So if you follow me on Twitter or even *gasp* know me ‘IRL’, you’ll know that I’m finding it hard to shut up about my holiday to Slovenia that I’m jetting off on this Saturday. I’m so excited because it’s somewhere I’ve been dreaming of going for a couple of years now, but a big part of my excitement process if the actual planning of the trip.
I’ve always known that package holidays are not for me, and one of the main reasons is that I genuinely enjoy putting the trip together myself. Booking flights, finding hotels, researching where to go and how to get there – these things are all part of the holiday experience for me and really help build my anticipation! As I’ve never been to Slovenia and am travelling alone with a very limited timescale this 1-week trip has required quite a lot of forward planning, and these are the sites I’ve used to help me arrange my precious 7 days.
Yeah I know this is an obvious one, but Skyscanner is my go-to flight god every time and it seems rude not to mention them. In this case their amazing search tools actually came in really useful as flights to Slovenia are pretty uncommon compared to your standard western European destinations, and I was determined to maximise my time there by finding the earliest flight out and latest flight back, all without bankrupting myself. When I found out the Manchester flight on my day of departure didn’t arrive until almost 5pm, I searched around and found an early morning flight from Luton that was half the cost and, although necessitating a painful overnight coach journey, got me into Ljubljana at 10.30am, giving me basically a whole extra day in Slovenia. For me, that’s worth it.
Adventure alert – did you know that instead of returning to Ljubljana for a flight home, you can go to Piran on the south coast, get a ferry across to Venice, and enjoy a couple of days in Italy before you fly home from Marco Polo? Well you can! I thought this was an excellent idea (especially since the scarcity of flights out of Ljubljana would have forced me to fly back to Manchester on Saturday morning, losing the whole weekend), and found venezialines.com offered a simple and affordable way to book my ferry crossing. For the sake of around £50, I’m getting a whole extra weekend of holiday and returning to one of my favourite cities in the country that has the world’s best ice cream. I’m planning on doing a lot of walking around Lake Bled, so I reckon that justifies eating at least 2 gelato a day.
I’d originally assumed that there would be regular buses running from Ljubljana Airport into the city centre. I’m really glad I checked because boy was I wrong. On a Saturday there is one bus approximately every 2 hours, which would have left me standing at the bus stop for almost a hour. No thanks. I was resigned to the idea I’d have to pay €25 or more for a taxi, but it turns out you can book a shared taxi with a firm called GoOpti. The price started at €9 for an approximate pick-up time within the hour of my requested time, but I opted for the €14 option where I could be picked up at the exact time I requested. When I went to pay I managed to find a €5 discount code, so in the end it only cost me €9 anyway – just €4,50 more than the public bus and I got to define my own drop-off point just a 5-minute walk from my hostel. Bargain.
Booking.com is the mac daddy of hotel sites for me – it has plenty of options, beautiful photos, all the information you could need, and a near-perfect user experience. I always assumed it was mainly hotels, but I actually managed to find a couple of decent hostels on here, as well as a beautiful hotel room in Venice for my weekend with the boy (it’s close to the Rialto Bridge and its white minimalist décor is destined for Instagram). I use this site to book so much accommodation, and I love how many places have the option to book now and pay later. Because paying later is always better than paying now…
Where booking.com fails Hostelworld steps in. I’ve been mocked several times by more adult-y adults than myself for my fondness for hostels, but I’m adamant that the facilities of a good hostel are always infinitely better than in an average hotel with double the price tag. People often assume that cheap means rubbish and it’s not always the case, and the same can be said for the Hostelworld website. It has all the search filters you could want, plenty of information on the hostel’s facilities and activities, and I love that guests are encouraged to rank the hostel according to specific criteria like cleanliness, security and what the atmosphere/social scene was like. You know,the stuff that matters to backpackers.
I’ve booked a food tour with Ljubljananjam and I’m so excited for it! I found out about Ljubljananjam from my friend’s housemate who did a tour with them and couldn’t recommend it enough to me. I say ‘them’ – the whole company seems to be run solely by a Slovenian woman called Iva, who when I emailed her about booking a tour was so helpful and accommodating, telling me all about the day/time options, recommending other things to do around the city and tailoring the contents of the tour to my preferences (which is a vague way of saying I asked to swap my craft beer for a glass of Slovenian wine). She seems really passionate about what she does and I can’t wait to uncover local Ljubljana with her.
3glav is one of Slovenia’s leading adventure tour companies and I’ve booked their signature trip – the Emerald River Adventure with added white water rafting. I’m not the most outdoors-y girl you’ll ever meet by a long shot, but when I saw all the amazing photos of Triglav National Park there’s no way I could miss out on having a day there. 3glav’s day tour sounds perfect for me – plenty of time out and about, but with the hikes split up into manageable segments so I won’t risk revealing my very mediocre fitness levels.
Lastly was Viator, to book my half-day trip from Ljubljana to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle. I have a sneaking suspicion that I would have preferred Skocjan Cave, which is supposed to be a little quieter and less touristy, but it was only available on a longer tour that I didn’t really want to commit a full day to. I found the same tour options advertised on several Slovenian sites, but what’s handy about Viator is that you can pay in GBP and avoid those pesky bank charges for paying in a foreign currency.
So, those are the essential sites that have helped me organise my holiday to Slovenia! What sites can you not do without when planning a trip?