If you’re looking for a stunning destination to visit in Europe, Slovenia fits the bill perfectly. I run out of superlatives when I try to describe Slovenia’s beauty and charm! Read on to discover 25 exciting things to do in Slovenia.
Located in southeastern Europe (or Central Europe, depending on who you ask), Slovenia used to be part of the erstwhile Yugoslavia. In 1991, Slovenia declared its independence, and in 2004, it became part of the European Union.
Sandwiched between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps, Slovenia is home to some of the most spectacular natural beauty on the planet. And its cities and towns are charming. So you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to planning what to do in Slovenia!
On your very first day in Slovenia, you’ll already find yourself planning your next visit to the country. It’s that captivating!
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SLOVENIA
In a compact package, Slovenia offers something to entice every type of traveler. From nature lovers to lovers of architecture, from foodies to photographers, and from outdoor enthusiasts to culture vultures, visitors of all kinds will find lots of things to enjoy in this delightful country.
To give you a head start on planning your Slovenia trip, here’s my list of 25 fabulous things to do in Slovenia!
#1 Explore Ljubljana, Slovenia’s pretty capital city
Most visitors begin their Slovenia trip in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. And Ljubljana is an amazing introduction to an amazing country. With beautiful architecture, a hilltop castle, a river that flows right through the heart of the city, and a lively vibe, Ljubljana will captivate you!
Ljubljana is not only visit-worthy in its own right, it also makes for the perfect base from which to do day trips to explore the rest of Slovenia if you so choose. You can reach most places in the country in an hour or so, because Slovenia is small and Ljubljana is located almost in the center of the country.
In Ljubljana, walk around to admire the architectural marvels created by Jože Plečnik, the famous Slovenian architect who also worked on projects in Vienna and Prague. Walk along the Triple Bridge, admire the National and University Library Building, and walk through the Central Market, all created by Plečnik.
Take umpteen photos of the pretty pink Franciscan Church by the river and the green dragons at the Dragon Bridge. Visit the Church of St. Nicholas (the Ljubljana Cathedral), and view the Town Hall. Wander the pretty streets lined with cafes and restaurants, and enjoy the live music and street performances along the riverfront.
And don’t miss a visit to the Ljubljana Castle, from where you can get panoramic views of the city. If you’re feeling energetic, walk to the top and back. Otherwise, take the funicular. We did a walking tour of the city center combined with a visit to the castle and loved it.
Whatever you choose to do in Ljubljana, you’ll have a wonderful time!
#2 Marvel at the beauty of Lake Bled
Arguably the most well known Slovenian destination, Lake Bled is impossibly romantic and insanely beautiful. Discovering the charms of this glacial lake is definitely one of the top things to do in Slovenia!
Situated in the midst of tall mountains, turquoise Lake Bled offers lots of things to do if you are looking for an active holiday. But it’s also a lovely place to just relax. Lake Bled also makes a good base from which to explore the region.
Take a traditional Pletna boat out to Bled Island, where you can ring the wishing bell at the Church of the Assumption. According to the legend, if you ring the bell three times and make a wish, your wish will come true! You can also rent a boat and row to the island. The island is tiny, so it’s a quick explore.
Climb the 200+ steps to the mountaintop Bled Castle, or drive up to the entrance. From the castle, you get spectacular views of the water and the countryside.
Bled is truly a picture postcard destination! For more fun ideas for your Bled itinerary, check out my article on the best things to do in Lake Bled.
#3 Walk the trail at Vintgar Gorge
Slovenia is one of the most picturesque countries we have visited, with natural wonders everywhere you look. And one of the most picturesque places in Slovenia we’ve visited is Vintgar Gorge, just outside Bled.
Formed by the Radovna River, Vintgar Gorge stretches for just about one mile from end to end. The river’s passage through the gorge is exciting, punctuated by rapids, dips and bends, and waterfalls.
In parts, the water tumbles over rocky terrain in a frenzy of white froth, accompanied by a thundering roar. In other parts, it flows along more sedately, and you’ll see the rich color of the water, emerald or turquoise, depending on the light. The water is crystal clear, and you can see the rocks and silt at the bottom.
Framing the water are the dark mysterious hills on either side, the bright green trees and plants, textured rocks and boulders, and, in season, tons of colorful wildflowers.
Vintgar Gorge is a magical place, and what’s really fabulous is that there is a trail from one end of the gorge to the other, so you can walk beside the river (or across it) for the entire length of the gorge. Isn’t that cool?
Read more about our visit to Vintgar Gorge, and my tips to get the most out of your visit to this popular spot!
#4 Enjoy the serenity of Lake Bohinj
One of the most wonderful places to visit in Slovenia, in our opinion, is a visit to Lake Bohinj. Lake Bled gets all the hype, but Lake Bohinj is just as beautiful. It’s less touristy and more tranquil, perfect for a day trip, or even a longer visit of 3 or 4 days if you love outdoor activities.
Located within Triglav National Park, Lake Bohinj is large: a little over 2.5 miles long and about 0.6 miles at its maximum width. There are lots of things to do at Lake Bohinj, so start early if you are visiting for the day. We visited on a day trip from Bled, but it’s equally accessible from Ljubljana or other towns in the area.
At Ribčev Laz, on the eastern end of the lake, visit the Church of St. John the Baptist. Take photos of the pretty stone bridge with the church behind. Walk down the steps to the water. Take a canoe out on the lake, or swim if the water is warm enough.
You can walk along the shore of the lake. The entire loop takes several hours with photo stops, but even on a day trip, you can do a short walk to appreciate the quiet beauty of the lake. In season, you’ll see lots of wildflowers along the pathway.
There are small beaches along the shore of the lake, and at Ukanc, on the western end, you can swim, dive, or take a boat or canoe out on to the lake.
If you love nature, put Lake Bohinj on your itinerary for Slovenia!
#5 Tour the fabulous Škocjan Caves
The Škocjan Caves are one of Slovenia’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, and awesome to tour. The limestone caves, formed by the Reka River, are located in the Karst region.
There are two main caverns underground that you visit. The first cave is the Silent Cave, where you see stalactites and stalagmites, and other unique limestone formations.
The Murmuring Cave (which should be called the Roaring Cave, in my opinion!) is where you see the Reka River thundering through the underground canyon. The cavern is enormous, and the water is very, very loud. It’s exciting to stand on a bridge way above the river and watch the water rush along.
You can visit Škocjan Caves as a day trip from Ljubljana or Piran. The caves can be visited only via guided tours.
Photos are not allowed inside the caverns, so I only have photos of the river just outside the caves to share. But go! Touring the Škocjan Caves is an extraordinary experience, one you’ll not want to miss when you visit Slovenia.
#6 Be charmed by the coastal paradise of Piran
Piran is the perfect place to get a taste of Slovenia’s coastline. It’s a tiny coastline, but very beautiful, just like the rest of Slovenia! You can visit Piran on a day trip from Ljubljana, but spending a night here will allow you to experience its charm in the late evening and the early morning.
Tartini Square, Piran’s main plaza, is both large and imposing, with lots of great architecture. Right next door is Piran’s small port, still reminiscent of its days as a fishing village.
The Church of St. George looms over the town, and walking up the steep path to visit the church is one of the best things to do in Piran. From the pathway by the church, you can get great views of the orange rooftops of Piran. For even better views, climb to the top of the bell tower!
If you have more energy to expend, continue climbing up the hill to the town walls of Piran. From the top of the walls, you can see Piran’s almost perfect triangular shape, as well as the coast of Croatia on one side and Italy on the other.
Pretty Piran is a must on your itinerary for Slovenia!
#7 Discover the stunning Soča Valley
When you first see the color of the Soča River, you will rub your eyes in disbelief. The milky blue-green swath snaking through the valley looks completely unreal. A day out in the Soča Valley is a magical experience, one you must put on your list of things to do in Slovenia.
The Soča River originates in the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia and crosses over from Slovenia into Italy before emptying out into the Adriatic Sea near Monfalcone in Italy. For its entire length of 86 miles, the amazing Soča maintains its amazing blue-green color.
Drive through the valley, just soaking in the beauty around you. Along the way, you can park in designated parking lots or spaces off the narrow road and get out to explore. There are several suspension bridges built over the river, and you can walk to the middle of the bridge to look down at the water. You can also take a kayak out on the water, or go river rafting.
To photograph the Emerald Beauty, as the river is called, at its best, visit the Napoleon Bridge or the swinging bridge in Kobarid. Here you can also see people kayaking or river rafting. The Soča River is one of the most beautiful sights we saw in Slovenia!
#8 Visit Predjama Castle
The stronghold of a Slovenian robber baron, Predjama Castle looks like something out of a fairy tale. Built into the cliff face in the village of Predjama, the castle is reported to have been built in the Gothic style in the late 13th century.
In the 15th century, Erasmus of Lueg hid out here after killing the commander of the Imperial Army and incurring the wrath of the then Holy Roman Emperor. From his fortress, he raided surrounding Habsburg properties, and the legend of the robber baron of Predjama was born.
Erasmus was eventually killed, after a long siege of the castle. The castle was destroyed, and another one built in its place. The current Renaissance castle was built in the late 16th century. Complete with a moat and drawbridge, a cave, and a secret passage, the castle makes for a fascinating visit.
A visit to the castle is easily combined with a visit to nearby Postonja Caves or Škocjan Caves, on a day trip from Ljubljana or Piran.
#9 Explore the famous Postojna Cave
Slovenia has not one but two world-famous cave systems to explore. If you have the time, you can tour both Škocjan and Postojna, because the two experiences are quite different!
Postojna is promoted as an unabashed tourist attraction, with an underground cave railway and Murano glass chandeliers that hang from the ceiling of the Dance Hall. Nevertheless, the Postojna Cave contains wonderful stalactites and stalagmites, including a 16-foot tall stalagmite named Brilliant, after its brilliant white color. It’s also known for its baby dragons: blind aquatic cave salamanders.
Postojna might be the one to pick if you feel you cannot handle the more arduous walk or the steps at Škocjan, because the tour consists of the train ride and an easy walk.
Postojna is an easy day trip from Ljubljana or Piran, and you can combine it with a visit to the nearby Predjama Castle. If you do not have a car, opt for a guided tour that combines the two places.
#10 Enjoy the wild beauty of Triglav National Park
Named after majestic Mt. Triglav, Triglav National Park is one of Europe’s oldest national parks, and Slovenia’s only national park. It covers most of the eastern Julian Alps, and you will visit when you explore Lake Bohinj, or drive over the Vršič Pass. But Triglav National Park, as a whole, definitely deserves a spot in any list of the best things to do in Slovenia.
Triglav National Park contains some spectacular natural scenery, with mountains, lakes, gorges, waterfalls, and rivers all making up a gorgeous landscape. Even if you do nothing other than drive around, taking in all the beauty around you, you will have a marvelous time. Don’t have a car? Take a guided tour to enjoy the beauty of the park!
But if you are into adventures, Triglav National Park is a mecca for outdoor activities in Slovenia. Hiking, biking, canyoning, paragliding, river rafting, kayaking, winter sports…you can do all of these activities and more in Triglav. And if you don’t want to venture off on your own, there are lots of guided activities and tours available.
#11 Do a part-day trip to Škofja Loka
The charming little town of Škofja Loka is an easy part-day trip from either Ljubljana or Bled. Or you can combine a visit to Škofja Loka with another pretty nearby place, such as the little village of Radovljica, for a full day trip.
An exquisitely preserved medieval town, Škofja Loka will captivate you. At the very entrance is the fairy tale Capuchin Bridge, which makes for the perfect picture postcard. The streets and alleys and churches and squares of the town are a joy to explore and photograph.
You must definitely visit the castle! The walk up the hill is a little steep, but you can take your time and stop to take a breather and look back at the views over the town and across the hills. Of course, from the top, the views are just gorgeous. There is a museum inside the castle you can visit. You can drive up to the castle if you do not wish to walk.
Plan on spending about four hours exploring the town, plus time for lunch if you decide to eat here.
#12 Stroll the charming village of Radovljica
In combination with Škofja Loka, the little village of Radovljica, just a few miles outside Bled, makes for a lovely day trip from either Bled or Ljubljana, or you can stop here on the way from one to the other. All you need in Radovljica is about one hour, if you just want to walk around!
Radovljica has a nicely preserved center, with historic buildings, beautiful cobblestone designs, and a quaint air. We found a couch set in the middle of the main square! At the end of the street, you come to the beautiful Gothic parish church. The village dates back at least to the 13th century!
You can see parts of the old town walls on the outskirts, and take in magnificent views over the surrounding countryside and the Alps. There are a couple of unique museums if you wish to pop in: a beekeeping museum and a gingerbread museum!
#13 Ride the cable car to the top of Mt. Vogel
When you visit Lake Bohinj, take the tourist boat or bus (or drive, if you have a car) to Ukanc, on the western end of the lake. Here you can take the cable car to the upper reaches of Mount Vogel, over 5,000 feet above sea level.
From the top, you get fabulous aerial views of Lake Bohinj, as well as panoramic views of the mountains all around. Walk around a bit and take in the views. Pose for photos at the Heart of Vogel, or relax over a drink or a meal at the restaurant.
If you have the time, you can do hikes at the top of Mount Vogel. Even if you do not complete an entire long trail, you can walk a part of the way and back. On a nice weather day, walking at the top is wonderful.
#14 Drive over Vršič Pass
At almost 5,300 feet, Vršič Pass is the highest pass over the eastern Julian Alps in Slovenia. It is an area of breathtaking beauty, and a drive through the region and over the pass will be one of the highlights of your trip to this beautiful country.
You’ll begin the drive at Kranjska Gora, and complete it at Log, in the Trenta Valley on the other side of the mountains. The drive is stunningly beautiful, although the road is narrow and winding. Exercise caution if you are driving yourself, and watch out for speeding motorbikes. In good weather, you’ll also see cyclists trying to make it up to the pass…that must take some grit and gumption.
There are lots and lots of switchbacks on the road…50, to be precise. So no matter which side of the vehicle you are, you’ll still get to see both sides! The views at the top are gorgeous.
If you enjoy hiking, the pass is the starting point of the hike to the peak of Slemenova Špica. The out and back takes about 3-3.5 hours and is rated easy to low moderate.
#15 Walk the tiny historic center of Koper
Koper is one of three towns of note on the Slovenian coast. It is actually one of the oldest towns in Slovenia, dating back to Roman times. Like other towns here, Koper came under the rule of Venice for a long period of time. Today it is a commercial port, but its historic center is definitely worth visiting.
Koper’s historic center is tiny. Admire the buildings in the main square, which houses the cathedral and its bell tower, as well as the Praetorian Palace. You can climb to the top of the bell tower for rooftop views. Then wander the picturesque little streets of the town. You can cover the old town in an hour or two.
We visited Koper en route from Ljubljana to Piran. But you can also visit Koper by bus from Piran, or take a taxi. Combine a visit to Koper with a visit to Izola, for a part day trip from Piran.
#16 See the horses at Lipica Stud Farm
The Lipica Stud Farm has been breeding Lipizzaner horses for almost 450 years. The Lipizzaner breed was developed in the 16th century under the patronage of the Habsburgs. Most adult Lipizzaners look white, or very pale gray, but the foals are born black!
The farm, set in the midst of beautiful countryside, is a lovely place to wander around. As you drive through the property, keep an eye out for the horses: we came upon them in a field along the way to the farm building.
To get an up close look at the foals in their enclosure, you have to pay for an entrance ticket, which also gets you a guided tour and a narration of the history of the farm. But you can hang out at the fence and watch them nuzzle up to their moms from a distance. Very cute!
You can actually spend a night or two at the farm. The property includes a four-star hotel and a restaurant. The Lipica Stud Farm is not too far from either Postojna or Škocjan, and, if you have a car, a visit to the farm can be added to your day trip to either. Or you can opt for a guided tour.
#17 Enjoy the beauty of Lake Jasna
Just outside the town of Kranjska Gora in northwest Slovenia, you’ll find pretty Lake Jasna. There are actually two connected artificial lakes, at the meeting point of two streams.
The setting of Lake Jasna is amazing, surrounded as it is by tall mountains. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike in good weather, so try and stop by early or late in the day.
You can relax by the water, or walk along the shore for a bit. The area offers lots of hiking trails if you are up for a longer walk. Don’t forget to take a photo by the bronze Alpine ibex!
#18 Hike to Kozjak Falls
If you are planning to explore the Soča River Valley, make time for the short hike to Kozjak Falls at Kobarid. The waterfall is not very big, but it is beautiful.
The walk to the waterfall starts near the Napoleon Bridge at Kobarid. You’ll cross over a suspension bridge over the river, and then walk along a forested trail, with the stream bubbling along beside you for a part of the way. When we visited in the late spring, there were lots of wildflowers along the trail.
At the end of the trail, you’ll have to clamber up some wet rocks to a narrow ledge to view the waterfall, which pours out of a cave into a pool below. The light filtering through the cave creates a magical atmosphere!
#19 Sample Slovenian foods
As a result of its history and its geography, Slovenia’s cuisine is influenced by many other countries, including Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Croatia. But almost everything we tried in Slovenia was delicious, so the influences all appear to have been positive!
If you enjoy sweets, you must try prekmurska gibanica, a multi-layered pastry. It can have a variety of fillings, but the most common, and the version we had, is a combination of walnuts, raisins, and poppy seed. Another famous dessert you have to try is the famous Bled cream cake.
Štruklji is found everywhere in Slovenia. Dumplings made of dough and stuffed before cooking, they can be savory or sweet. The version we had in Ljubljana had a filling of savory cheese and nutmeg. They were yum!
Look for restaurants with the “Gostilna Slovenija” designation if you want to be assured of getting an authentic Slovenian dining experience. The trademark is assigned to restaurants that focus on ingredients of Slovenian origin, emphasize seasonal cuisine, and have an ambience reflective of their surroundings.
#20 Visit the pretty resort town of Kranjska Gora
One of the gateways to Triglav National Park and the Julian Alps, Kranjska Gora is popular as a winter sports destination but a pretty town to visit any time of year.
Right off the road that runs through the town, you get fabulous views of the mountains. When we visited in the spring, the meadows beneath were filled with pretty wildflowers. The town church (every tiny village or town in Slovenia has its own church, and sometimes more than one!) is built in the Gothic style.
Near the town is the Russian Chapel, built to honor the Russian soldiers that were killed in an avalanche when building a road in the region during World War I. There is also a mass grave in the town, from World War II.
#21 Marvel at the beauty of Slap Savica
Slap Savica is possibly Slovenia’s most well-known waterfall. Located in Triglav National Park near Lake Bohinj, the A-shaped waterfall is 256 feet tall and cascades into a pretty green pool at the bottom.
Getting to the waterfall is part of the adventure. If you have the energy and the time, you can walk to the waterfall from Ukanc, following the signs. Or you can drive or take the bus in season to the entrance to the waterfall.
From the entrance, it’s still close to a 30-minute forested walk to the falls, with 500+ steps. About halfway up, you come to a viewpoint from where you can see Lake Bohinj.
You can’t swim in Slap Savica. You can only view it from the viewpoint behind a gate.
#22 Explore Maribor, Slovenia’s second-largest city
Located on the Drava River in northeastern Slovenia, Maribor is a wonderful destination if you want to visit a different region in the interior. A lovely cathedral and lots of old architecture make the city center a fun place for a wander. You can climb to the top of the cathedral bell tower for panoramic views over the city rooftops.
With two hills surrounded by vineyards, Maribor is a great place to sample local wine. The city is home to the oldest producing grape vine in the world, which you can see in the Old Vine House.
The riverside Lent district is also home to lots of restaurants and cafes, the Jewish quarter, and the Maribor market, where you can browse for local products. Then cross the river, to take photos of the pretty waterfront district from across the water.
Maribor can be visited as a day trip from Ljubljana. If you have a car, you can drive from Ljubljana to Maribor in about 80 minutes, or you can take a bus, which will get you there in about one hour and 40 minutes. There’s also a train service between the two cities, but the train is slower.
#23 Discover the historic town of Ptuj
Like Maribor, the town of Ptuj is also located on the Drava River in northeastern Slovenia. It is considered the oldest city in Slovenia, and is famous for its architecture.
Ptuj Castle, on a hilltop overlooking the town, is worth the climb for the panoramic views of the town rooftops, although the interior of the castle is also worth touring. You can also drive up to the castle.
Ptuj’s Old Town is a joy to wander. It is not very large, so you can cover most of it in about an hour or so. Start at Slovenski Trg, the main square. Here you’ll find the City Tower, the Orpheus Monument, and other interesting architectural sights. Then walk down Presernova Ulica to the Dominican Monastery and the river.
Ptuj is a 30-minute drive from Maribor. If you have a car, you can do a day trip to northeastern Slovenia that combines both Maribor and Ptuj. Guided tours that combine both destinations are your best bet if you don’t have a car but wish to see both places in one day.
#24 Visit the tiny fishing town of Izola
The Slovenian coast is short, but very pretty. While you can spend a day or more in Piran, the largest of the three places of note on the coast, Koper Old Town and Izola are quick stops. Izola is located between Koper and Piran, so you can make a stop at Izola en route from one to the other.
Izola, which literally means “island,” is an old fishing town that was once an island. It looks gorgeous when viewed from the viewpoint off the road, with its red rooftops and the boats lined up in the water.
Stroll around the quaint streets of the town and visit the Church of the Holy Maurus, with its freestanding bell tower. You can climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views. Izola is a must-visit for its unspoiled ambience and quiet beauty!
#25 Do wine tastings in the Vipava Valley
Just a 30-minute drive from the Soča Valley is the Vipava Valley, popular as a wine-tasting destination in Slovenia. Best toured by car or on a guided tour, the Vipava Valley offers the opportunity to sample local cuisine and local wines at area farms and small eateries. The drive from Ljubljana to the Vipava Valley takes about one hour, so it makes for a great day trip.
The gently rolling hills, acres and acres of vineyards, and small villages dotted about the landscape make the Vipava Valley an idyllic destination. If you visit in the spring, you will see fruit orchards in bloom. In the summer, the hills are lush green with vines.
Visit the town of Vipava, where you’ll find castles and churches and a lovely main square. For a delectable meal, try Majerija, located in the nearby village of Slap, where, if you are a vegetarian, you can opt for a vegetarian tasting menu.
So there you have it: my list of 25 eclectic and super exciting things to do in Slovenia! Have you been? Did I miss something you loved? I am already planning another visit to this amazing country, and I’d love to hear about experiences you enjoyed.
If you haven’t yet visited, start planning a trip! With such a diverse array of spectacular experiences on offer, Slovenia is a must-visit, and I do hope you get to visit soon.
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MORE INFO FOR YOUR SLOVENIA TRIP
Lake Bled: 10 Fun Things to Do in Lake Bled
Vintgar Gorge: Tips for Walking the Vintgar Gorge Trail
Piran: 10 Best Things to Do in Piran
Postojna Cave: A Day Trip to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle
Lake Bohinj: Things to Do at Lake Bohinj in the Summer
OTHER FUN DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE
Sweden: 25 Fun and Fabulous Things to Do in Stockholm
Norway: How to Spend One Perfect Day in Bergen
Italy: See the Best of Capri in One Day
Spain: The Ultimate Guide to 3 Days in Granada
Poland: A Self-Guided Walking Tour of Old Town Gdansk
Montenegro: The Best Things to Do in Kotor, Montenegro
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