Road Trip Europe – Solo Travel Through Slovenia

17 Aug,2018 By jagabond

Slovenia…even typing the word brings back amazing memories. This is the capital of comfort for me. Drop me into Slovenia anytime with a rental car and watch the stress melt from my life. It’s like that one friend you can be totally yourself around. For a person with anxiety, it’s rare for a place to make me feel at ease with both my surroundings and myself.

So why not share it? The best reason I can give is the healing power of introspection and alone time. Not everyone can meditate or practice yoga. For those of us too amped up in daily life, a solo road trip can be just what we need. Slovenia is the perfect place for this. No one will bother you unless you initiate, and you won’t feel awkward by yourself. In a country where nature rules over city life, lonesome wanderers are welcomed.

Slovenia’s tiny size and accessible freeways make it the ideal road trip destination. You can spend a week getting a thorough understanding of what makes this country tick. Check out the diversity within the itinerary. I can’t think of a place where I saw a wider range of sights. I list everything in order based on best driving route.

 

Road Trip Details

When?November
How long?One week
Driving time?Ten hours
Start and end spot?Trieste, Italy
Travel team?Solo

Trieste is my favorite airport for getting to Slovenia. There is never anyone there, so you can walk right up to the rental car counter, sign the documents and pick up your keys. Your trip starts and ends with no hassle, which is nice. It’s also only a thirty minute drive from the Slovenia border. However, the airport is relatively small so there may not be flight options from your city. A good backup is the Venice-Treviso airport.

 

Road Trip Itinerary

White horses of Lipica

Start your trip off visiting these magical animals. They might not be unicorns, but this majestic and gentle breed runs a close second. This farm in Slovenia is one of the earliest breeding locations for Lipizzaner horses, dating back to the 16th century. Their signature move is the levade, where the horse stands at a difficult angle raising its front legs. I met a new friend while there.

slovenia road trip - lipica horses

Predjama Castle

If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen this castle in Game of Thrones, be patient. Rumors are that George R. R. Martin was seen scouting out this location. It dates back to the 13th century and has a unique look, set in the mouth of a cave. The peacefulness of the surrounding area adds to the mystique.

slovenia road trip - predjama castle

Postojna Caves

The industrial town of Postojna is home to one of the most famous cave systems in Europe. Three miles of the cave are open to the public, connected to the outside via mini train. Admire the stalagmites and stalactites, and look for the blind salamander that lives in the cave waters. Even if you don’t see one, they sell stuffed ones at the gift shop!

slovenia road trip - postojna caves

slovenia road trip - postojna caves

slovenia road trip - postojna caves

Ljubljana

If you want to escape the hustle and angst of daily life, the capital of Slovenia is a great choice. The vibe is so relaxing, and the locals are eager to share their city. One of the iconic shots is the triple bridge over the Ljubljanica river with the pink church in the background.

slovenia road trip - ljubljana

That’s not the only bridge in town. The dragon is the symbol of the city, adding to the medieval charm. Cross the dragon bridge past the imposing fire breathers.

slovenia road trip - ljubljana

The Museum of Illusions is a must for science geeks, but also don’t miss the House of Experiments. Here is a video of me showing off my below average strength at the arm wrestling machine.

Presidential day trip

Imagine the residents of a former communist city huddled around the television, watching one of their own rise to the highest office. That was the scene in Sevnica on November 8, 2016. Melania Trump was raised here, defining the idea of humble beginnings. This was her family’s apartment, though her current accommodations are much nicer, I think.

slovenia road trip - sevnica

You can’t blame the city for latching onto her name to improve tourism. Prior to that unexpected day in November it was most famous for sausage, even hosting an annual festival…strangely for men only. How does Sevnica celebrate the first lady? By naming a sausage after her, of course.

slovenia road trip - sevnica

You can also find various pastries honoring her, and a local pub invented the ‘Trump Burger’ which includes jalapenos, a possible jab at immigration policies.

slovenia road trip - sevnica

slovenia road trip - sevnica

The first lady gift shop is located at the Sevnica Castle, where you can also find amazing views of the Sava River.

slovenia road trip - sevnica

World’s oldest grapevine

Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia, is home to the oldest grapevine in the world. Over 400 years of age, it still produces wine. Forget about buying a bottle, as the sales are limited to famous world figures and Hollywood actors.

slovenia road trip - maribor

Lake Bled

Tourists have taken over this pretty lake destination, and many locals resent it. Despite the crowds, you can’t deny the beauty of Lake Bled. Take a boat to the church on an island, and don’t miss the scenery at night with the glowing castle in the distance. You can find a great blog with more specifics on Lake Bled here.

slovenia road trip - lake bled

slovenia road trip - lake bled

slovenia road trip - lake bled

Lake Bohinj

If you abhor tourist mobs this lake might impress you more than Bled. Whereas Bled feels like a city that happens to have a lake in it, Bohinj boasts more nature. You can even do a short hike and check out a waterfall. For more on outdoor activities in Bohinj, read this.

slovenia road trip - lake bohinj

slovenia road trip - lake bohinj

slovenia road trip - lake bohinj

Drive through Tolmin

Driving over mountains and through the countryside can be serene, especially in this region of Slovenia. I took note of all the cute, little towns and marveled at the lack of traffic and simple lifestyle.

slovenia road trip - tolmin drive

slovenia road trip - tolmin drive

Brda wine country

This might be the most underrated wine country I’ve visited. It’s known for the Rebula grape, which creates an easily drinkable white wine. I did a tasting at Ferdinand winery, where the owner took a break from working the vineyard to show me around.

slovenia road trip - brda wine country

There is one road that connects the wine towns of Kozana, Dobrovo and Smartno. You can take some epic pictures of the rolling hills and lush landscapes.

slovenia road trip - brda wine country

slovenia road trip - brda wine country

You might happen upon some locals setting the mood with traditional Slovenian music. Raise your glass and enjoy your time in the countryside!

Stone bridge

Missing the bridges in Ljubljana? There’s one more to see near the Italian border. The Solkan bridge towers over the Soca river, and is the longest train bridge in the world constructed from stone blocks.

slovenia road trip - solkan bridge

Casino town

Nova Gorica is a strange little place. The town has almost no history, and has been taken over by the gambling industry. Its proximity to Italy makes it a convenient final stop on a road trip for some rest and relaxation your last night. Lady luck dumped me right before I hit the slots.

slovenia road trip - nova gorica

 

Road Trip Lessons Learned

  • Always purchase a driving vignette (i.e. sticker for your window) after crossing the border. Slovenia requires these, and the cost is cheap…around twenty euros for a week long pass. Most fuel stations and news stands sell them. Fines for not having one are around 300 euros.
  • Driving is easy compared to nearby Italy. If you are used to Italian driving, refresh your memory on basic laws and traffic circle etiquette.
  • Snowy roads can be dangerous in Slovenia. If there is a snowfall, stay on the major freeway that runs through Ljubljana, as this will be the cleanest.
  • Fans of crazy nightlife may find Ljubljana boring, whereas people like me find it lovely.
  • Beer lovers should try Lasko, a pretty good local brew found at most pubs and cafes in Slovenia.
  • The cuisine won’t win any awards, but try regional favorites like chestnut soup.
  • Slovenians are among the nicest people in Europe, though outside of young people in Ljubljana, English speakers might be hard to find.
  • Slovenia is no longer a hidden gem, as tourism has increased over the years significantly. However, prices remain low making it a very affordable European destination.

 

 

 

 

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