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  • Day306

    Park Škocjanske jame

    April 28, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    We took a 1 minute video of the park which can be viewed here:

    Friends of Cath and Paul's as well as friends of ours had recommended we go to the Škocjan Caves and we thought it the perfect wet weather activity. The only slight problem was there had been so much rain that one of the two tours was closed due to high water levels. However, the 'Through the underground canyon' tour was open. It was 3km long and lasted 2 hours so we weren't disappointed.

    We descended through the artificial tunnel and emerged at the start of the Silent Cave. Around every bend there were sights that made our jaws drop even further. The path had regular floor lights and there were white uplighters illuminating various formations. Stalactites and stalagmites of seemingly every imaginable size projected from the ceiling and floor. Some joined to form columns and others hung in clusters to form 'chandeliers'. The roof of the cavern was still quite low at this point so the mineral formations were close at hand. Curtains of white limestone, some with a little iron to tinge them ruddy brown, hung down from above and out from the overhanging walls. In places, the curtains looked like rucked velvet that had been wrapped around itself in a spiral. All our powers of description are needing to be employed here, with more than a little help from Cath, because there were no photographs allowed.

    The first section of the Silent Cave, called Paradise, led to the aptly named Great Hall of 120m wide and 30m high. On most days the Silent Cave would live up to its name, but today it seemed to echo with the sound of thousands of individual water droplets splashing on rock. It was incredible to think that each of these droplets contained minerals that were being left behind and growing these seemingly alien entities all around us.
    The most amazing stalagmite in The Great Hall was called The Giant and had formed over 200, 000 years! It was like the melted wax of candles had been repeatedly drizzled over the top of the rocks.

    From the (not so) Silent Cave we walked on and gradually became aware of the low rumble reverberating off the rocks. As we got closer, the noise of the River Reka rushing through the deep underground ravine became deafening. The Slovenian word 'reka' means river, so it is literally named 'River River'! It was dark and humid, so much so that the view of the water was obscured by a cloud that ended at a very defined level just below the top of the cave.

    The chamber we entered was around 100 metres in height and we were told that in 1965, it had flooded to a depth of 90 metres. Descending into the cloud and following the course of the Reka, about 40 metres above it, our eyes began to acclimatise and we could make out the light brown water gushing and frothing as it was forced to adhere to the tight course of the narrow fissure. After crossing the bridge we began to climb and the cavity opened up slightly. We came accross a set of dry pools that led up a slope away from us and were formed by a stream that used to flow over them in many miniature waterfalls.

    The cave network is the most incredible series of underground phenomena we've ever seen. We remember Croatia for its beautiful overground rivers and Slovenia's subterranean marvels will never be forgotten.

    In the afternoon the rain had stopped and the sunshine had found its way out from behind the clouds with such vigour that it transformed the day. As well as the caves the park provided some good walks, so we wended our way around the valley beneath the dappled shade of new spring leaves. Below us we saw some stunning waterfalls bursting forth energetically from crevices with the recent glut of rain. Above we spotted a good range of birds, including a Peregrine Falcon and Kestral. We passed ponds with large warty newts and rocks with striking red and black beatles. If you enjoy nature as we do, this area of Slovenia is definitely the place to visit!

    Back at the visitor centre, Paul treated us to coffee and cake. We had a satisfying slice of Kremna Rezina, a pastry, custard and cream delight originating from Lake Bled. We'd all had a great day, Park Škocjanske jame is a wonderful place and it was made even better for us by being able to explore it with friends.
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  • Day308

    Cerknica intermittent lakes

    April 30, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    For our last activity we'd planned a day at Lake Cerknica in Notranjski Regional Park. We weren't sure what to expect because the lake is an intermittent one, sitting in a karst limestone valley and appearing and disappearing with the varying rainfall of the seasons.

    It was windy and felt cold at the start of the day but after a short drive we were happy to see a substantial amount of water in the lake as we pulled in to the free car park. After doing a quick recce and picking up a map from the cafè, Paul and Cath hired mountain bikes, we got the tandem down and we all peddled our way towards the lake. We had planned to cycle round it but after slipping and sliding along a muddy track riddled with puddles and having it come to an abrupt end in the lake, twice, we changed course and took the car track along one side of it. The mountain bikes had coped better than the tandem, whose wheels had become clogged with mud and grit. Will initially blamed our inertia on Vicky, but a 5 minute clean and a quick adjustment worked wonders and we were able to double the speed for half the effort of before.

    The car track was a good route and after a while we came accross another lake on our left, where light brown reed beds stretched for miles. The mixed green forests covering the hillsides in all directions and the rich blue sky patterned with fluffy white clouds made for a stunning backdrop. It was in to these forests that we climbed after a while, reaching the hamlet of Otok before looping round and returning to enjoy a cuppa at the busy cafè overlooking the grass meadow, lake and hills.

    Lunch in the van rested and reinvigorated us ready for Will, Cath and Paul to canoe while Vicky kept Poppy company. The day had warmed up a bit by this point and an enjoyable few hours were spent paddling. Viewed from the water, the beautiful scenery seemed enhanced, but there was only one other person out making use of it. Spring isn't as far on here as in Italy and Cath spotted some Snowdrops in flower under the surface of the clear lake, together with some Water Buttercups.

    Returning to our site at Razdrto, Will made up a special three course feast for the final night of our Slovenian adventure with Cath and Paul. There are always nerves preceding a get-together like this, we hadn't spent time with friends from home for 7 months and they were going to be with us for five nights. Mixed in with the excitement of seeing them were doubts that buzzed around our heads. Will they like the same things as us? How will we all fit in the van? Will we be able to agree on where to go and what to see? We were delighted that as time progressed we found more and more common ground with Cath and Paul and they adapted brilliantly to van life - especially the 'only one person standing' rule! Our doubts had quickly fallen away and we'd ended up having the most amazing time!
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  • Day314

    Hello Ali & Tom! To Lake Bled we go!

    May 6, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    After not having seen anyone for 7 months, we were highly anticipating the arrival of our 2nd lot of visitors in 10 days! We returned to Ljubljana airport and picked up Vicky's brother Ali and his friend Tom just before midday. It was brilliant to see them! We'd met up with them for 4 days in Prague back in August and had a great time, so we knew we were going to enjoy ourselves during the week they were with us.

    After a trip to pick up supplies at Hofer (the continental name for Aldi), we left views of the pointed snow capped Alps behind and headed North West to Lake Bled, where Ali and Tom had booked an apartment. While we appreciate the beauty of steep sided hills, they aren't always the easiest to access in our van. Within a kilometre of the apartment we came to a low arched rail bridge with no sign to tell us how high it was. Vicky got out and eyed up the clearance as Will inched slowly forward. There was only inches to spare at the entrance and as the road wasn't straight or flat, we didn't want to risk it. A local who was recycling at the communal bins kindly offered us an alternative route (in English!), so we turned round to try this instead. On the second approach we were faced with another situation where there were only inches to spare. This time we crossed over a bridge, it's 3 foot high stone walls either side just being wide enough to allow the van passage. We decided at this point Ali and Tom wouldn't be getting door to door service!

    The view was well worth the climb. We were greeted by the owner Irena and her two children before being shown the rooms on the second floor. Inside the apartment was nice enough, but the views of Lake Bled from the windows and balcony were amazing, like something out of a fairytale.

    After granting Irena's request for a guided tour of the van for her and her children (who hadn't seen inside one before) Ali and Tom got back on board, we squeezed through the narrow bridge and were booking in at Camping Bled near the lakeshore in no time. Considering the location, the price of €9.90 per person was reasonable, although we thought €3 per night for Poppy was excessive.

    We went for a stroll up to and around part of the lakeshore, taking in the wonderful sights. The colour of the water was an alluring turquoise but it felt cold so thoughts of swimming to the sizeable island were abandoned. The air was warm but the sky overcast. Towards the end of our wander, the sun peaked out to shine a spotlight on some of our surroundings; the forested hills amongst which the lake was nestled, the terracotta roofed castle perched high on a craggy outcrop on the north shore, the barren snow capped mountains behind it and of course the picturesque chapel and bell tower on the island.

    The advantage of staying at a proper campsite is that when we returned to the van, we were able to get the chairs out and sit outside with Poppy in the mild early evening. Will put together a spag bol and we caught up with what had happened since we'd last seen the lads.
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  • Day317

    Vintgar Gorge

    May 9, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    We hope you enjoy watching the short video we filmed at the gorge here:

    One of the things that shocked us when we arrived at Camping Bled was the number of GB vans. We'd parked up in between two who turned out to be British, the next day two English people, Wendy and Mary, travelling together in their own vans parked nearby and a Scottish person (we didn't catch her name) came over for a chat while we were sitting outside. She'd just returned from a walk through the nearby Vintgar Gorge and told us all about it.

    The next day, buoyed up with enthusiasm, we picked the lads up from the small train station near their apartment and headed off in the van to the gorge. At 4km away from Bled we could have walked but a lot of it was uphill and we wanted to be able to enjoy our time in the gorge without having to worry about being exhausted by the time we got back.

    We pulled up in the free car park, opposite half a dozen old modified cars with GB plates. There was a €5 pp entry charge with a sign stating this went on the upkeep of the gorge. By the time we'd walked the 2 miles of well maintained boardwalk and bridges, we could see the money was well spent and the fee a reasonable one.

    The Radovna river cut a deep course through the steep, rocky gorge. It was so steep that the boardwalk had been built on the side of the near vertical banks, for a significant portion of the walk. The noise of the rushing water was ever present as it flowed over shallow rapids, squeezed through deep pinch points and tumbled down waterfalls of varying heights and widths. The weather had turned colder and the sky was overcast much of the time, but in the spells where the sun came out and shone into the gorge,the light was filtered through the Spring Beech forest foliage. It took on a gorgeous golden-green hue that was reflected by the surface of the river. The water was so clear that in the deeper sections, the colour penetrated to the pale karst bed.

    The wildlife was great too. Birds sang at the top of their voices to be heard over the river's roar. We watched Grey Wagtails hopping around at the water's edge and Dippers diving and swimming underwater, before emerging to chew on a tasty morsel. Spotted fish rested and recuperated in eddies, ready to continue their journey upstream.

    Our journey down Vintgar Gorge ended with the stunning and powerful 16m high Sum Waterfall. We crossed over a bridge at the head of the fall before descending a steep woodland track to the plunge pool, where we were splattered with the spray.

    Making the most of Ali and Tom's last night in the apartment we returned there for a warming curry. It was too cold to sit out on the balcony but the dining room was comfortable enough and had an even better view of Lake Bled.
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  • Day77

    Ljubljana - last day

    August 22, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Walked to the City Park - beautiful parklands with something for everyone. Apart from the huge Weeping Willows and other trees, there was a great playground, wading pool, cafe, lily pond, and quirky statues placed here and there. One last look around both sides of the river as we prepare to move on to Bohinj tomorrow. It has been such a lovely visit Ljubljana. Hvala!Read more

  • Day80

    Lake Bohinj

    August 25, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    After a day of waterfalls and mountains it was time for a swim at the beautiful Lake Bohinj.
    While Lake Bohinj may not be as glamourous as Lake Bled, it is less crowded, and an ideal summer holiday destination. People come to chill out or to swim in the blue-green clear water. There are lots of outdoor pursuits like kayaking, cycling, hiking - it is big enough to accommodate everyone, and it is close to all the quaint villages including where we are staying (about 15 minutes).Read more

  • Day306

    Mirjam Pavlin, Razdrto

    April 28, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    Ljubljana heavily restricts traffic in the city centre which makes for a very nice atmosphere. Unfortunately the atmosphere was not good to Cath and Paul, who got completely drenched when walking to our stopover, due to the fact that we couldn't drive Martha Motorhome to their hotel.

    We soon got the blowers blasting out hot air as we drove to Mirjam Pavlin in Razdrto, our home for the next 4 nights. Stopping off at a Spar we picked up groceries before having a freshly ground coffee in the van. After having spent so long with just the two of us, it was interesting to see vanlife through the eyes of people to whom it was a new experience.

    Mirjam Pavlin is a small B&B with campsite, bar, swimming pool, sauna, gym and a few other facilities. The rooms and pitches were nice enough but the sauna was less impressive and more expensive than it had looked on the website and the swimming pool was closed. They had also advertised horseriding that Vicky & Cath had been interested in, but the employee who showed us round didn't seem to know much about it. However, the gym was free and it was a good location for reaching a whole load of interesting places. That afternoon we planned our itinerary for the coming days. We needed to plan around the torrential rain that was forecast. This was easy because there was so many possible activities to do. We had a cosy evening in with a few drinks and Will's spinach and pasta meal for tea.

    The next day we discovered a couple of sows and their adorable piglets in the field next us. There was also the opportunity to use the van as a mobile hide and watch the dozens of little birds feeding close by. Paul even spotted a pair of Great Tits. They were nesting inside a street light, popping in and out to feed their chicks through a tiny access hatch near the ground.
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  • Day301

    Saksida wines, Zalošče, Slovenia! #8

    April 23, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Dobar Dan (hello) Slovenia! The 8th country we plan to tour.
    Leaving Italy on an unusually good quality road, we whizzed through the understated border and were in Slovenia before we knew it. You wouldn't think that a few kms either side of a border would make much of a difference, so we were surprised how quickly the changes appeared. Drivers seemed more courteous and careful, the upkeep of buildings, the road and roadside more assiduous and the countryside more verdant.

    It wasn't long before we came to our stopover, a vineyard in a the little town of Zalošče. Slovenia doesn't allow wild camping and may fine you up to €300 for staying somewhere not designated as a campsite. €20 a night was more expensive than we've been used to but it was at a convenient point on our route and when we'd parked on our own little grassy terrace between the vineyards with forested hills all around we felt it was worth it. Sitting outside for lunch we listened to birdsong and the buzz of bees pollinating the wildflowers.

    The countryside looked so alluring that we soon set off to explore. We'd heard Slovenia had good walking and cycling trails and in this case we found it to be true. Passing three donkeys in a field with the faint smell of woodsmoke in the air, we followed a gravel and earth track and arrived at the bank of the Vipava river. Will tested the water and decided to go for a refreshing dip before we returned. At dusk cicadas chirped in the trees but even they stopped as the evening turned to night and we relished the quiet.

    Having looked at the web of walking trails on Maps.Me, Will planned a trip to a reservoir about 5km away. The temperature had cooled so it was nice walking weather and we really enjoyed climbing the Peach and vine covered hill and following a very quiet road to the water's edge where we had our picnic. The country air was scented with Rowan blossom and we were amazed by the variety of flowers we saw along the way, most of which you wouldn't find back in the UK. We kept hearing rustles in the undergrowth and near the end of the walk Vicky caught sight of a dark snake slithering up the side of an almost vertical drainage ditch. We are getting more used to the presence of snakes now and the fact that all the ones we've seen have been retreating has helped Vicky to be less on edge.
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  • Day314

    Mali Raj FKK Campsite, Dolenjske Toplice

    May 6, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    To see the video of a Hoopoe taken at this site, click here:

    There was only a three days before we would return to Ljubljana airport to pick up Vicky's brother Ali and his friend Tom. We found a few campsites near an interesting looking town called Dolenjske Toplice, put them in the sat nav and set off. We used our vignette to travel via motorway for the first part of the journey. Many Slovenian service stations have emptying and filling points for vans so we made use of these before removing motorways from our route.

    We keep expecting to discover an area of Slovenian countryside that isn't stunningly beautiful, but today wasn't the day for that. Verdant tree covered hillsides, multicoloured wildflower meadows and well maintained attractive looking homesteads. Traditional wooden barns for drying hay (toplarji) and distinctive curved, multilayered church steeples dotted the scenery. After a while we came to and followed the course of the Krka river, its clear waters borrowing a green hue from the surrounding flora.

    One of the campsites advertised itself as FKK (Freikörperkultur meaning free body culture or naturist). We like to experience new things so we pulled up outside and were greeted by the manager, Katja. It turned out that Mali Raj (Little Paradise) was €10 per night and in an incredibly beautiful position on the river, surrounded by mature trees. We were the only ones there so were able to park just 7m away from the river bank. Katja brought us a glass of homemade grappa each, told us where all the facilities were, then talked Vicky through 10 leaflets and maps of the local area as well as writing down her phone number for us to call day or night if we needed any help! Oh, and if she hadn't already done enough to welcome us, she heaped a whole load of fuss on Poppy, who would have followed her home had her legs not given out!

    We decided pretty quickly to stay the three nights we had left before meeting Vicky's brother and his friend in Ljubljana. Will wasted no time getting into the chilly (11°C) river and the three of us spent the afternoon sitting outside in the warm air. We (at least two of us) wrote, read, watched the light glinting off the surface of the ever flowing river, the birds hopping about and the fish as they jumped out of the water after floating insects before popping back in.

    Over the three days there was warm sunshine, buckets of rain and a beautiful misty morning. We relaxed and experienced some amazing nature. In the day there was a Nuthatch, Kingfisher, Herons, and Black Redstarts as well as the adorable young blackbirds beginning to take on their adult plumage and learn how to feed themselves. The most exciting bird we saw was a Hoopoe, similar to a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Jay. It was feeding in the dappled shade of a tree just 15m from the van and we got to photograph and film it to our hearts' content. Will also saw a deer jump into the river and wade or swim 10m downstream before hopping back up the bank directly opposite the van and disappearing swiftly in to the woods. At night we heard Cicadas chirping and an owl hooting. On the second night we were lucky enough to hear deer calling out in rut! We couldn't quite believe our ears but Katja said it was quite common around here. She also said that beavers were active in the area and even on the campsite we saw evidence of this in the form of knawed tree trunks.

    The site name of Mali Raj (Little Paradise) really is an appropriate one and we do hope to return here at some point in the future.
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  • Day78

    Bohinj Slovenia

    August 23, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Our destination for the next three days is the Bohinj Valley or Basin in the Julian Alps (North-western Slovenia). The drive took us through Bled and those first glimpses of the glacial lake, its island and church, and Bled Castle did not disappoint but we did not stop - we were saving Bled for tomorrow. We continued for another 20kms of stunning scenery of mountains and forests before heading up to our accommodation through little settlements with tiny narrow streets to finally reach our little village of Srednja Vas. It is beautiful up here. If we had opted to stay in Bled we would have missed seeing this hidden treasure. Alan did a great job avoiding crazy drivers who don't know how to slow down even when it is obvious two cars cannot fit through the narrow corner!!Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Slovenia, Slowenien, Slovenia, Slowenië, Slovinia, ስሎቬኒያ, Eslovenia, سلوفينيا, ܣܠܘܒܢܝܐ, Sloveniya, Славенія, Словения, Sloveni, স্লোভানিয়া, ས་ལཽ་ཝེ་ནི་ཡ།, Slovenija, Eslovènia, Slovinsko, Slofenia, Slovenien, སིལོ་བེ་ནི་ཡ, Slovenia nutome, Σλοβενία, Slovenio, Sloveenia, سلوانیا, Slowenii, Slovénie, Slovènie, Slovenie, Sloveenje, An tSlóvéin, સ્લોવેનિયા, Sulobeniya, סלובניה, स्लोवेनिया, Słowjenska, Szlovénia, Սլովենիա, Eslobenia, Slóvenía, スロベニア, სლოვენია, ស្លូវេនី, ಸ್ಲೋವೇನಿಯಾ, 슬로베니아, سلۆڤێنیا, Sirovenya, Slovenië, Siloveni, ສະໂລເວເນຍ, Slovėnija, Slovēnija, Словенија, സ്ലോവേനിയ, स्लोव्हेनिया, Slovenja, စလိုဗေးနီးယား, स्लोभेनिया, ସ୍ଲୋଭେନିଆ, Словени, Słowenia, Eslovênia, Isluwinya, Siloveniya, Solovenïi, ස්ලෝවේනියාව, Republika Slovenija, Slloveni, ஸ்லோவேனியா, స్లోవేనియా, Eslovénia, สโลวีเนีย, Eslobenya, Silōvenia, Slovenya, سلوۋېنىيە, Словенія, سلووینیا, Xlô-ven-ni-a (Slovenia), Sloveniyän, Eslovenya, Orílẹ́ède Silofania, 斯洛文尼亚, i-Slovenia

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