Where to go in Slovenia
It seems that planning a trip to Slovenia is a pretty straightforward task for most visitors. People usually only visit Ljubljana and Bled, and then continue their journey elsewhere in Europe. Or, they find a nice campsite in the Soča valley and enjoy their vacation there.
Technically, this is a way to spend your vacation, but also a great way to miss out on all the Slovenia’s hidden treasures. In other words, I don’t agree with how tourism in Slovenia works – for the most part, at least.
Things to do in Slovenia – overview
A great thing about Slovenia is its diversity – it’s a small country, that has a little bit of everything. To put it into perspective: Ljubljana is about one hour drive from both the sea and the Alps. In other words, Slovenia is much more than just its few most popular sites. You can visit mountains and valleys, bathe in the sea, hike a mountain, and so much more. And as a bonus, all this is never more than a couple of hours’ drive away.
Still, most of Slovenia could be considered off the beaten path, so to help you with planning, I’ve composed this guide.
Officially, Slovenia is divided into 12 regions, but for the sake of this guide, I’ll ditch this division. Instead, I’ll feature what I think is worth visiting and go over what I think are the best places to visit in Slovenia.
Slovenia’s capital, largest city, and often the starting point for many visitors. And rightfully so, because it’s conveniently located in the middle of the country, making Ljubljana a great starting point for going virtually anywhere in Slovenia.
But even if you plan to take trips from Ljubljana, you should take some time to check it out. Though it is a European capital, it doesn’t have that big city vibe, like Rome, Paris or London. It is way smaller, but also way cozier. The city has plenty of green areas, interesting sights, and a car-free old town, where you can stroll and enjoy the friendly atmosphere. Or you can visit the Ljubljana castle, conveniently located on a small hill, giving you the best views over the city.
The Slovenian coast is very short, only 43km to be precise. But that is enough to take a swim and explore the hidden gems along it. It is not much, but it is the chunk of the Adriatic sea that is a part of Slovenia.
The capital of the Slovenian coast. Being the center of the coastal region, it has all the amenities you’d need, such as malls, shops, restaurants and the likes. It’s not only a place to restock, though, as the old city center is beautiful and full of history. Koper isn’t the only town on the coast, so it’s more than fair to mention the other smaller, but just as charming towns.
Piran is an old town with the remains of the medieval wall around it. It’s a labyrinth of narrow alleys, that run between historic buildings and lead you to the central market at the coast. The town has strong Venetian influence, giving it a distinct Mediterranean vibe and making it one of Slovenia’s most beautiful towns, and one of the nicest of the places to visit in Slovenia.
The Slovenian resort-town. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not one of those places, that evolved around apartment complexes and tourist traps, and gets deserted in the winter. It’s rather an elegant seaside town, that has always attracted tourists. It stretches along the coast, with numerous beaches with bars and restaurants nearby. And behind the restaurants, you’ll find high-end hotels, spas, casinos, etc… Portorož is perfect for higher-end travelers, as well as families, backpackers – it’s perfect for anyone, looking for a relaxing day at the sea.
A small town right at the Italian border, about halfway between Ljubljana and Venice. It’s a town with an interesting history and beautiful surroundings. It’s situated at the very end of the Soča valley, just below the Karst region and not too far from the sea, making it a perfect starting point for exploring. And it’s literally surrounded by vineyards, so if you’re a wine lover, this is the town you’re after. It’s not very touristic, it’s more of an off the beaten path destination, but still worth the visit.
Soča valley is – in my opinion, at least – among the most beautiful areas in Slovenia, and definitely one of the best places to visit. Now my opinion may be biased, but you’ll find that many agree with me.
Soča river is known for its lustrous emerald color and is surrounded by beautiful and pristine Julian alps. It is also, for these very reasons, one of the most visited places in Slovenia.
The small town of Bovec is the center of tourism in Soča valley. It lies high up in the valley and is surrounded by numerous natural landmarks, making it a perfect starting point for all sorts of trips.
Kobarid and Tolmin are, beside Bovec, the only two towns in Soča valley. Though not as popular and touristic as Bovec, they can also work as a hub for your outdoor vacation.
The Soča valley is perfect for those seeking a more active summer vacation in nature. The mountains, surrounding the valley, are perfect for hiking and mountain biking, and many other outdoor activities.
The area also has rivers and streams in abundance. Perfect to cool you down in the scorching summer heat, and a great alternative to the sea.
Triglav national park
Triglav national park (Triglavski narodni park in Slovene) is Slovenia’s only national park. It is named after Triglav, Slovenia’s highest peak, and protects a wide stretch of Julian alps around it.
The national park stretches almost entirely over mountains, making it a perfect destination for hikers and nature lovers. Triglav national park was established in 1981 in an effort to preserve its beauty.
The town got its fame thanks to well-known sights in its vicinity. The first one is the Postojna cave, a massive cave system known for its beauties. You can ride a train into the caves and admire the stunning nature’s creation.
The other sight is Predjama castle – a castle, built into a sheer rock face. Though not as famous as the cave, it is still must-see, if you’re in the area.
Both Postojna cave and Predjama castle lie pretty close to each other and can be conveniently bundled up into one day trip.
Besides the two major places of interest, Postojna is a great starting point to visit the Karst region.
Lake Bled that beautiful lake with a small island in the middle, and a charming little church on the island. It is the most well-known tourist destination in Slovenia, and for a good reason. It is, according to many, one of the best places to visit in Slovenia. Bled itself is a lovely lakeside town with loads of shops and restaurants, where you can buy souvenirs and taste local food.
Besides the lake Bled, there is a lot to see in the area as well, making it a great starting point for many different trips. The town lies at the foothills of the Julian Alps and is surrounded by numerous natural landmarks. You can hike up the mountains, stroll down a narrow gorge, or gaze upon a breathtaking waterfall.
Novo mesto is situated in the middle of Dolenjska, one of Slovenia’s least touristy regions. But this doesn’t mean you should avoid it altogether. It’s just more suited for those seeking peace and quiet – or for the adventurous, off-the-beaten-track kind of travelers.
Thermal water is one of the region’s greatest resources, and it shows. You’ll find numerous spa and wellness resorts in the area, and many fairly close to the town. Another reason why Novo mesto is a great place to unwind.
Slovenia’s second-largest city, situated on the north-eastern side of the country. It is a town with a rich history and strong culture. You’ll find interesting, and also unusual places of interest. For example, the city boasts the oldest vine in te world (called stara trta or old vine in English) and one of Europe’s oldest wine cellars. Yes, both mentioned sights are wine-related, which points to the town’s wine culture.
While Maribor is an interesting city on its own, it is not the only reason for a visit. The city is surrounded by beautiful nature. Winding rivers and vineyard-covered rolling hills truly make for a scenic trip. And while you’re journeying past the grapevines, don’t forget to try some wine. The locals are very proud of it, and they have all the right to be.
Murska Sobota is a small town, situated in the north-eastern corner of the country. It’s the capital of the Prekmurje region, a small patch of Slovenia, right next to the border with Hungary. This small, laid-back town does have some places of interest, but the real beauty lies outside the town.
This corner of Slovenia isn’t very popular among the tourists, but those, who do visit the area, went there for a reason. Prekmurje is a rural area, filled with small rolling hills, winding rivers and tiny, quaint villages. It is a perfect place for a relaxing holiday – to simply unwind and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. And as a bonus, there are plenty of vineyards and thermal resorts around.
This guide should give you general information about what to see and where to go in Slovenia. If you’re interested in reading more, check out these in-depth destination guides.
I’d also like to add that I know I left out many places of interest in Slovenia. If you’d like to know about a certain place and can’t find it here, let me know in the comments – I just might add it to this list, or even write a whole post about it.
- 20 best things to do in Ljubljana – guide for 2020
- Piran, Slovenia’s part of Venetian heritage
- Slovenia travel guide 2020: general tips about Slovenia
- Soča River Valley – The Ultimate Guide (2020)
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