Culture

Vintage Slovenia (and Lake Bled)

21 to 30 June
Slovenia

If you’ve ever wanted to visit a place that few people even know exists (and fewer still can point out on a map), then come with us to Slovenia; it won’t be long before this smart central European country is setting the tone for fashionable travel.

With less than two million inhabitants, and a few tourists attracted by tales of its idyllic beauty, Slovenia is very tranquil and sophisticated. Its beauty has drawn comparisons with Switzerland, a country twice its size but with some similarities. Slovenia is blessed with fantastic, jagged mountains, turquoise rivers and silver lakes, vast subterranean caves and just enough medieval castles to conjure up a fairytale or two!

To top all of this it has some of the most stunningly scenic rail journeys in the whole of Europe with many comfortable locomotive hauled trains, quaint stations and welcoming staff.

This is now one of our most popular and longest running tours.

Highlights

  • Spectacular scenery in an unspoilt country
  • Castle and funicular in Ljubljana
  • Lake Bled
  • Postojna caves and underground railway
  • Scenic rail journeys
  • Scenic trip by steam train on the wonderful Bohinj railway
  • Services of our tour manager

Tour Manager: Marion    marion@ptg.co.uk

Itinerary

Day 1 Friday 21 June (D) Lunchtime flights from London Gatwick or Stansted for our two hour flight to Ljubljana. It is also possible to fly indirect from other UK airports or go overland via Eurostar. Landing at Ljubljana airport you are immediately struck by spectacular views of mountains. Our coach will meet us and transfer us to our hotel at Lake Bled. After time to relax we meet up for our welcome dinner.

Day 2 Saturday 22 June (B,L) This morning we have a transfer to the railway station for our rail journey by steam train complete with restored vintage carriages. During our two-hour ride we will be accompanied by knowledgeable Bohinj Railway staff, along the historic Bohinj Railway through stunning scenery. We follow the river ‘Sava Bohinjka’ until we reach the 6,372 metre-long railway tunnel at Bohinjska Bistrica. Alighting at Kanal we drive alongside the river Soča to the wine growing region known as Goriška Brda, stopping in the village of Gonjače to climb a 23 metre-high belvedere tower for marvellous views. At Dobrovo we have lunch before our return to the Soca Valley, where we also visit the largest wine cellar in the region to taste and purchase some of the prominent wines of Goriška Brda. Return to Bled on the steam train.

Day 3 Sunday 23 June (B) The town of Bled is over a thousand years old and is by far the country’s most popular tourist destination because of the fairytale lake and island, dramatically sited castle and snow-tipped mountains. Lake Bled is extremely picturesque, and on the small island in the middle of the lake many people travel by boat to get married. Today we will make the same journey (but not to get married) to visit the church and tower. You may even ring the bell in the church and make a wish. Optional visit after lunch: The spectacular Vintgar Gorge, where we take a walk and feel as if we are in another world. Don’t forget your cameras and comfortable shoes. Alternatively, you may wish to stay at Lake Bled and visit the castle, take the ski lift to the top of the hill for a bob sleigh ride or walk around the lake.

Day 4 Monday 24 June (B, L) Today we take the local train to Most na Soci, although our steam train of Saturday has already taken us on this line, we will shorten the trip for a visit of Most na Soci. Located on a rocky crest above the confluence of the Soca (once again you will be amazed by the beautiful colour of the river) and Idrijca rivers. Due to the nearby Doblar Hydro Plant, the basins of the river were entirely inundated and below the settlement a vast lake was formed which now attracts both fishermen and visitors. We will go on a two hour cruise on the river. Time to relax, have lunch and enjoy the views from the boat. Mid-afternoon return by rail to Bled.

Day 5 Tuesday 25 June (B) We catch the morning train from Bled to the capital of Ljubljana one of Europe’s smallest capital cities for the first night of our five-night stay. The rest of the day is free for your own relaxation. Marion will be able to recommend some restaurants for your own dinner tonight. Ljubljana is a lovely easy city to get to know, but for those who are interested there is a well-preserved railway museum, art museum and city museum, all of which are open on Tuesdays.

Day 6 Wednesday 26 June (B, L) Today we will explore Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, with a local guide. It is a fascinating little city and we meet in reception at 09.30 for a guided walk. First, we will visit the castle, via the funicular, that overlooks Ljubljana and the River Ljubljanica which flows through this picturesque city of beautiful bridges and Baroque townhouses. Our tour will end at the quayside where we join our boat for a river cruise on the Ljubljanica. We will have lunch on board. The rest of the day is free for your own relaxation or perhaps a visit to the railway museum.

Day 7 Thursday 27 June (B, L) We take a morning train from Ljubljana to Celje and on to Podčetrtek; the first part of this railway constitutes the very first constructed railway track in Slovenia. We will spend the whole day in the Kozjansko region, which is an area of forests, rolling hills, vineyards and scattered farms. A road train will take us to visit a local brewery where we take a break, sample the local beer and enjoy the lovely countryside before moving onto the renovated Minoriti monastery complex.  We will taste the local produced chocolate in a Chocolate Boutique in Olimje as well as visiting a deer breeder followed by lunch in one of the welcoming farmhouses. Olimje won the golden medal for the 2009 Entente Florale contest – it is gorgeous. After our lunch we take the road train back to the railway station for our return to Ljubljana.

Day 8 Friday 28 June (B, L) Another superbly scenic railway journey today as we head east along the Sava river valley to Dobova, which is near the border with Croatia. We alight here and take our road coach to the nearby wine cellars of Najger’s Repnice. Repnice are caves, dug in the flint-stone which was washed up by the Pannonian Sea millions of years ago. They got their name after turnips (repa), because the locals stored turnips and other vegetable produce in them. At the top of the Graben valley Jozica and Martin Najger open for us their remarkable Repnice, dug by Martin’s great-grandfather in the 19th century. We have wine tasting and also some savoury specialties in the main room of the cave and can visit the third room where the wine is aged followed by lunch served in the outer farm building. In the late afternoon we return by rail to Ljubljana.

Day 9 Saturday 29 June (B) A short walk to the main railway station where we catch our train (09.32) through the mountains to Postojna. On arrival, we have a short road transfer to the Postojna Cave which is a network of 20 kilometres of passages, galleries and chambers. It is Slovenia’s largest cave in the “classic karst” and the most visited show cave in Slovenia. In 1872 railway lines were laid in the cave; electricity arrived in 1884. Today we begin our visit aboard the cave train; the electric lighting allows you to admire the size and splendour of the underground world on an amazing 4 km ride. We will also see a collection of different cave dwelling creatures including the “Human Fish”, a kind of Salamander. After lunch we visit the nearby Predjama Castle, just 10 kilometres from the Postojna Cave. For more than 700 years it has perched proudly on its 123-metre high cliff: powerful, defiant and impregnable. Evening return by train to Ljubljana.

Day 10 Sunday 30 June (B) The morning is free before our coach takes us back to Ljubljana airport for our flights back to the UK.

This is a moderately active tour.  To fully enjoy this program, participants should be able to climb a flight of stairs and walk at least a half-mile on uneven ground during several of the sightseeing trips.

Flights

EZ8421 13.10 London Gatwick to Ljubljana (arr.16.00)
EZ8422 22.00 Ljubljana to London Gatwick (arr.23.20)

EZ3245 13.05 Stansted to Ljubljana (arr.16.10)
EZ3246 16.45 Ljubljana to Stansted (arr.18.00)

Hotels

5* Grand Hotel Toplice, Bled (4 nights)
Hotel City in Ljubljana (5 nights)

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • Full 10 day holiday including flight from London Stansted: £1,699
  • Full 12 day holiday overland from St Pancras: Price on application
  • Own travel to and from Ljubljana: £1,499

Options

  • Single room Supplement: £420
  • Fly from Manchester via Frankfurt: Price on application

Deposit

  • Travelling by air: £500
  • Travelling by land: £1,000
  • Own travel: £300

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Five nights in Ljubljana, four nights at Lake Bled,
  • Meals as stated in the itinerary: B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner
  • Services of our tour manager (tour is fully escorted from London)
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