Slovenia was the second country we biked through. We entered Slovenia after cycling through Croatia, so give that a read as well!
Slovenia is a beautifully wild country, mostly unspoilt by tourism and rich in forestry. Although this was the shortest time we have spent in country so far, we found it charming and pleasant to bike around. Much like Croatia, it is reasonably cheap to travel but there are fewer Warmshowers hosts than many other countries in Europe. The people we met were hardworking and all owned their own piece of land and on the whole they were creative and happy people. We were surprised to meet an English girl in a small village and stayed with her in her art studio/cottage for one night. She had moved out to Slovenia to live with her boyfriend and worked as a stage designer; she was very relaxed and happy with her life in Slovenia’s countryside and it was lovely to be able to talk to someone properly about living there.
Slovenian, as we found, is a difficult language to learn! If we had planned to stay longer we would have definitely tried harder to grasp the colourful language.
Value for money (general living costs): ★★★☆☆
If you are travelling on a budget like us, supermarkets are not incredibly cheap here. We found it easier to buy instant noodles and cheap vegetables. We did not stay in any campsites but the pricing was around the same as in Croatia (€10 a night). We did stay in a hotel for Katie’s birthday and that was actually good value for money.
Road surfaces: ★★★☆☆
Asphalt in good condition all the way through Slovenia, some stretches where in poor condition after years of winters frost and poor maintenance but not enough to worry about. No need for MTB-tread tires here, our Marathon 1.25s did the job just fine!
Weather in June: ★★★★☆
A couple of rainy spells and thunderstorms at night. Not too hot as it sits at a reasonably high altitude and we had sunshine most days, we rarely needed our jumpers.
We were turned away from a few houses but always found someone to stay with, the people who let us stay were always hospitable and we didn’t have a bad experience with anyone.
Importance of speaking local language: ★★★★☆
Very few people were able to speak English here, luckily we had our magic note translated to Slovenian and this saved the day once again! Everyone we met was very polite and like many places that do not speak English, it will always be appreciated if you have made an effort to learn their language.
Our journey through Slovenia was spent on the western side of the country; we spent most of our time on quiet roads and had no trouble finding friendly people and a place to lay our heads for the night.
It was Katie’s birthday only a couple of days into our Slovenian adventure and we decided a day before that we deserved a break from the saddle and rested up in a hotel. We do not intend to pay for a room in a hotel in the future, but this celebration called for a one time exception and given we were still greenhorns in this world of bike-touring, we compromised a little on our values. While Katie waited outside with the bikes, Chris was in reception negotiating with the receptionist. We stayed in the hotel for three nights, breakfast included and two nights’ dinner for €120. Money that we realise now could perhaps have lasted us months on the road.
Lake Bled and Bohinj
A lot of attraction in Slovenia is for Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, Lake Bled being the most famous but Lake Bohinj being the largest permanent natural lake – we had to visit both.
It was amazing to swim in a lake that was formed 14,000 years ago and Bled was significantly warmer than Bohinj, however, it was the sheer size of Lake Bohinj which did a good job of spreading the tourists well enough so we could have our own little piece of paradise that made this our favourite. Both lakes were surrounded by touristy services which weren’t particularly to our tastes, with Bled being the more developed. Nobody likes the prices, but the cafes and restaurants all seem to be filled with eager holidaymakers.
In most touristy places, we struggle. When you’re trying to wheel a 30kg+ bike around people who have stopped to take photos, look at maps or just gawk at you like you’ve just swanied in on a UFO, it makes it difficult to fully enjoy and take in the surroundings.
For us, Lake Bohinj was a more peaceful experience, the views of the mountains all around were a natural wonder and as we waded waist deep on the edge on the mammoth-sized lake, we felt truly happy to have visited.
Lake Bled has a more lively scene, restaurants and hotels surround it and we felt it was a little more impersonal. However that did not stop us jumping in and have a bathe. The water was almost warm and despite their being quite a lot of boats and people dipping in, was almost crystal clear.
All in all, our short stay in Slovenia was very enjoyable. The country seems to be doing very well economically and its people are happy and mostly well-off, which came across quite strongly after seeing some of the poor conditions and abandoned properties in Croatia. Even in the countryside, Slovenian people seem to live comfortably. We didn’t tackle much of the mountainous terrain here, but Slovenia boasts a lot of it. If you’re anywhere near Slovenia on a trip, make your way towards Bohinj and the Triglav National Park for memories and pictures you won’t forget!