About Slovenia Self Drive no.3
Explore Slovenia's fabulous countryside combined with sampling incredible local produce. A little off the beaten track but always staying in small hotels with excellent culinary credentials.
Activity code: SLFD03
Duration: 10-15 Days
START / FINISH - Ljubljana (or Pula)
This itinerary is our suggested fly-drive holiday for a tour of Slovenia that concentrates on offering some excellent food and wine tasting experiences. Starting in the capital, Ljubljana, the route includes national parks, historic towns, wine regions, mountain passes, beautiful islands and much more. This is designed as a circuit from Ljubljana so you can travel out via the Loggar Valley and back directly from the coast or vice versa. It is easily extended by adding nights in some or all locations or, of course, travelling a little further into Croatia to also visit Istria or Zagreb and Plitvice Lakes National Park.
This holiday has a tried and trusted recommended route with our personal suggestions for sightseeing included with your final travel documents but you are free to explore or relax as much as you like within the overall structure of the itinerary. Driving conditions are excellent with the new highway* from the capital to the coast cutting down on travel times but also freeing up space on minor roads so drivers can choose between peaceful scenic routes or speedier alternatives to make the most of time away from home.
* our hire cars include Slovenia's Vignette (or highway tax disc) and cross-border Green Card for Croatia, Italy & Austria.
Begin your holiday with some relaxing sightseeing in Ljubljana, a city which is a delight to wander around both daytime and evening; it is compact and very friendly with some excellent viewpoints and historic architecture. After the capital there is an interesting route into the hills and beyond to the remote Logar Valley (a traditional food lover's dream) then via a beautiful mountain pass to the stunning Lake Bled and the Triglav National Park - you can choose to stay in either or both of Bled and Kranjska Gora to make the most of the outdoor activities and plentiful fresh air on offer. Afterwards the drive to your next location, Postojna and its fabulous caves, allows you a couple of days to meander through the mountain villages on the smaller roads including a detour to the wine region of Goriska Brda. The final destinations on this itinerary are a choice of resorts, historic towns and mountain villages in Istria prior to heading back on the highway to Ljubljana and your flight home.
We can tailor-make a holiday to suit your requirements for any or all of the following - departure airport, budget, hotel type/size, overall duration, activities, etc.
Accommodation: the hotels in this fly-drive itinerary are generally small, independent or family-run, properties which add significantly to your travel experience in this fascinating country (in the list below we have included our recommended hotels which offer, in our opinion, the most authentic food experience in each location but we also make suggestions for other "boutique" hotels and deluxe properties in a few places; please do not hesitate to request alternative hotels).
Transport: to take the stress out of arriving and departing we offer a private airport transfer service; we can deliver and collect your hire car from your hotel at no extra cost. All our vehicles have a/c and come with a full tank of fuel, we provide driving directions and parking information for all accommodation.
Extra Information: all our holidays have a recommended route with suggestions for sightseeing; we can also book activities and specialist sightseeing - such as cycling, sea kayaking, rafting and hiking guides, etc.
* this itinerary is easily adjusted from 10 to 14 nts & vice versa by adding or removing the time at the coast and in Croatia.
NB: Flights available to book through us with a range of airlines, from various UK airports.
Arrive in Ljubljana; private transfer to your hotel in city centre. Balance of day sightseeing.
Full day for sightseeing in Ljubljana and local area on foot and by public transport. Visit the castle by walking up one of the many paths around the hill or by taking a ride in the funicular, consider a boat trip on the river or hiring bicycles to explore this compact city, including the huge Tivoli Park not far from the centre. Ljubljana has some great food and wine to sample, a fabulous market, a zoo, a museum of illusions and many different types of tour, e.g. Segway, Moustache Tour.
** for food lovers we can recommend and book traditional restaurants (including the award-winning restaurants inside the castle), pre-book a wine-tasting experience and offer advice on where to get the best local products. You won't have any trouble finding great cafes as there are many superb places all along the riverside and beyond.
Deliver hire car to your hotel (or nearest safe parking place) and drive north to the isolated Logar Valley near the Austrian border with plenty of time to explore this beautiful, lesser-visited area. Suggested detours en route include the small town of Kamnik and the Velika Planina, a great summer pasture in the heart of the mountain plateau where, near the cable car station there is a herdsmen's settlement at which you can experience a little of their traditional way of life, taste their dairy products and admire the unique architecture of the cottages which define this area.
For your free day here there is so much on offer in terms of scenery and food experiences that we recommend you consider a third night. You can begin the exploration with a simle walk up to the Rinka Waterfall at the top of the valley, including a climb up to the log cabin cafe half way up the adjoining cliff. In this region many farms and houses offer a taste of traditional foods, even meals, for visitors - one such concentration of places is along the scenic Panoramic road where you can indulge in high quality local products from the farms along the route. Choose whether to eat at one of these places or gather together a picnic to enjoy amongst the incredible views and clean mountain air.
Many food products and traditional crafts are also available in the nearby village of Solcava, such as the new visitor centre and local crafts workshops in the village church. It is possible here to watch wool products being made, such as slippers, bags, jewellery and novelty items - with advance booking we can arrange for you to make your own (with plenty of instruction, of course).
An onward drive via the stunning "short-cut" through Austria at the Jezerski Pass and back down to Preddvor and then the lovely town of Kranj en route to Lake Bled.
* also en route to Bled is the pretty little town of Radovljica where you can visit the gingerbread workshop and indulge in some traditional cakes at a cafe in the main street (the centre of town is pedestrianised making it a delightful place to sit out and watch the world go by).
You now have a full day to explore the lake, including the island by Pletna Boat and the castle; you can walk or cycle around the full shoreline of the lake and explore further on trails in and around the Triglav National Park. On the shore of the lake there is a summer toboggan run, a zip line, mini-golf and nearby is the Vintgar Gorge.
* for food lovers we can recommend and book traditional restaurants (including the excellent restaurant inside the castle and the restaurant 1906 at the Hotel Triglav), pre-book a wine-tasting experience and offer advice on where to get the best local products. There are many places serving the famous Bled Cream Cake but the original recipe version is only available at the Park Hotel and its sister properties in the Sava group.
NB. you could choose to extend your stay in Lake Bled to explore the area more fully or even to take a day trip into the mountains by train - there is a station very close to the Hotel Triglav from which you can catch a train in the morning to Most na Soci (or stations down the line to Nova Gorica) and return in the late afternoon. The alternative would be to consider a night or two in Kranjska Gora, e.g. Hotel Skipass (excellent food) or Bovec (via the incredible Vrsic Pass), e.g. Hotel Sanje Ob Soci.
We suggest taking scenic route through mountains via Bohinjska Bistrica, Most na Soci to the (until recently*) remote wine-growing region of Goriska Brda, a picnic may be a great idea to have along the way. A possible detour would be to Lake Bohinj and/or the Vogel mountain cable car.
* It is less cut-off now since a road was built through a corner of Italy connecting it much more easily to Nova Gorica.
Full day in this wine region for tasting (not just wine but some great local food, too), some gentle walks, cycling or simply relaxing in this beautiful corner of Slovenia.
Head south towards the Adriatic coast and the charming resort of Isola (or a little further to the historic town of Piran). Enjoy some relaxation time on the Slovenian coast at your choice of resort.
Along the way we recomend a stop to visit the Skocjan Caves and/or the home of the Lipizzaner Horses, both near Divaca.
NB. Both of these hotels offer great food and if you stay the extra day you can enjoy the coast and, in particular, eat some great fresh fish.
** you could elect to save one night here if you stayed longer in Bled (or elsewhere) and just use this as a stopover en route to Istria.
Today we recommend driving across the border into Croatia near the incredible landscape of the salt pans, a detour to witness this process and to pick up the local product is possible at the Museum of Salt Making. Once into Croatia head inland to one of our favourite places, the hill-top town of Motovun which is in the centre of one of the most productive traditional food regions of Croatia - truffles, olives, brandy and wine, mushrooms and so much more are all around you and in Motovun and the villages nearby you can taste and buy a wide range of them.
* whilst in Motovun we suggest a truffle hunting experience and possibly a visit to the coast at Porec or Rovinj. Inland we'd also recommend Pazin which has a castle, museum and a zip-wire across the "pit" or chasm.
Finish your sightseeing and exploring in Istria and take the road to Opatija so you can drive directly north to Postojna and return to Slovenia's mountains, breaking your journey back to Ljubljana at the World-famous site of Postojna. Time to explore the area which has so much more to offer in addition to the caves such as Predjama Castle and the Modrijan Homestead.
** Visit the show caves first thing in the morning (they are just a short walk from both hotels and tickets can be purchased online) and then you have time to enjoy the general surroundings away from the main crowds.
* Postojna has a small number of quite excellent restaurants, such as the Minutka, a short walk from the Hotel Kras.
Take highway back to Ljubljana for flight home, drop off car at airport. If you have an early flight we can arrange a hotel in Kranj which is near to the airport, e.g. Hotel Actum.