Slovenia is currently still one of the rather unknown vacation destinations in Europe. But this will not remain so for much longer. More and more tourists are drawn to the country in the south of Europe – and not without reason. The beautiful nature, the hospitable people and the diverse activities make Slovenia a real insider tip. Here are our 20 best places to visit in Slovenia.
The Mediterranean, picturesque coastal town of Izola, is located approximately in the middle of the coast on the Slovenian Adriatic. Izola is framed to the north by Koper and the Bay of Trieste and to the south by the mighty flysch cliffs of the Strunjan Landscape Park.
The historical town of Izola, whose varied history dates back to Roman times, when the area belonged to the colony of Aquilea, offers a number of sights. Venetian palaces, narrow streets and gates in the old town give the city a special charm. In particular, when walking through the city, you should definitely visit the bell tower of St. Mauro, from the top of which you can enjoy a fantastic view all the way to the Alps.
For seaside vacationers, the pretty coastal town of Izola offers a number of beautiful beaches and swimming opportunities. Especially popular are the Svetilnik beaches on the northern tip of the old town and the San Simon beach.
Lively Izola is a lively coastal town in Slovenia, which offers numerous cultural, culinary and sporting events, as well as a colorful nightlife in the bars and cafes where you can end your vacation evenings in Izola in a sociable round.
The pretty university city of Maribor is located on the idyllic Drava River in the eastern interior of Slovenia’s Styria region. With almost 113,000 inhabitants, the cultural and economic metropolis is the second largest city in Slovenia.
Maribor, Europe’s Capital of Culture 2012 is often somewhat misunderstood as a vacation destination due to the industrial plants located on the outskirts of the city. However, the historic university city of Maribor, embraced by vineyards in the north and the idyllic Pohorje mountain range in the south, offers a pretty and worth seeing center with numerous sights, such as the old Lent district or the main square Glavni Trg.
Especially above the northern bank of the Drava River, walking through the alleys and squares of Maribor, you will always come across beautiful squares, old fortified towers, the large cathedral church and the House of the Old Vine, where the oldest noble vine grows.
The Venetians once made the town the administrative center of the Istrian region. Today, Koper is home to Slovenia’s only commercial port. The economic importance of the city and the port has increased in recent years.
Worth seeing is especially the so-called Praetor’s Palace on Titov trg. The representative building dates back to the 13th century and is built in late Gothic and Renaissance style. On one of its corners there is an opening carved with a lion’s mouth. In the past, residents of the town could post anonymous messages to the mayor there. Today, the building houses a wedding hall, the town council, the tourist office and one of the oldest pharmacies in the country.
A beautiful detail of the town architecture is also the fountain “Vodnjak Da Ponte”. It is a symbolic replica of the Rialto Bridge in Venice.
A visit to the cool old town alleys in Koper is worthwhile not only in summer. In autumn, a special highlight awaits visitors. The Sladka Istra dessert festival invites you to unrestrained feasting and enjoyment. With all the wonderful cakes, chocolates, creams and pastries, visitors’ eyes will glaze over.
17. Karanjska Gora
In the very northwest, in the interior of Slovenia, in the idyllic valley of the Sava Dolinka lies the picturesque alpine village of Kranjska Gora at the foot of the imposing mountain Vitranc (1,637m). Kranjska Gora, which has about 1,400 inhabitants, is the main town of the municipality of the same name, where a total of about 5,200 people live.
Only a few kilometers to the west, near Ratece, is the border triangle where the territories of Slovenia, Italy and Austria meet. To the south opens the breathtaking world of the Eastern Alps with the famous Triglav National Park, an El Dorado for hikers, mountaineers, cyclists and nature lovers. In and around Kranjska Gora are offered excursions, tours, trendy leisure activities and much more.
Kranjska Gora is a fantastic destination 365 days a year. In winter, the slopes of Vitranc turn into countless ski slopes and the Sava Dolinka valley and the Nordic Ski Center Planica offer trails for cross-country skiers. During the summer months the area invites to hiking and biking.
The princely town of Celje in Slovenia offers archaeological treasures, a modern city flair. Traces of the first settlement date back to the Iron Age. With the Romans, the present city was known as Celeia. In the Middle Ages it grew into a market settlement. Eventually, one of the most powerful noble families in all of Europe – Count of Cilli – strongly shaped the inland town.
The buildings and the old town of Celje are closely connected with the green surroundings. Due to this flair Celje invites you to relax besides sightseeing. In the third largest city in Slovenia – after Ljubljana and Maribor – visit the Celje Castle. From there you can enjoy a great view of the region.
The town of Zalec, only about 9 kilometers away, is famous for its beer fountain. In the middle of the hop town Zalec you can tap and enjoy 100 ml of beer at the beer fountain with a previously purchased glass.
The town of Ptuj is located in the interior of Slovenia, only about 20 kilometers from the next larger city Maribor. Like Maribor, Ptuj is situated on the river Drava and presents a picturesque picture.
Since people settled in the small town on the river as early as the Stone Age, Ptuj is probably the oldest town in Slovenia. In Roman times, the town was very important and at that time it had almost 50,000 inhabitants. Nowadays there are only about 23,000 people living in Ptuj.
Until the middle of the 19th century, Ptuj and Maribor were important cities in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire. When the railroad line between Vienna and the Adriatic Sea via Maribor was built, Ptuj lost some of its importance. Today the town is located only on a branch line of the railroad network, but it is still easily accessible.
Today, numerous natural beauties in and around Ptuj invite many visitors to the city. The largest lake in Slovenia – Lake Ptuj – is located only a few kilometers from the city center and offers varied recreational opportunities for water sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. The shores of the Drava River, the surrounding hills and vineyards, as well as the Pohorje mountain range, which is only 30 minutes away, are also ideal for relaxation, recreation and leisure activities such as hiking, biking and, in winter, skiing.
14. Škocjan Caves
The Skocjan Caves are located in the interior of Slovenia. Since 1986, the caves have been on the UNESCO World Natural Heritage list. The Skocjan Caves Park is considered the most important underground landscape in Slovenia and even in the whole world.
The caves are named after the village of the same name Skocjan, which lies above the river Reka. The river disappears underground into the cave passages of Skocjan. This phenomenon impresses numerous visitors to the World Heritage Site to this day.
The Skocjan caves have been proven to have been inhabited for over 5,000 years. Archaeologists have proved this with finds of various objects from the prehistoric period. In the 19th century, karst exploration began in the Skocjan Caves Park. This is where the geomorphological terms karst (“kras”) and sinkhole (“dolina”) come from.
In the dolines live rare and endangered species of birds and bats. They preserve the geomorphological ecosystem, in which there are Mediterranean, sub-Mediterranean, Central European, Illyrian as well as Alpine flora elements. The Reka River, which runs underground, is also home to rare cave animals.
Piran is one of the most charming cities. The scenery of sea, old town streets, hills with church tower and city walls are simply stunningly beautiful.
The entire old town is a car-free zone. Although residents and hotel guests are allowed to drive up to the central Tartini Square to unload luggage. But the other areas are absolutely taboo for four wheels. And it wouldn’t work at all: no modern car would make it through the narrow, winding streets. Especially since there are always small stairs waiting in between.
On the shore, guests will find numerous restaurants. There are also restaurants in the alleys behind – mostly at much lower prices. St. George’s Church is enthroned on the hill. Its forecourt offers a great view over the city and the sea. With luck, visitors will spot dolphins in the bay off Piran in spring and fall.
The municipality of Postojna, with the small town of the same name, is located in the interior of Slovenia, between the capital Ljubljana and the coastal town of Koper.
Postojna is famous for the Postojna Caves, the second largest stalactite cave in the world open to tourists. The mystical cave castle of Prodjama is another crowd puller. But the small town has much more to offer!
In addition to the old town, beautiful squares, St. Stephen’s Church and the Karst Museum, the idyllic surroundings, especially with the karst basin Planinsko Polje for hiking, walking and biking for active vacation guests. The local tourist information office offers guided tours and if you are drawn to nature you have the possibility to go fly fishing at the Unica river or to observe brown bears during a tour.
11. Triglav National Park
Majestic peaks, idyllic river valleys, dreamlike mountain lakes and alpine meadows await you in Triglav National Park, which covers the entire area of the Slovenian part of the Julian Alps in the interior of Slovenia. The only national park of Slovenia, which is one of the oldest in Europe, covers 838 km².
Since 2003, Triglav Park, which was declared a national park in 1981 and covers the entire Slovenian part of the Julian Alps, has been included in the UNESCO list of biosphere reserves. Triglav (Three Headed), named after the highest peak in Slovenia at 2,864 meters above the Adriatic Sea, is home to approximately 2,440 inhabitants.
The nature park is a paradise for nature lovers and active tourists, who can expect a great variety of animals and plants in the park. Here not only fox and hare say good night to each other. They are joined by ibex, chamois, red deer and even brown bears in the deep forests of the park.
Triglav National Park is an immense area that offers highlights for explorers, adventurers, peak climbers, hiking enthusiasts, white water rafters and cyclists.
10. Lake Bled
Even from a distance you can see the landmark of Bled, Lake Bled with the small island on which fabulously stands the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Lake Bled is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Slovenia. Depending on the weather conditions, the crystal clear water of Lake Bled shimmers in colors ranging from bright blue to emerald green.
Lake Bled, located in the interior of Slovenia at an altitude of about 475 m above sea level, is about 1.4 km wide and 2.1 km long and has a total area of 1.45 km². Lake Bled was formed over thousands of years by the recession of the Bohinj glacier, which filled the valley basin with the crystal clear glacial water. Several springs nourish Lake Bled with fresh spring water. Advantageous for bathers are the thermal springs, located in the northeast of the lake, which heat the water here to a pleasant 23° C in the summer months.
In the middle there is a small island with the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The Cerkev Marijinega Vnebovzetja is enthroned in the middle of the island. The church is one of the most popular destinations for excursions and one of the most romantic locations to enter into marriage.
Around Lake Velda, as the lake is also called, and the climatic health resort of Bled, a wide and varied tourist offer has developed since the 19th century. In addition to the excellent swimming opportunities at the Bled lido, the Grajsko kopalisce, above which the Bled Castle majestically towers on a rock, there are almost countless sports & recreational opportunities in, on and around Lake Bled.
The spa and brewery town of Lasko is located on the Savinja River in the interior of Slovenia, only 10 kilometers from Celje. The town has more than 13,000 inhabitants and has a lot to offer to visitors: Thermal bath, spa, brewery, beekeeping and herbal medicine. The mountain scenery as well as the river landscape give a great picture and attract numerous visitors.
The traditional spa town is also known as a brewery town. In 1825 the first beer was brewed here and today it plays an important role in Lasko also in the field of wellness and culinary. But test it yourself!
In addition to the sources of health and well-being, Lasko proudly bears the quality mark “Slovenia Green Destination” (for a green future) as well as the title of the European Commission as “Outstanding European Destination”. Let yourself be inspired by the sights, flair and offers of Lasko.
The Ljubljanica River meanders idyllically through the heart of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, with the city’s castle towering majestically above its rooftops. About 290,000 inhabitants live in the charming Slovenian metropolis, which has love in its name (Ljub) on the Ljubljanica River in the interior of the country.
When visiting Ljubljana, one is surrounded by sheer countless sights that bear witness to the city’s more than 2,000-year-old history. The city’s landmark, the Dragon Bridge, castle and structures such as the Three Bridges are by no means the only visitor magnets in the city. Ljubljana is a melting pot where history, tradition, modernity, creativity and sustainability come together in an enchanting mix.
Always on the move and with its finger on the pulse, life in Ljubljana is changing. Ljubljana has long since shed the dust of the 70s prefabricated buildings. Around the Ljubjanica promenades, newly designed historic squares and markets and green oases invite you to stroll. Charming little cafes along the shore offer a place to linger and relax after museum and sightseeing tours through Ljubljana.
Culinary Ljubljana is also a small paradise to discover. Excellent restaurants and typical gostilnas serve traditional dishes and international cuisine. You can end the evening in the many small pubs and bars in the old town.
7. Logarska Dolina
Northeast of the town of Kamnik, hugged by the peaks of the Kamnik Alps in the interior of Slovenia runs the enchanting Logar Valley, one of the most beautiful Alpine valleys in Slovenia and Europe. The idyllic valley was placed under protection in 1987 and was named the Logarska Dolina Landscape Park.
Peace and quiet is guaranteed during a visit to the Logar Valley, because in the 24 km² large landscape park, live only 35 inhabitants. The nearest larger settlement is the idyllic mountain village of Solcava. The valley can be divided into three parts. Log is the lower part, Plest the middle and Kot the upper part of the valley.
The picturesque alpine valley is a paradise for nature lovers, hikers, cyclists and mountaineers. Natural monuments such as the beautiful waterfall Palenk, the imposing 90 m high waterfall Rinka, the Okreselj basin that looks like an amphitheater and other natural beauties can be discovered in the Landscape Park Logar Valley. In and around the valley, lookout points offer beautiful views and tourist farms are ideal for resting.
6. Rogatec Open-Air Museum
The Rogatec Open Air Museum (south of Maribor; near Rogaška Slatina) is the largest of its kind in Slovenia. It preserves the regional architectural heritage from the 18th to the 20th century. The main focus is on land economy, handicrafts and trade. In 1997 the museum was awarded “European Museum of the Year”. On display are a farmhouse plus various outbuildings, a pigsty, a wine farm, a historic blacksmith’s shop, a draw well, beehives and a kozolec, a building particularly typical of Slovenia, which was used for drying hay, corn and other crops.
Guided tours are offered. On certain days there are live demonstrations in the show workshops of peasant customs. Near the Rogatec open-air museum there is also the very beautiful Renaissance and Baroque palace Strmol. And for those who want to visit two more Slovenian open-air museums, we recommend the Charterhouse of Pleterje and the open-air museum near Semič.
5. Lake Bohinj
The idyllic Bohinj Valley is located in the southeast of the Triglav National Park, about 85 kilometers from Ljubljana, the national capital of Slovenia. Bohinj is a valley basin consisting of the Upper and Lower Valleys and Lake Bohinj in the interior of the green destination of Slovenia.
Unlike the resort of Bled, 27 km to the east on the famous Lake Bled, things are very leisurely and less touristy at Lake Bohinj and in the Bohinj valley. If it were not for the 24 small villages in the Bohinj municipality, you would almost think you had discovered an untouched piece of paradise.
Bohinj is a dream destination for active vacationers who like hiking and mountaineering as well as for nature-loving vacationers. In the Bohinj area there is a wide network of hiking and biking trails along which you can discover and get to know the country and its people. Lake Bohinj invites you for rowing, canoeing and swimming in the summer time. In the cold season, the nearby ski centers on Mount Vogel and on the Pokljuka plateau are ideal for winter sports.
4. Predjama Castle
Predjama Castle is one of the most famous in Slovenia and attracts thousands of tourists every year. In the small village of Predjama is located this amazing Renaissance fortress built in a cave.
This old castle has no crenellated towers, no magnificent interior decorations or refined details, but it is a special place in many ways.
Predjama Castle is certainly not one of the most visited Slovenia sights by chance. The first thing that attracts attention is the location of the castle.
At some point, one could certainly believe that the castle is almost one with the mountain in which it is located. And the contrast between the blackened rock walls and the white walls of the castle gives the feeling of being almost unreal.
3. Soca Valley
The Soca Valley in northwestern Slovenia is one of the most beautiful valleys in the Julian Alps. The valley runs along the emerald green Soca River, which rises below Travnik (2,279 m) at Trenta, in the middle of the Triglav National Park, all the way to the Slovenian-Italian border at Nova Gorica.
While on the sides of the upper Soca valley, around Trenta, Bovec, Kobarid and Tolmin, the high peaks of the Julian Alps rise majestically, the hills in the lower Soca valley on the border with the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia are significantly lower. However, both sides have their charms and offer fantastic opportunities for active vacationers, nature lovers & those seeking relaxation.
The wild waters and mighty mountain ranges in the upper Soca Valley are a paradise for water sports enthusiasts, hikers, mountaineers and mountain bikers. In the lower Soca valley near Nova Gorica, the landscape flattens out a bit and invites to beautiful bike tours and hikes through the valley. The Soca Valley is one of the most beautiful destinations in the interior of Slovenia.
2. Vintgar Gorge
A unique imposing natural landscape is offered to you in the interior of Slovenia, only 5 km northwest of Bled, at Spodnje Gorje in the Vintgar Gorge. After the Triglav National Park, the Soteska Vintgar (gorge) is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in Slovenia.
The green-blue shimmering river Radovna, which flows into the Sava, dug itself in the course of the millennia between the two mighty mountains Hom and Borst. The resulting gorge was impassable at that time and was discovered only in 1891 by Jakob Zumber, the then mayor of the adjacent village of Gorje, and Benedikt Lergetporer, a cartographer and photographer.
Today, from the entrance above the small village of Podhom, near Spodnje Gorje, visitors can embark on a fascinating hike along the 1.6 km long nature trail through the Vintgar Gorge.
Along the educational trail through the Vintgar Gorge you can see natural beauties such as the Zumer Gallery, the imposing rock walls of the Hom and the Borst, numerous small waterfalls and of course the waterfall Sum, where the Radovna River rushes down about 13 meters. Built by man, but also worth seeing is the large stone railroad bridge, which runs for almost 33 m over the gorge.
1. Lipica Stud Farm
Lipica is the oldest European stud farm that continuously breeds one of the oldest cultural horse breeds. As such, it has remarkable significance as a cultural, historical and natural heritage for Slovenia and Europe.
The history of Lipica is closely intertwined with the Habsburgs and the time when the horse was considered an ideal and a decisive strategic advantage at that time.
The history of Lipica begins in the 16th century, when the abandoned summer residence became the court stud. The charm of the Lipica Stud is hidden in the invisible, in the stories written by local history. Only by walking along the historical paths can you truly experience the greatness of the local equestrian tradition.