This article is the continuation from part 1 article: How to plan for 14 days Eastern Europe Trip within €1000 budget! Includes the plan for Day 1 to Day 5, things to do in Budapest, Hungary and Zagreb, Croatia.
Day 6: Ljubljana, Slovenia
From Zagreb to Ljubljana, the travel journey takes a mere 1 hour 40 minutes. In my personal opinion, Slovenia is the friendliest country in Europe! I never been to somewhere else filled with so many friendly people, who sometimes surprises you with humorous jokes, and never failed to give you a beautiful smile. Doubt my words? Try visiting this small yet beautiful mountainous country. Get mesmerised by the sheer beauty of this land, and the magnificent Lake Bled brings heaven to earth, providing a visual sensational treat!
Top 5 Things To Do in Slovenia
#1 Lake Bled
Lake Bled is situated in a picturesque environment surrounded by mountains and forests. This breathtaking lake offers you an amazing view of the Bled Castle and the only island in Slovenia, Bled Island. Make sure you take either the Pletna boat or hire your own little boat. Hint: It could be super romantic and inspiring.
#2 The Bled Castle
Bled Castle is the oldest Slovenian medieval castle built on a precipice above the city of Bled, overlooking the entire Lake Bled. There is a well preserved Gothic chapel on the upper courtyard and the castle has distinctive fortified walls and system. The castle buildings are decorated with coats of arms painted in the fresco technique and carved in stone.
#3 Bled Island
Bled Island in Lake Bled is the ONLY island in the entire country of Slovenia. The island has a church built in the 17 century and according to local traditions, it is considered good luck for the groom to carry his bride on their wedding day up the Baroque stairways with 99 stone steps leading up to the church, and then ring the bell and make a wish inside the church for a blissful marriage. Want to follow this tradition? I suggest you do not discuss this with your fiance as the level of difficulty does not depend entirely on your physical fitness, but mainly on the size of your fiance! opps haha
#4 The Dragon Tales In The Old Town
The Ljubljana’s Dragon tales is the symbol and icon of Slovenian capital. According to the legend, a Greek hero Jason was sent to fetch a golden fleece from Kolchis to prove he is the right person for the throne of Thassos. On his way back, he and his men, the Argonauts, met a fearsome dragon that prevented people from living in Ljubljana. To rescue this inhabited city, he killed the dragon and hence became the founder of the Ljubljana. A funny local tale about the bridge is that when a virgin crosses the bridge, the stone dragons will wag their tails. haha
#5 Ljubljana Castle
Standing on top of the Castle Hill above the downtown of Ljubljana, the Ljubljana Castle offers a spectacular view of the city. Originally a medieval fortress built in the 11th century during Illyrian and Celtic times. Good news to all, you do not need to climb, because there is a funicular railway to transport you up to the top of the Castle Hill.
Hot Tips: Day Trips To Slovenia From Zagreb (Budget: €110 for all the above)
If time does not permit, a better way and more relaxing way to see Lake Bled and Ljubljana Slovenia is to do a day trip from Zagreb. Due to time and easy logistics arrangement, I went on a day trip to Lake Bled and Ljubljana Slovenia with The Guide Travel Agency. Jakov Radman is the owner of the company and he is highly professional, knowledgeable and passionate about the Slovenia and Croatia. I was truly amazed by the knowledge about every little detail when I was travelling with Marko, his young apprentice to Slovenia. Marko is an amazing guide and I actually felt like I was travelling with a friend more than travelling with a guide. And of course, we become good friends after this trip! Below is the contact for your consideration when you plan to visit Slovenia, Croatia or Italy. They do customised tours too.
Company: The Guide Travel Agency
Address: M.Ivanica 23, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Day 7 – 9: Vienna, Austria
Roughly about 4 hours drive from Zagreb, you will arrive in Vienna, the city of music due to its musical legacy, the home of Mozart and Beethoven. This is the capital of Austria and even during the Austria-Hungary empire. Also known for its high-quality life, this city is romantic, cultural and beautiful. One should never miss this charming city if you around the Central Eastern Europe.
Top 5 Things To Do in Vienna, Austria
#1 Mozart Concert (Budget: €49 for cheapest ticket)
When in the city, you should never miss a Mozart Concert in Vienna! The Vienna Mozart Orchestra plays in concerts with internationally famous singers. They dress up in beautiful historical costumes and wigs, creating a great atmosphere in the largest and world famous concert hall – The Musikverein. Inaugurated by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1870. I remember watching The Golden Hall concert of its annual worldwide broadcast of New Year’s Concert every year on television. Being there just makes you feel incredible! The Golden Hall fascinates the concert guests being a unique architectonic and acoustics masterpiece.
#2 Schönbrunn Palace (Budget: Free for outside, Grand Tour is €16.40)
The Schönbrunn Palace is the former imperial summer palace and is the world cultural heritage. The Baroque art of the palace architecture, historical monuments and the ridiculously beautiful garden is jaw dropping. Impeccably kept with stunning palace rooms and unbelievable opulence. There is an audio guide available in many different languages. You can easily spend half a day at the garden outside the palace. It’s incredibly huge like a maze, and pretty like a heaven’s paradise. Should not miss it when you are in Vienna.
#3 St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Budget: Free)
The symbol of Vienna, the St. Stephen Cathedral is built in 12th century, with 13 bells hang in the tallest tower, Europe’s second largest free-swinging chimed church bell. You sure won’t miss this gigantic Gothic building in Vienna. There are colourful roof tiles depicting the Royal and Imperial double-head eagle and coat of arms of Vienna.
#4 Vienna State Opera (Budget: Free)
If the price is a concern or you are not really a fan of opera and music, you can gather outside Vienna State Opera where they provide free live telecast of the performances. The opera house was built in 1861 and is just so pretty to look at, especially at night with the lights.
#5 Vienna Teddy Bear Museum (Budget: €10)
Good news to Teddy Bear fans out there, you may appreciate the Vienna Teddy Bear Museum. In this museum, it will tell you the history how Margarete Steiff created the bear toys inspired by her nephew Richard Steiff, and how the bear eventually got its name “Teddy”.
Which Area To Stay?
Try to stay near to Innere Stadt, because all the attractions, monuments, museums and opera house is around the area. However, accommodations around this area can be expensive. Based on your budget look for alternative stay at the next district. The nearer it is to the Innere Stadt, the more expensive your accommodation will be. Many restaurants and bars open till late evening.
Day 10: Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. It is a small charming town that is located along the Danube river, meaning you can get to the city from Vienna via train or road (an hour) or by ferry 1 hour 15 minutes ride. Stroll the narrow pedestrian streets and see the pastel coloured buildings built during the 18th century, and get back to the medieval times. Bratislava is definitely NOT like what the movie “EuroTrip” painted, something like an Ex-Soviet Union communist kind of buildings. One thing for sure, they has nothing to do with Slovenia, a lot of people mistakenly mixed up these two countries. However, Slovakia was indeed associated with the Czech Republic before, and it used to be Czechoslovakia during communist period, later it was split up during 1993.
Top 5 Things To Do in Bratislava, Slovakia
#1 Bratislava Castle (Budget: Free)
The massive rectangular shape castle with four cute corners towers, stand above the rocky hill, overlooking the entire cityscape with Danube river decorating your visual image. Definitely worth the hike up to take a look. There are some exhibits and a collection of precious archaeological findings of Slovakia. There is also a Baroque chapel, music hall and a beautiful courtyard to explore.
#2 Bratislava Old Town (Budget: Free)
Spend a few hours in the old town of the city, such as the historical centre, Vydrica, Zukermandel, Blumentál. The small beautiful old town with many fascinating street architecture and medieval buildings. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the St. Martin Cathedral, Michael’s Gate and Primate Square while you are in town.
#3 Sunset at UFO (Budget: €6.50)
The UFO is actually an observation deck and of course with a bar and restaurant located on the pillars of the Bratislava new bridge. The beautiful view of the entire city lying at your feet from 85 meters high. Come during sunset, you will be amazed by the beauty of nature.
#4 Blue Church (Budget: Free)
Have you been to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey? What about the Blue Church in Bratislava? The little blue church has a beautiful blue colour of its facade, mosaics, majolicas and glazed roof built in 1907. Just like the size of Bratislava, the blue church is small and you just need a good photo with it when you are in town.
#5 Man At Work – Cumil (Budget: Free)
The “Man at Work, Cumil” is a famous bronze statue of a man working at a roadside drainage and peeking out the passerby on the streets. According to the locals, some say it was made to depict the man staring at gorgeous women’s legs. Whatever it is, this statue is probably the most photographed statue in Slovakia.
Which Area To Stay?
You can easily do a day trip if you based yourself in Vienna. Staying in this city is also recommended because of its fun and charming streets, restaurants and bars. Bratislava is really a small town, so whichever area is fine. The best spot is inside the old town area where all actions are.
Day 11 – 13: Prague, Czech Republic
From Bratislava, you may drive for 3 hours 20 minutes to Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, a grand city with extraordinary historic and cultural sights. This historical capital of Bohemian is definitely worth visiting. Prague’s medieval centre still remains as a wonderful mixture of cobbled streets, beautiful courtyards, magnificent cathedrals and numerous church spires all in the shadow of her majestic 9th-century castle. Prague is also a modern and vibrant city full of energy catering to the independent traveller’s thirst for adventure.
Top 5 Things To Do in Prague, Czech Republic
#1 Charles Bridge (Budget: Free)
Strolling across the beautiful Charles Bridge is a favourite activity in Prague. Built in 1390, this 621-meter bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and most of them are in baroque style. They depict various saints by some of the most famous Bohemian sculptors.
#2 Prague Old Town Astronomical Clock (Budget: Free)
The Prague Astronomical Clock is a medieval astronomical clock located in the old town. First installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world, and the oldest that is still operating. Be sure to wait for the hourly greetings, the skeleton rings the bell and immediately all other figures shake their heads, side to side, signifying their unreadiness “to go.” Be sure you catch it.
#3 Day Trip to Bohemian Saxton Switzerland National Park (Budget: €120)
It is a shame if you think Prague is the only thing to see in the Czech Republic. The outdoor of the country is amazing too. Shared between Germany and Czech Republic, the Saxon Switzerland is an intensively fissured and rocky canyon landscape. First stop will be the Bastei Bridge on the German side of the national park, you can walk across the magnificent bridge perched high above the river Elbe. Enjoy the stunning and breathtaking views before proceeding to take your lunch in a small charming traditional Czech restaurant. After lunch, visit the Czech Republic side of the national park and take a small hike along the River Kamenice and see the naturally carved rock overhangs. Don’t forget to take the river boat through the Gorges of Kamenice and see the amazing “waterfall” too. haha
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I did my day trip with Northern Hikes. Vit, the agency’s director was very prompt to my email queries and provided me with an excellent advice and arrangements. Which gave me the reason why I decided to travel with them. Honestly, no regrets, Pavla, my guide from Northern Hikes is so professional and passionate about the outdoor and nature trails. I learnt so much from her within a day to the Bohemian Saxton Switzerland National Park. She is really a sweet person too, never failed to surprise us (with other travellers) with her professional services and dedicated attention to us. It was raining that day when I visited the park and she was all prepared to give out rain coats, dry socks and even snacks to us. She also surprised us with a hot delicious chocolate ice cream cake during lunch! haha Northern Hikes services is truly value for money. Go with them, you won’t go wrong and you will be in good hands.
Company: Northern Hikes
Tel: + 420 730 962 221
#4 Prague Castle (Budget: Free)
Built in the 9th century, the Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world. It consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and christian worship buildings of various architectural styles, from the remains of Romanesque-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications of the 14th century. Its three courtyards and a number of magnificent buildings cover over 7 hectares, so be prepared to do some walking inside.
#5 John Lennon Wall (Budget: Free)
Once a normal wall, but in 1988 the wall was a source of irritation for the communist regime. Young Czechs write grievances on the wall and this led to clashes with students and police force nearby to the Charles Bridge. A funny fact is that John Lennon has never been to Prague before but have managed to influence people here with his idea of peace and freedom. Come write your free wishes, perhaps, your government might see it grant your wish! #JustSaying LOL
Which Area To Stay?
Stay at Prague 1 (old town) district, this is the place where the astronomical clock and Jewish quarter is located. There are numerous restaurants and bars that open till late mornings. Good area to position yourself when you travel in Prague.
Day 14: Home Sweet Home
The good thing about flying home from Prague after your 14 days Eastern Europe trip with middle east airlines is that the departure flight to Singapore from Prague is around 8pm, hence you have the morning and afternoon time to do some shopping in Prague. There are plenty of souvenir stores for you to choose and even on Charles Bridge, there are many street vendors and pushcarts. One place I personally recommend to check out is the Havel Market, one of the oldest markets in the city back in 1232. This market is tailored for tourist and has many local handmade products such as Czech crystal and glass jewellery, tasty traditional spa wafers, exquisite birch boxes, local honey and traditional wooden toys, all excellent gifts to bring home with.
Bonus Transit Stay: Middle East
If you still have spare time, and you are transiting, I would highly recommend a transit stay in the Middle East such as U.A.E., Doha or Istanbul, Turkey (Note: Istanbul is considered as Europe). Check out the articles on the Middle East, and also the current situation in Istanbul, Turkey plus the vlog on 40 Things To Do & See In Istanbul below. 🙂
Many of you asked me how do I survive being a vegetarian when travelling abroad. To be honest, there are many vegetarian restaurants and options out there. But food can never taste the same like home. I loved to bring my favourite snack – vegetarian beancurd whenever I travel. As a spicy lover, I like the spicy flavour beancurd. they have original taste and other flavours too. Good to bring along when you travel, it can cure your craves! haha Check out Vegetarian World Foods where I get them from. 🙂
If you miss the previous part 1 article, click here to read Day 1 to Day 5: How to plan for 14 days Eastern Europe Trip within €1000 budget! Includes things to do in Budapest, Hungary and Zagreb, Croatia.
“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson