Exploring Slovenia and Istria of Croatia

Posted by Carly Barrett Travel
10 7 2015

Check out our Travel blog from Carly Barrett after exploring Slovenia and Istria of Croatia.

Exploring Slovenia and Istria of Croatia

Accommodation: The Grand Union Hotel (Ljubljana), Kempinski Hotel Palace (Portoroz), Hotel Lone (Rovinji)

Flight Time from London: 2 hours 10 minutes   

Day 1

Exploring Bled

Transfer time from Ljubljana around 40 minutes

This stunning fairy-tale village is popular among travellers from all over and it’s no surprise why. From Bled Castle that sits high up, to the imposing Julian Alps climbing high above the forest directly across the lake. This is one village that demands attention and is tricky to tear your eyes away from. The beautiful crystal clear lake has banned all motor boats, the tranquil peace and quiet is welcome after the hustle and bustle of London, making this little spot an ideal place to sit with a glass of wine, a platter of cheese and prosciutto and while away an afternoon. 

Site visits

Hotel Toplice 5*

With a lakeside position it is no wonder that this hotel has stood the test of time and has been welcoming guests for over 100 years since opening in 1850. Many guests return year after year to enjoy its elegant style and relax in the luxury that the hotel offers. Here we enjoyed the traditional Bled cream cake, indulgent and completely delicious!

Garden Village

Only a 15-minute car journey from Lake Bled, is the futurist green Ecovillage; The Garden Village. From wandering the paths that lead to the numerous Eco Huts, it is evident that this is a venue that takes pride in being green and growing all produce onsite. Great for incentives and younger groups the hotel that puts nature first and inspires all visitors to go back to basics, from paddling in the stream that runs past the tree houses to swimming in the freshwater natural swimming pool –weather permitting of course. 

Day 2

Bike tour of Ljubljana

One of my favourite city tours. Being on the bike was fun and invigorating. Ljubljana is a typical “green” European city where the inhabitants walk or cycle rather than drive so safety wasn’t really an issue. A beautiful city with pretty rivers, busy markets, and historical buildings.

Old Timer Rally towards Istria

Privately owned Oldtimer cars were our mode of transport to travel from Ljubljana to The Slovenian coast and our next stop Portoroz. Again, it was great to do a different activity although I cannot quite believe they let us loose with these cars we even drove in convoy on the motorways! We stopped off  in Kraljestvo Prsuta for Proscuito and wine tasting. Then it was back onto the road and southbound to our next stop, Portoroz.

Kempinski Palace

Built at the beginning of the 20th century the old part of Kempinski Palace oozes glamour and sophistication, boasting 2 stunning restaurants; the Crystal Ballroom and Restaurant  Sophia (named after the beautiful Sophia Loren who stayed at the Palace) There is also an ultra modern spa and wellness centre which marries old and new with breathtaking views of the Adriatic sea. The various meeting rooms available makes this an inspirational conference venue, is there anything better than taking a coffee break on the terrace with the Adriatic straight ahead? I stayed in the “old part” of the hotel, in a very well presented classic style room, muted colours kept the room bright and airy, complete with beautiful marble bathroom.

Dinner at Hotel Piran

Hotel Piran was built in 1913 and renovated in 2013; the best hotel in the heart of this ancient town. The restaurant offers a picturesque seaside terrace and the interior has a modern setting.  With a privileged harbour location, the seafood is incredibly fresh and tasty. 

Day 3

Visit of Green heart of Istria

An early morning start could only mean one thing, we were now on our way to Istria of Croatia. An absolutely stunning part of the world, a peninsula off of Croatia with rolling hills, rugged coastline and fairy tale villages, Istria is split three ways and shared by Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy. The first stop on this tour was a mountaintop village called Motovun. Whose claim to fame is a local caterer and truffle hunter, Giancarlo Zigante, and his dog, Diana, who together dug up one of the largest truffles ever found weighing 1.31 kg. Panoramic views stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions, it is a photographers dream. Here we enjoyed an amazing truffle tasting, complete with homemade pasta, scrambled egg and bread, and of course a glass of white wine!

Wine and Olive Oil tasting at Agrolaguna Estate

Another stop off, and another tasting! We were lucky enough to taste 4 different types of cheese, 3 different wines, and 2 different olive oils; full and ready to burst at this point!

Lim Fjord

With the wine and cheese devoured, we were off to our next stop in Porec; the rustic area of Lim Fjord where the 1958 film “The Vikings” staring Kirk Douglas was filmed. The restaurant aptly named The Viking has an exceptional spot on the river, home to lots of fish and shellfish farms. With an epic seafood lunch we enjoyed oysters, scallops, mussels, clams, cockles to start, we were then treated to a plate of langoustines, squid, a local dish of spinach and potato, salad and to finish it off unlimited jugs of local white wine. Superb.

Boat ride to Rovinj

Our transfer to our final stop on the trip and it is definitely safe to say an amazing end Rovinj, enchanting, romantic, gorgeous, breathtaking, quaint. As the boat sailed closer all the colours and pretty architecture came into view, including the impressive statue of St. Euphemia and its beautiful weather vein. After disembarking the boat, we were taken for a stroll around Rovinj, and the beauty continued to unravel. I wish I had longer in this gorgeous city, and cannot wait to come back. 

Hotel Lone

I was welcomed at the hotel by a gentleman and his Hawk named Emma, no I am not joking!

5* luxury Hotel Lone has minimalism throughout, from the DJ playing music in the reception area, to the intelligent lighting system it seemed criminal to only spend one night here. Dinner in the hotel restaurant was a gastronomical treat, 4 courses of seafood and fish heaven, finished off with a decadent chocolate torte. An amazing end to a fantastic trip.

Final thoughts…..

I was completely blown away by two destinations I visited, Ljubljana, and Rovinj. Not only from a personal point of view for a short break but also for business and corporate events.  I can’t wait to give the opportunity to spread the word of these incredible destinations. 

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