Eye Candy From Slovenia, My New Favorite European Country

View of Lake Bohinj in Slovenia

Some places stick with me like a bright splinter of happiness lodged in the memory banks. With views like the one of Lake Bohinj above, I’ll be dreaming about Slovenia for awhile.

As we climbed over the mountains out of Croatia, I didn’t know what to expect on the other side. I’d heard of the views, the friendly people, the quiet country roads perfect for cycling. As rumors tend to go, all of that was mostly true, though we did ride some narrow highways and joust with traffic here and there. The cities, even smaller ones, all featured separated bike paths, a stellar surprise. Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana (LubJub, as we called it), is criss-crossed by a network of cycling paths with great signage that made exploring by bicycle fun. That’s more than I can say for most big cities.

A lovely night in Ljubljana.

A lovely night in Ljubljana.

Overall, Slovenia was a mix of beautiful terrain and a quiet, laid-back atmosphere not overrun by tourists. Prices for food and lodging were about 2/3 the price of western European countries like Belgium or Austria, and it sported good food, easy navigating and pretty cities. It’s a small country packed full of variety – rolling mountains to the southwest, a picturesque capital in the center, vineyards to the northeast, and jagged peaks of the Julian Alps to the northwest. We pedaled through it all.

Slovenia is right in the center. After taking the ferry from Venice to Croatia, we headed NE out to Hungary before looping back west into the Alps.

After taking the ferry from Venice to Croatia, we headed NE through Slovenia, then east to Hungary before looping back west again into the Slovenian Alps.

Overall we spent three weeks in Slovenia, crossing its borders multiple times. Our favorite part, the Alps, required sweating over quad-testing 18% mountain passes to/from Austria, which was totally worth it. Lake Bled was romantic and lovely; Lake Bohinj (a place I could stay for multiple months) was an adventurer’s paradise tucked into the mountains. Bohinj featured paragliding, mountain biking, trekking, and all the fun available on a pristine mountain lake. It’s my top destination recommendation from all our time in Europe so far.

Enough said. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Have a great weekend, everybody.

The idyllic Lake Bled and the famous church atop an island in the center.

The idyllic Lake Bled and the famous church atop an island in the center.

Chelsea and Jen enjoy the view in central Slovenia.

Chelsea and Jen enjoy the view in central Slovenia.

Even in the rain, Lake Bled is uber-romantic. Where else does a heart frame a castle, after all?

Even in the rain, Lake Bled is uber-romantic. Where else does a heart frame a castle, after all?

Locks of love decorate a bridge in Ljubljana.

Locks of love decorate a bridge in Ljubljana.

Slovenian hills don't mess around - 15%+ grades were common, even on bike routes. The views made up for it.

Slovenian hills don’t mess around – 15%+ grades were common, even on bike routes. The views made up for it.

Paddling across Lake Bohinj in the NW part of Slovenia.

Some SUPers on Lake Bohinj in the NW part of Slovenia.

Embracing the tourist life to row a swan boat out to the romantic castle in the center of Lake Bled.

Embracing the tourist life to row a swan boat out to the church in the center of Lake Bled.

Rolling through the scenic valley near Kranjska Gora in the far NW corner of Slovenia.

Rolling through the scenic valley near Kranjska Gora in the far NW corner of Slovenia.

Chelsea throws down on a soon-to-be 18% pass north out of Slovenia into Austria.

Chelsea throws down on a soon-to-be 18% pass north out of Slovenia into Austria. Steep in, steep out, but totally worth it!

12 replies
  1. Hilary
    Hilary says:

    Gosh, how I LOVE your blog!!!!! I have been enjoying your travels through Europe so much, and really appreciate this post about Slovenia, a country close to my heart. Your photographs are always stunning. You and Chelsea are such bad asses! I admit, I keep expecting the next post to find you guys in Calais, helping hand out soup and blankets to Syrian migrants. Even if that doesn’t hapoen, I admire you both so much!

    Reply
    • Dakota
      Dakota says:

      Glad you’re enjoying it!

      You hit upon something with the Calais idea. The next phase for us is figuring out how to incorporate volunteering and service to the world into our lives, whether we are traveling or not. The last couple years have been a recalibration, almost a sabbatical, and now it’s time to give back as part of our work. And continue to have big adventures and fun, of course. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Nikki
    Nikki says:

    Absolutely stunning! Jakob and I are both inspired by you two. What an amazing adventure. The photos are absolutely stunning! We hope to see you guys soon!

    Reply
    • Dakota
      Dakota says:

      Thanks Nikki! Yeah, this trip to Europe has been a fun adventure for sure. We had no idea what to expect and have loved our time over here. Some hard parts, as is always the case touring (damn you heat waves!), but overall awesome.

      Reply
  3. Mark
    Mark says:

    Beautiful shots. It looks like there’s more to Slovenia than I thought. I mean once you seen a mountain, you seen them all right? I know that’s not the case after living all over the Rockies from Alaska to Colorado and you two sure pedaled your way through some of those hills.

    Did you ever find out why they built that church in the middle of the lake? Awesome spot that made me wonder why they chose it in the first place. Without googling for the answer, I am presuming it is a monastery because that’s an awful heck of a lot of people rowing for mass once a week (possibly skating to mass in the winter?).

    Reply
    • Dakota
      Dakota says:

      I think new mountains are always the prettiest you’ve ever seen. All about new new new; I’m working on appreciating the known. A life-long challenge, I suppose.

      No idea why the church was built there. I think it’s so the local boat operators can make a fortune renting boats to all the tourists! If you build it, they will come, as Kevin Costner might say… Ha!

      Reply
  4. Amy
    Amy says:

    Thank you for the beautiful photos of a gorgeous place. I love the tea break overlooking the lake! We spent last summer cycling in “central” Europe and Slovenia was one of our favorites. We were not brave enough (nor did we have enough time on our Schengen entry) to head into the Julian Alps, but someday (once our kids are pedaling their own bikes I think)…
    Even in the rest of the country, though, what steep grades! I kept thinking of what the roads must be like in the winter!

    Reply
    • Dakota
      Dakota says:

      Wow, y’all are awesome! Way to make a huge adventure happen as a family. We are so impressed by people who take on big physical challenges with kids – kudos to you.

      Glad you enjoyed the photos of Slovenia. I highly recommend avoiding the steepest grades in the Alps even if your kids are pedaling their own bikes. 🙂 It is just plain old hard work getting over those things!

      Reply
  5. Lindsay Sledge
    Lindsay Sledge says:

    We visited Slovenia while stationed at Avian Air Force Base in Italy. The people were amazingly friendly and everyone spoke perfect English. I would love to go back!

    Reply
    • Dakota
      Dakota says:

      I bet it was fun to be stationed overseas – such easy access to all those great countries. I hope you get back to Slovenia soon!

      Reply

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