Lake Bled, Slovenia

Field notes from Slovenia

Amy shares her experiences from a recent trip to Europe’s most charming and undiscovered country

Having recently flown home from a trip away to the picturesque alpine landscapes and quaint historic towns of Slovenia, Amy – one of our London-based team – shares some thoughts from her travels.

According to Amy, getting there was “incredibly easy” and the places she explored were “absolutely beautiful”. Sounds pretty good, if you ask us. Feeling inspired already? Read on below to hear first-hand about Amy’s Slovenian adventures.

Lake in Slovenia
Ljubljana, Slovenia

The journey

The process of flying to Slovenia was – put as simply as it felt – easy. For UK travellers, there are direct flights available that can get you there in two hours (making it ideal for shorter or longer breaks). In terms of COVID-19 regulations, all we had to do on the way in was show proof of vaccination and fill in a quick passenger locator form. Coming back home is now easier than ever, requiring you to complete only a passenger locator form and to have a PCR test booked for the second day after you return home.

But with all the testing and paperwork organised for us in advance and friendly hotel and airport staff on hand to help, the journey was remarkably smooth, swift and comfortable both ways.

Piran, Slovenia

The atmosphere

The atmosphere throughout Slovenia was perfect. The warm embrace of the sunshine and beautiful scenery in every direction were a more than welcome change from the everyday.

Some subtle regulations were still in place, like wearing masks inside – although this was not strictly enforced and certainly didn’t interrupt the splendour of Slovenian summertime.

Accompanying the much-needed feeling that life – and travel – had returned to normal, was also a welcome dip in tourist numbers, which were noticeably lower than usual. The lakes and coast, which are usually overly crowded, were a little quieter. Visiting felt more serene, more intimate. The chance to explore Slovenia as though it’s only yours to see is rare and will no doubt fade with the world’s return to pre-pandemic times. Seriously, catch it while it lasts.

River in Slovenia

My favourite feature 

The diversity of Slovenia was my favourite thing about it. In as little as one or two hours you can hop from cities to lakes, coast to countryside.

The towns and cities are wonderfully mixed. From Venetian-style architecture to rustic farmhouses, ancient castles and charming churches, there is so much to explore. Slovenia’s lakes, in hues of bright blue and green, are simply picture-perfect and feel very alpine, where its short but stunning coastline feels very Mediterranean. If that wasn’t enough, half of Slovenia’s total surface is covered with verdant green forest, rolling hills and the snow-capped peaks of the Julian Alps. There are views for days.  

It’s a relatively tiny country, so you can pack a lot of variety into one trip. And with this range of terrain also comes many different options for adventure or relaxation.


The hotels

We were lucky enough to be staying in three of Black Tomato’s favourite Slovenian hotels during our trip. At the InterContinental in Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana, we especially loved the buzzy atmosphere of the rooftop bar, which has stunning views out to the castle and Julian Alps (top tip: book in advance as the tables tend to fill up quickly).

The Kempinski Palace, located in the coastal town of Portorož, is so full of character and boasts beautiful views out to the Adriatic Sea. It has two styles to it – one half has undergone a modern makeover, and the other retains the hotel’s traditional period charm. It also has its own private beach and a Michelin-starred restaurant on site.

Arriving at the Hotel Grad Otočec was like stepping into fairy tale. A 13th century castle set amongst dense forest, it looks out across the sparkling blue river Krka: a remote romantic haven. Its very own challenging course is also a dream come true for avid golfers.

It was particularly lovely to see the extra care and effort put in by staff across all three properties – they were as delighted to be open and hosting guests again as we were to be staying there.

Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled, Slovenia

The highlights

Being away after such a long period of being unable to travel was glorious, and in that sense every moment felt like a highlight – but three moments really stood out.

First, our visit to Fonda Fish Farm. We went with no idea what to expect, but it was a fascinating experience. The family were so passionate about sharing what they do. We learned lots about the tricks of the fish farming trade and the seabass we sampled was utterly delicious. A most pleasant surprise.

Second, kayaking gently through Slovenia’s still emerald-green waters was so peaceful: pure serenity. We also stopped at a riverbank on the Croatian border and shared a bottle of champagne in the sunshine.

Last, but not least, we had a five-course tasting menu in a private candlelit room at the Otočec, which felt totally special. The food – made using fresh and locally sourced ingredients – was outstanding, as were the accompanying wines. A real treat.

Traditional Slovenian cake

The overall verdict

To travel to Slovenia, meet people, experience culture, taste food, stay in luxury and witness the beautiful views we spent lockdowns dreaming of, felt nothing short of incredible.

Having been hit hard by a second COVID-19 wave at the height of the pandemic, Slovenia has emerged as enchanting and idyllic as ever. For those fully vaccinated, a trip to this Central European gem makes for an incredibly safe and easy getaway.

I could go on forever about it, but that might ruin the magic of seeing Slovenia for yourself. If you’re contemplating where – or if – you should go, I couldn’t recommend it more. Go on. Jet off and explore.

Inspired by my travels?

Slovenia is open to both US (if fully vaccinated) and UK travellers right now, and it’s easier than ever to make the journey. If culture-filled cities, immense natural beauty and breath-taking mountainous landscapes are what you’re looking for, click below to explore all our Slovenian trips and experiences in more detail.

Take me there