DEAN NELSON (he/him) CRDE, LLD
The Magic of Slovenia
Updated: Jan 19
Enjoy an 8-night private luxury guided tour exploring castles, wine country, and extraordinary gourmet culinary experiences.
Slovenia is one of the most naturally diverse and culturally rich country in Europe. Over the next 8-nights explore some of the best of Slovenia from their rich wine region, salt pan, coastal region, to their gorgeous interior lakes, rivers and castles.
DAY 1 - WELCOME TO SLOVENIA AND SLOVENIAN RIVIERA
Meet & Greet at Ljubljana Airport (LJU), (Venice or Zagreb Airport - On request)
Private Transfer to Portorož
The town of Portorož lies along the Istrian coastline in Piran Bay. Due to its prominent seaside location, Portorož became known as a health resort from the 13th century. The healing properties of its mud and salt water baths gained further renown in the 19th century, becoming one of the grandest seaside resorts in central Europe, comparable with those of Opatija, Abbazia, Lido and Grado, which all formed part of the Austrian Littoral or crown lands of the monarchy. One of the most important hotels to the Hapsburgs, the Kempinski Palace Hotel Portorož, opened here in 1910, built by the architect Joann Eustaccio. With its grand facade, overlooking the Adriatic, it played host to a variety of important statesmen and celebrities of the empire. Today, Portorož's reputation as a spa resort persist, with no less than six different wellness spas and resorts located in the town.
Check in at Kempinski Palace Hotel Portorož
Kempinski Palace Portorož - Your royal treat on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, at the top of the Venetian Istria. Relax on the Adriatic Sea, invigorate at the Rose Spa, savour the Sophia and Fleur de Sel restaurants, feel the business breeze at the Levante and Ponente meeting rooms, create your own fairy tale wedding in the historic private park and sense Istria in the wine cellar and La Dolce Vita in the Crystal Ballroom. The Kempinski Palace Portorož - a royal treat, tailor made for you.
Day 2 - Sečovlje
Visit of Sečovlje Sea Salt Pans
In the area, known as Sečovlje Salina Nature Park, the symbiosis between man and nature is marked with centuries-old tradition of salt-making; from the Middle Ages till today it has created a unique salina landscape. Owing to its specific architectural and historical features as well as to the exceptional diversity of plants and animals (such as 270 species of birds), the 650 ha large area of once thriving salt-pans is today protected as a cultural monument and nature park. In these northernmost Mediterranean salt-pans, salt is still produced traditionally, with classical salt-pan methods and tools, which is the reason why salt has retained its very special taste and exceptional characteristics. And you need no more than a fleeting glance at nature, which seems as if time stopped in it ages ago, to be totally enraptured by it.
The most beautiful town on the Slovenian coast grew with the help of salt. The Piran salt pans, where the world-class fleur de sel (flower of salt) is still produced today using age-old methods, were the reason why the picturesque Mediterranean walled town, with its church with a view and cultural attractions, flourished. The old port town with remnants of a medieval wall is protected as a cultural and historical monument. Narrow streets with closely constructed houses descending from the hill and its church to the central square on the coast only emphasise its Mediterranean character. This worldly coastal town, which developed under the influence of Venice, is considered to be one of the most authentic and most photogenic towns on the Adriatic coast.
Your guide will start the tour at the entry of Piran Old Town. You will have a short walk by the sea first, where you can stop at any time to breathe in the sea breeze and fully embrace the Mediterranean spirit. After that, you will continue your exploration towards the center of Piran, with the open Tartini Square as the town's core. And lastly, we suggest you wander the old streets, because nothing beats getting lost in beautiful places.
DAY 3 - FROM SLOVENIAN RIVIERA TO BRDA WINE REGION
Private Transfer to Goriška Brda Wine Region
Prepare to discover the Tuscany of Slovenia, the Goriška Brda wine region!
Farm to Table Lunch and Wine Tasting
Get a real taste of country living and stop by on your tourist farm. There you can find little nooks of peace and relaxation, and you can meet warm-hearted people, and learn about their customs and livestock. A real attraction are the ecological tourist farms, which offer a healthy living environment and certified organic food.
You will stop by to have lunch at one of the tourist farms in Brda Wine region. You will experience local, seasonal and homemade food. Goriška Brda wine region is known not only because of vineyards and wine, but also for the production of fruits and variety of tourist farms.
The Best of Goriška Brda Private Tour
Goriška Brda wine region are the most western part of Slovenia. Brda region is known of wines, olives and fruit. The region offers you many opportunities for wine tasting and local gastronomy experiences. Wide range of high-quality wines, tempting flavours of Mediterranean cuisine, healthy, fresh and home-made Brda food, high-quality olive oil and fruit, the Brda region also offers numerous opportunities to spend active leisure time in the nature. For example you can explore the region on electric bikes. As well you can take a full day to relax, go for a walk around the vineyards or socialize with the locals. We tailor-made a tour of Goriška Brda, explicitly for our guests with private guide; you will start the tour at the view tower of Gonjače, to get the overview of the region and then to nearby Šmartno village. Šmartno was first mentioned in the 14th century, and is surrounded by defense walls. The tour will end at Dobrovo castle, where you can get electrical bikes or scooters for a ride up and down hills and vineyards (optional).
Private Wine Tasting at Boutique Wine Producer
Brda wine region is a great place to do private wine tasting experience at local boutique winemaker. Red and white wines or sparkling wine - whichever you prefer, that will be your choice for wine tasting of sample several different varieties from boutique wine producer (one or more of them). It is preferred that you follow three simple rules: look, smell and taste. Wine tastings will take place in wine cellar or tasting room and led by professional sommelier or winemaker or both. But that is not all. Winemaker will share his story how he makes wine and was is their history of the vineyard. Choose our specially designed wine tastings to experience local atmosphere combined with story that you will get personally from winemaker.
Cheers - Na zdravje!
Check in at Hotel Gredič
Fortress palace, the Castelletto, is destined to reflect all the characteristics of the area. Protective, it was probably built 400 years ago on the first hill above the plain. Its gaze is fixed on the sea to the south; its back is strengthened by the hills of Collio and the snow-capped Alps in the distance. After the war, it stood on a border between two worlds; nowadays it does not recognize barriers anymore. Its figure is saying that its mission was never to impose power, but it stands in its place in order to protect and serve, to help and advise. With the renovation of the Castelletto Gredič was not made higher or more pompous, instead it was given the opportunity to grow in the depth and to perfect itself internally and externally. Now it tells the stories of the place and the land with its wine, food and people. Individually decorated, all accommodation units provide air conditioning, wine coolers and state-of-the-art audio and video systems. Each unit provides a private bathroom with heated floor. Enjoying the view of the surrounding vineyards, guests can relax on the terrace. The on-site bar offers a wide range of refreshing drinks and snacks. A golf course is 1 km away. The entire area is suitable for hiking and cycling. Nova Gorica is at a distance of 25 km. Trieste and its airport are within 50 km from the Gredič Accommodation. Wine Cellar / Their wine cellar is something special - both architecturally as well as due to the successful combination of cozy hospitality and professionalism of modern technology. They stock more than 5,000 bottles of wine and virtually all the wines can be tasted. Champagne Temple / It is a reason why they’ve built a special champagne temple. In this modern environment visitors can worship bubbles in a large selection of local wines, wines from other important European sparkling wine regions and of course the vast majority of famous Champagne Cellars (Krug, Dom Perignon, Cristal, Pol Roger, Billecart-Salmon, Gosset, De la Motte, ...)
Table Reservation at Hotel Gredič Restaurant - The Michelin Plate
Gourmet Restaurant / The area Brda / Collio is probably one of the most exciting culinary regions in the world. Here subtle Mediterranean influences meet strong continental tastes, demanding the disciplined Austro-Slovenian tradition to adopt vivid Italian creativity and rich heritage. The constant desire to explore, using the finest fresh ingredients and modern culinary and technological knowledge and appreciation of the aforementioned factors and the tradition make the main feature of the restaurant Gredič Avenanti. Here you can quickly satisfy your curiosity as well as your hunger, but it is most exciting when you take the time and allow yourself to be led to a gastronomic excursion by the head chef of the restaurant.
DAY 4 - FROM BRDA WINE REGION TO LOWER CARNIOLA
Lipica Stud Farm Experience with a Picnic - Option 1
Lipica Stud Farm is the original home of Lipizzaner horses. The charms of the Lipica Stud Farm are hidden in the unseen, the stories written by the local history. Only when walking on the historical paths we can truly experience the greatness of the local equestrian tradition. The history of Lipica is closely intertwined with the Habsburgs and the time when horse was considered an ideal and was at the time a crucial strategic advantage. The Lipica story begins in the 16th century when the abandoned summer residence became the court stud farm.
It is the original stud farm of one of the oldest cultural horse breeds - the Lipizzaner.
It is the oldest European stud farm breeding a single breed of horse.
It's area is the only micro location ensuring optimum conditions for top breeding of Lipizzaners.
It presents a unique atmosphere with individual elements - spatial arrangement, architectural core and cultural landscape which were formed exclusively for the purpose of the basic, original activity -breeding of Lipizzaners.
It has an exceptional development potential in the sense of preserving top breeding of Lipizzaner worldwide.
Your experience at Lipica Stud Farm includes: A Carriage ride on a estate A Visit of stalls with private guide Picnic on the estate
Visit Postojna Cave - Option 2
Postojna Cave / A fantastic web of tunnels, passages, galleries and halls, Postojna Cave boasts an astonishing diversity of karstic formations. This, as well as the cave’s easy access, helps explain its enduring popularity: over the past 200 years, Postojna Cave has enchanted some 35 million visitors. One of the most famous caves in the world, and one of the largest karst cave systems on earth, it is also Slovenia’s greatest tourist attraction. Many books have been written about Postojna Cave since the early 19th century, including nearly 100 tourist guidebooks dedicated to the cave system.
The temperature in Postojna cave is a constant 9°C / 48°F with high humidity, so you can easily get cold. Warm and comfortable clothes and walking shoes are advised. Although there can be some dripping in the cave, the walking paths are not slippery.
The Predjama Castle reigns over the surrounding area, perched high up in a vertical cliff, 9 km from the Postojna Cave, in the idyllic village of Predjama. It is an interesting and romantic sight throughout the year: in the spring and the summer its surroundings are abundant with blossoms and flowers, in the autumn it is clad in the colours of surrounding forests and it is at its most enchanting in the winter when the surrounding area is covered in snow. It was referred to in writing for the first time in 1202.
Check in at Hotel Castle Otočec Relais & Chateaux
Otočec Castle***** The country's only castle completely surrounded by water. Home to the de Werde noblemen in the 13th century, who were also known as the Knights of Otočec, this castle is the only one in Slovenia that sits on a river island. The magnificent castle on the river Krka was for centuries both a stronghold and a gracious home to numerous noble families. Its most prominent inhabitants, apart from the Knights of Otočec, were the Villanders nobles of Tyrol, captain of Žumberak Uskoks Ivan Lenkovič, and the noble Janez Sonce, who is also the central character in a narrative by Ivan Tavčar. Before World War II the castle was owned by the House of Marghieri de Commadona. Nowadays the castle is converted to Relais Chateaux 5 star hotel property. Hotel also has a gourmet fine dinning restaurant. The castle restaurant is a member of the oldest, largest and most prominent international association Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, which works to promote and develop the art of cooking, the culture of wine drinking and socializing at the dinner table while showing appreciation of a region’s ethnological characteristics.
Gourmet Dinner at Castle Otočec
Housed in a medieval castle with a long and tumultuous history, this beautiful restaurant has a tranquil feel. Seasonal ingredients take pride of place in generous dishes which are full of flavour and prepared with imagination by the chefs in the kitchen. Castle Restaurant was awarded with "The Michelin plate". The Plate Michelin, an award that inspectors bestowed on 37 restaurants including the Otočec Castle restaurant and its young chef Nejc Ban, highlights fresh ingredients, carefully prepared and good meals. They were impressed by the focus on local specialities and ingredients, the seasonal offer of vegetables, berries and herbs from the castle’s organic garden, as well as the restaurant itself. They recognized it as one of the most wonderful interiors and rated it with three covers represented by the knife and fork symbol. The Plate Michelin, which also means that the Otočec Castle restaurant, in one of Slovenia’s most beautiful tourist destinations, is deemed visit-worthy, brought us great joy here at Otočec.
DAY 5 - LOWER CARNIOLA REGION
The Best of Lower Carniola Tour
Vibrant, green, sparkling, calm and sociable - openly boastful and mysteriously sophisticated, a landscape of meadows and forests, pretty green rivers, a cradle of picturesque places and sincere, hospitable people. Placidly sited in the southeastern Slovenia, between the Ljubljana basin and the Sava River, Dolenjska has many surprising faces. The varied relief, numerous streams, karst features and biodiversity create its unforgettable dynamic. The river valleys of sparkling beauties: the Krka, Mirna, Kolpa and Lahinja Rivers. The slopes of its hills ripen sun-kissed grapes. The bosom of its deep springs bubble restorative and healing thermal waters. Castles, religious buildings, monuments, gardens and its architectural heritage are the jewels that form its rich entirety. Hill vineyards and little hilltop churches, castles and monasteries, broad forests and groves of birch trees give the extensive region of south-east Slovenia a particular charm. Did you know? The Venice of Dolenjska - Slovenia's Only Town on River Island: Kostanjevica na Krki is not only Slovenia's smallest town, but also the only one which stands on a river island, with the green Krka winding its way around it. The meandering river offers charming reflections of the Gorjanci hills, about which stories were written by Janez Trdina. Krka River flows slowly and lazily, and in summer generously offers refreshment to hot swimmers and beckons you over for a boat trip around the town. The kozolec (hayrack) is a free standing, mainly wooden, partially-open yet roofed structure which is used for drying and storing hay and grain. The double linked hayracks, known as toplar, however, are unique to Slovenia.
Visit Kostanjevica na Krki
Visit to Gallery of Božidar Jakac
Tour of the town
Kostanjevica na Krki is Slovenia's smallest town and one of the oldest, a true veritable wonder of nature. Today the entire town is protected as a cultural monument of the highest category. As a result of frequent floods in the past, when the only way to get around was by boat, the town became known as a "Venice of Lower Carniola". Kostanjevica na Krki is a living town on an island.
Visit Božidar Jakac Gallery
The beginnings of the Gorjup Gallery in Kostanjevica na Krki reach back to the year of 1956, when it was founded in the Jože Gorjup Primary School by the then headmaster Lado Smrekar. Its permanent exhibition presents a selection of statues, paintings, drawings and graphics from a vast international collection of the 20th century art works. The Lamut Fine Art Salon has been situated in the former ministerial castle since 1958. It houses temporary exhibitions of both Slovenian and foreign artists. In 1961 it started organizing the international sculpture symposium called Forma Viva. Somewhat later, in 1974, the centre of activity moved to the former Cistercian monastery where the newly established Božidar Jakac Gallery was situated.
Visit the Land of the Hayracks
The Land of Hayracks is the first open-air museum of hayracks. It consists of 19 different drying structures originating from the Mirna Valley, except for one hayrack which comes from the vicinity of Ivančna Gorica. The museum’s purpose is to show the development of hayracks through time, space and social meaning from simple drying structures to complex forms of double hayracks – “toplars”.
Cheese Tasting at a Local Cheese Farm
The care for the highest quality of products, care for animal well-being and care for sustainable farming are three of their strongest guidelines on ECO farm Kukenberger. They run a farm where all the animals are allowed to live freely outside for at least six months out of the year and produce products that exceed your expectations. Their goals are to be current, aligned with nature and their capabilities as well as needs. For that reason they decided to offer our guest raw milk or milk products. Due to awareness, that excessive use of natural resources can be damaging to the environment in long term they decided to transform into organic sustainable farming. In 2015 they received a certificate for organic farming for their milk and all milk products, about which they are extremely proud of. Within four years they received ten rewards that proves a good quality work and provides great encouragement for the future work.
Dinner at Vineyard Cottage
Dolenjska in the south of Slovenia is famous for its rolling hills and vineyards. All true Lower Carniola natives have their own vineyard cottage, built of either wooden or stone, next to the vineyard, which they nurture a special attitude. The door used to be open for best friends only. Now-days we can open it for you where you can have unique and local dinner experience.
DAY 6 - FROM LOWER CARNIOLA REGION TO THE CAPITAL, LJUBLJANA
Boat Ride on Ljubljanica River
No trip to Ljubljana is complete without taking a water-based tour, and the handmade wooden boat operated by the young team at Laker Craft is definitely the most inviting of all the crafts plying the waters of Ljubljanica river. A ride lasts just under an hour and covers the majority of the old town's major sights from a unique vantage point. The 10m flat-bottomed vessel is constructed of solid larch and oak wood and can host up to 50 people at a time.
Gourmet Dinner in Ljubljana
Overnight at the InterContinental® Ljubljana****
A soaring glass façade sets the scene for a memorable stay at InterContinental® Ljubljana hotel. Their lavish rooms and suites have stunning views and marble bathrooms, Ljubljana train station and the Old Town are close by and the concierge can arrange custom city tours. Enjoy a drink in the chic Bloom Lounge or the exclusive Club InterContinental. After rejuvenating at the spa, you can dine-in style at the beautiful rooftop B-restaurant.
DAY 7 - EXPLORE THE CAPITAL OF SLOVENIA
The Best of Ljubljana Old Town Walk
During the tour you will see most of Ljubljana's main attractions. The guide will explain you Ljubljana's history and show you some of the nicest corners of Slovenia's capital: The Town Hall, a walking tour of Plečnik's architectural masterpieces, Križanke open-air theatre, the Napoleon monument, Central Food market, Prešeren square, Congress Square, the Triple Bridge, the Dragon Bridge and other. The old city centre of Ljubljana is remarkable for its unique architecture designed by Baroque and Art Nouveau masters and, above all, the architect Jože Plečnik.
Visit to Ljubljana Castle
You will take the funicular ride and ascend to the castle. Ljubljana's most prominent landmark is Ljubljana Castle, which has undergone numerous changes over its rich and dynamic history. In the company of a guide, you can take a virtual tour called Virtual Castle, visit the Outlook Tower and the castle's prison, and can view the exhibition Slovenian History. Your guide will also take you around other parts of the castle and show you an early 19th century well with a wooden treadwheel crane for hoisting water, which is still operational today. This is a wonderful opportunity for photo enthusiasts, as it offers magnificent panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.
Lunch at Ljubljana Castle Restaurant
Ljubljana castle's new restaurants overlooks the city from a grand position. A combination of the Roman Emona, Medieval and modern in terms of both cuisine and ambiance; the menu was created with the help of top ethnology professor Dr. Janez Bogataj. Historically reminiscent dishes of slick gourmet modernity are crafted with ingredients from Ljubljana's famed market.
DAY 8 - GRAND ALPINE TOUR
The Best of Lake Bohinj Private Tour
Bohinj is a part of the breathtaking Julian Alps and lies in Triglav National Park. On one side, it is enclosed by the Lower Bohinj Mountains, which rise to 2.000 meters, and on the other by the Triglav mountain range with Mount Triglav as Slovenia`s highest mountain (2864 m). Bohinj is divided into two parts – the Upper and the Lower Bohinj valley. There are twenty-four villages in these two valleys. As audacious as this may sound, Bohinj truly is one of the most enchanting places in the Julian Alps and in Triglav National Park. The natural beauty of high mountains, lush forests and beautiful mountain pastures and meadows guarantee a pleasant stay. It is an ideal starting point for daytime adventures, such as mountaineering and climbing tours and walks on the winding trails that run throughout the valley. It offers great options and opportunities for rest and relaxation in all seasons. In winter, the valley becomes a winter sports center, while during summer, the most beautiful pearl of the valley, Lake Bohinj along with Sava Bohinjka, invite outdoors men to spend an active day in nature.
Boat ride on Lake Bohinj
Vogel Mountain Cable Car Ride with Homemade Lunch – Vogel Cable Car
Vogel lies within the Triglav National Park, at the head of Bohinj Valley. The Vogel cable car will take you to the upper cable car station at a height of more than 1,500 meters above sea level. This magnificent "Kingdom of the Zlatorog" will make your heart leap in every season of the year. Enjoy the harmonious colours, the picture- postcard views and the abundance of opportunities for active holidays in the mountains. Favourable snow conditions make Vogel the perfect destination for skiing on natural snow, sometimes for as long as six months – from November to May. And in other seasons, Vogel offers scenic rides and convenient starting points for mountain hiking tours.
Private Transfer to Lake Bled
The stunning location of Lake Bled, surrounded by the Alps, has attracted visitors throughout the centuries.
Taste the Famous Bled Cream Cake
The original Bled cream cake is a recognizable feature of Bled that you simply must try when you come here. Despite being 60 years old, this sweet lady remains eternally fresh and youthful in its flavour.
Private “Pletna” Boat Ride to Bled Island
Take a trip across the lake in the traditional Pletna boat and breathe in the atmosphere. You will experience a private boat ride to the island of Bled. Just you, the oarsman and tranquility all around. What is a “Pletna” boat? It is a traditional boat made by the locals which is only known for Bled. The origins of the Pletna boat go back to 1590. The Pletna boat is a wooden flat-bottom boat with a pointed bow and the stern widened with a step to enable passengers to enter. The Pletna boat is operated by the Pletna oarsman. This profession is highly respected as it cannot be performed just by anyone. The title of the Pletna oarsman was handed down from generation to generation. This is a must-try.
Visit Bled Island, the Church, the Wishing Bell and the Tower – Bled Island
The most recognizable symbol of the lake is this island and the Church of the Assumption with its long and diverse history. What is more, the lush greenery also hides other interesting island buildings, like the bell-tower, the church, the chaplain's house, the provost's house and some mysterious legends. If you're lucky, you might witness a wedding on this island. And as far as the wishing bell goes... well, superstitious or not, make a wish and ring away!
Visit to Bled Castle – Bled Castle
The mighty Bled Castle offers the finest views of Bled island, the town of Bled and the wider countryside of Upper Carniola region. If you want to get a glimpse Bled's history, culture and people, visit the Bled Castle Museum. Get familiar with the traditional manual technological procedures of printing in the castle’s printing shop. Why not order a small bottle of wine in the castle’s cellar? Restore your health with natural products from the herbal gallery and recover your strength in the castle’s restaurant and then visit the multi vision museum. In the summer months, the castle’s atmosphere is enlivened by the count’s visit and an archery tournament.
Private Transfer to Ljubljana + Overnight
DAY 9 - TIME TO SAY GOODBYE
Private Transfer to Ljubljana (LJU) Airport or your next destination
Thank you for visiting Slovenia. Have a safe and pleasant flight.
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