Exploring Caves and Castles in Ljubljana, Slovenia

The seventh stop on our nine week summer vacation across Europe brought us to Ljubljana, Slovenia.  If you’ve never heard of Ljubljana or Slovenia, then you are missing out on a hidden gem of Europe.  We randomly stumbled on this country while looking at pictures of Europe and decided it was a must-see destination. It did not disappoint.

While in Ljubljana, we explored the city for several days and visited the castle atop the central hill in town.  We took a few day trips to two caves and a castle.  In addition to the sightseeing, this was our first opportunity to take it easy since we had a full week in Ljubljana (after six previous stops on our trip with only two to five days stay in each city).  We embraced the slow travel lifestyle and spent a couple of days “doing nothing” and relaxing.

Ljubljana is a mouthful. It’s pronounced LOOB-LEE-ANNA and rhymes with the performer Rihanna. Now you can tell all your friends about LOOB-LEE-ANNA!

Fun facts: Slovenia used to be a part of Yugoslavia. It was a communist country for several decades.  Slovenia tops the ranks of the Gini index, a measure of income equality.  It only has two million people, about the same population as the state of New Mexico.  It’s tiny. If it were a US State, it would be the fourth smallest in size, falling between New Jersey and Connecticut. Our First Lady Melania Trump is from Slovenia (though her name at birth was Melanija – the “j” sounds like a “y” in Slovenian).

We didn’t see Melania or visit her home village, but we did see a bunch of friendly, laid back people in Ljubljana and the rest of Slovenia!

Here’s a recap of our trip in Europe so far.  We started our journey in Lisbon, Portugal, then flew to Malaga in southern Spain before taking a bus to Granada, Spain.  After Granada we visited Seville, Spain.  From Seville, we flew to Milan on a super cheap two hour Ryanair flight. After a two hour train ride from Milan, we arrived in Venice.  Then we took a four hour bus ride to Ljubljana where our story picks up today.


This river runs through the middle of the old historic center of town. You can take the riverside walk into town.


Or head into town along the cobblestone streets between these centuries old buildings.


Getting Around Town

After a 4.5 hour bus ride from Venice, we arrived at the main bus station which is adjacent to the main train station. Most of the local buses traversing Ljubljana connect at the main bus/train station, so it was easy to hop on the right bus to take us the 1.5 miles to our Airbnb.  Bus fares are collected electronically so a €2 Urbana transit card is required (for sale at kiosks around town and at the main bus station).  Rides are €1.20 each and five year olds ride free.  As it turns out, a taxi probably would have cost about the same as the bus fare times four plus the €2 Urbana card purchase.

We didn’t take the bus any more after that first bus trip because we booked a rental car for the remaining 10 days of our stay in Slovenia (4 days of which we stayed in the village of Podkoren in the northern part of Slovenia – more on that in the next article!).

A rental car isn’t a requirement to see all of Slovenia, but it’s a huge convenience. Otherwise we would have to rely on guided tours or somewhat infrequent intercity buses to the more far-flung destinations we visited.

If we only visited Ljubljana itself, a rental car wouldn’t be necessary at all as the buses are comprehensive and the taxis cheap.  Slovenia didn’t have Uber when we visited but they did have some kind of taxi app that I didn’t try.  The central tourist section of town is easily walkable if you’re staying in the center.  We stayed on the edge of downtown and could walk to everything within 5-20 minutes.  Some streets are pedestrian only, so we left the car in the driveway when venturing down the cobblestone streets of downtown Ljubljana.  There was a small grocery store and a playground two blocks from our Airbnb house.


This bridge over the Ljubljanica River was only a few minutes walking distance from our airbnb rental.

On the morning of our first full day in Ljubljana, Sixt dropped off the rental at our Airbnb at the scheduled time of 10:00 am without much delay.  We declined the extra car rental insurance because our credit card provided full coverage. Sixt required us to put a $4,000 hold on our credit card to cover any damage or losses to the car.  The rental car attendant told me it was 15% of the car value, which would make it a $26,000 car.  It was a brand new Audi compact car, so the small price tag surprised me.  The total rental price for 10 days was €151 or about USD$170.  We could have saved quite a bit by booking a manual transmission car, however I’m no good at the stick shift so I went the easy route of automatic transmission and paid a premium.

This was our first rental car in Europe and it turned out to be an okay experience but there were some bumps in the road (more on that in the next article on northern Slovenia).  It wasn’t a matter of extra unexpected charges or problems with the car, but rather miscommunications with Sixt staff.

This little Audi sipped the diesel very carefully even up and down winding mountain roads. It only cost about $20 to fill up the tank which we did a couple times while in Slovenia.

The stereotype of tiny compact cars in Europe was confirmed with our little Audi. It was a tight squeeze to fit our five bookbags (all we traveled with for nine weeks) in the hatchback trunk area, and adding a few bags of groceries on top really stretched the cargo limits to the max.  The kids complained of being “literally crushed to DEATH” in the back seat though none of our children were injured or died on this particular sojourn in Slovenia, whines and complaints notwithstanding.

Driving was easy once I figured out the European road signs. Everyone drives on the right hand side of the road (as all continental European countries do). The one weird difference I noticed was country-wide prohibition of “right turn on red” at traffic signals. I violated this particular law without thinking, then luckily bumped into a fellow American at the grocery store who informed me of this nuance of Slovenian road rules.

Navigating the countryside was simple with offline Google Maps and GPS on my phone.  We didn’t get lost on small backcountry roads nor on the winding narrow alleyways in ancient villages.  Though there were a few times when we questioned whether we were driving on a footpath or a real road. I think we messed up just once or twice.

The national language is Slovenian but almost everyone speaks English to some degree. The one notable exception was the cashiers at the grocery stores. Many were older ladies that graduated high school before the fall of the Iron Curtain, and as a result were less likely to learn English in school.  So if you ever need to find a proficient English speaker in Slovenia, just look for someone under 40.

Car free streets in downtown Ljubljana. Leave the car at home and take a stroll through the city.


Lodging for a week with Airbnb

We stayed in a centrally located house on the edge of the historic downtown area of Ljubljana for USD$86 per night.  There were cheaper Airbnb’s available, but we decided to live it up a bit in a three bedroom apartment that occupied the entire second floor of a large house. The house had two other apartments – one above and one below us. The owner lived in the first floor apartment and was always available if we had any questions or issues.  Since we had a car, the fenced in parking area was convenient though it was an extremely tight squeeze.

Large dining table for 6 and a big living room. Home away from home!


The bathroom with bathtub/shower, bidet, and washing machine.


The Airbnb offered plenty of space to relax in the large living room and dining room. The kitchen was larger than ours at home in Raleigh, and almost as well furnished.  The bathroom situation was a bit weird as it was advertised as two bathrooms though it was more like two half baths. The main bathroom was huge and came with a large bathtub/shower, bidet, vanity area and laundry area but no toilet. The second bathroom was possibly a former coat closet refurbished by squeezing in a toilet and small sink.  The apartment was perfect for our one week stay.

If you want to give Airbnb a shot, click here to take $40 off your stay.


Food in Ljubljana

We cooked several meals in Ljubljana and packed sandwiches and snacks for picnics around the countryside.  A Mercator grocery store two blocks from our apartment provided all the staples at very reasonable prices.  Once we got our rental car on day two, we made a big grocery run to the Hofer grocery store a mile away. Hofer is the trade name used in Austria and Slovenia by Aldi grocery stores.  Store layout and product offerings were surprisingly similar to the products on shelves in the US version of Aldi.  Prices and quality were great, too.

Restaurants and bars were incredibly cheap in Slovenia. Like Mexico cheap.  We found one of the nicer restaurants in town and stopped in for lunch. Druga Violina, or Second Violin, offers a rotating menu of two or three course meals for €4.50-5.00 (USD$5.00-5.60 at the time) that includes a salad, a main course, and sometimes a dessert.  We tried a couple of those meals. We also got several stews and desserts to try plus some fries for the kids (so they won’t “literally starve to death”).  The bill came to USD$29 and none of us left hungry.  The restaurant also does a good deed by hiring special needs young adults to bus tables and serve food. The special needs staff struggled with the details a little when bringing out our order, but you have to applaud a restaurant that makes a difference AND serves a good meal in a nice atmosphere for less than the cost of a fast food combo back in the US.

The fish and rice part of my 3 course meal in Ljubljana for USD$5.60


Mrs. Root of Good’s penne pasta, part of the €5 fixed price 3 course meal menu. Yeah it’s Italian food but that IS Slovenian food too since the Italian border was under an hour from Ljubljana.


In the center of downtown Ljubljana there’s an open air market with a couple dozen food vendors. Perfect for a family with varying tastes (including kids who count french fries among their favorite foods). Mrs. Root of Good indulged her desire for seafood with fried squid ($8). I ordered “one of everything” at a different food truck and ended up with cevapcicis with ajvar sauce, fried cheese, french fries, and stuffed Slovenian pizza.

The Slovenian pizza has a fairly normal yeasty doughy thick crust filled with cheese, meat, and sauce.  Cevapcicis are little beef sticks served on big, crusty on the outside, soft on the inside rolls (like huge English muffins but way better).  Ajvar (remember the j sounds like a y) is mashed up roasted peppers (and it’s also delicious!).

Fun story on grocery shopping while abroad.  We accidentally bought ajvar at the grocery store thinking it was Slovenian for “pasta sauce”.  Nope. But it does taste delicious on pasta when mixed with tomato sauce or “real” pasta sauce.  I also found that you can buy frozen cevapcici meat sticks at the grocery store and they are delicious. I guess it’s the US equivalent of frozen meatballs or hamburger patties.

Slovenian street food lunch for USD$20!


Downtown Ljubljana is a fun place to visit, and we did so on several days. There’s always a strange mix of public performances going on. Live bands giving impromptu concerts. Mimes or actors in costumes looking for tips.  Gymnasts and jugglers showing off their extraordinary coordination. One guy used the expanse of a large open square around a fountain to practice his bullwhip cracking skills.  And in a rare deviation from the typical European experience, the downtown area felt like it was designed to encourage visitors to linger with free drinking water fountains and free public restrooms (most places in Europe charged $0.50 to $1.50 to answer the call of nature).

On the stroll back to our Airbnb after an afternoon of exploring downtown, we stopped by the Cat Caffe Ljubljana to watch the cats inside.  Cats and coffee! How can you not love that combo?  I didn’t risk going in with the kids since one of the girls has a bad cat allergy.


Ljubljana Castle

We visited a castle in almost every city we visited in Europe. Ljubljana was no different.  The Ljubljana Castle is perched atop a hill that forms the western border for the downtown historic district. Given the high vantage point, I can clearly see why the original castle builders decided to put a defensive fortress up there 1,000 years ago (and why new rulers continually upgraded the castle throughout the centuries).  You can see half way across the country in every direction.  Invaders would have had a terrible uphill climb to get to the outer walls.  Fortunately we had a rental car to take us up the hill to the castle entrance.  Another alternative is the funicular that runs from the from downtown center up the hillside to the castle.

There is a small admission fee to see all the parts of the interior of the castle including a museum. We didn’t pay anything and managed to see the most interesting parts of the castle for free.  I’m not sure if we broke the rules by walking in for free but there was no one taking tickets at the main gate, and individual areas specifically asked for certain tickets available for purchase (which we didn’t buy).

The castle was very interesting and certainly worth a visit if you’re in Ljubljana, if for nothing more than the view of the surrounding country. I think we were starting to suffer from castle fatigue at this point in the trip since we had seen at least a half dozen impressive castles leading up to this one.

View of the castle from the main town plaza


Interior castle courtyard with special event setup


We crashed some kind of party and somehow managed to evade security. A screaming five year old running down the red carpet didn’t raise any alarms.


We told our five year old that they lock unruly children in this dungeon. Hyperactivity was NOT deterred.

This castle held prisoners of war during World War I, including US POW’s.  At the time, much of today’s Slovenia was controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an enemy of the US and Allied powers during WWI.  I’m kind of a history nerd, and WWI/II are of particular interest so this was way cool to see. Scattered elsewhere throughout Slovenia we saw plenty of places of significance during WWI including battle sites, memorials, and graveyards.


Castle aglow with the orange of sunset


Family time enjoying the sunset over Ljubljana.


View from the hill of Ljubljana Castle. We will visit the Julian Alps (those mountains in the far distance) in the next travel article installment.


Caves of Slovenia

Slovenia is a small country which makes it perfect for day trips out of the centrally located capital of Ljubljana.  We took day trips on two occasions to see the huge caves near Ljubljana. The Skocjan Cave is more rustic and raw and feels like you’re exploring it yourself instead of being led on a guided tour.  The Postojna Cave feels a little Disney-fied with the train that leads you into the most impressive part of the cave.  Our Airbnb host tried to deter us from even visiting the latter cave, however we ignored that advice and are very glad we toured both caves.

The two caves offered very different scenic opportunities. The Skocjan cave was massively impressive in size and scale.  Like incomprehensively massive – my brain couldn’t really process how big it was or the fact that a 50 story skyscraper could fit within some of the underground chambers.  And an underground river runs through the bottom of these massive chambers.  I’ve never seen anything else like this in the world.  The Postojna cave (the Disney-fied one) was impressive not due to its size, but because of the stalactite and stalagmite formations and mineral pools packed into the dozens of cave chambers we passed through.

Each cave tour cost just under USD$100 for family admission which is quite a steep price given how cheap everything else was in Slovenia. It’s well worth the cost of admission.  These two caves were probably the most impressive sights in the entirety of our Europe trip.  A must see if you’re in this part of Europe.  The Postojna cave was rather crowded, however the Skocjan cave wasn’t that packed with tourists in spite of us being there in July in the middle of peak tourist season.

The caves were both a short 30 to 45 minute drive and not too far off the main freeway connecting Ljubljana with Trieste, Italy.  Both caves are in the same general direction, so it’s certainly possible to see both cave complexes in one day. However I’d allow at least four hours, possibly six, to explore all of the accessible areas of the Skocjan cave which would have you rushing to see the Postojna cave. To see both main parts of the Skocjan cave, expect to walk or hike for 3-4 miles, some of which will be on uneven steps and steep, rough terrain. It’s not rock climbing but it’s a lot harder than a leisurely stroll.

If you’re not in top physical shape or traveling with children, definitely plan on doing one cave per day. Postojna Cave is much less physically demanding as you ride a train into and out of the cave, and are only walking on foot for about 40 minutes to one hour.

Near the Postojna Cave is the Predjama Castle. It’s neat to see a castle built into a cliffside but not worth a separate day trip if you aren’t planning on visiting the Postojna Cave at the same time.

Skocjan Cave

Skocjan Cave and its underground river


Near the entrance to the self-guided part of the cave tour.


One of the gravity-defying bridges traversing the chasms on the Skocjan cave walk.

Postojna Cave

We rode the train a couple of miles inside the earth to tour the Postojna cave.


Video from our train ride into the Postojna Cave


Layered stalagmites in the Postojna Cave.


Impressive columns and stalagmites in the Postojna Cave.


I wasn’t sure whether to include this pic under the “Castles” or the “Caves” heading. Predjama Castle built into a cave in the side of the hill (just a few minutes past Postojna Cave).


Thoughts on Ljubljana and Slovenia

We all loved Slovenia in case you can’t tell already. It’s a beautiful country in a beautiful part of the world.  Full of mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, caves, castles, and history but without a big price tag usually attached to these luxuries.  In other words, it’s a perfect destination for this frugal travel blogger/early retiree.

Unlike many other tourist destinations in Europe, Slovenia isn’t swamped with tourists. Even in the capital city Ljubljana it seemed to be a largely local crowd with some tourists from nearby Italy and Austria (which are both within an hour’s drive from Ljubljana).  Slovenia is relatively undiscovered today however I’m afraid articles like the one you’re currently reading will bring waves of tourists that will jam pack the streets and take up all the seating at the quaint sidewalk cafes.  I’m conflicted as I want to jealously guard this secret gem from everyone and keep it for myself.  However, I feel compelled to share it’s beauty with all of you so that you can enjoy it before future crowds wreck its splendor.

Who needs Venice when you have Ljubljana’s canal-like river running through town?

Of all the fourteen cities and eight countries we visited in Europe last summer, Slovenia stands out as a favorite for the whole family. It has a slower pace of life that we could embrace.  Everything works. It’s clean and convenient. The people are friendly.  It’s a bit like many other cities and countries we visited in Europe except without the crowds, commercialism, and higher prices usually associated with tourist destinations.

We have Ljubljana and Slovenia on our list to re-visit for a longer period of time whenever we make it back to Europe.  I wouldn’t mind spending a whole summer there in fact.



Admit it, this is the first time you’ve ever heard of Slovenia and Ljubljana, right? 🙂 What do you think? Should the Slovene Tourist Bureau hire me?  


Check out the fourteen part summary of our nine week European family vacation:


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  1. Awesome, I’ve been to Slovenia twice and been to those same caves. That ride was pretty cool huh? There’s another town there called Bled with the famous lake with the church on the island. I highly recommend going there as well.

    I really enjoyed my time in Slovenia and would go back in a heartbeat!

    1. Bled and other points in the north of Slovenia will be covered in the next article 🙂 I actually liked the Soca Valley and some other small lakes even more than Bled which was busier and more crowded. We only spent a few hours in Bled and moved on. Funny story, our Lonely Plant Europe Tour Book had Lake Bled on the front cover of it. It is really pretty with the crystal clear blue water.

  2. Wow I’ve heard that Slovenia is beautiful but I had no idea that it was that awesome. It’s been on bucket list for awhile but now it’s really moving towards the top 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. We were pleasantly surprised at how nice it really was. Some other places were a little underwhelming (like Prague) so that helped push Slovenia up our rankings of fave places we visited.

  3. Your trip posts are so inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing all the details of your vacations and teaching us readers about travel gems like Ljubljana. You’re making me jealous, but I’ve got a family of 5 so I think it is time for me to do some serious planning and take a huge family-style trip like you do.

  4. “The kids complained of being “literally crushed to DEATH” in the back seat”…yeah, I can see how switching to a tiny European car after being used to a van would be a difficult transition 🙂 I remember feeling the walls closing in on me the last time i was in a British car. Hey, at least it’s more efficient on gas.

    Awesome write-up of Slovena! Going to add that one to our list (thought your “it’s not full of tourists” bit will probably change now that you’ve written about it :P)

    1. The car wasn’t that much smaller than a Honda Civic – what I used to drive until 2 years ago. 🙂 They just like to whine about mild uncomfortableness. I told them we’d be taking the bus or train everywhere from now on so they have plenty of room!

  5. Great wrap up.

    We FIREd and are traveling RTW with two teens and a ten year old. We share our expenses on our blog. A little luxury on a budget.

    We’re enjoying a view of the Panama Canal from bed right now. And are heading to Nicaragua in the morning.

    1. Very cool! What’s your favorite place(s) so far? Never been to the Canal but it’s on my bucket list (and something I’ll probably see on a cruise at some point).

      edit: just checked out your blog. Looks like you have 2 older daughters and a younger son just like us. Quite a full house 🙂

      1. Yes, as you know the full house makes travel interesting. All over the world, four seems to be the magic number. Some places, taxis have refused to transport our three kids with us.

        Of course our favourite place depends on who you ask.

        Iguazu Falls was breathtaking. And relaxing in between trail walks.

        The three night 4×4 trek from Tupiza to the Bolivia Salt Flats was simply stunning. But the long drive was tiring at times. Icky accommodations.

        Machu Picchu was not disappointing despite expectations. The hike up (because it was free) was tiring when you added it onto the long walking around and the hike back down. We had to bribe the boy with the promise of ice cream. Rather, he bribed us I guess.

        Incredible food in Vietnam. And incredibly cheap. The Princess (DH) loved Halong Bay. Angkor Wat was awesome. Ayutthaya (Bridge on the River Kwai) was a great history lesson. Rome, Florence and Venice were up there.

        I personally didn’t care for Vietnam at first. And toward the middle. We were there for a month. I have mostly fond memories now.

        My new favourite is our condo overlooking the beach in San Juan del Sur Nicaragua. Despite the fine dust in the wind that settles on everything. Fortunately it doesn’t make our food gritty.

    2. Hey Colleen, I checked out your blog and it seems to fit the niche that I am looking for – travelling with older kids (pre-teens/teens). I enjoyed your blog. PS. I have Slovenia on my bucket list.

    3. Hi Colleen! Nice blog, you now have a new follower. 🙂 I wasn’t able to post a comment on your blog, but just wanted to say that the church photo you posted from Barcelona is not La Segrada Familia – it’s the Barcelona Catedral. 🙂

      1. Hi Anette,

        We saw your Instagram message. It was Hannah who replied. I’ll try to figure out why you couldn’t comment on the blog.

        Thanks for subscribing.

        We’re in Nicaragua now for a month so hopefully we’ll be able to catch up soon.

  6. Conversely, Europeans think our cars are HUGE. Story time: my mom learned Dutch just so she could study lacemaking in the Netherlands with an older nun who had mastered a particular style. Mom’s friend visited the US to give a class or two back in the late 90s, and mom ferried her around in the back of a Dodge Caravan with the middle row removed. Sister Judith had never been in such a large car — she evidently felt like royalty with all the space!

    My wife and I have plans for a week in Berlin and a week somewhere near the Mediterranean for July or August. You make a strong case…

    1. Our cars ARE huge! When we first bought our minivan we climbed inside the van into the rear seats with the middle row folded down and it was like a mini camper. So spacious and luxurious. I like the smaller cars, especially when navigating tiny streets.

      Enjoy Berlin. And enjoy Slovenia if that’s where you want to head. They do have some limited coastal frontage on the Mediterranean (more specifically the Adriatic Sea) though we didn’t visit there.

  7. The castle built into the side of a wall was definitely my favorite! I used to think Asia was the only place with things hrs cheap. Def not the case! Eastern Europe sounds like a fabulous place to spend a few months when I’m retired :).

    1. It’s a great place. Very first world but with developing nation price tags. It’s not southeast Asia cheap but certainly a bargain vs. what I was expecting in Europe.

  8. That’s awesome. I’d love to visit Slovenia and other Eastern European countries someday. We’ll need to take it slow and spend a lot of time there. It’s great that it’s not that busy there yet. I’m sure that will change someday. Hopefully, we’ll get there before it become a super touristy destination and everything get expensive. We’re going to Iceland this year and it is going to be very expensive.

    1. It’s a nice part of the world for slow travel. I’d love to go back and spend a few months in Slovenia and head further south and west into Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, and elsewhere (in fact that’s likely to be a future trip at some point).

      Enjoy Iceland! I imagine Slovenia is like Iceland was 20+ years ago – undiscovered but beautiful.

  9. Thanks for putting Slovenia on the map for us. The prices for dining out were surprising to us too.

    Which credit card did you use that provided full coverage on the rental? Most of the cards that we have provide collision damage waiver insurance (CDW), and I have not seen one that provides supplemental liability (SLI). Are you saying that your card covered the CDW while your auto insurance from home covered your SLI?

    1. I might be confused on the rental car insurance. The card was Chase Ink Business Preferred as I recall (could have been Chase Sapphire Reserve). I believe it provides CDW, not sure about primary liability. I just wanted to get out of paying the $40/day or whatever for CDW from the rental car company. Maybe that’s why I still had to put down a charge hold on my credit card. I ripped the pages covering auto rental insurance coverage out of the benefits guide that the credit card company mailed us.

  10. I have to admit that I never considered Ljubljana or Slovenia as travel destinations before, but the pictures look beautiful!

    Those caves look really cool! Eastern Europe is definitely on our list of areas to visit once the kids get a little older.

    1. Definitely add Slovenia to the list. Plan on a week or two at least if you can fit it in. So much beauty, especially outside the city! Prices are super cheap too.

  11. Hey Justin, it’s Bob here (converting to my usual screen name). Rick Steves has nothing on you, thanks for the usual stellar trip report. Am really wanting to tour a few of those eastern European countries that are less overrun, and where the US dollar stretches further. Though you claim to have “randomly stumbled” onto Slovenia, my suspicion is that your primary motivation was visiting those Slovenian versions of Aldi’s.

    1. Hey Bob! Rick Steves is a spendthrift that goes to overrun tourist destinations 😉 But seriously, I feel like by the time a destination makes its way into Rick Steves Guidebook or youtube channel, it’s already super popular and no longer a secret or a “backdoor to Europe” destination. We did watch tons of his old videos for inspiration, but cut that short after I realized the formulaic nature of the episodes didn’t cater to our interests. It was bar/restaurant, then church, then museum and/or concert. I think we only visited a few museums our entire time in Europe and didn’t hit more than a few bars (see: 3 kids).

      The grocery stores in Europe were fascinating to me, and in part because they had Aldi’s and Lidls. Just this morning I was gawking at the insane prices in Lidl here in Raleigh for the same items we bought around Europe. Like a small bag of grana padano grated cheese here was $5.00. There is was €0.99. Tzaziki sauce – $5 here, $1 there. So many of their dirt cheap staples are fancy expensive imported foods here.

  12. Glad you guys had a great time in Slovenia. Like you, we spent a week in Slovenia based at an AirBnB in Ljubljana with an automatic rental car (a gorgeous Volvo V60 wagon, in our case). We were there last fall. Had an amazing time exploring the city on foot, driving to the Julian alps, taking in the culture as well as a once in a lifetime dining experience at Hisa Franko in Kobarid. Beautiful country and friendly people. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone. Let’s keep Slovenia to ourselves.

    1. Nice car! We ended up with a large wagon in Germany/Austria that was a sweet ride 🙂

      I’d like to keep Slovenia a secret but it’s so awesome I have to share!

  13. Love that you are embracing “slow travel”. Rushing around every day to touristy settings is exhausting and makes for a stressful time for everyone. You need to schedule in down time as well as time to explore the not so touristy areas. We full-time travel in an RV and try to stay a week or two in areas before moving on. It’s much more gratifying that way.

    1. 1-2 weeks seems to be the sweet spot for us. Less time and we feel rushed and don’t have much down time since we want to see everything. More than 2 weeks and some of us get restless.

  14. Food for thought – if you loved Slovenia, you might consider Krakow in Poland. Lovely castle, old original fortifications, far less expensive than most of Europe and warm people. Happy traveling!

  15. I went with some friends to Slovenia in the summer of 2016 and we had the same reaction as you…”Let’s tell everyone how bad it is so no one else comes!” I think it might be my favorite country in Europe. We were only there for 3 nights (based out of Ljubljana) but I would love to do some slow travel there. I loved the Skocjan cave; had a Lord of the Rings feel to me.

    Thanks for bringing back good memories for me!

  16. I was born and used to live in Europe and honestly Slovenia never crossed my mind as a potential vacation spot. Pure ignorance! It looks amazing. Thanks for the great write-up, Justin!

    1. It’s such a gem. Right next to Italy and Austria so the culture spills over. The Italian food was better in Slovenia than Italy. 🙂 Main difference is the price is lower and it’s less busy.

  17. I have family near enough that I think I can make this a group trip. Would be so nice to explore the town and country slowly while still being able to afford delicious food.

    Beautiful write-up, as always.

  18. Hi Justin, amazing report – your advertisment for Old Europe is very much appreciated 🙂
    We visited Slovenia for a 2-week roadtrip – after an exam I needed to cool down and to find a cheap place; and we did. But I don’t know anybody else who is travelling to Slovenia countryside … so it will never be overcrowded (I am from Munich area …).
    If someone likes to go to the small edge of Slovenian’s med-sea-coast – this can be very overcrowded – this is the single place most of Europeans know of Slovenia (beside the beautiful caves …); it is very picturesque, but in this case, Croatia is the better way to go to the coast .. and even cheaper.
    Slovenians tell that you can find the whole world’s landscape within this small country. You drive only some miles and you are in a completely different world. For me it was also very interesting to see the edge close to Hungary … you fell being arrived in the old world. Had you been to river Soca? close to the boarder to Italy – it is amazing, the colours of this rivers you can find also in the Caribic.
    European Eastern Countries are still cheap … but prices are increasing as they do a lot of business esp with Germany. People love Prague in Czech Rep., in May we will go from Munich to Polonia on a roadtrip. These are countries with modern standard and 1/2 or 1/3 below of our prices.
    I am looking forward to follow you on your trip to Europe … it is a pity that we did not meet as you travelled close to my home.
    Thank you. Maresa

    1. We visited Soca Valley for the day while we were staying in northern Slovenia (Podkoren/Kranjska Gora area near Austria). Amazing scenery, both mountains and the river. You are right – crystal clear water like many parts of the Caribbean (and we’re going to one of those crystal clear water Caribbean places this summer – Freeport, Bahamas!). The water was FREEZING cold even in July (like 6-10C which is 45-50F I think). Not much fun to be IN the water but very pretty to look at.

  19. omg, justin! i keep running into you online… i saw you on an old reddit board where you sagely posted about not giving up on The Journey just because your retirement age may not be as remarkable as 33 (much needed, thank you!)…then i was on millenial revolution just now and you were on their side bar… which led me to the youtube video you did with onebighappyfamily… and now i’m on their blog… oh the google rabbit hole….there goes my sunday evening without cable…

  20. This is such a coincidence. We are going to Slovenia this Sept. I was online researching places to stay and I took a break from planning the trip to surf over here and Wow. What-Do-Ya-Know!

    We are doing three weeks in Europe with one being in Slovenia. I’m planning on two day in Ljubljana and several more driving around to see everything from the Julian Alps, to the coast.

    At the start of our trip, we are flying into Venice for three days then going to Ljubljana. Did you take the local bus or did you use GoOpti?

    1. Cool coincidence 🙂

      Enjoy your time – it’ll be a busy week but one you won’t forget. I’ve heard the coastal area is rather crowded.

      As for Venice, we took a train into Venice St. Lucia from Milan (2 hr long distance train). On the way out, we took a regional train the 1 stop from Venice St Lucia to Venice Mestre on the mainland and then got on the 4.5 hr bus to Ljubljana. No airport bus for us in either direction.

  21. Thanks, we are really looking forward to it. I’m thinking mid September should be a little less crowded than the busier summer months. To get there from Venice I think we are going to us a tranportation/bus company called GoOpti. Real cheap if you book far enough in advance.

    We had a problem renting a car in Italy in 2016. Well, not a problem till a few weeks later after we got home. They said that we “upgraded” our car and did an additional charge on our card that doubled the amount. Ha! Our car was a basic as it gets so there was no upgrade. It took the rental car wholesaler (AutoEurope) getting involved and another month or so of emails and phone calls to resolve it. Because of this, I thinking of using someone else this time around.

    Great trip report BTW!

    1. We got a great deal on bus tickets Venice-Ljubljana. I think it was USD$13 per ticket maybe?? The bus took kind of a roundabout path to get there so it added an extra hour but still a decent ride over.

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