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! It has so many truly unforgettable places. So 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
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 typically 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. So 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 it involves being outdoors and active in true Slovenian fashion! Here are 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!
Take a boat to the islet
As you walk or cycle around the lake, you will spot a few opportunities to rent a boat and row over to the island. If rowing sounds too much like hard work, you can hire an oarsman or take a trip on one of the bigger boats alongside other tourists. You can expect to pay between €8 and €20 depending on which method you opt for and the time of year.
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 If you make it to the island and up the 99 steps, 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 your wish will come true if you ring the bell! 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
You will love this alpine rollercoaster if you are a big child at heart! 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, but if you are driving, 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. On a positive, the prices 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 delicious but way too much to eat on my own. However, 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 where to enjoy your Bled Cake since there you will have great views of the Church of Assumption.
Get up for sunrise
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 lake’s southwest shore, near the camping (look out for the big Indian tent, you can’t miss it!). If you are 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. It is pretty steep though, and does involve a little bit of mild scrambling towards the end.
Ojstrica’s viewpoint is 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 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 rise 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 tiny space, all patiently waiting for their turn to take a photo of the fantastic display of light happening in front of us! It was truly a magical moment!
Avoid the castle!
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 to enjoy the sunset while having dinner there. However, the lady at the gate was so rude that we decided not to part with our cash and spend it elsewhere instead. Having seen the Tripadvisor reviews, this lady seems to be in the wrong job as there is 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 to 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 happened 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 comment on it, as I don’t like the taste of wine; however, my husband said it was rather lovely!
They had a relatively small menu of local and international dishes, all of which are created with locally sourced products and with their own unique 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, a multi-layered pastry with poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins, and cottage cheese. Very very tasty!
2. Vintgar Gorge
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, crisscrossing 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 several 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! €5 to park and €10 each to access the walkways. Before we started the walk, I did grumble at the price, but there was not even the slightest hint of regret at spending the money once I had finished. Importantly, that money helps maintain the walkways and 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, while the one we chose was 5.7km.
The hike 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 some fields to the sound of cowbells, which was rather befitting to the views. It’s a really great hike, but be aware that it is longer than expected, so make sure you bring water and suitable clothing and footwear.
I have heard that it can get hectic, making 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!
3. Peričnik Slap
Slap in Slovenian means waterfall. We saw many slaps 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 on slow travel and encourages 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 walk. I’m afraid on this occasion we were in the lazy group!
The drive along the gravel road was breathtaking. We followed the turquoise-coloured river as it wound its way up between the orange-tinted trees. However, 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!”
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. It costs €2 to park in season, but 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 solid 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. However, I did spot 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.
After admiring the fall from every possible angle, I spotted there was the option to continue climbing. A warning sign saying “dangerous climb” manages to deter lots of hikers, my husband included. However, I’d argue that it was no more treacherous than the first section. There are some steep staircases, 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, 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 raincoat for both waterfalls if you intend to walk behind them!
Peričnik was definitely one of the trip’s highlights, especially as it felt like we had it all to ourselves.
4. Vogel Ski Resort
Bohinj Lake is another spot featuring 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 to take you high into the hills. 1500 metres high, to be precise. This is undoubtedly a great place to practice some winter sports in the winter. 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!
Usually, 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). Several peaks can be summited from Vogel ski resort, including Vogel the mountain! Unfortunately, neither of us had the necessary gear to go on a full day’s hike, although I have vowed to come back one day to do just that!
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 work out whether the views will be clear or not. As it happened when we were there, it was grey and miserable down below yet bright and blue at the top!
Out of season, the price for a return trip on the gondola 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. The roads to Mangart and Viršič Pass wove through forests 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.
The mountain pass
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 for miles was a beautiful Italian valley while the rugged Slovenian border 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 several peaks that can be relatively easily scaled from here.
Instead of hiking, we headed for the hut, where we enjoyed a drink and admired 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!
During this day trip, we also stopped to explore the 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. However, what I saw of it was beautiful: 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 like to explore further when we next visit.
6. Lake Jasna
Within walking distance of Kranjska Gora, this man-made lake was beyond beautiful. The turquoise colour of the water was utterly 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.
It is a popular recreational area and a great spot to cool off with a glacial swim during the summer months! I can’t imagine the water would ever be anything other than cold. Several outlets sell 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, 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, 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 to 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 a well-known fact that the hungrier you are, the easier it is to satisfy your taste buds! As a result, we had had several 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 delicious food. What’s even better is that it was surprisingly affordable.
The waiter was amiable 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 tasty! We had to force ourselves to stop halfway through it (luckily, we could take it away to finish off for dinner that night!). The patty was their speciality, but everyone’s food looked delicious! So if you want a cheap eat that is tasty, then go no further than Lačni Kekec!
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 Kranjska 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. If you wish to cut the walk in half, there is a free bus service.
Where to eat in Piran
Once past the marina, Piran really comes alive with restaurants, all serving fresh seafood 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 seafood 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 clotheslines, and past parked traditional carts while 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, I highly recommend climbing the city walls. Built in the 15th century to protect against Turkish invasion, they offer fabulous city views. However, they do sit high on the hill, so be prepared for an uphill stroll! Entry is €2.
Another great spot, especially if you want to 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 charms. Our only regret is that we didn’t stay there longer!
8. Lipica Stud
If you fancy doing something a little more unusual, I highly recommend visiting Lipica Stud while 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 hundreds 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 breed’s history and talk 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 you may recognise from the famous Vienna riding school. In fact, before WWI, Lipica provided all the horses to Vienna. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. However, because they are the “poorer” cousin to Austria, you get the same show for half the price!
With unlimited access to the grounds and show, the tour cost is €23 compared to €79 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. Yet who knows how many remain to be discovered! 22 of these caves are open to the public. We chose to visit the 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 I suppose that is a bit of a lie. We had actually chosen to visit Vilenica Cave which is much less touristy and cheaper. Unfortunately, it was closed when we got there, so instead rerouted to škocjan, which we felt was perhaps a little overpriced 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! So 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. 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 (the chamber’s name). A beautiful 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.
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. Higher water levels would undoubtedly 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!
In the footsteps of explorers
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 handholds, 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. At this point, 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 probably think I was a little unenthusiastic about škocjan Caves. I suppose it isn’t so much the caves but the price that diminished our 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.
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. In theory, I rarely like them, yet some of my favourite places while travelling have been cities. I like a city that is different, full of culture and history. Hanoi and Rome are two of my favorites, followed closely by Ljubljana.
These are a few of the reasons why I rate Ljubljana so highly.
- The entire historic centre is pedestrian, and if you have mobility issues, they offer free electric buggy rides.
- 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!
- It is super underrated, and I love an underdog. So many people bypass it to head straight to Bled, which means Ljubljana has not become overly touristy. For starters, cheap food and drink, in fact, it was the most affordable 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.
- Lastly, 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. Of course, 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, Ljubljana 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-colored houses, beautiful bridges, dragons, and an emerald colour river all make Ljubljana one of the most beautiful cities we have visited.
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 while watching the world go by. Apparently, there is a good club scene too, thanks to the 50,000 students.
What to do in Ljubljana
We opted to join a city tour ththat 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 city’s best views. 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. Two caught my eye: a stand-up paddleboarding tour, which we disregarded due to the high likelihood of falling in; and a walking tour, which I found on Airbnb. It seemed reasonable for only €12 a person 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 exciting facts and stories, the perfect combination in my mind.
The tour started at the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, a beautiful pink building that dominates the main square. After, we walked through the cobblestone streets learning about Ljubljana’s history, its many occupations, and its 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 eternal 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 were chirping, and we simply sat back and relaxed as we saw people going about their daily activities. Then, 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 to see the castle. In fact, it provides much better views than the castle. Firstly, they are uninterrupted, but secondly, the castle is rather special too.
While 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!
Ljubljana Castle was another great spot in the city, and somewhere that wasn’t included in the tour. You can either walk up or take the funicular, which costs €4 for a return ticket. Many people think you need to pay to access the castle, but a large chunk of it is actually free. There are a couple of exhibitions you 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. However, all the free exhibitions were worthwhile, and I believe it has an orangery with a fantastic selection of wines!
We only had one 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. While all of them were great, 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 enormous 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:
- 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.
- If using the bus in Ljubljana, you will need a bus pass which you can only buy from kiosks and the tourist information centre.
- IMPORTANT! Most things are closed on Sundays, including 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!
- Taxis don’t hang about in taxi ranks during the off-season, 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.
- Although Slovenia is relatively cheap for food, fuel, and accommodation, entries to attractions are relatively 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 straightforward to get around and an absolute 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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
I fell in love with all of it, although 1 Bled Cake was enough for the whole trip LOL!
Thank you for all the detailed and interesting information, Bea! Slovenia looks so beautiful and is definitely on my bucket list.
I hope you visit one day, it won’t disappoint, I promise!
The tradition to ring the bell is so fun! I really want to try and go next summer!
Another great place you can ring the bell like that is in the Basque Country, in San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (otherwise known as dragon stone!)
Slovenia is so high on my list!! I didn’t know you could actually go on that island!! Now I want to do ring the bell!
I can’t wait for you to visit, I am sure you will love it!
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.
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.
The birds were amazing, they stole our food in Ljubljana and Lake Bled. So fearless!
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.
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!
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.
Thank you! Slovenia was so amazing! Highly recommend visiting more than just Lake Bled, the whole country was breathtakingly beautiful!
This is an amazing guide! Honestly I didn’t know much about Slovenia, but now I really want to visit! Definitely saving this one 🙂
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!
This trip looks amazing. I hadn’t thought about visiting Slovenia before but now I am adding it to my list. Slovenia looks so beautiful!
That makes me so happy! It is such a wonderful country, I am sure you will love it!
The Bled cream cake looks just like krempita -a Serbian delicacy I’m obsessed with. I have to go now!
I have just googled Krempita and you are right! A wonder which one of them claims to have created it first!
Slovenia looks like such a beautiful place! I’d love to visit Lake Bled, it looks enchanting! Thanks for the great guide!
Lake Bled is wonderful and so beautiful. But don’t stop just there, the rest of the country is worth exploring too.
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!
It is such a wonderful country and packs such a punch for somewhere so tiny! I can’t wait to go back and continue exploring!
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.
It is quite possibly the best country I have been to. Like you I knew very little about it but it completely stole my heart!
I absolutely LOVE Slovenia! We spent 4 days in Soca Valley and I cannot wait to go back to check out Lubljana and Lake Bled! Definitely saving this post for later!
We loved it too! Such a wonderful country and just like you can’t wait to return either!
You did a great job of capturing the “underwhelming” waterfall as you called it. The photo you took makes it look beautiful and dreamy 💜 I pinned it!
Thank you! Although the photo isn’t actually of “the” waterfall, it was just one of the lovely waterfalls along the way 🙂
On the travel wish list! Would love to visit Slovenia. There are so many great outdoor spots. And tasty treats too! I can see why you say “go”. I am keeping this blog post for when we start to plan this trip.
I hope you get to go, it was such a wonderful country! You will love it I’m sure!
This is such a comprehensive guide for planning a trip to Slovenia. Lake Bled looks so beautiful, especially at sunrise & the cream cake looks delicious! I love your pics!
The sunrise was spectacular! It feels like a lifetime ago that I was there but I would return in a heartbeat!
Great post Bea! The Lake Bled area may be famous, but it does look fabulous! I love that you got to share your cake (it was lucky that birdy turned up to help.) I love the look of the Murmuring cave as well as the cool weird art in Ljubljana.
I completely fell in love with Slovenia. The famous parts and the not so famous ones too. If my husband would be up for it I would move there in a heartbeat!
Wow, it looks like there are so many incredible things to do in Slovenia! Lake Bled has been on my bucket list for a while, it looks spectacular! and it really looks like it is worth getting up early to admire the sunrise! Also, tobogganing on Straza hill looks like so much fun! I’d love to give it a whirl! Thanks for the great guide!
Slovenia is so amazing. Lake Bled is too of course, but when you go definitely give yourself time to explore further afield, it really is worth it!
I was in Yugoslavia many years ago but did not visit the part now known as Slovenia. I would love to go there and see some of the amazing natural beauty. Lake Bled seems to be quite popular.
Lake Bled is definetely popular. We were lucky to be there when it was quiet. The rest of Slovenia is just as stunning!
You’ve just inspired me to bump up Slovenia higher on my list! I’ve seen the pictures of Lake Bled, but of course there is so much more. I would love to spend some time here visiting some of those under the radar things to do from your list.
It makes me so happy to read this! I loved Slovenia so much, I’d happily move there! I’m sure you will love it.
beautiful! Every single place shown on this article. I also never thought of Slovenia as a country with any coastline, but that image of Piran proves it has some beautiful sea views. The sunrise over Lake Bled is also stunning, that is a huge item on my bucket list.
Slovenia really surprised me, it has so much to offer. I hope you make it there one day!