Maribor and Lake Bled, Slovenia: A 3 Day Itinerary
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Guest Post by Kate Bispham of Detailed Journeys
In April my partner and I went on an amazing road trip that started in Zagreb, Croatia, went on to Budapest, Hungary, then zigzagged back to Maribor and Lake Bled, Slovenia before dipping down to Split, Croatia. While I loved the entire trip and each place we went, I have to admit that I absolutely fell in love with Slovenia and truly cannot wait to go back again.
I hope to spark your interest in this magical country - ranked the most sustainable in the world! In addition to their sustainability accolades, Slovenia also won gold for Best in Wellness at WTM London last year and has been given the title of European Region of Gastronomy for 2021 (so get planning!).
Glamping in Slovenia Day 1: Slovenian Wine
First up was our stop at the amazing Chateau Ramšak Vineyard and their glamping resort in Maribor! Upon arrival we were greeted with a tour of the grounds and our tent, a delicious glass of Slovenian wine, and were able to request breakfast for the next morning. I highly recommend going glamping in Slovenia.
The tent came complete with a heated bed (for colder months), closet, safe, full bathroom, mini-fridge, coffee maker, and to top it all off a nice warm outdoor jacuzzi!
Then it was off for our wine tasting with a member of the family that owns the vineyard. Walking in our view was immediately filled with the largest wine press in all of Europe. I so wish I was taking notes on the history of the vineyard as it was quite intriguing, but we got a little distracted by tasting all of their delicious varieties of their Slovenian wine… guess I’ll just have to go back!
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Slovenia Holidays Day 2: Maribor to Ljubljana to Lake Bled
I woke up early to watch the sunrise over the hills from our bubbling jacuzzi, then we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast on our porch. After a quick stop in the town of Maribor to see the main square, we were on our way to Ljubljana. Originally we had planned to spend our next two nights in Ljubljana, but I discovered a hotel in Lake Bled that was too fantastic to pass up, so we changed our plans. We enjoyed lunch right next to the river and strolled through the streets of the capital city, stopping for some delicious chocolate and the best gummy bears I’ve ever had, before getting back in our car.
If Maribor had hooked me, Lake Bled reeled me right in. We pulled up to the Hotel Triglav where they said they’d gotten my note via hotels.com asking for the best view available. Not only were they happy to oblige, but my goodness did they deliver.
Tucked under the uppermost peak of the building, our balcony room provided us with a panorama that included the Julian Alps to our left and Lake Bled with its church on the island right in front of us. We were also able to enjoy this view via the deck off of the restaurant as well. We ordered take-out pizza and sat on the balcony enjoying the view along with a bottle of wine we’d purchased from the vineyard.
The hotel staff gave us a number of ideas on places to visit, so we were off the next day with a planned route and itinerary in hand. It did not go as planned. First, the Vogel Cable Car was closed for maintenance so we couldn’t get our elevated view, and then there were multiple road closures due to construction that caused us to need to make detours. Slovenia, however, is a place where there is always something else just as amazing to see and we ended up having an absolutely magical day.
Places to visit in Slovenia Day 3: Lake Bohinj
First up - Lake Bohinj, we drove to the western point and enjoyed a short walk out to the water over a wooden bridge with the most crystal clear water flowing underneath. There is also a trail near this end to the Slap Savica (Savica waterfall) if you are inclined to see it. Then we set off for a drive through the foothills of the Julian Alps, the beautiful fields, and small villages along the route that the hotel had recommended. The detours we had to take led us to the small village of Srednja vas v Bohinju and to the Gostilna pri Hrvatu, where we had a drink, a snack, and views for days!
We winded through the small roads of the village and back to Lake Bled where we had a dinner reservation at Sopa (“owl” in Slovenia). Lucky for us, we got to watch the sunset over the mountains while awaiting our meal. The Slovenian food was delicious and we were quite full so we declined dessert. That’s when it happened - the chocolate bomb was carried past us to another table. It was like a domino effect, first we ordered it, then the table next to us, then the one behind. As they poured hot strawberry sauce on top, melting the chocolate and showing the ice cream underneath. Wow, was it worth it.
The next morning I woke again for the sunrise, choosing to walk along the lake side and ended up coming across multiple duck families with their new ducklings! The glow off the lake was just breathtaking and I’m glad I threw my night owl tendency out the window and decided to be a morning person for once, it paid off. After reluctantly checked out of the Hotel Triglav, we nipped to Vintgar Gorge. The trail doesn’t open until it is deemed safe after the snowfall melts and firms up, so keep that in mind for the time of the year you are going.
It was now time for us to head back to Croatia for the tail end of our trip. Everyone kept saying the best route to take was to double back through Zagreb, but Google Maps had a more direct route, which brought us past the village of Semič. We decided to pull off, driving through the hills until we came across the Gostilna Pezdirc and stopped for an amazing lunch. The man running the place loved that we hadn’t listened to go on the more popular route and talked to us about his family that happened to live near where we do in the U.S.!
Alas, it was finally time for our three days in Slovenia to be over. Three days that were enough for me to fall under the spell of Slovenia, but far from enough for me to have had enough of this awe-inspiring country. I’m already thinking about my next visit.
Driving in Slovenia
Slovenia Road Trip Map
This link will take you to the route we drove on Google Maps, and I have shared it below as well. If we had driven directly from Budapest to Maribor we would have doubled-back on a road we’d already been on, so we drove further north to Bratislava for lunch and then stopped in Graz, Austria to stretch our legs.
Tolls in Slovenia
When driving on a toll road in Croatia you get a ticket upon entering and upon exiting you can pay with a credit card or cash. To drive in Hungary and Austria you must purchase a “vignette” (toll card) as soon as you enter the country. For Slovakia you only need it if driving on a toll road, which we weren’t for that little dip into their border. However - for tolls in Slovenia you MUST purchase your vignette before entering the country, luckily for us there was a rest stop just before the border crossing. Always make sure you have cash (local currency) to pay for these vignettes, our most expensive one was €15 for four days.
Rental car fees in Slovenia
Keep in mind when renting a car that there will be an additional fee for permission to cross borders, but it is so worth it!
Parking in Slovenia
Parking garages are abundant in any of the larger cities you visit, and parking lots in the smaller ones. Just remember that the spots in garages are often very tight so be careful when pulling in and out. I recommend keeping everything packed and ready to go so you can pull your bags out of the car quickly before pulling the car into a garage spot. There were multiple times we had to do this and I could barely get out of the car because the door could only open a couple of inches. Most garages and lots took credit, but it’s always good to have local cash just in case. The closer you park to the main tourist attractions, the more expensive the parking will be - so research where to park in advance to save a little and also avoid traffic.