To sample everything that Europe offers, make Slovenia your next getaway destination of choice. It might not get the headlines like neighboring Austria, Italy, Croatia, or Hungary, but Slovenia takes little bits from each and creates something magical. That list of countries should give you a good idea of what to expect but also prepare for all your expectations to be blown right out of the water.
13 Things To Do in Slovenia
Slovenia is where you can have your morning coffee in the city before heading into the mountains and taking a solid hike before returning to the sea for a romantic sunset. A little bit of everything all rolled into one? It doesn’t get more European than Slovenia.
1. Fall in Love With Ljubljana
Ljubljana might not be a metropolis in any sense of the word, but what Slovenia’s capital lacks in size, it more than makes up in charm, romance, and beauty. Ljubljana is the undisputed center of culture in the country, with a fabulous range of museums and galleries found among its picturesque streets and buildings that double as architectural attractions.
The city has quietly become a culinary destination, and its craft beer, wine, and coffee scenes aren’t far behind.
2. Get Romantic at Bled & Bohinj
Slovenia’s two most famous lakes are gorgeous, although that doesn’t come close to doing either justice. Lake Bled is the showstopper with an incredible body of water and a picture-perfect island in its heart along with jagged mountains. Yes, there is also a castle on top of one hill. Walking around Bled is a must, but walking around Bohinj is another beast entirely.
Found in Triglav National Park, Bohinj is Slovenia’s largest lake and a timeless beauty in its own right. Want to cover both in one day? Spend the day at Bled before heading to Ribčev Laz to stay at Hotel Bohinj, waking up for a morning coffee by the larger lake.
3. Watch The Sunset in Piran
Much like the country itself, Slovenia’s coastline is small but perfectly formed. Piran is the highlight; a beautiful seaside town that spreads around the picturesque Tartini Square in a blur of cafes, restaurants, and adorable houses. Koper is the biggest town on the coast and a bustling port.
At the same time, sleepy Izola is everything you expect a charming Istrian fishing town to be. Don’t miss out on the fascinating Sečovlje Salina Nature Park either; salt is a popular souvenir in this park.
4. Check Out The Beer Fountain in Žalec
Two words; Beer Fountain. It might sound like the stuff of dreams, but it is a reality in the small central town of Žalec. It is the hops-growing capital of the country, and as such, it is incredibly proud of its beer history. What better way to celebrate that than by having a beer fountain in the center of town?
Buy a glass from the kiosk and set about sampling the local brews. Nearby Laško is another town famous for its beer; you will see the green brand all over the region.
5. Explore Maribor, Slovenia’s Second City
Slovenia’s second city is about as underrated as they come. Maribor is a bit on the quirky side, with the distinctive Štajerska culture shining through on every corner. There are some brilliant cafes and bars here (Isabella in particular), and the Lent riverside neighborhood is as fascinating as it is gorgeous. Maribor is home to the oldest grapevine on the planet, making it a must-visit for wine lovers.
6. Sample Slovenian Wine
Sticking with all things wine, Slovenia is one of the world’s great up-and-coming wine destinations. The ‘up and coming’ isn’t completely accurate, as people have been cultivating delicious wine here for centuries. Every corner of the country has something for the palate, from the romantic hills of Jeruzalem to the gorgeous Vipava Valley.
Have you ever tried orange wine? Head to Primorska and see what the fuss is all about.
7. Go Underground Into The Caves
On the surface, Slovenia is a stunningly beautiful country. Underground? Things get a little more curious in the dark. The country is home to many caves (more than 8,000), two of which routinely grab the headlines. Postojna Cave is one of the most visited attractions in the country, while Škocjan was the country’s first designed UNESCO World Heritage site. Elsewhere, the mysterious Križna Cave is small but perfectly formed, only allowing 100 visitors annually.
8. Test Your Nerves on The Vršič Pass
Mountain roads don’t come much more dramatic than the Vršič Pass. Also known as the Russian Road, this dizzying pass rises more than a mile into the Julian Alps via 50 hairpin bends, which is not for the faint of heart.
A small Orthodox chapel is just off the road on the Kranjska Gora side, a monument built by Russian POWs in World War I to honor their dead. Buses traverse the pass during summer, which is an intense experience.
9. Practice Lace-Making in Idrija
Mercury and lace might sound like they belong on opposite ends of the scale, but they combine to make Idrija an extraordinary place. The world’s second-largest mercury mine was discovered here at the end of the 15th century.
During the early years of mining, the development of an intricate lace industry arose as the wives and daughters of the miners put their hands to use. The Idrija Municipal Museum is one of Slovenia’s most impressive museums, covering a tremendous amount of history and culture in a constantly engaging and entertaining style.
10. Hit The Slopes Around the Country
Slovenians joke that their children are born on skis. It is a country of mountain sports enthusiasts; most families head to the mountains during the winter season. Slovenia has a wide range of fabulous ski resorts that are eminently more affordable than more famous spots around the continent.
However, that may change as it becomes more popular. Pohorje (near Maribor) is the largest, Krvavec is the closest to Ljubljana, and Vogel might be the most beautiful. Head to Bloke, the cradle of old folk skiing, for extra tourist points.
11. Chocolate and Bees in Radovljica
If you want one town encapsulating everything that makes Slovenia so delightful, head to Radovljica. Button-cute and immensely accessible, the town known as Radol’ca is home to gorgeous architecture, curious museums, unique heritage, and all the chocolate you could want.
There is even a Chocolate Festival here (every May), and the town is also the center of Slovenia’s extensive beekeeping efforts (the Beekeeping Museum is a must).
12. Embrace Peace and Tumult in The Soča Valley
The Soča Valley is highlighted with stunning turquoise waters that evoke feelings of peace while doubling up as one of Slovenia’s adrenaline adventure hotspots.
Bovec and Tolmin are picturesque towns that serve up more fun than you might expect, with Thirsty River Brewing in the former being one of the best independent craft beers in the country. However, the Soča’s history is tumultuous; one of the most intense World War I battles occurred in this valley.
13. Take a Selfie With Tito in Velenje
Slovenia exudes fairytale European charm, making it easy to forget that it spent half a century as part of socialist Yugoslavia. Remnants of Slovenia’s communist past can still be seen in residential areas and old cafes, not to mention the country’s industrial heart in towns like Trbovlje.
Anyone searching for a little Yugonostalgia should make a beeline for Velenje, where a statue of Josip Broz Tito stands in the town square, the largest sculpture of the Yugoslav leader that still stands.