There are so many possibilities for your next travel destination. Let’s put one more on your list, trust us, you won’t be sorry. Visit Slovenia! This small central European country, with the capital Ljubljana, that we call our home still surprises us with something incredible to see on every corner every time we find new places to travel to. With its relatively small population of 2 million and 20,273 square kilometers (7,827 sq mi) Slovenia has a lot to offer to travelers and it’s often overshadowed by countries and cities near it (Venice is just an hour and a half drive away). When traveling to Slovenia, you’ll get a mix of breathtaking countrysides and landscapes, beautiful cities with old town centers, from mountains to lakes surrounded by mountains and islands with a church in the middle, seaside and much more. Slovenia’s tourism is special because every tour, tourist attraction or travel destination is just a quick drive away. The “lack of recognition” has its perks though, there are rarely long waiting lines, no massive tourism and the prices are a bit lower than in other countries in the European Union.
Out of all the things to do in Slovenia, here are 15 places you must visit, also known as our humble travel guide, if you ever decide to travel to Slovenia.
A small capital city compared to other European capitals, with the population of 300.000 people. Most of the things to see are in the old town center. The triple bridge next to the main Preseren square, with the statue of France Preseren, generally acknowledged as the greatest Slovene classical author. In the middle of the center, up on the hill, there is the Ljubljana castle, you can climb its tower and get to see an amazing view of the city. Boat rides are available on the Ljubljanica river, on which you’ll be able to see all of the bridges from another angle. Next up is the Dragon Bridge with 4 dragon statues guarding it. The old part of the city has the traditional architecture and it’s where the Town Hall is located. If you have enough time, visit museums, they’re all around the city. The best thing about Ljubljana is that nature is close by all the time. A 10-minute walk from the center and you can get in touch with nature in park Tivoli and the hill Roznik. At the top of Roznik be sure to try a Flancat, a similar sweet to a donut well worth the walk.
2. Bohinj and Triglav National Park
This is the pearl of Slovenia. An adventurous place, with beautiful lakes, waterfalls, Mountains, where you can go hiking, biking, climbing, canyoning, paragliding, swimming (in the summer, or winter if you’re into that…), historical and cultural attractions mostly from both world wars. Triglav National Park is the only Slovenian National Park. One of the main places in the park is Bohinj, where there’s a lake surrounded by Mountains and small villages which produce beautiful views from the top of mountains that’ll take your breath away… literally, some Mountains are hard to hike to. On your visit, you can relax and enjoy the scenery or go on adventures. Local foods such as Kislo mleko (sour milk), ajdovi žganci (buckwheat porridge) and their Bohinj cheese are delicious.
Here are a few hikes near the Bohinj lake (be sure to explore other hike paths, there are so many of them):
- Moznar – explore bunkers from the 1st World War.
- Triglav Lakes Valley – several ways to the top and 7 lakes to see along the way (even a few more, but then we recommend a two-day trip).
- Vogel and Vogar – both have amazing views of the Valley and if you’re feeling a bit tired, you can take a gondola to get to Vogel.
- Waterfall Savica.
Only a 40-minute drive from the capital city is a town call Bled, mostly known for its lake with a small island with a church and the majestic Castle on the cliff next to the lake. What to do there? Visit the castle, go for a 1.5h walk around the lake, take a boat (called Pletna) ride to the island and ring the Church bell or you can visit a hidden jewel called Vintgar Gorge near the lake.
4. Soca Valley
Surrounded by the Julian Alps, with the crystal clear river Soca flowing through it, the Soca Valley is known for kayaking and is full of nature attractions such as the Tolmin Gorges – which is the lowest entry point of the Triglav National Park, Waterfalls, Soca river and the amazing landscape. It’s also a great place for hike lovers and history enthusiasts, where you can visit Kobarid, which has the museum of World War I or go to the Franja Partisan Hospital, the cultural monument from World War II.
5. Postojna cave, Skocjan caves and Predjama Castle
Exploring the underground of Kras in the Postojna cave and watching the outstanding doings of nature is something you should not miss. On the tour, you follow the river Pivka into 24 kilometers (15 miles) of halls with speleothems beginning with a train ride into the abyss. The tour is approximately one and a half hours long and if you’re lucky you will see same cave animals like the indigenous species Proteus (the human fish).
Predjama Castle (literal translation: Castle in front of the Cave) is the world’s largest castle over a cave. The strategic position, located on a 123 meter (404 feet) cliff is impressive, to say the least and it’s only 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) from the Postojnska cave, so be sure not to miss it if you’re near.
Skocjan Caves, added to UNESCO’s list of natural and cultural world heritage sites in 1986, are simial to Postonjska Cave. They are one of the most important caves in the world representing an underground phenomenon like no other in both the Karst and in Slovenia.
6. Goriska Brda
Slovenia’s wine country corner. Visit the small village Smartno, or go to the viewing tower Gonjace, where you can get a beautiful view of the landscape or reserve a wine tasting tour. Near Goriska Brda is the Solkan Bridge, the one that Domen Skofic climbed over and jumped off, it’s the longest stone bridge among train bridges built of stone blocks. Park here and go see it on foot from underneath, you won’t be sorry.
7. The Coastline
Slovenia also has a coastline, although only 46 kilometers (19 miles) long, it’s more than enough for some great attractions and views. Old and small coastline cities like Piran have a great atmosphere. If you’re there see the Tartini square and go to St. George’s cathedral, where you can see the influence of Italian and Croatian culture over the years. It’s full of narrow streets and small buildings with an old Mediterranean vibe. Bring a towel and take a swim! Piran Salt Pans are near, the home of the world class salt called fleur de sel (flower of salt) which is made using old methods. If this isn’t enough for you explore Koper, Izola and Portoroz. Near Koper, there is a newly opened Skocjanski zatok Nature Reserve.
Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia. It’s known for the world’s oldest Vine, 400 years old and counting. Visit the Maribor castle, walk alongside the Drava river and explore the old town.
9. Logarska Valley
The beautiful views in Slovenia just don’t end! Logarska, a glacial Valley, is where you can enjoy the landscape, get some sunshine and of course, go on a hike. It’s the home of the highest waterfall in Slovenia named Rinka at 90 meters (295 feet). Through the Valley are mineral water springs, just follow the signs, you can’t miss them. For family travelers, there is an awesome attraction called the Fairytale forest.
10. Thermal spas
The main tourist attractions in Slovenia, due to the geographical position, are thermal spas. Many of them have their own natural source of thermal and mineral spring water. To release the stress or relax after a long day, soak your tushie in one of them. There are 14 certificated health thermal spas around the country you can choose from, depending on the region and which activities are in your interest.
11. Lipica – Lipizzan horses
Lipica is the city known for breeding unique horses, the Lipizzan or Lipizzaner horses. At birth, the horses are darker and later on slowly turn to a pale grey/white color, due to depigmentation. On the ranch, you can visit the museum of Lipizzan horses, take a guided tour, watch a performance, take a carriage ride or go horseback riding.
A small remote peaceful town with a castle rising above it, a thermal spa and a museum of old farm equipment. The Minorite Monastery is a few minute drive away with the old pharmacy still open today and a homemade chocolate candy shop. Right next to the Monastery is the Jelenov Greben (the Deer Ridge) full of grazing deer and mouflons.
13. Krizna cave
Slovenia is home to a lot of karst caves, from the most touristy Postojna cave and Skocjan caves, to the more adventurous Krizna cave, which is unique due to its 22 underground lakes. You will see some amazing rock formations and bones of extinct animal species, go on a boat ride and depending on the tour you book, you can cross almost all the lakes with the boat. You can read more about Krizna jama in our article Krizna cave – One of the most extraordinary caves in Slovenia and our adventure video.
Ptuj is the oldest Slovenian city and of course has a castle rising above it. The city is mostly known for its carnival figure Kurent. Kurentovanje is a yearly, a week long, biggest organized carnival in Slovenia and central Europe, a 50-year-old folk tradition where Kurents scare the winter away and welcome the spring.
15. Velika planina (Big Pasture Plateau)
Want to hear cowbells way up in the mountains? This beautiful plateau is one of the largest herdsman’s settlements in Slovenia and Europe. You can choose between a short and a long hike, both will lead you to a place with approximately 140 huts where the shepherds live from July to September. The views are magnificent and so is the local food, like kislo mleko (sour milk) and ajdovi žganci (buckwheat porridge).
Picking “only” the top 15 things to see or do in Slovenia is really difficult. Depending on the time you visit, you can enjoy festivals and sporting events, so be sure to check if there is anything happening while you’re visiting.
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Out of all the things to do in Ljubljana, these are the places you must visit, our humble travel guide if you ever decide to visit Ljubljana, Slovenia.