Slovenia is a small state – 20,000 square kilometres – which means there will be no long drives on your trip there. You can stay somewhere in the centre of the country and from there get anywhere in one hour at the most. Slovenia has a population of only two million.
Despite its small size, this country is full of variety: caves, beaches, lakes, natural springs, snowy mountains, ancient towns, picturesque villages, castles, casinos – you can find anything here. Thanks to the country’s forests, which cover about half of it, Slovenia is one of the greenest countries in the world.
The roads in Slovenia are good and driving is easy and comfortable.
Another important fact is that Slovenia, unlike its neighbours: Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia, has always been a safe place to live in and visit. Besides ten days of war in the summer of 1991, Slovenia has never experienced terror or wars.
Destinations in southwest Slovenia
In southwest Slovenia is the Karst region, famous for its limestone caves which are some of the biggest and most unique in all of Europe.
A couple of caves which deserve special mention are the Skocjanske Caves (declared a natural world heritage site by UNESCO) and Postojna Cave. A visit to these two includes a ride in an underground train.
This region is also famous for the dancing horse stables in the town of Lipica.
I also recommend visiting Predjama Castle, built into the side of a mountain. Don’t miss a visit to the tunnels carved underneath it.
At the end of the region is the shore of the Adriatic Sea at its finest: beautiful beaches with clear water and preserved old towns. The most beautiful of all is Piran, nicknamed ‘The Dubrovnik of North Adriatic’. It is an old, well-preserved city surrounded by water and full of narrow, winding streets.
Nearby is a holiday town by the name of Portoroz, which has great beaches and plenty of water sporting activities.
The most popular tourist destination of Slovenia is, without a doubt, the picturesque Lake Bled. This is a small glacial lake in the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia. In its centre is a small island with a church and belltower. Overlooking the lake is an impressive castle. The area is full of hotels and restaurants. Don’t miss out on Bled’s famous kremschnitt!
Lake Bled has many beaches, some of them with attractions for children: water slides, swings, rhapsodies, etc.
Near Bled, in northwestern Slovenia, are many hiking trails and other tourist attractions. These include Triglav National Park, Lake Bohinj, a wide selection of nature trails of every difficulty level (I recommend a hike to Savica waterfall), and excellent opportunities for ski in winter.
I also recommend driving through Vrsic mountain pass, one of the most scenic routes in Slovenia. Stop by for a view of Ajdovska Deklica (‘Pagan Girl’), a face carved into the rock on the side of the mountain by Mother Nature.
A lovely experience is riding the car train which travels from Bohinjska Bistrica to Most Na Soci and back several times a day. The train connects two major tourist areas: the Bohin-Bled area and Soca Valley. This unique and scenic ride takes 50 minutes. The train passes through several tunnels, the longest of them 10km long. Therefore, despite its slow speed, the trip is significantly shorter compared to a drive in a car.
Those who love action will be pleased to know that there are plenty of activities around Bled and Triglav that will get their adrenaline going:
You can go rafting in one of the rivers in the area, climb ropes or cliff sides, go kayaking, or paraglide.
In Bled you can go summer tobogganing near the lake.
Children love the minigolf course at the centre of town.
In Bled is a nice market with food stalls and stalls of hand-crafted souvenirs, which is worth a visit.
South of Bled you can visit the blacksmith village of Kropa, where there is a fascinating little iron forging museum.
You should dedicate a full day to visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, located in the middle of the country:
A tour of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Triple Bridge, Dragon Bridge, and the city market. Don’t miss overlooking the city from the castle of Ljubljana Grad, which sits atop the only hill in the city. Taking a tour of the castle is lovely as well. It’s best to go up to the castle by funicular and go back down by foot. In the summer there is a festival in the castle which includes various shows.
You can find more information about Ljubljana and its attractions here.
Avid shoppers can visit BTC, the city’s big shopping, entertainment and business centre, which is one of the biggest in all of Europe. It has large department stores, a market, carting, bowling, cinemas, and even an indoor water park called Atlantis.
In east Slovenia there is a large concentration of natural hot springs known for their healing properties. Many spas have been built around them. The biggest and most impressive of these spas is Terme Catez (highly recommended for families) which includes hotels, vacation homes, sporting activities and, most importantly, two great water parks whose waters come from the hot springs.
In east Croatia, near the Slovenian city of Maribor, you will find an ‘adrenaline park’ called Pohorje which has an alpine slide, a rope park, a mountain bike road, golf, and more.
Nearby is Slovenia’s oldest city, Ptuj, where you can walk around piazzas, pedestrian malls, and buildings which have been preserved since the Middle Ages.
In East Slovenia there is also a coal mine called Premogovnik Velenje which you can visit. This is in fact a museum built inside an active mine which details and demonstrates the difficult and dangerous mining work. There are guided tours of the place available in which you will be dressed up in mining gear, including a helmet and a coat.