sits almost at the lake’s centre, crowned by a fairy-tale church with a soaring spire and terracotta roof. Your eyes are then drawn to the forested hills, where a medieval castle stands atop a craggy cliff. To explore the area, we offer an easy walk and a moderate one with local guides.
Duration: 2 hours (3.9 miles)
Altitude gain: 410 feet
Terrain: mostly flat paths
Our easy walk begins in the dramatic Vintgar Gorge, which weaves through rocky hills accompanied by the swirling Radovna River. A wooden walkway makes it easy to criss-cross the river over gushing waterfalls and limpid pools all the way to the 52-foot-high Šum waterfall. We continue through charming villages and wildflower-filled meadows to the scenic shores of Lake Bled.
Duration: 2.5 hours (5.6 miles)
Altitude gain: 672 feet
Terrain: country roads, paths and boardwalks
With the majestic Alps in the distance, we follow a circular route from Lake Bled through inviting villages, verdant forest and mountain pastures dotted with colourful flowers. We arrive in Vintgar Gorge, where there’s time to take in the stunning natural wonders all around you. After time to admire the crystal-clear waters, we make our way back to Lake Bled.
The rest of the day is yours to explore Bled at leisure. You could take a relaxing ride to Lake Bled’s islet on a pletna, a traditional canopied boat. Or visit atmospheric Bled Castle, perched close to the edge of a jagged cliff with a 330-foot plunge into the lake below. Those who venture here are rewarded with the most captivating views of this truly memorable scene.
Today is devoted to one of Slovenia’s loveliest gems. Nestled in the heart of the Julian Alps, Lake Bohinj is the quieter but equally beautiful sister of Lake Bled. Framing the blue-green waters are emerald forests peppered with a string of idyllic villages, while fish, mollusc and algae species flourish within the lake’s glacial depths. You have a choice of an easy walk or a moderate one with our specialist guides this morning.
Duration: 2 hours (3.8 miles)
Altitude gain: 900 feet
Terrain: Steps and steep gradients to the waterfall, then gentle paths towards the lake
We ascend through the forest along a paved route of more than 500 steps under a canopy of trees, pausing at the midway point to catch a glimpse of the lake. Once at the top, we are rewarded with a gorgeous view of the lake to the mountains beyond, and of course, the magnificent Savica waterfall. Slovenia’s most famous waterfall has a unique A-shape, as it emerges in two sections from underground lakes fed by the Savica river.
After some time to admire the vivid colour of the clear waters, we begin our gentle descent along the riverbank to Ukanc. This pretty hamlet sits on the western shore, enclosed on three sides by towering peaks up to 6,300 feet high. There’s time for a drink or lunch at your leisure before we return to our hotel.
Duration: 3 hours (5.6 miles)
Altitude gain: 1361 feet
Terrain: Steps and steep gradients to the waterfall, then gentle paths towards the lake
Those who wish to explore further may prefer our moderate walk, which continues beyond Ukanc along the beautiful lakeshore and past a smattering of traditional wooden buildings.
The stunning Adriatic Coast is our destination this morning with a visit to Piran, which seems to mirror Venice across the Gulf of Trieste. The influence of La Serenissima is evident in Piran’s medieval streets, often leading to unexpected squares. The old town is centred on Tartini Square, named after local composer Giuseppe Tartini, whose statue stands proudly as its focal point.
You have free time to explore Piran and its Venetian-Gothic architecture, such as the Casa Veneziana with its richly decorated facade. Maybe take an easy climb up to Saint George’s Cathedral, notable for its bell tower echoing Venice’s Campanile. Or why not sample some of the delicious seafood at one of the restaurants lining the promenade?
After lunch, we take a short drive to the Lipica Stud Farm, where the legendary Lipizzaner horses have been bred for more than 400 years. We enjoy a wonderful presentation by the Classical Riding School as the elegant white stallions perform their complex dressage routines. A guided tour gives us insights into the history of this elite breed.
Transfer to the airport for your return flight.
The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a room. Single rooms are available at the relevant supplement. The price includes: five nights’ accommodation with breakfast; all tours as mentioned; airport departure taxes; return flights to Ljubljana and hotel transfers; all coach travel as mentioned; the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager and an expert local walking guide.
What to Pack
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Airport||Hotel location||Transfer time|
|Ljubljana Airport||Ljubljana||30 mins|
This is a walking holiday and whilst not strenuous walking, it will be 2 to 3 hours of walking on 3 days so not suitable for those with restricted mobility.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitabilty of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns.