We’d only been in Slovenia for 3 days when I wrote back to my friends and family to tell them I was never coming home! I had well and truly fallen head over heels in love with Slovenia and it’s not hard to see why! This tiny European country, that most people wouldn’t even be able to find on a map, is without a doubt Europe’s best kept secret.  If you love the outdoors, you will love Slovenia, of that I am sure! I will be posting our travel diaries of the trip, stories and all, at a later date, however, in the meantime let me leave you with my top 10 things to do when in Slovenia.

Top 10 things to do in Slovenia – Europe’s best kept secrets

1. Lake Bled

Areal shot of Lake Bled, the number 1 top thing to do in Slovenia

It is fair to say that Lake Bled is not a secret, in fact, I would hazard a guess that 99% of visitors come to Lake Bled, since it is without a doubt Slovenia’s most famous landmark. I would normally shy away from such places, however, there is a reason it is so famous; it is stunning! The postcard worthy church sits on its own islet in the centre of the blue-green lake, overlooked by the medieval castle perched on the cliffs and surrounded by the ragged peaks of the Julian Alps. It truly is a fairytale setting.

The town of Bled is rather touristy and somewhat overpriced, but despite all that, it still deserves a visit. We actually used Bled as a base and stayed just a couple of minutes’ walk away from town in a lovely AirBnB which was very reasonably priced. Not only was it perfect for exploring Lake Bled, but it was also a great base from where to explore further afield.

There is plenty to do in Bled and in true Slovenian fashion it involves being outdoors and active! Here were our favourite activities to do in Lake Bled:

What to do in Lake Bled?

Walk, run or cycle around the lake

There is a path circumnavigating the lake which is only 5-6km long, perfect for walking, biking or running. Peeking from between the trees you will get to see the church from every angle and believe me, you won’t get bored with the sight!

The beauty of walking or biking around the lake is that you get the see the church from every angle!

Take a boat to the islet

As you walk or cycle around the lake you will spot that there are number of opportunities to rent a boat and row over to the island. If rowing sounds too much like hard work then you can hire an oarsman or take a trip on one of the bigger boats alongside a number of other tourists. You can expect to pay between €8 and €20 depending on which method you opt for and the time of year.

The beautiful Bled church and islet are worth seeing from every angle.

Ring the bell!

If you make it to the island and up the 99 steps, then you will want to ring the wishing bell! You will hear the bell of the Church of Assumption ringing all day as tourists take their turn to make a wish. Rumour has it that if you ring the bell your wish will come true! I haven’t however heard of a correlation between visits to Slovenia and lottery wins so I am not quite sure how true this is!

Toboggan on Straza hill

If like me you are a big child at heart then you will love this alpine rollercoaster! Set on Straza Hill overlooking Lake Bled not only is it exhilarating but the views are also phenomenal. You can easily walk to Straza from Bled town, however, if you are driving then it is one of the few places in Bled where you can park for free.

It is closed during the winter months and it is worth noting that it only opens at the weekends during the shoulder season. The prices however were very reasonable and included a ride up on the chair lift (appreciated since it is a STEEP hill!) as well as the toboggan ride back down.

Prices during the shoulder season were:

€8 for 1 ride, €12 for 2 and €16 for 3 (for adults).

Eat Bled Cream Cake

This is a must-try local delicacy if visiting Lake Bled but be warned, it is a BIG portion so you might want to share. This cake consists of a layer of pastry, followed by a layer of custard, then whipped cream and finally another layer of pastry. It was very tasty but way too much to eat on my own. For those who don’t know me I rarely struggle to finish food, so this is saying something!

If you want to eat the cake from the “founding restaurant” then head to Kavarna Park where you will also be able to enjoy great views of the lake and castle. I have heard that Belvedere Café is another great spot from which to enjoy your Bled Cake since there you will have great views of the Church of Assumption.

Get up for sunrise

The most memorable sunrise of my life! The hike up to Ojstrica is definetely one of the top things to do in Slovenia!

Without a doubt the BEST thing to do when in Lake Bled is to get up for sunrise and hike to the Ojstrica viewpoint. Watching the sun rise above the hills lighting up the lake and the church will forever be my most cherished memory of the trip!

The trail starts on the south west shore of the lake, near the camping (look out for the big Indian tent, you can’t miss it!). If getting there for sunrise it will be dark so make sure to bring a decent headtorch and don’t attempt it with flip flops! Walking boots would be ideal as it was a slippery, rocky path, however, I managed fine in running trainers. Just whatever you wear, watch your footing!

The hike takes no more than 20 minutes, if that. It is quite steep though and does involve a little bit of mild scrambling towards the end.

Ojstrica viewpoint

Ojstrica viewpoint is no more than a small outcrop of rock sitting above the treeline. There is a bench and room for a few people to stand, however, if you want an uninterrupted view then make sure to get there early. I arrived 20 minutes before the official sunrise time, and there were already 4 people there. Luckily there was a seat on the bench so I settled in for the wait.

Because the sun has to ride above the mountain ranges the actual sunrise isn’t for another 10-15 minutes after the official time, so depending on what kind of photo or experience you want you might be able to sneak a few extra minutes in bed!

By the time I was ready to leave there were probably 20 people crammed into the little space, all patiently waiting for their turn to take a photo of the amazing display of light happening in front of us! It was truly a magical moment!

Avoid the castle!

Bled castle sits on the cliff edge overlooking the Lake Bled. If it wasn't fir the terrible customer service I am sure a it would also be a must things to do when in Slovenia

Honestly, there is much to do in Lake Bled that it deserved a blog of its own (watch this space!). There is one attraction though that will appear on most people’s blogs that I have avoided: the castle! We had intended to visit. In fact, we made our way all the way to the castle with the intention of enjoying the sunset whilst having dinner there. However, the lady at the gate was so rude that we decided not to part with our cash and to spend it elsewhere. Having seen the Tripadvisor reviews this lady seems to be in the wrong job as there are no end of complaints about her. She was in fact the only rude person we came across in our entire 8 days of travel!

Where to eat in Lake Bled?

We purposefully chose an AirBnB so we could keep our costs down and cook our own food, however, we did treat ourselves to one delicious meal out at The Old Cellar Bled. It happens to be the number 1 restaurant on TripAdvisor and was without a doubt the best meal we had during our stay in Slovenia.

It is set in a refurbished 500 year old cellar and specialises in Slovenian wines. They even have orange wine! Yes, that is a thing! As a non-wine drinker I can’t really pass comment on it, as I don’t like the taste of wine, however, my husband said it was rather nice!

They had a relatively small menu of local and international dishes, all of which are created with locally sourced products and with their own special twist. We shared a delicious platter to start with followed by steak for Doug and sea bass for me. We even managed pudding too. Doug went for a chocolate tart whereas I opted for a traditional gibanica cake, which is a multi layered pastry cake with poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins and cottage cheese. Very very tasty!

2. Vintgar Gorge

Vintgar Gorge definitely deserves its spot in the top 10 things to do in Slovenia.

Located just 5 km from Bled, and easily reached by car, on foot or by bike, Vintgar Gorge is one of the most popular activities to do when in Bled, or indeed Slovenia. Vintgar Gorge is a 1.6km walkway that follows the flow of the Radovna river, criss-crossing it 4 times before finishing off at a modest waterfall. Ignoring the waterfall, which is quite disappointing when the water levels are low, the rest of the walk is pretty spectacular. In fact, it has been voted by a number of magazines as the most scenic, or best, easy hike in Europe, and I don’t think they are wrong!

Unfortunately such an accolade also means it’s one of the most expensive walks in nature too! €5 to park and €10 each to access the walkways. Before we started the walk I did grumble at the price, but once I had finished there was not even the slightest hint of regret in having spent the money. Importantly, that money helps maintain the walkways as well as keep this area in pristine condition.

More than just a gorge

It is worth noting that the walkway is 1.6km one way, and once finished you need to hike back choosing one of two routes (if going back to the car park). One of the routes is 4.3km long whilst the one we chose was 5.7km.

You will come past St Catharina Church if you opt for the slightly longer route back to the car park from Vintgar Gorge.

The hike first started off up a relatively steep forested path before topping out by the very picturesque St Catharina Church with the big rugged hills as its backdrop. From there we walked across a number of fields to the sound of cow bells, which was rather befitting to the views. A really great hike but do be aware that it is longer than expected so make sure you bring water and the right clothing and footwear. 

I have heard that it can get very busy, which would make taking photos hard, however, since we were travelling during the shoulder season and having arrived just as it opened, we had the gorge pretty much to ourselves!

Vintgar Gorge all to ourselves!

3. Peričnik Slap

Slap in Slovenian is waterfall. We saw lots of slaps whilst in Slovenia, but none more beautiful than Peričnik. Situated about 40 minutes from Lake Bled (if you take the scenic road) or 20 minutes if you go on the highway missing out on an adventure, you will find Peričnik at the end of a long gravel road.

Slovenia is big into slow travel and does try and encourage visitors to leave the car in the town and hike the rest of the way, however, there is also a car park should you not wish to hike. I’m afraid on this occasion we were in the lazy group!

The drive along the gravel road was incredibly beautiful. We were following the turquoise coloured river as it wound its way up between the orange tinted trees. The one thing I could not get over in Slovenia was just how clear the water was everywhere! In fact that’s all I kept saying. “Have you seen that water!”

Driving up towards the Pericnik Waterfall you will follow a gorgeous river. When were there the leaves were all starting to turn and it was absolutely gorgeous!

When you eventually reach the car park, after a good 4-5 minute drive, you will be at the base of the impressive Peričnik waterfall. In season it costs €2 to park however there was nowhere to pay so we can only assume it was free out of season.

A steep climb

The walk to the waterfall was steep and a definite leg burner, however, it wasn’t overly long and it was 100% worth it for the view. Probably the most impressive thing about this 52 metre fall is the fact you can walk behind it, something I have wanted to do ever since I watched Robin Hood as a young girl.

There is an easy pathway that takes you directly behind the fall and I’d say the views from the other side are arguably better. I did spot there was a path leading away from the fall on this side so I can only assume that the non-lazy tourists would have emerged from their hike here.

The impressive Pericnik waterfall felt like a hidden gem despite featuring on many top things to do in Slovenia

Having admired the fall from every possible angle there was the option to continue climbing. A warning sign saying “dangerous climb” seems to put quite a few people off, however, I’d argue that it was no more treacherous than the first section. There are some steep staircases though so only proceed if you have a good head for heights.

All I can say is that the leg burn was definitely worth it! Waiting for me when I reached the top was another beautiful waterfall, this one a little smaller, but with a pool and stream leading away which I could actually capture in the photo. You could also walk behind this one but be aware, it is a very soggy experience! In fact, I highly recommend bringing a rain coat for both waterfalls if you intend to walk behind them!

It is definitely worth hiking up to the top half of Pericnik Waterfall

Peričnik was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, especially as it felt as if we had it all to ourselves.

4. Vogel Ski Resort

Bohinj Lake is another spot that features in everyone’s top places to visit when in Slovenia. I would agree, although not so much because of the lake, but more so because of Vogel Ski Resort. If you love mountains then you will be in for a treat. Situated on the South Western side of the lake, Vogel Ski Resort has a gondola that will take you high into the hills. 1500 metres high to be precise. In the winter this is no doubt a great place to practice some winter sports. In the summer however it is a bikers and hikers paradise.

The views were absolutely outstanding. From the platform you could see Lake Bohinj down below. Looking ahead you were met with the impressive Triglav Mountain and its neighbouring peaks. We were there on a clear day, the views went on for miles, and I just couldn’t help but sit and stare!

Lake Bohinj as seen from the Vogel Ski resort platform
Lake Bohinj

Hiking paradise

Normally the chair lift would be working to take you even higher ready for a day of hiking in the high peaks. As it happens it was undergoing maintenance ahead of the winter season when we were there (early October). There are a number of peaks that can be summitted from Vogel ski resort, including Vogel the mountain! Neither of us had the necessary gear to go on a full day’s hike although I have vowed that I will come back one day to do just that!

Mount Triglav is the highest mountain in Slovenia and you can get an amazing view from Vogel Ski resort
Mount Triglav

To make sure it isn’t a wasted trip up (and a wasted expense) there is a screen showing you footage from the live camera so you can workout whether the views will be clear or not. As it happens when we were there it was grey and miserable down below yet bright and blue at the top!

The price for a return trip on the gondola, out of season was €20 each. I believe in high season they are €24 each (accurate as of October 2021).

5. Mangart Saddle

Since we are on the topic of mountains let me tell you about the drive to Mangart Saddle. If you like impressive views and are confident enough to drive up a narrow hairpin road to the mighty height of 2,000 metres then I definitely recommend driving to Mangart Saddle.

We set off from Kranjska Gora, where we were staying, which also involved driving over Viršič Pass which in itself also deserves a mention! In all we completed 134 hairpin bends this day, all in search of epic views. The drive however was just as good as the views. Both the road to Mangart and Viršič Pass wove through forested roads rapidly turning orange and red the higher we went. Every now and then, between the gaps in the trees we would see the rugged mountains rising high into the sky.

Virsic pass is one of the most beautiful passes you will drive in Slovenia

The mountain pass

In order to drive to Mangart you need to pay €10 per car. This will give you access to the remaining 9 kilometres of road. Under normal circumstances you would be able to drive all the way to 2,000 metres, however, there had been a rockslide so we had to park up a little short of the end and walk the rest of the way.

Once we reached the cliff that delineates the border with Italy we sat down and took in the views. Far far below and stretching on for miles was a beautiful Italian valley whilst the rugged Slovenian border just stretched up into the clouds. Again, had I been married to a more adventurous soul I would have loved to have gone exploring on foot. There are a number of peaks that can be relatively easily scaled from here.

The cliffs at the top of the Mangart Saddle form the natural border between Slovenia and Italy
The Slovenia/Italy border

Instead of hiking though we headed for the hut where we were able to enjoy a drink simply taking in the marvellous views.

Please note that if you decide to drive the road it is narrow, steep and very windy. There are vertical drops and no barriers for much of the way so you need to be both a good driver and good with heights! This is not a road on which you want to lose your nerve, or in fact, drive like an idiot and put others at risk!

Soča River

During this day trip we also stopped to explore Soča River. Now I haven’t included it in my top 10 things to do in Slovenia simply because we didn’t spend enough time for me to share with you the highlights. What I saw of it was wonderful though, clear blue water, deep gorges and fun rapids! It is apparently a great place to go canyoning and white water rafting and definitely an area I’d to explore further when we next visit.

6. Lake Jasna

Jasna lake has the most beautiful turquoise coloured water, definitely worth adding to the top things to and see in Slovenia

Within walking distance of Kranjska Gora, this manmade lake was beyond beautiful. The turquoise colour of the water was completely mesmerising and put all other incredible water colours from our trip to shame. The lakes were created to bring additional tourism to the area during the summer months by creating a side flow to the glacial Pišnica river. Surrounded by tall peaks and the changing leaves of autumn it was yet another fairy tale experience.

During the summer months it is a popular recreational area and a great spot to cool off with a glacial swim!  I can’t imagine the water would ever be anything other than cold. There are number of outlets selling drinks, food and ice cream on the Northern part of the lake, near the mountain goat statue. As we were out of season only one of these was open. On a positive note, it also meant it was quiet!

If you are driving over the Viršič pass from Kranjska Gora then this will be the first point of interest you will come to. There was parking (no doubt paid for) around the lake, however, if you are staying in town then it is an easy 10 minute walk.

Where to eat in Kranjska Gora?

One of the best things about the restaurants in Kranjska Gora are the portions! With it being an outdoorsy mecca, they all cater for hungry active hikers, bikers and skiers. Or whatever your choice of activity might be! However, we did struggle to balance portions with taste. It is well known fact that the hungrier you are the easier it is to satisfy your taste buds! We had had a number of disappointing meals, however, that was not the case with Lačni Kekec. Sitting at the foot of one of the ski runs, right by the chair lift, this wooden hut served some really tasty, and very affordable grub.

The waiter was really friendly and recommended we share a patty. Based on the price we would have easily ordered one each, but we followed his recommendation and good job we did! It was HUGE!! And far too nice! In fact, dangerously nice, we had to force ourselves to stop half waythrough it (luckily we were able to take it away to finish off for dinner that night!). The patty was their speciality but looking around us everyone’s food looked delicious! So if you want a cheap eat that is tasty then go no further than Lačni Kekec!

7. Piran

Slovenia doesn’t have much of a coastline, but as with everything, it definitely makes up for what it lacks in size by putting on a fabulous show! Piran is a bustling town perched on the tip of a peninsula overlooking the Adriatic sea. Its Old Town is one of the best preserved historical towns anywhere on the Mediterranean.

We arrived at lunchtime having driven down from Kransjka Gora. The old town is strictly pedestrian only so we parked our car in a multi-storey car park on the outskirts of town and enjoyed a nice relaxing 15-20 minute walk along the promenade all the way to the tip. There is a free bus service if you wish to cut the walk in half.

Once you walk past Piran Harbour the town really stats to come alive with lively squares, al fresco eating and a maze of narrow cobblestone streets

Where to eat in Piran

Once past the marina, Piran really comes alive with restaurants, all serving fresh sea food and traditional Slovenian meals. We hazard a guess that many were probably overpriced though, due to their prime position, so instead went in search of something less touristy.

Winding our way through the narrow streets, admiring the Venetian Gothic architecture, we found just the spot! Located in a small square was a tiny restaurant called Fritolin pri Cantini. We commandeered the last available table and went to the hatch to place our sea food order. Their speciality: squid! Not only was the meal delicious, but the atmosphere was great, and the weather perfect for eating al fresco. The additional bonus was that it was great value for money.

What to do in Piran

For me Piran is about stepping back in time and getting lost. Wandering the narrow cobblestone streets, walking under peoples hanging clothes lines and passed parked traditonal carts, whilst admiring the colourful houses, it really felt as if we had stepped back in time.

If you want to get a birds-eye view of the city then I highly recommend climbing the city walls. Built in the 15th century to protect against Turkish invasion, they offer fabulous views of the city. They do sit high on the hill so be prepared for an uphill stroll! Entry is €2.

Another great spot, especially if you want get a good view of Tartini Square, is the Bell Tower of the Church of St George, which sits on the hill overlooking Tartini Square. From here you will get 360 degree views of the town. Entry is only €1 but you will need to tackle 146 rickety old stairs!

We visited in September when it was relatively quiet, however, I have read that it can become very overcrowded in the summer months which I imagine could ruin some of its charm. Our only regret is that we didn’t stay there longer!

8. Lipica Stud

If you fancy doing something a little more unusual then I highly recommend visiting Lipica Stud whilst in Slovenia. You don’t have to be a horse lover to enjoy this tour, though as it happens, I am!

Located in the South, and therefore easy to combine with Piran, Lipica Stud is the birthplace of the Lipizzaner horse breed. Set out over more than 300 hectares (roughly 740 acres) of land the stud has more than 300 Lipizzaner horses at any time. As we drove into the stud, down a narrow tree lined avenue we spotted hundred of mares and their foals grazing in their immaculate fields with white post and rail fencing. All I could think about was that I hoped they had a mechanical poo-picker as doing it by hand would have been tough!

If visiting Lipica I definitely recommend twinning with a guided tour and show. The grounds are lovely, and seeing horses is always great, but having someone to explain the history of the breed as well as talking you through what you are seeing makes it all the better. without a doubt the show stopper is when you get to see the horses at various stages of their training. The Lipizzaner horses are the same breed that you may recognise from the famous Vienna riding school. In fact, before WWI Lipica provided all the horses to Vienna. That is no longer the case, buy being the “poorer” cousin to Austria it does mean you get the same show for half the price!

Lipica Stud is home to the famous Lipizzaner horses, the white horses of Vienna. In this photo the horse is rearing to the commands of the handler.
Excuse the quality, it is a still from a video

Cost of a tour, unlimited access to the grounds and show is €23 compared to €79 euros in Vienna! Definitely worth it!  

9. škocjan Caves

Slovenia is predominantly limestone which means there are A LOT of caves. By A LOT I mean more than 1,400 that are known, and yet who knows how many remain to be discovered! 22 of these caves are open to the public and we chose to visit škocjan caves which are part of a 30 km underground gorge.

I suppose that is a bit of a lie. We had actually chosen to visit Vilenica Cave which is much less touristy and much cheaper too. Unfortunately, it was closed when we got there so instead rerouted to škocjan, which we felt was perhaps a little over priced at €18 each! However, I had promised Doug no hills, steps or inclines for our final day and škocjan offered a lift to get us back up from 140 metres below ground. Unfortunately that was false advertising. We saw no lift and had to face 800 steps to get back out again! Guess who was in the bad books?

The cave is divided into two sections, the dry cave as you enter, and the murmuring cave, through which Reka River runs through. Reka by the way means river, so basically, whoever named Reka river in essence called it the River river! 0 points for originality!

The largest underground gorge in Europe

škocjan caves are part of the largest underground canyon in Europe and as such are a UNESCO listed site of special scientific interest. The tour started through a 120 metre man made tunnel that dropped us off in Paradise (that’s the name of the chamber, I think of paradise more so as pristine beaches!). A very pretty chamber with no end of stalactites and stalagmites in all shapes and forms. To be fair, it wasn’t too dissimilar to other caves we’ve been to.

We then moved through the collapsed chamber (so nothing to see as it had… well… collapsed!) before moving into the Grand Chamber which was as you would expect, vast! We’ve been to many caves but I don’t think we have ever walked through anything as big as this one.

Murmuring cave

Skocjan caves are part of the largest underground canyon in Europe.
No photos were allowed so this has been taken from their official website

Once out of the dry cave we moved on to the murmuring cave, a 100 metre deep cavern through which the river flowed. As we were there in October the water levels were very low, which I think detracted from its beauty. Having seen some photos online I think going when the water levels are higher would certainly make it more impressive, especially as Slovenia has that beautiful turquoise water! However, you wouldn’t want it as deep as it can sometimes be when the flow has fully flooded the cave to the top! Remember, this is a 100 metre wide canyon. That’s a lot of water!

For me one of the most fascinating things about the cave was seeing some of the paths created by the original explores. High up on the walls they had carved steps barely deep enough to fit a toe. They had also drilled in hand holds although I’m not sure either would have filled me with confidence! I always find it amazing to think of what explorers go through.

The tour ended where the ceiling had actually caved in creating a beautiful dolina of green. It was at this point that they broke the news of the 800 steps! Needless to say no words were spoken as we begrudgingly made our way up.

Since these are the Top 10 things to do in Slovenia you are probably thinking that I was a little unenthusiastic about škocjan Caves. I suppose, it isn’t so much the caves but the price that diminished the enjoyment of them. However, I would definitely be willing to go and explore more caves if I’m ever back in Slovenia, though, I’d probably seek out less touristy ones to avoid the high entrance fees. 

10. Ljubljana

Ljubljana is without a doubt one of the most underrated cities in Europe however, it does have some rate strange artwork, in this case, a fountain of gruesome faces!
There was some pretty “weird” art in Ljubljana – here are fountain on faces!

Last but not least in my top 10 things to do in Slovenia is Ljubljana. It isn’t 10th for any particular reason other than it felt it suited best either at the start or the end, and I felt number 1 should be reserved for Lake Bled.

I have a funny relationship with cities. I rarely like them yet some of my favourite places whilst travelling have been cities. I like a city that is different, full of culture and history. Two of my favourites would be Hanoi and Rome, followed closely by Ljubljana.

These are a few of the reasons why I rate Ljubljana so highly.

  1. The entire historic centre is pedestrian, however, if you have mobility issues, they do offer free electric buggy rides
  2. It is by far the cleanest city I have been to. In fact, we saw no litter in Slovenia. None at all! And as someone who litter picks often my eyes are trained to find it!
  3. It is super underrated, and I love an underdog. So many people bypass it to head straight to Bled, which means Ljubljana has therefore not become overly touristy. For starters, cheap food and drink, in fact, it was the cheapest of our trip. Secondly, I love that they are still so connected to the countryside with daily markets and a real focus on local produce.
  4. Their thieves are super cute! As we were eating breakfast on the terrace we were assaulted by 3 birds who demanded we share our croissants with them. They were happy to strut themselves for Instagram if it meant they could help themselves to our breakfast!

A little bit about Ljubljana

One of Europes’ smallest capital cities Ljbljana is a real “jewel”. In fact I think that description is often overused, but I can’t think of anywhere more fitting than Ljubljana to use it! Cobblestone streets lined with pastel coloured houses, beautiful bridges, dragons and an emerald colour river all make Ljubljana one of the most beautiful cities we have visited.

Ljubljana is obsessed with dragons and one of the most famous landmarks is the dragon bridge

But it isn’t just about looks, it’s about personality too! And I really enjoyed the vibe in Ljubljana. Everyone was friendly, locals went out their way to help us, there was a great café scene with tables set out on terraces so you could enjoy a drink whilst watching the world go by. Apparently there is a good club scene too thanks to the 50,000 students, however, we are too old for such things so I can’t comment.

What to do in Ljubljana

We opted to join a city tour that included a walk and talk around the city, followed by a boat tour before finishing off in Ljubljana’s highest skyscraper, a mighty 13 floors high! OK, that is not very high at all, but it did still offer the best views of the city. Plus it included cake too, so double win!

We do like to join a tour when in a new place. We tend to opt for food tours but I couldn’t find any that inspired me so instead I focused on other options. There were two that caught my eye, a stand up paddle boarding tour, which we disregarded due to the high likelihood of falling in, and a walking tour, which I found on AirbnB. For only €12 a person it seemed very reasonable and turned out to be a steal, since it was great!

Join a walking tour

Our guide was super engaging and the pace was just right. He didn’t bore us with dull facts and dates, instead focusing on interesting facts and stories, the perfect combination in my mind.

Ljubljana is such a beautiful city and it's pink church is at the centre of it all!

We visited the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, a beautiful pink building that dominates the main square. We walked through the cobblestone streets learning about Ljubljana’s history, its many occupations and it’s avoidance of war (which means perfectly preserved historical buildings!). We visited the famous love bridge where couples seal their undying love for each other, or for some, their undying love for their car (see the photo!). We learnt how art was once sold by the kilo and that the city has vending machines for fresh eggs and milk. As we heard our guide’s stories I couldn’t help but fall more and more in love with the city. I would share all the facts but I would hate to ruin it for you!

Take a river cruise

After an hour or so of wandering we went for a cruise down the river. The sun was shining, the birds chirping and we simply sat back and relaxed as we saw people going about their daily activities. Suitably relaxed, we got one of those electric buggies to Nebotcnik, the “skyscraper”. When it was first built, this 13 story building was the 5th tallest in Europe, now, it’s shorter than most apartment blocks, however, it still stands proud offering a 360 degree view of the city. We also found it to be the best place see the castle. In fact, it offers much better views than the castle. Firstly because they are uninterrupted, but secondly because the castle is rather special too.

Whilst sitting on the rooftop terrace we were treated to Gibanica cake, a traditional Slovenian cake which I can only describe as a sweet lasagne. It is a multi-layered pastry cake with poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins, and cottage cheese. I became rather fond of it throughout our travels!

Gibanica cake is a multilayered cake, like a sweet lasagna

Ljubljana Castle

Another great spot in the city, and somewhere that wasn’t included in the tour, was Ljubljana castle. You can either walk up or take the funicular which costs €4 for a return ticket. A lot of people think you need to pay to access the castle but actually a large chunk of it is free. There are a couple of exhibitions which you do need to pay for, we didn’t visit these though so I can’t tell you how much they were or whether they were worth it. All the free exhibitions were certainly worthwhile and I believe it has an orangery with a fantastic selection of wines!

We only had a day to explore Ljubljana and I am sure there are 100 more things to do, but if like us you are short on time, either join a tour or simply get lost. It is such a beautiful city begging to be explored!

Where to stay in Ljubljana

We opted for AirBnbs for the entirety of our trip. Whilst all of them were great, I feel that our Ljubljana stay needs mentioning. Situated within an old tabacco factory it is one of the quirkiest places we have stayed in. The old building has now been converted into high ceiling offices, studios and this one apartment.

As our host led us through the big factory wooden door I couldn’t help but think “what on earth have I booked?!”. But as soon as we stepped inside I knew it was the right choice. A massive space full of art, artefacts and overall quirkiness. It was fully equipped with a kitchen, two bathrooms, and three beds. However, the best feature was the bath on wheels in the middle of the sitting room, complete with bath toys and all!

If you like the sound of it do check it out!

The other great thing about it was that it offered free parking, a real luxury in Ljubljana.

Some extra tips

Here we conclude my top 10 places to visit in Slovenia, however, before I wish you farewell I do want to share some tips on things that caught us out:

  1. You have to pay to use most public toilets. They are €0.50 each and only accept coins, so make sure you have spare change with you.
  2. If using the bus in Ljubljana you will need a bus pass which you can only buy from kiosks and the tourist information centre.
  3. IMPORTANT! Most things are closed on a Sunday, included all kiosks and the tourist information centre therefore, if like us you are in Ljubljana on a Sunday chances are you will be walking everywhere!
  4. In the off season taxis don’t hang about in taxi ranks and it is impossible to flag them down. You will need to call but many don’t speak English so I recommend you befriend a shopkeeper or bar staff to make the phone call for you.
  5. Although Slovenia is relatively cheap when it comes to food, fuel and accommodation, entries to attractions are generally quite high so be aware when budgeting.

If you are still wondering whether you should or shouldn’t visit I only have one word for you: GO! I loved Slovenia so much that I could easily see myself living there. Not only was it beautiful beyond words, but it was clean, safe and friendly. It was really easy to get around and a real joy to “get lost” in.

If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to ask. I’d be more than happy to help in any way I can.

So… will you be adding Slovenia to your bucket list? Let me know in the comments.

33 Comments

  1. This is a fabulous resource. The pandemic hit on the eve of my departure for Croatia for a bike-and-boat island hop out of Zadar and I’d just started research on adding a couple of weeks in Slovenia. It’s back on the agenda for spring, Covid willing, so I’m pleased to have this comprehensive blog post to help with planning. I appreciated the recommendations on food (the pastry and patty and squid sound divine) and the additional general tips at the end. Thank you!

    1. I hope you do make it. And if you are travelling by bike that will be even better! Have a wonderful time and I can’t wait to read about your experience once you go!

  2. Great job you’ve done! Thanks for such a useful info! Reading your blog I’ve got a feeling of being in Slovenia again! We visited this country, but didn’t have much time, so our trip was without hikes, gorges and falls! And I’m realizing that we need to explore this area, cause I love mountain routes! It’s a pity that you haven’t visit the castle, it’s interesting and it’s possible to visit a wine cellar and corck a bottle of wine in a vintage way with help of the local monk!

    1. I would love to go back to the castle when they change their staff and have someone interested in customer service working on the gate. They have a real problem there as there are so many Tripadvisor reviews specifically commenting on how terrible/rude she is, can only be the same person! But yes, I’d like to go back to spend more time and hiking and exploring more of its beauty!

  3. Slovenia looks so beautiful! Lake Bled looks incredible! I’d love to visit and try the Bled Cream Cake! The škocjan Caves look amazing too! Thanks for the great guide!

  4. Thank you for all the detailed and interesting information, Bea! Slovenia looks so beautiful and is definitely on my bucket list.

  5. Slovenia looks fantastic and those pictures of Lake Bled and its surroundings are amazing. I have never been there but hope to visit one day. Look like that little bird enjoyed the Bled cream cake as much as you did! I wouldn’t mind sharing my pastries with them.

  6. Slovenia looks fantastic and those pictures of Lake Bled and its surroundings are amazing. I have never been there but hope to visit one day. Look like that little bird enjoyed the Bled cream cake as much as you did! I wouldn’t mind sharing my pastries with them.

  7. This is perfect. We were looking at visiting next year. I especially love the advice you give about the Ojstrica viewpoint. I would want to do that. Your photo (and all of them) are fantastic.

    1. I’m so excited for you, I can’t wait to go back! There are loads of other viewpoints, had we had longer in Bled I would have definitely climbed them all! But that one is meant to be the best!

  8. Such a great post! Slovenia has been on my list for so long. Would definitely love to visit Lake Bled. It looks so peaceful. Great list and pinning so I have it handy to go to these places when I am able to make it there.

    1. Thank you! Slovenia really caught us by surprise, I really didn’t know anything either but loved it so much! I hope you do go, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

  9. Well now that I’ve read this I want to book a trip to Slovenia! I never realized how much there is to see there or how beautiful it was!

  10. I did not know anything about Slovenia, and now you’ve inspired me to add to my list. So much beauty and lots of things to do. Thanks for the guide as I’d love to visit all your recommendations.

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