Are you looking for what to do in Slovenia? Then you came to the right place. We have recently came back from a trip through the whole country and can’t wait to share all the tips and information with you!
Our visit to Slovenia
In October 2017, we did a month bike trip from Italy to Slovenia. Up to then, we didn’t really know much about this tiny European country. In fact, we could barely pronounce the name of its capital, Ljubljana – which, by the way, sounds like Liu-blee-ana as the “j” sounds like “ee”. Thus, we didn’t have much expectation about this trip.
We spent 20 days travelling from the west to the east, the center to the north of Slovenia, following an itinerary which was given to us by the I Feel Slovenia. We came back home completely in love with it. Its preserved and intact nature; its charming and lively capital city; the hospitality from the people; their culture; absolutely everything fascinated us.
Slovenia has became our current favourite spot in the world, a position previously taken by Iran, Georgia, Thailand and most recently, Italy. In case you are planning a trip over there – and we couldn’t be more excited for you! -, you are in the right place to get all the information, tips, our impressions and a full guide of what to do in Slovenia.
But first things first…
How to get around in Slovenia
Renting a car in Slovenia: If you want to explore the country thoroughly, the best option is to rent a car. The main places to visit are in the middle of the forest and a car will give you more flexibility to explore the different regions.
Day trips from a single departure point: As the country isn’t that big, it allows you to organise day trips leaving always from the same spot, such as the capital Ljubljana, for instance. From there, you can easily arrange your visit to the tourist attractions, which shouldn’t be more than two hours by bus.
Cycling in Slovenia: That was the mean of transport we chose to explore the country and we couldn’t recommend it any better! Slovenia is rather prepared for cycle tourism, being full of cycleways, signs and drivers who respect cyclists. If you want to know more about this, we wrote a post exclusively about cycling in Slovenia.
Public transport in Slovenia: Slovenia has a fairly good railway and bus system and if you plan to visit just the main attractions, you probably won’t have any difficulties using the public transport. However, remember that some places are quite remote and will be hardly connected by train.
GOLDEN TIP – for adventurers: Perhaps a mix of bike and train might be a great option for you. You can get around from cities to cities by train, and explore the remote spots by bike 😉
The Slovenian nature: the most sustainable country in Europe
Slovenia was elected as the most sustainable country in Europe. Its nature is well preserved and, for this reason, the best part of a trip around there is to enjoy the wild landscapes to do lots of trekking, walking, rafting, and adventure sports.
What to do in Slovenia
Spend a couple of days in Ljubljana
The capital of Slovenia is so incredibly awesome that we made a whole post specific about it. Although Ljubljana is rather small – about 200 thousand inhabitants -, it’s still very lively and there are many charming bars and restaurants to enjoy by the Ljubljanca River.
Another cool thing about the Slovenian capital is that cars are not allowed in the city centre, which makes the experience of walking around the old town even more interesting.
We visited Ljubljana during Autumn and could not help thinking of how nice it would be during the summer, considering the most bars have a beer garden and very chilled-out external areas. We have also heard of many activities and street markets taking place near Christmas time, which apparently is one of the best seasons to visit the city.
Things to do in Ljubljana
Besides the historical city center and the famous castle, a spot you cannot miss in Ljubljana, is the alternative neighbourhood of Metelkova, a former military complex which was occupied by artists after the 1997 country’s independence. We actually stayed over there, at the Celica Hostel, a former prison turned into an interesting hostel. Unfortunately, the Celica was shut down by the government, who sold the building without previous notice.
For detailed info on what to do in Ljubljana, read this post.
Explore Lake Bled’s region
You might not have heard of Slovenia, but you surely have seen a picture of the Lake Bled before. This is the most visited place in the country – after the capital city – and for a reason. The lake and its scenic islet surrounded by the Alps and with a medieval castle on top of a cliff, make up an indeed breath-taking picture.
Nonetheless, this region has a lot more to offer, such as a beautiful gorge and different trekking trails. To see a completely guide of things to do in Lake Bled, check this detailed post.
Visit Bohinj lake
At no more than 30km away from Bled, Bohinj is another extremely beautiful lake, albeit less visited by tourists. We had one of the most remarkable views of our lives in Lake Bohinj, when the water of the lake, perfectly standing still, turned themselves into a gigantic mirror, doubling the whole landscape around us.
Bohinj is a popular destination amongst Slovenians, who go there to practice water and adventure sports. Furthermore, there is where you will find the most famous waterfall of the country, the Savica Waterfall.
We also heard of a cable car that crosses the lake, but as the attraction was closed when we went there, we can’t really recommend it. On their website you find information about the price and timetable. Don’t forget to let us know your impression if you do go 😉
Where to stay in Bohinj
When we were in the Lake Bohinj, we stayed at the Pod Voglom Hostel and absolutely recommend the place. You will not just sleep by the lake, but you will also have a variety of activities to choose from them, such as renting a kayak, a bike or a cannoe, do paragliding and much more.
The Pod Voglom Hostel has dorms from €16 pp and individual bedrooms with private toilets from €23 pp. The whole team is very friendly and the restaurant offers delicious home-made food.
Visit the cities of Kobarid, Tolmin and the River Socca Valley
The region of Tolmin and Kobarid is where the River Socca Valley begin and definitely one of the most impressive places we have ever seen. The nature of this place is intact and the colour of the River Socca is unbelievably gorgeous.
What to do in Tolmin and Kobarid
Wander about and explore the trekking paths – and obviously swim in the river or do some water sports, if it’s not too cold 🙂
Visit the Kozjak Waterfall and the Tolmin Gorge
Over winter, the region has a good connection with Kanin-Sella Nevea, the largest mountain for skiing in Slovenia.
*In Kobarid, we stayed at one of the best hotels of this entire trip, the Kamp Koren. See this post for further details.
The truth is that we don’t really see much sense in travelling all the way to the other side of the country just to see Maribor. The city is nice, but there isn’t so much to see or do. Maribor is a smaller version of Ljubljana, but less interesting and attractive.
We must admit though that even if the city itself didn’t impressed us, we had a great time over there. We met with two locals, Alen and Sandra, who showed us around and told us a bit of the history of Maribor through a locals’s perspective.
One of the highlights of our stay in Maribor was meeting with the captain of the football team, Marcos Tavares. The Maribor FC is the best football club of the country and Marcos Tavares, a Brazilian living in there for many years, is adored by the locals.
What to do in Maribor
See the oldest active grapevine in the world at the Old Vine House. It is giving grapes for over 400 years!!
Watch the sunset enjoying a local wine or beer at the roof terrace of Flush Bar.
TOP TIP: Rent a bike and cycle to the neighbour city of Ptuj – 30km away. Ptuj is the oldest town in Slovenia, and probably the most charming too. The way from Maribor to Ptuj by bike edges the river and it’s astonishing. If going there, make sure not to miss Ptuj’s castle.
Brda, the Tuscany of Slovenia
Known as the Tuscany of Slovenia, Brda is the region where most of the local wines are produced in the country.
We almost didn’t go there, as it wasn’t on the itinerary given by the Board of Tourism and we have never heard about this place. Thankfully, we changed plans a day before returning to Italy and headed to Brda. The region is stunning, full of rolling hills, small villages and vineyards. The landscape does remind a lot of Tuscany, just a bit smaller though.
The best thing of Brda is doing wine tasting, which is slightly different than the normal. The wine tasting happens at the house of the producer, in a very informal gathering where he tells you the stories and details of the production process. It’s a quite intimate visit which, besides the fun, allows you to experience the best of the Slovenian hospitality. We did the wine tasting with Thomas from Princic and it was amazing.
We tell more details about the wine tasting and other things to do in Brda in here.
In Brda, we stayed at the Vila Kozana hotel, one of the best of the region. The rooms are big and comfortable and offer incredible views to the hills. As the hotel has many glasses, you can have a great view of almost the whole region of Brda.
Travel around the Slovenian Riviera: Izola, Piran and Koper
Slovenia has a small coast of about 40km on the Adriatic Sea. Although small, it is beautiful and worth your visit.
We were there for just one afternoon as we were behind our schedule and had to carry on with the bike trip. Nevertheless, the impression we had was more than positive. The city of Koper, for instance, has its city-centre quite preserved and partially walled, with medieval constructions rather interesting. On the other hand, the newest part of the town is modern, with cycleways everywhere and large and well-lit promenades for a nice sea stroll.
Unfortunately, we had to skip Izola and Piran, the other two cities of this region which we heard really well about it. Well, there it is another good excuse to go back.
In Koper, we stayed a night at the Hostel Bife Museum, a great place which feels like home and we definitely recommend. Our staying over there was quite particular as the owner didn’t charge us for the night without asking anything in return, just because we were desperate as it was pouring down outside. We go into details over here.
Visit the Postojna and Skocjan Caves
Slovenia is the European country with the most amount of caves, did you know that? Amongst the many options to visit, there are two which you should definitely not miss on your visit to the country: the Postojna and the Skocjan Caves.
Those two Slovenian caves are huge and out-of-this-world of beautiful. We have visited some caves before, such as the Ali-Sadr in Iran and the Cango Cave in South Africa, but nothing compares with what we felt at these caves in Slovenia.
The Postojna Cave, for instance, is so big that part of the visit is by train! On the other hand, the Skocjan Cave is incredible because there is a gorgeous river going through it, making a canyon where you cross many times over bridges built on top of it.
Visit the Predjama Castel, the rock castle of Slovenia
Nine kilometers away from the Postojna Cave, is one of the most interesting castles we have ever seen. The Predjama Castle was built on the XIII century WITHIN a mountain.
Although it wasn’t meant for comfort, clearly notable once you are there, it was one of the most strategic and safe places during Medieval Europe.
The entrance to the castle is €13,80, including an audio guide. We absolutely recommend the tour, as it is interactive and very well-explained (further info here).
We hope our guide with “What to do in Slovenia” helps you plan your itinerary through this awesome and charming country. If you have any questions, do contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!