Of Mountains And Lakes: Your Guide To Exploring Slovenia On A Budget

Slovenia is a charming European getaway with lovely cities, spa towns, nature parks and cool party hotspots at a price that won't make you bankrupt
Slovenia On A Budget
Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary, Bled islandPhoto: Shutterstock

Let's go bold, take the lesser-known paths, and leave the trail for others to follow!" I proclaimed, trying to convince my cousins to go on an adventurous holiday to an unconventional European destination—Slovenia. "There's beach, mountains, a lake, a buzzing city vibe, delicious food, and plenty of Instagram-worthy spots. We can toboggan amidst the Julian Alps, and it's all very wallet-friendly." My pitch did the trick; my cousins didn't require any futher convincng.

I was clear about what I wanted for my perfect summer vacation: a European country brimming with character, diverse landscapes, fewer crowds, and affordability. Slovenia, a hidden gem that's still off the radar for many tourists, checked all these boxes. In the vibrant landscape of Eastern Europe, Slovenia is known for its unforgettable charm. Many of us assume that travelling to Europe is prohibitively expensive, but Slovenia proves otherwise. Despite having the euro as its currency, it remains more affordable than other European destinations.

Photo: Shutterstock

By The Sea In Piran

Our adventure began in Piran, a tiny town along Slovenia's modest coastline. Its charm lies in its Venetian architecture, medieval atmosphere, and pastel-coloured homes. Strolling through winding, cobblestone streets with a bar of sea salt chocolate—a local delicacy—was pure joy. "This town is unbelievable. Every corner looks like a postcard!" my cousin exclaimed as we scrolled through our photos sitting beside a window overlooking the ocean in our Airbnb.

The next day, we ventured to Portorož, a nearby spa town just seven minutes away by bus known for its luxurious resorts. We indulged in a spa session at Terme Portorož, enjoying ten types of saunas and treatments for only INR 1,800 per person.

In the vibrant landscape of Eastern Europe, Slovenia is known for its unforgettable charm

Glamping At Lake Bled

Our next stop was the iconic Lake Bled, with its emerald waters and a charming church on an islet. For the first half of our trip, we stayed at Camping Bled, glamping in stylish wooden huts with plush beds and private wood-fired hot tubs in the forest. We paid INR 8,100 per night for two, including a private hot tub and breakfast. We followed this with a stay in a townhouse called Bled Apartment Kirsch in a fairytale neighbourhood called Kumerdejeva Ulica. A luxurious three-bedroom accommodation for six people cost us INR 32,000 per night.

Each morning, we woke up to a delightful breakfast basket outside our tent brimming with fresh, locally sourced treats—crusty bread, a variety of cheeses and cured meats, croissants, farm-fresh eggs, seasonal fruits, homemade jams, and freshly brewed coffee.

Summer tobogganing on Straža hill
Summer tobogganing on Straža hillPhoto: Shutterstock

Our adventure in Bled also included visiting the church on the islet on a traditional pletna (a wooden boat resembling a gondola), which cost INR 1,200 per person for a return ride, including wait time. We cycled around the lake with postcard views and visited the Bled Castle (INR 800 entry) before exploring the Vintgar Gorge (INR 900), known for its waterfall and walking trails. The adventure continued with a toboggan ride (INR 1,000 for adults) at Straza Bled, that's open only during summer.

We had a memorable meal at Gostilna Pri Planincu, a traditional Slovenian restaurant that has been serving delicious local cuisine for over 100 years. Here, we savoured Idrijskižlikrofi (Slovenian dumplings), ajdovižganci (buckwheat spoonbread), and kranjskaklobasa (Slovenian sausage). Incidentally, Slovenian wine is outstanding, and we relished it with every meal.

Mountain bike tour in Kranjska Gora
Mountain bike tour in Kranjska GoraPhoto: Shutterstock

An Ode To Ljubljana

Our final stop was a week-long stay in Ljubljana, which amazed us with its warmth, variety of food, pretty cobbled streets, happening cafes, and a young vibe.

At the city's historical centre, the river elegantly divides the ancient old town from the bustling new. Visiting the Ljubljana Castle was noteworthy, and a free walking tour (booked through jubljanafreetour.com) revealed the city's rich history, layer by layer.

Vintgar Gorge canyon near Lake Bled
Vintgar Gorge canyon near Lake BledPhoto: Shutterstock

Entry to the castle costs INR 900, and the funicular ride to reach it costs INR 270 per person. I highly recommend visiting the iconic Špajza restaurant in Old Town for an authentic Slovenian meal, with an average meal for two, including a glass of wine, costing INR 7,200.

From Ljubljana, we ventured on unforgettable day trips. For thrill-seekers, Bovec in Soča Valley offers an adrenaline-fueled escape. We explored Postojna Caves, accessible via a unique cave train revealing geological wonders. Entry tickets, including the cave train ride, cost us INR 2,400 per person.

If you're seeking a European adventure that combines natural beauty with a rich cultural tapestry and is relatively easy on the pocket, Slovenia should be at the top of your list.

I found the Slovenian people to be one of the warmest and most welcoming people in Europe, and that makes all the difference to your experience of the country.

Learn a few phrases in the local language. Though English is widely spoken, people will greet you with a jaunty "dober dan," which means "good day."

Know Before You Go

Visa: To visit from India, you need a valid Schengen visa. The cost is INR 7,200 plus the processing fees.

Currency: Euro

Exchange rate: INR 1 = EUR 0.011

Getting There: Flights from Delhi to Ljubljana cost around INR 65,000. Flights to Venice cost approx. INR 45,000. A bus from Venice to Ljubljana, costs INR 1,800.

Getting Around Slovenia: Travelling in Slovenia by car would come to INR 3,000 for about 120 km. Travelling by bus costs INR 900-1,400 for 100-120 km. Hire a car for bigger groups through transfer.si.

Food: The average cost for a meal for two at a high-end restaurant is approximately INR 6,300; at a mid-range restaurant, it is around INR 2,700.

Accommodation: Slovenia offers accommodation for all budgets. Recommendations include Barbara Piran Beach Hotel (INR 11,000 per night), Hotel Piran (INR 18,000 per night), Saint Ignatius Retreat House (INR 7,000 per night), etc.

Pro Tips: For gifts, visit Nika's tiny shop in Piran. The artist creates hand-crafted Piran-style houses made from driftwood. Visit Mercator in Lake Bled, the local supermarket, and shop for shower gels from Afrodita Cosmetics, a local brand. Shop for souvenirs and knick-knacks at the Bled Island Gift Shop on the islet on Lake Bled.

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