Lake Bled, Slovenia Kobaird, Slovenia

Self-Drive Slovenia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Day 1
Arrival | Ljubljana & Bled Lake Bled

Arrival in Ljubljana—Slovenia’s capital and largest city. Pick up your rental car, and make the 25-mile drive to the delightful Vila Istra at the Lake Bled.

Along the way, we recommend a stop in Radovljica, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the country, with houses dating from the 15th and 16th centuries.

Upon arrival in Bled, your guide will meet you to take you on a sightseeing tour of the charming Alpine lake town of Bled. We suggest a visit to the lake and a boat ride to the church, which stands on the island in the middle. The lake was formed after the recession of the Bohinj glacier. After the last Ice Age, the Bohinj glacier deepened the natural tectonic hollow and gave into its present form.

You will also visit the beautiful and historic Bled Castle, which is also the oldest in the country. In 1004, the German Emperor Henrik II gave the Bled estate to the Austrian Bishop Albuin of Brixen as a gift. The building was expanded and fortified since then and today there are several buildings that make up the castle complex, arranged around two courtyards, which are connected with a staircase. The small chapel on the upper courtyard was built in the 16th Century and renovated in the Baroque style around 1700, when it was also painted with illusionist frescoes making it seem bigger than it actually is. Today the castle is preserved as a museum, where you will be able to see various exhibits depicting the history of the region. Enjoy the sweeping views over the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Exeter Services: Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Villa Istra

Day 2
Bled to Soča Valley | Bled to Soča Valley

This morning, you will proceed to the beautiful Bohinj region. On your way to Bohinj, you may want to enjoy a truly unique experience, a visit to one of the beekeepers in Slovenia.

Beekeeping is one of the country’s oldest traditional professions and honey is a real trademark of Slovenia. During your visit, the beekeeper will tell you about their bees, the history and process in the region, and will introduce you to the different varieties of honey.

Continue on to the charming region of Bohinj, which is divided into the Upper and Lower Bohinj Valley. There are twenty-four typical Alpine villages in these two valleys. In the Upper Valley by the lake Bohinj, you may decide to visit the gothic St. John the Baptist Church, which has well-preserved frescoes from the 15th and the 16th Centuries. The journey continues with a cable car ride to the mountain Vogel (5.000 ft), from where there is a wonderful view of the lake and the surrounding parts of the Julian Alps.

Afterwards, make your way to the beautiful chalets at Nebesa, located on top of the Soca Valley.

Exeter Services: Beekeeping Guide

Hotel: Nebesa

Day 3
Kobarid & Soča Valley | Kobarid & Soča Valley Kobaird, Slovenia

Today, make your way to the historic village of Kobarid, the culinary capital of Soča Valley.

Kobarid is the culinary capital of Soča Valley and an important historical and archaeological site, due to its role as a crossroad of routes through the valley. The area was witness of one of the biggest periods of battles during WWI between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian forces, also known as the Isonzo Front. At least 12 battles took place between May 1915 and November 1917 with an estimated death toll of 300,000 soldiers. The last and most important one, the Battle of Caporetto, was documented by Ernest Hemingway in the novel “A Farewell to Arms” .

Kobarid’s museum features a permanent exhibition, unique on its personal approach to war. A private museum guide will walk you through the different rooms where photographs, letters and personal belongings are presented to bring visitors closer to the true meaning of war.

Later, stroll in this tranquil area located in the impressive Soča Valley. The remainder of the day will be at leisure. Based on availability, we could arrange for a dinner reservation at the renowned Hiša Franko tonight.

Exeter Services: No Services

Hotel: Nebesa

Day 4
Soča Valley to Piran | Soča Valley to Piran Soca Valley, Slovenia

Today, make your way to the small and charming town of Piran – a true open-air museum of medieval architecture and culture and one of Slovenia’s main tourist attractions. It is believed that the town’s name comes from the Greek word ‘pyr’ meaning ‘fire’ after the fires illuminating the entrance to the harbor to assist the passing ships. Similar to Koper, Piran too became part of the mighty Venetian Republic in the 10th century and most of the town’s elaborate and beautiful buildings come from this period.

You may start your tour with your guide from the Tartini Square and the statue of the famous Italian composer and violinist who lived in the 17th- 18th centuries and was renowned throughout Europe. The square is surrounded by some magnificent Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Classical buildings, such as the Church of St. Peter and the Town Hall. The red 15th-century Venetian Palace is the oldest structure on the square and was built for a wealthy merchant in the traditional Venetian Gothic style. The St. Peter Church has stood on this square since the 13th century and the imposing St. George Cathedral dates from the 14th century but was decorated in the Baroque style in the 17th century. The cathedral’s tower offers the best views over the city for those willing to climb the some 150 stairs to the top.

At the end of your tour, we recommend a stroll along the harbor promenade which leads to a lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.

A trip to the wine region of Slovenia, Goriška Brda, can also be arranged.

Exeter Services: Guide (3 Hours)

Hotel: Piran

Day 5
Piran, Lipica & Trieste | Piran, Lipica & Trieste Prian, Slovenia

This morning, if you are interested, we can arrange a tour of the Salt Pans near Piran. At Sečovlje Salina Nature Park, one of the only remaining salt pans in the Mediterranean, salt (fleur-de-sel) is still harvested using the same method that was used 700 years ago. Learn more about the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park, its flora and fauna, and the salt-harvesting procedure.

We also recommend a visit to the village of Lipica located near the Italian border and surrounded by small pine forests and vineyards. There you can visit the world-famous stud farm and riding school of the Lipizzaner horses, the gracious “four- legged aristocrats”. The stud farm was founded in 1580 by the Austrian Archduke Charles in order to provide horses for the Habsburg army and the court in Vienna and nowadays proudly continues the 400-years-old tradition of breeding and training the famed white horses. The regal Lipizzaner stallions were made famous by the Spanish Riding School in the Vienna’s Hofburg Palace.

If you wish, afterwards you may proceed to Trieste, where you may spend some time at leisure before heading back to your hotel in Piran.

Exeter Services: No Services

Hotel: Piran

Day 6
Prian to Ljubljana | Prian to Ljubljana Prian, Slovenia

This morning, start your drive towards Ljubljana. You will drive through Slovenia’s Karst region, located between the capital Ljubljana and the Adriatic coast and stretching across the border with Italy. This area is in essence a huge limestone plateau famous for its massive cave systems, which were cut into the soft stone by underground rivers and some of which are now protected as UNESCO Heritage sites.

You may want to visit the unique Skocjan Caves, where you will have a private tour. These caves were formed by the Reka River and have been on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites since 1986. You will begin your guided tour at the Visitors’ Center and walk to the man-made entry into the Globocak Collapse Doline. From there your guide will take you through the Silent Cave (Tiha jama), the massive cave where the Reka river flows and the Tominc Cave (Tominceva jama). Please note that the temperature inside the caves is usually around 53 degrees Fahrenheit. Wear appropriate clothes and footwear.

If you are interested, you can also visit the scenic Predjama Castle – a true masterpiece of medieval architecture. The castle was built under a natural rock arch high up a limestone cliff overlooking the valley. The first castle was actually a small fortress deep inside the cave to make it more inaccessible and easily defended. Over the centuries, the original Gothic castle was redesigned and reshaped many times, gradually moving away from the cave. The present castle was thus called Predjama, meaning ‘in front of the cave’. Please note that there are some very steep and slippery steps.

Afterwards, continue your journey to your hotel in Ljubljana. The area around the present city of Ljubljana has been populated since the Bronze Age, when the earliest known settlement consisted of wooden houses erected on stakes. Later, a Roman settlement called Emona was created in 15 AD, only to be sacked and devastated by the Huns, led by Attila, in 452 AD. The settlement was gradually revived and received town rights in the 12th century. In 1335, Ljubljana came under Austrian Habsburg rule, which lasted until 1918.

Exeter Services: Private Guide at Skocjan Caves

Hotel: Cubo

Day 7
Ljubljana | Ljubljana Ljubljana, Slovenia

Your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel for an overview tour of the Old Town district, where you will take in the city’s ambience influenced by centuries of Latin, Slavic, and Germanic cultural influences.

Ljubljana’s Old Town is located on the right (eastern) bank of the Ljubljanica River and at the foot of the historic Castle Hill. You may start your tour in front of the Baroque Town Hall building – the seat of the municipal government, which is highlighted by its clock tower and the inner courtyard surrounded by pillars and arcades.

In the Town Square (Mestni Trg) in front of the city hall you will see the famous Fountain of the Tree Rivers, which was originally designed in the second half of the 18th Century by the Italian Baroque sculptor Francesco Robba and became his most famous work. The figures with vases represent the rivers Ljubljanica, Krka, and Sava. Robba was inspired by Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers on Piazza Navona in Rome.

Continue across the Dragon Bridge – an Art Nouveau masterpiece adorned with dragons, and stroll alongside the western bank of the Ljubljanica River to the centrally located and bustling Prešeren Square. It is named after Slovenia’s greatest poet who also wrote the lyrics to the national anthem. On the south side of the square, the Ljubljanica River is crossed by the city’s most famous bridge – the Triple Bridge, designed by Jože Plečnik who added the side spans to the already existing central part of the bridge.

Later, you may take the funicular to reach the top of Castle Hill. The Ljubljana Castle offers some great views over the city and the surrounding countryside. The castle was first mentioned in 1144 and was later enlarged and surrounded by a wall with towers and a drawbridge. Gradually losing its strategic importance in the area, the castle began falling into disrepair. In the early 20th Century, the castle was redesigned partially and used as a prison and a military stronghold. Since the 1970s, long and extensive renovation works have been underway.

Enjoy some time at your leisure at one of the outdoor cafes along the river or continue exploring Ljubljana’s squares and bridges before returning to your hotel.

Exeter Services: Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Cubo

Day 8
Departure | Ljubljana Ljubljana, Slovenia

Today, self-transfer to the airport to drop off your rental car and to catch your onward flight.

Exeter Services: No Services

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