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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

4 awesome places to visit in Slovenia

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

From skiing and mountaineering in the Julian Alps to white-water rafting and canyoning in over 20,000km of rivers, Slovenia is fast becoming the adventure centre of Europe. The country's jaw-dropping scenery is the perfect backdrop for an active or romantic holiday. The offering here is as diverse as its terrain. How about strolling by the sea in the Slovene Riviera? Hunting for dragons in the capital city? Enjoying wine from the world's oldest vine? Or taking your family on an exciting lakeside retreat? Slovenia has it all! Here is my pick of some amazing places in Slovenia to give you a taste of this beautiful country.

1# Piran and the Slovene Riviera

Dreaming of hanging out in a postcard-worthy coastal town, swimming in clear waters and tasting local wines amid olive groves? This region is for you.

The Slovene Riviera is 46.6km long and is part of the region of Istria, the heart-shaped piece of land protruding out into the Adriatic Sea. Accounting only for about 1% of the country's landscape, perhaps this region does not get as much attention as it deserves and remains off the beaten path.

A mild Mediterranean climate graces these lands with warmth and sunshine. Green rolling hills peppered with olive groves and vineyards surround the charming coastal towns. The clear blue sea scents the air with salt and provides fresh seafood to the local fishermen. On clear days, the snow-capped peaks of the Alps reveal themselves and one can see as far as the coast of Italy.

The view over the coastal town of Piran

During our stay here, we stayed in the town of Piran. Known for its salt pans, Venetian-era architecture and medieval walls, it is the most iconic town in the region. The centre can almost exclusively be accessed by foot, and its lovely narrow streets all lead to Tartini Square: a gorgeous semi-circle of Venetian-era buildings opening onto the port and the sea beyond. The restaurants serve local specialties: fresh seafood, earthy truffles and aromatic wines are all on the menu. On market days, stalls offering local produce are erected in the square.

To me, this is the essence of Istria. Laid-back living: going to the markets, tasting local cuisine and strolling by the seaside promenade. But of course, there are a few other activities on offer in the region. Here are some suggestions of amazing things to do:

  • Visit the Sečovlje Salt Pans and learn about the tradition of salt making;

  • Venture out to the hinterlands and go truffle hunting

  • Enjoy a gourmet olive tour or a wine tasting in the nearby hills

  • Sail along the coast

  • Cycle the many paths around the region and discover nearby towns

2# Postojna caves

Postojna caves
Postojna caves

Did you know that there are more than 10,000 caves in Slovenia including Europe's biggest cave system? Slovenia is full of surprises! We discovered this on our day trip to the latter, the famous Postojna caves.

With 24km of underground passageways, exploring the Postojna is done on a guided circuit, and the standard visit takes about 1h30mn. Tours depart multiple times a day and tickets are available for purchase online. With about 1 million visitors per year, the caves are a popular attraction, so I strongly recommend booking your experience in advance. There are different ticket types available too, so make sure to read up and choose your adventure!

You start the experience by hopping aboard a yellow train for about 10mn (about 3km). This was a cool and unique way to enter and start exploring the cave (the only underground train in the world). We sped through many tunnels and halls which lit up as we approached, illuminating interesting & bizarre rock formations. My favourite part was riding through a hall filled with a dozen chandeliers!

At the end of the train ride, the guided walk starts. We walked up and down what is called the cave mountain, which feels like it is a steep climb, before walking through the old part of the cave, and the "beautiful caves." The guide stops along the way points out intriguing shapes in the rock, and tells fascinating stories and facts. I did not know a visit to the underworld could be this engaging!

The caves are home to a creature of legend. In medieval times, locals thought dragons lived here! Oddly though, they weren't completely wrong, as baby dragons (or olms) call these caves their home. Of course, they have no similarity with the fantastical beast of our wild imagination. These cave-dwelling creatures can grow up to 30cm in length, have no eyes and swim in underground rivers.

The park also features the Predjama castle, a medieval construction built into the rock, that can be visited. In summer, the castle hosts medieval fairs and knights tournaments where visitors can live a day in life and admire the skills of archers and swordsmen of old.

3# Ljubljana

At first, we had not planned on visiting Slovenia's green capital, preferencing its wild, adventure-filled regions instead. But at the last minute, we decided to break up our road trip and stopped in Ljubljana for a day. In hindsight, I am so glad we did, as I think this city has joined my list of European "Loved Ones," and is worthwhile!

Although this is the government and business centre of the country, this charming city feels very close to nature and life seems easygoing. With an impressive amount of green spaces, Ljubljana incites visitors to stay connected to nature and be active. Parks, forests and hills offer plenty of hiking and cycling trails, and the lovely river that snakes through the centre is perfect for a refreshing boat ride, kayak or even stand-up paddle boarding! For a break, sit down at one of the many cosy cafes which border the river.

The historic centre is car-free. This means visitors can wander around, nose in the air, and not worry about incoming traffic! This is especially useful when playing a game of dragon hunting. The city's famous dragon bridge is one location where one can find some, but there are many more hidden around the city! Why not grab a delicious ice cream and look for them?

The hilltop castle is also of note. Rising above the city, it offers panoramic views but is also a site used for cool art exhibitions and cultural events. One can also ride the funicular to reach the top, and take part in a unique Escape Room Game inside the castle. The losing team can shout a drink to the winning team at the wine bar! Night owls might even enjoy partying on top of the hill at the Jazz Club.

4# Lake Bled and Triglav National Park

The view looking down on Lake Bled
Lake Bled

Instagram 100% put Lake Bled on the map for me. Seeing the breathtaking photos of this area sparked my interest, and further research inspired me to experience the many amazing outdoor activities available here.

Alpine Slovenia is probably the most widely known region in the country and the one that attracts the most visitors. The gorgeous land is home to the Julian Alps and Pohorje Hills, which offer amazing hiking and rock-climbing terrain in the summer, and turn into small family-friendly ski resorts in the winter.

The network of rivers, rapids and gorges is a paradise for active visitors. Activities are endless with options such as canyoning, tubing or caving. Fancy taking up the skies? No problem. Ballooning, paragliding or ziplining are also on offer! For those who are looking for something a little less intense, there is a golf course and spas, or why not rent a boat for the day and go fishing? There is something for everyone.

Lake Bled is where we decided to stay. We spent 3 nights here but could have easily spent a week if we had wanted to try some of the activities mentioned above.

We spent our first day walking the loop around the lake. It is only a 5.9km loop, however, we stopped many times along the way which made for an easy relaxing day. The path is indicated and easy to walk with no elevation if you keep to it. For our part, we added a few extras to our loop!

We hiked up to a beautiful viewpoint in Mala Osojnica, which rises 685m above the lake. The climb is very steep but well worth it. We went there early in the morning to avoid crowded trails and had an amazing time.

I highly recommend hiring a boat and rowing out to the island. It is very romantic and it was the highlight of our time in Bled. The water was flat and we were easily advancing along to the rhythmic sound of the oar. The island itself is very small but worth having a look at. Access to the bell tower is ticketed, and visitors who enter it can ring the bell (which is a very popular thing to do as we keep hearing the bell throughout the day!). There is also a little cafe serving ice cream and local cakes.

Rowing on Lake Bled
Rowing on Lake Bled

The loop is not complete without a look at Bled Castle. In our personal opinions, we wished we had not paid the entrance to go inside, and instead just stuck to admiring it. Apart from the lovely printing press shop and views, we thought the museum exhibits to be a little dry and not very engaging.

Our last day here was spent exploring the Triglav National Park. We walked to the Vintgar Gorge from the town, which is a very easy walk, and very scenic through the farmlands. The entrance to the 1.6km gorge is paid, but worth it. The boardwalk is very well-maintained and it creates a very nice stroll along the many pools and rapids, with many pretty spots to snap some pictures.

Our adventure in Slovenia was right up our alley, filled with picturesque scenery, delicious foods, and time in nature. A perfect blend of activities for us.

We found Slovenia very easy to get around. We were on a road trip, which allowed us the freedom to go anywhere we liked. The roads and infrastructure are to Western European standards, and we loved the e-vignette system, which is a one-time fee payable to use the country's motorways and expressways (which meant no toll stops!).

Slovenes are very nice people. Our interactions with the locals were always pleasant. Service was excellent in the many cafes, restaurants, shops and businesses we interacted with. Honestly, it was a very easy and awesome holiday!

Perfect for an adventurous holiday, a romantic getaway or a fun-filled family holiday, why not consider some of these awesome places in Slovenia for your next trip?

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