SLOVENIA AND ISTRIA

Day 1

Arrival in the morning at the airport of Brnik

Transfer to Ljubljana and first discovery along the river Ljubljanica embankments with attention the architecture of Plecnik. Free time for lunch at leisure in one of the many restaurants. In the afternoon continuation of the guided tour passing the Plecnik librarary (quick glance inside) and the administrational district (Parliament, Opera, Municipal Theater, Ursuline church) then again across the famous 3-way bridge to reach the market place and the cathedral (including the interiors when open) and after that we take the special lift towards the castle to enjoy the panoramic view of the city and maybe also a coffee and cake. Return to the hotel, check in, meal, overnight.

Day 2

Excursion to Bled, about 1 hour drive. After a first look at the lake, we immediately board some of the traditional flat bottom boats called Pletna to reach the famous island in the middle. There we visit the church and try out its wishing bell. Return to solid ground and bus ride towards the castle, which overlooks the lake. From the viewing terrace and when the weather conditions are right, you can see the Triglav or highest mountain peak of Slovenia. The old medieval fortress also houses a nice chapel and a small museum about the history of Bled and its region. Lunch at the castle restaurant and in the afternoon a printing demonstration on a real Guttenberg press. Each member of the group also receives a printed souvenir. Then it will be time to leave Bled to return to Ljubljana. During the way back we make a stop at Radovljica, a small but pleasant village and the center of bee keeping in the country. There’s obviously the bee keeper’s museum, but we however suggest to visit the local traditional ginger bread producer where you’ll have the possibility to learn the recipe and also to decorate your own cookies in the bakery’s workplace. After this nice break from history and culture, we continue our way back to Ljubljana for a dinner at own leisure and overnight.

Day 3

Nature day in the Julian Alps, about 1h45 driving from Ljubljana. We can pass by the small town of SkofjaLoka to reach the beautiful valley of the Soca river and the water falls of Tolmin. Also on the way there, we make time for a visit at Cerkno, where we find the little partisans hospital from the second world war. In a small gulch are hidden several wooden cabins in which the lives of many Tito partisans were saved. After that we continue towards GORIZIA – NOVA-GORIZA, a symbol of European unity. This town, after the fall of communism, the independance of Slovenia and its joining of the EU, was finally reunited by removing the border passage between the Italian and Slovenian part. Free lunch here and in the afternoon we finally arrive at TOLMIN to make a refreshing light hike through the canyon, the bridge and passing the waterfalls and rapids. For those who feel that this would be to demanding, Tolmin is also a nice village with several restaurants and an interesting regional museum. Those who feel like it are going for a leisurely 2 hours walk over easy walking trails (this is the lowest part of the Julian Alps).

Afterwards return to Ljubljana for a last night in the capital, free dinner in the center or reserved at the hotel.

During the stay at Ljubljana concert tickets can be arranged, but this is dependant to the offer on the moment.

Day 4

Departure from Ljubljana towards the coast. On our way we visit Skocjan, which is a natural reserve protected by UNESCO and without a doubt the most spectacular karst cave system in Europe including an unique underground canyon. It’s recommend to take a packet lunch with you from Ljubljana, but if you didn’t, there is a small buffet for snacks, drinks and simple dishes on the spot. The caves are visited on foot and the underground walk lasts about 1h30. It’s not a very difficult terrain, but for those who don’t feel like it or simply are still too tired from the precedent days, there’s also a walking trail on the surface which leads around the enormous prolapse where the river cascades into the underground system and this walk and view is certainly also worthwhile the effort.

After this visit it’s just a short drive to Lipica, a world famous name because of its stud farm from where the Lipizzaner breed originates. We go here in the afternoon because in this way we have the best chance to see a horse dressage training. After the guided tour, you can have a coffee on the spot at the restaurant or buffet and then we can continue towards Koper on the coast. Accommodation at hotel Koper, a nice 3 star accommodation situated in the old city center, immediately on the quay side of the old harbour.

After dinner, small walk through the old town.

Day 5

Excursion to Croatian Istria with of course PULA and its wealth of Roman vestiges. We visit the amphitheater and then have a guided walk along the Market place and the triumph arc towards the old Forum square with one of the best preserved Roman temples on it. Free time for a lunch at leisure in one of the many restaurants and in the afternoon continuation by bus to POREC where we visit the St Euphrasius Basilica, a UNESCO protected monument from the 6th century. We however also take our time here to sample the local ice cream, known as one of the best around the Adriatic sea. After that the bus takes a few km back on the coastal road, passing the Lim Fjord, a natural phenomenon which is certainly worth at least a photo stop, towards the most picturesque fishermen’s village along the Istrian coast, namely ROVINJ. We make a stroll in the historical center and have a typical fish dinner here with the fairy tale sunset in the background.

Return to Koper for the overnight.

Day 6

Excursion to Italian Istria with MIRAMARE in the morning, This was the château palace of Maximilian of Austria, later the emperor of Mexico, and his wife Charlotte of Belgium. The place was of course also visited by the famous Sissi. After the castle, we make our way to Trieste where we have a lunch at own leisure and a guided tour in the afternoon, passing the local “Grand-Canale”, the main seaside square and the stock market, etc… For those who feel like it, we also walk up the hill where on top we find the old Basilica and a splendid view over the city.

Return and overnight at Koper. HB or free time for dinner.

Day 7

Last but not least, time for Slovenian Istria… excrsion to Piran, where we board a cruise boat for a tour across the bay of Piran (and with that basically half of the Slovenian coast line) with views on the salt winning pans of Secovlje and the seaside resort of Portoroz, on the other end of the bay we have spectacular views on the Strunjan cliffs. Grilled fish and meat lunch on board the ship, total duration of about 2-3 hours. After or before the cruise we have a small guided stroll through Piran itself and in the afternoon we take time to visit the salt pans and it’s small museum, dedicated to the hard life and work of the salt winners. At the end of the day we go for a wine degustation at the large cooperative Vinakoper or at one of the many small private vineyards. We discover the Slovenian wines which are quite unknown, but extremely interesting because of the ancient grape varieties which are not used anywhere else anymore.

Night and dinner at Koper. For this last night of the tour, we have a more special meal with white truffle, another of the typical products of the region.

Day 8

Departure, if the flight is in the afternoon, you can still spend the morning by strolling towards the local market and the winding shopping streets of the historical center of Koper.

Transfer to the airport of Ljubljana , Brnik