Day Trips from Ljubljana

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From centrally located Ljubljana, you can drive to any point in Slovenia in just three or four hours. Below are a few suggestions for making the most of an extra afternoon or an extra few days.

Lake Bled: It's Blue, Not Red

New resorts and wellness centers, the country's best golf course, and a clutch of new adventure-oriented travel agencies make Bled an attractive destination, not a mere stopover.

Lake Bled is nestled within a rim of mountains and surrounded by forests, with a castle on one side and a promenade beneath stately chestnut trees on the other. On a tiny island in the middle of the lake, the lovely Cerkov svetega Martina (St. Martin's Pilgrimage Church) stands within a circle of trees. Take a ride over to the island on a pletna, an old-fashioned canopied wooden boat similar to a Venetian gondola.

The stately 16th-century grad (castle) perches above the lake on the summit of a steep cliff, against a backdrop of the Julian Alps and Triglav Peak. You can climb up to the castle for fine views of the lake, the resort, and the surrounding countryside.

The Krka Valley: A Simpler Kind of Life

A drive through the Krka Valley makes a perfect day-trip from Ljubljana. The monasteries of Sticna (photo, right) and Pleterje offer insight into contemporary monastic life, and there are two castles, Otocec and Mokrice, where you can stop for lunch---or a romantic overnight stay in exquisite surroundings.

Take the E70 highway east out of Ljubljana, and then turn right at Ivancna Gorica to follow a secondary road along the Krka Valley. For a more direct journey home, return to the E70 just north of Sentjernej. There are also buses from Ljubljana to Ivancna Gorica and Sentjernej, but these are only practical if you don't mind walking the final stretch to the monasteries.

Skocjanske Jame: Ah, the Delights of Cave Dwelling

The 11 interconnected chambers that make up the Skockan Jama (Skocjanske Caves) stretch for almost 6 km (about 4 mi) through a dramatic subterranean landscape. The 90-minute walking tour of the two chilly main chambers---the Silent Cave and the Murmuring Cave---winds past otherworldly dripstone sculptures, massive sinkholes, and stalactites and stalagmites that resemble the horns of some mythic creature.

The highlight is Europe's largest cave hall, a gorge 146 meters (438 feet) high, 123 meters (369 feet) wide, and 300 meters (900 feet) long, spanned by a narrow bridge illuminated by footlights. Far below, the brilliant jade waters of the Reka River rush by on their underground journey. The view is nothing short of mesmerizing.

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