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A day in Slovenia (Ljubljana and Lake Bled)

Within an hour’s drive of Trieste in Italy, or two hours from Zagreb in Croatia, you can be on the streets of Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital. Enjoying a tour of its cobbled streets and imposing castle, before heading into the mountains to visit emerald-green Lake Bled, set against a backdrop of the Julian Alps. This full-day trip gives an introduction to the country and its culture as well as a chance to see some of its most beautiful landscapes.

You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Trieste or Zagreb on the morning of your tour by your private guide and driver. After border formalities and passport checks, you’ll continue on to Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana.

While the largest city in Slovenia, Ljubljana is a pint-sized capital, its leafy green streets, refreshingly relaxed atmosphere and pedestrian-only core making it easy to navigate on foot. With your local guide, you’ll explore the traffic-free old town with its mix of Roman, Venetian and Austro-Hungarian architecture.

Strolling along cobbled streets, your guide will discuss the city’s rich history and lead you to Prešeren Square, which is named after Slovenia’s greatest classical poet. To the north stands the pink façade of the 17th-century Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, while a trio of bridges cross the Ljubljanica River to the south and are used to form the entrance to the walled medieval city.

You’ll explore Ljubljana Cathedral and the open-air market which runs along the river before taking a funicular up the steep hill to Ljubljana Castle. Constructed in the 11th century, the castle was redesigned in the 15th century after an earthquake and again added to in the 16th and 17th centuries. Inside, you can visit the 15th-century Chapel of Saint-George and several exhibitions on the history of Ljubljana and Slovenia.

Once you’ve had time to explore the castle, you’ll head for Lake Bled, 45 minutes’ drive northwest of Ljubljana. Set against a backdrop of the Julian Alps, the lake and its islands have been a popular summer retreat since the mid-19th-century.

While here, you’ll explore Bled Castle, the oldest of its kind in Slovenia. The castle dates back to the 9th century and is strategically placed on a clifftop above the lake which offers sweeping views. On a clear day you can see the summit of Triglav, Slovenia’s highest peak.

Once you’ve had a chance to look around, you’ll take a boat ride on a traditional pletna, a flat-bottomed boat propelled by a standing oarsman. You’ll head for Bled Island, Slovenia’s most photographed sight. This small, wooded island is home to a 9th-century church which peeks out from among the treetops. Local legend has it that anyone who rings the church bell will be granted a wish.

At the end of your time in Bled you’ll be transferred back across the border to your hotel.

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Audley Travel Specialist Samantha

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Experience it for yourself

You can enjoy this activity as part of the suggested tours below, or we can weave it into a trip shaped entirely around you.