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Highlights of Slovenia: a 7 stop adventure of an understated country in Europe

Highlights of Slovenia: a 7 stop adventure of an understated country in Europe
Highlights of Slovenia: a 7 stop adventure of an understated country in Europe
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“No matter where I am in the country, I’m just taken away by the visceral feeling of human connection amongst the locals.” - Logan Ly 

Slovenia is a genuinely understated gem that you still have to discover in Central Europe. It’s a country with the scintillating blue of the Adriatic sea, snow-capped mountains, and a coastline that rivals even the best of the Mediterranean. 

Now, it may be small (about half the size of Switzerland), but between the sublime natural beauty, Slovenia is jam-packed with awe-inspiring architecture and cuisine that champions locally sourced produce (like its orange wine - more on that later!). The country is like a slice of a pie between Italy and Croatia - yet its homespun culture couldn’t be more unique.

A crystal blue lake with an island in the middle in the lake with a church.

There’s no one way to explore Slovenia - it’s a jewel that reflects its light on every type of traveller. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-fueled adventure, a beach holiday, sights of unmatched landscape or just want to sink your teeth into its gastronomic twists, it’s easy to get off the beaten track no matter which turns you take in Slovenia. 

That’s why at Live the World, Slovenia is one of the most unforgettable countries our team members keep returning to. Each time I’m in Slovenia, there’s another region to explore, another dish I want to try. So in this itinerary, with some of the well-seasoned travellers at Live the World, we rounded up must-visit spots in Slovenia with things to do that Slovenes do. You can stretch this itinerary out as you like, shorten it, spend as many days or skip some - whichever way, Slovenia awaits! 

Know before you go

Best Season and Weather: 

I’ll cut to the chase - there are literally no bad seasons to visit Slovenia. It’s one of the rare countries where whichever season you go, there’s something to do, sights to see, and experiences to share. Alright, if I had to choose, I would say each season in Slovenia definitely depends on your own interests but summer and autumn in Slovenia is a given, with endless activities to do in the sun. 

From March to May, you’ll feel like you have the country to yourself. Since this isn’t peak travel season, not even for the locals, the many hotspots and activities you can explore are still open, but without the masses. There’s less rain during this time of the year, and the average temperature is around 10ºC. The skiing season here usually goes until April too! 

Ariel view of a Slovenia's capital city, Ljubljana.

From May until August, summer arrives in Slovenia. Average temperatures are between a balmy 25ºC to 30ºC. While this is the most popular season for travellers to explore Slovenia, an added bonus is how relatively less crowded Slovenia still is compared to its neighbouring countries.  

Autumn in Slovenia is one of my favourite times of the year - the foliage this country gets is like a firework display of oranges, reds and gold splashed out in the surrounded nature. From the months of late September to November, while the temperatures dip - it doesn’t get too low, at an average of 20ºC to 16ºC. 

December to early March ushers in Slovenia’s winter sports season. For a country known for its mountains, there are a plethora of snow-dappled things to do. The temperatures get low from an average of 6ºC to 1ºC, depending on whether you’re up in the alps or in the cities. 

Lake Bled, a picuresque lake with an island in the middle of the lake.

Driving:

Either with your own vehicle or renting a car, driving is the best way to explore Slovenia. The capital, ​​Ljubljana, is essentially in the centre of the country, so it’s easy to start from there and drive out in any direction. 

Since the country isn’t big, the roads are well-connected to all the smaller towns, the alps or the seaside. The best thing is, you can reach anywhere in Slovenia within about an hour’s drive from Ljubljana. 

Stop 1: Ljubljana

Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is both the largest city in the country and one of the smallest capitals in Europe. My friend Jakob, who grew up in Ljubljana, told me that “it feels like a cosy village. Everyone knows each other, so whenever you’re in the markets or square, you’ll always run into someone you can say hi to”. 

That just also goes to show the friendliness of Slovenians and how welcoming the people are. When you’re there, it’s hard not to take notice of that warmth and openness. Also, due to its size, Ljubljana is easy to explore within a day (or two) at a leisurely pace. It’s a dense city, and that makes for a wonderful way to see it on foot.‍

To get a good sense of just how compact Ljubljana is - start your discovery of the city off at Ljubljana Castle, aka Ljubjanski grad. Ljubljana castle is the symbol of the city, sitting on a central hill of the old town. There are several ways to reach the Medieval fortress, by a glass funicular, by driving, or by one of the many pathways walking up. Within its stone walls, you can roam around the prisons and walk up the peculiar tower to look out from its window view from great heights. The view is one of the most spectacular ones in Ljubljana, where you have a panoramic view of the orange-tinted rooftops of its historical buildings as well as snow-capped rugged alps on the horizon. 

Ljubljana with orange rooftop houses and a river running through the city.
View of Ljubljana

Making your way down the castle, you’ll cross the Triple Bridge, locally known as Tromostovje, a wide cobblestone pedestrian bridge that connects the two main squares of the city together. On one side you have the Town Square, with the Ljubjana Cathedral. On the other, Prešeren Square is like the beating heart of the city. This is where you’ll hear the sound of live music from musicians, see artists paint, or just residents walking their dogs. The square is also where the bright salmon pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation stands along with the Prešeren Monument, a bronze sculpture of a poet and his muse. For locals of the city, oftentimes when you’re meeting up with a friend for a night out, Slovenes will mark the poet as where to rendezvous. 

Nearby is Zmajski most, known as the Dragon Bridge. You’ll notice right away four dragon statues guarding each corner of this art nouveau bridge, as dragons are emblems of Ljubljana. Built in 1888, local legend has it that Ljubljana was founded by Jason, a hero from Greek mythology. Jason and the Argonauts slay a dragon where the city was then founded. Now, dragons are heraldic of the capital, standing for courage, and woven into Slovenian tales and songs. 

A few steps from the Dragon Bridge on the banks of the pristine Ljubljanica river is the Central Market. Slovenia prides itself on local small businesses, farmers, and sustainable practices when it comes to preserving traditional and regional dishes and food of the country. You can see how the Central Market is a hub for that with farmers' stalls selling locally made honey brandy, to produce like ruby orange and red beet syrup. There’s also a two-storey indoor portion of the market and, as a pastry-lover, it was like heaven for me to snack on homemade biscuits and try the different wood-oven baked bread there. 

A grafitti building with makeshift flags and design in Metelkova.
Metelkova

While you’re here, right beside the Central market is Odprta Kuhna, a street-food market, where you can take a big bite into Slovenian cuisine. Admittingly, this is also where I spent most of my time in the capital, as it’s such a jovial atmosphere with the most salivating dishes cooked up by such passionate chefs. We’re talking open grills with soaring embers as cooks turn slabs of best-aged ribs, classic Slovenian braised pork, plus a stall for organic mussels cooked in wine, and then there’s a stall for miške, a traditional Slovenian carnival doughnut. Each food stall at Odprta Kuhna is different - offering vegan specialities as well as international flairs like Korean, Mexican and Thai food. 

When I asked Jakob what anyone visiting Ljubljana shouldn’t miss out on, he said “without a doubt, Metelkova, which is the artists’ district.” Just north of the old town, Metelkova is a creative quarter where artists, riff-raffs, and bohemians meet. An urban sprawl that is now an abandoned military base from former Yugoslavia, it’s covered in graffiti and street art that makes you ponder its strangeness, making the once-run down area a renewed cultural centre. On any given night, Metelkova is a playground for festivals, concerts, and art exhibitions - a reflection of its underground subculture. It’s a whole different side to Ljubljana’s historical and cobblestone streets, yet Metelkova’s relaxed ambience is a welcoming make-shift place for any walks of life. Cementing this district as a creative hub, nearby is the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova and smaller art galleries like KUD Mreža.

Where to stay in Ljubljana:

Dežnik Hostel

Smacked middle of the city centre with great local staff, this is an awesome budget-friendly hostel to be based in.

Atelier Hotel

Modern interior design that's only an 11 minute walk to the city's castle = it's a win-win for me!

Hotel Emonec

Love that this is right in Ljubljana's pedestrian street - so when you walk out, everything is within reach.

The Logar Valley with many mountains on its side and a huge valley running through it.
Logar Valley

Stop 2: Kamnik, Logar Valley and Velika Planina

Heading north of Ljubljana, half an hour's drive away is the medieval town of Kamnik. Nestled in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the town looks like what one would imagine for a fantasy storybook setting in the mountains. Kamnik is made up of traditional burnt orange rooftops, narrow alleyways, high-standing castles and an alpine skyline stretched to the Velika Planina plateau. 

Anchored by the two castles of the town, Mali grad (Little Castle) and Stari grad, there’s also Zaprice Castle and Castle Katzenberg which adds to Kamnik’s rich history as a once thriving trading town. Taking a stroll down Šutna street you’ll notice yesteryear signboards, older generations doing their dailies from the many artisanal shops, and spectacular scenes of Kamnik’s bygone era architecture. Take a side step into Frančiškanski samostan Kamnik, a Franciscan church and convent. The library in this church is famous for having a collection of over 10,000 books which were all printed before the end of the 18th century. 

Kamnik is worth spending half a day exploring, and then embarking from urban escapades into the earthly paradise that embraces Kamnik, the Logar Valley (Logarska Dolina). The Logar Valley is an alpine carved hollow from a glacier, within the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.  From this park, there are several day hikes and different routes you can take. 

Herdsmen settlement and multiple cows on a huge grassy plain with mountains in the background.
Velika Planina

For the trekking enthusiast, one technical hike is to the Kamniška koča na Kamniškem sedlu, which is a great mountain lodge via the Kamnik Saddle. The Kamnik Saddle has an unbeatable view of the valley as well as the Brana and Planja mountains. This hike takes about 2-3 hours to reach the summit. 

You can also add that hike onto an uphill walk to Rinka Waterfall, or go here separately. It’s a superbly tall waterfall, gushing down from 91 metres. Be prepared to feel the misty refreshing splash of the water! Rinka Waterfall is great for any season since in the winter the water is still flowing yet the basin is all frozen in a shiny white sparkle. There’s also a cafe with a killer view that’s built right into the mountainside, Orlovo Gnezdo aka Eagle’s Nest Bar

Further north from the Logar Valley is Velika Planina. Velika Planina is a huge mountain plateau with settlements from herdsmen still living there to this day.  Walking around this rustic settlement feels like you’re on a set of Game of Thrones, with over 140 wooden huts and barns dotting the purple blanket saffrons of Velika Planina. The unique characteristic of the huts ties into the shepherding heritage, with plenty of cattle and herdsmen, abound. While some huts are residential and others for work, some are open for visitors - where you can even have an authentic shepherd’s lunch. Comprised of sour milk and žganci (which is buckwheat mush) this hearty lunch along with goulash, home curdled cheeses, and jota (which are bean and sauerkraut hotpot) will floor you with the number of flavours and hospitality from this remote plateau. Of course, it’s made with extra love since the dairy delicacies are by the local herdsmen themselves! 

I think this is one of the most tranquil places in the whole country as it’s such an escape from our regular urban lives, putting us in touch with a slower pastoral pace of living. You’ll hear the constant chime of cowbells, and experience traditional Alpine herdsmen's culture amongst the karst dolines and meadows. And just for a moment, it’ll feel like all the responsibilities in the world are lifted from your shoulders. 

Where to stay in Kamnik:

Glamping Ob Robu Gozda

How cool is this? Go glamping and stay in pristine nature - as well as a beautiful accomodation.

Guest House Repnik

Operated by locals from Kamnik, this guest house includes free bike rentals so you can explore the area by wheels.

Hiša stare mame

This one is for those who like a little romance with their getaway.

Lake Bled with mountains in the background and surrounding lush forests. A little island is in the middl of the lake.
Lake Bled

Stop 3: Lake Bled

Oh, Lake Bled. I remember even before knowing anything about Slovenia, I’d heard about this ethereal place deep in the country’s Julian alps region. Since my first time travelling there, Lake Bled still has an airy grace that makes me return to its shores each time I’m in the country. 

Whether locals do a weekend getaway to Bled or travellers do a day trip there, it has long since established itself as an iconic destination not just in Slovenia, but among Europe’s most beautiful places. After the Bohinj Glacier had long melted, the basin was filled up with the glassy turquoise waters that now make up Lake Bled (not to be confused with the town, Bled). A view of it is striking, with a tiny remote island in the middle of the lake, only to be anchored by a long Baroque stairwell (99 steps in total!) that leads up to the historical Assumption of Maria Church. You can kayak or row out to the calm island, or take the Plenta boat (which is a traditional Slovenian wooden boat) that’s used to carry guests back and forth. At the church itself, there’s a bell you can ring to make a wish, and the ring will echo throughout the lake. 

Whenever I’m at Lake Bled, I usually rent a bike and leisurely cycle along the lakeside path of Veslaška promenada (I say this as I reminisce balancing one hand on the bike handle, the other hand holding an ice cream cone).
Joris, Live the World co-founder who travelled with his family here, said “You should go for a run around the lake, it’s said you burn as many calories as eating the famous Bled cream cake.” The Bled cream cake, otherwise known to locals as Blejska kremna rezina or kremšnita, is a creamy pastry topped off with powdered sugar. You can try the Bled cream cake from the original location that invented it, at Kavarna Park’s cafe and restaurant right on the waterfront.

A stone bridge over a river, with lush forests and trees around it.
Vintgar Gorge

There are spots all around the water where you can throw down your towel and just go into the tranquil waters for a dip, as I hung out at several different green slopes that lead down to the water. Another great spot is Grajsko kopališče, aka Castle Bathing Area. Here you can rent stand-up paddle boards and boats, have an after-swim bite at the snack bar or just sunbathe like the locals. 

High above the cliffs is Bled Castle, which gives phenomenal panoramic views of Lake Bled. There’s a museum inside the castle that takes you through Slovenia’s history. During the summer, definitely decide if you want to visit Lake Bled on a weekday or weekend - as it can get super packed with people during the high season. 

Pair your downtime at Lake Bled with a visit to the nearby Vintgar Gorge, aka Soteska Vintgar, where you walk along the best of nature. From waters that are so clear that it looks like an impressionistic painting to an easy hike up to waterfalls in between lush gorges… There’s no other word for this slice of Slovenia: enchanting. 

Where to stay in Bled:

Čarman House

Right beside the lake itself, you'll have a piece of the pier all to yourself at this accommodation.

Adora Luxury Hotel

For those wanting a finer experience by Lake Bled, look no further than the Adora.

Travellers’ Haven Hostel Bled

For a rustic, down to earth stay, this budget-friendly hostel is only a stone-throw away from everything you need.

Snow-capped mountains of Triglav National Park
Triglav National Park

Stop 4: Triglav National Park

In Slovenia’s one and only national park, Triglav National Park is a boundless beauty of rolling greenery, stretching over almost the entirety of the Julian alps of the country. You can do countless activities - canyoning, hiking, kayaking, rafting, cycling or even climbing Mount Triglav, the country’s tallest mountain at 2864 metres. Yep, for an outdoor enthusiast, Triglav National Park is like a haven and a place that local Slovenes return to time and again.  

Triglav National Park gets its name from the three-headed Mount Triglav, an emblem of strength for the entire country and the Slovenes. There are various routes you can take to reach the summit, but no matter which trek you embark on, you’ll have to sleep overnight in one of the mountain huts. All ascents take at least two days up Mount Triglav.

There’s a few ways to enter Triglav National Park - the other stops in our itineraries, Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are also part of the National Park.

Another spectacular nature area of the Julian alps is the Seven Lakes Valley. Aptly named for the seven lakes scattered throughout the glacial alpine valley, each lake is astoundingly magical for its clear reflection. The water is so clear it could be the setting of how Narcissus, the Greek nymph fell in love with his own reflection in the water. The valley is about 8 kilometres long, starting from Planina Blato, an alpine pasture that is a well-known starting point for treks in the region. For a hike to the Seven Lakes Valley, from Planina Blato is takes about 3 and a half hours to hike one way, and about 7 hours to do a loop. Adding to the magic of the Seven Lakes valley, due to the low crowds of Slovenia, in various parts of your hike you really feel like you have the whole hiking trail to yourself. It’s so easy here to imagine what this corner of Europe was like before any settlement since the nature feels so uncharted and still untouched. Very few places on the continent still leave you with that feeling, and yet the mountains, forests, and valleys of Triglav National Park is that rare gem. 

A church and a stone bridge of Lake Bohinj looking over the lake.
A beachy spot and crystal clear water of Lake Bohinj

Stop 5: Lake Bohinj 

What most people may not know is that Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are actually still part of the Triglav National Park. Yep, the park is that big - covering a vast amount of this area in Slovenia! 

Lake Bled may be the star, taking most of the attention and adoration, but just a 30-minute drive away, Lake Bohinj is an underrated gem with way less crowds. For any hike-lovers, there’s tons of trails all around Lake Bohinj (we are still in the heart of the Julian alps after all). Definitely don’t miss out on hiking to Savica Waterfall, where a cascading rush of glacial streams await you at the end of a cliff. 

Gigi, a team member at Live the World who recently spent some time at Lake Bohinj says, “I stayed at Camp Bohinj, which has so much to offer! It’s a great place for kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding, hiking and a lot of outdoor activities. This is great for any type of traveller whether going solo to connect with nature or driving a car full of kids for a week or weekend of camping.”

Dotted all around Lake Bohinj are little beaches where you can go for a swim in the crystal clear waters. A thing to note though, Lake Bohinj is really, really cold while Lake Bled’s water is warm thanks to the thermal springs.

There’s also Kramar caslafe (Restavracija Kramar), where you can get ice cream and snacks - but a favourite amongst the kids and locals is a mini pier right next to the cafe. This is where you’ll see a lot of people running off to the end of the pier to jump into the pristine lake for a refreshing swim. 

Translucent waters running through Soca Valley
Soca Valley

Where to stay by Lake Bohinj:

Hostel pod Voglom

It's a laid-back, very affordable stay for not only Lake Bohinj but Triglav National Park too.

Hotel Jezero

On the pricier side of accommodation, but the big draw is the lake and mountain views.

House Budkovic

Amongst the town's centre, it's still close by to Lake Bohinj while being a very affordable accommodation.

Stop 6: Soca Valley 

There are few places in the world where you can see water that’s so rich in aquamarine colour. Already a landscape of sweeping valleys and tapering gorges, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast or an adrenaline junkie, the Soca Valley has so many activities one can do to fill that thirst. 

Tolmin Gorges, located in the Soca Valley, is a winding walk where you’ll pass by moss-covered rocks and a suspension bridge over the tranquil glassy waters. If you go to all viewpoints in the Tolmin Gorges (definitely do), it takes about 2 hours, but you could do just the short loop in about 1 hour. Simply, there are more things to uncover here, like little tunnels that snake their way to surreal natural spots under caves.

A town to base yourself on while exploring Soca Valley is the picturesque Bovec. You can do any outdoor spots here, from kayaking and alpine ziplining to rafting, and no part of the surrounding mountains or river seems untouched by thrilling activities in Bovec. 

Multiple streams of ruhing water running down Vrje Waterfalls

From Bovec, venture out into the Great Soca Gorge where deep in the forest you’ll be greeted by geomorphological shapes and a basin where people go swimming and sunbathing. On the other side of town, you can do an easy hike to Boka Waterfall. There’s a standing platform there for a rewarding view of the highest waterfall in Slovenia. Then even closer to Bovec’s town centre is the Virje Waterfall where an emerald-glistening basin sits below the cascading falls. All this within reach from Bovec on lovely walks? It’s another town that you’ll definitely swoon over in Slovenia. 

While you’re in Bovec, be on the lookout for bovški krafi, a traditional Slovenian dumpling dessert. It’s stuffed with sweet pears and even originated in Bovec itself. The casual Sovdat restaurant in town serves them up as well at the alpine inn of Gostisce Hedvika Hedvika Mlekuz s. P.

Where to stay by Soca Valley:

Pristava Lepena

I absolutely adore how charming this wooden cabin-like guest house is!

Hostel Soca Rocks

A great place to meet other travellers while travelling on a budget.

Hotel Mangart

No matter what season you're here, this hotel is perfect for a winter stay or a summer getaway (it's also one of the few hotels in the area with air conditioning!)

The wine vineyards of Slovenia all over the hillside.
Vineyards of Slovenia

Stop 7: Slovenia’s orange wine in Goriška Brda

Coming down not too far from Soca Valley is a corner of Slovenia where rows upon rows of sun-kissed orchards, hillside villages, and vineyards prosper beyond the mountain ranges. Even though it borders Italy, the Goriška Brda wine region of Slovenia is already making a name for itself. 

There are plenty of different wines that are produced in this region, from whites like the Mighty Rebula, to the reds like merlot. But what I find most unique to this particular wine region of the country (as there are others to the East as well), is the orange wine of Slovenia! Using the same procedure to make red wine, the region swapped out the grapes for white grapes. 

This creates an interesting softening of natural pigments and tannins that in turn create the distinctive orange wine. Not only unique in its orange colour - but the flavour resembles somewhat similar to a sherry. If it takes your fancy, in the area you can tour wineries like Edi Simčič Wine Estate or Klet Brda, and have a wine tasting. 

Where to stay by Goriška Brda:

Hotel Kozana

You can use this fine hotel as a great base for your wine adventures.

Dvor Vipolže

Experience the luxury of Tuscany - at just half the price-point. The surrounding vineyards look like the Tuscan country-side while you're still exploring stunning Slovenia.

Aldilà Art Rooms, Apartment and Vacation House

In a historical village, this hotel provides all the ambience of a true holiday with personable hospitality.

Four brown bears including a big mama bear in the wilderness.
Slovenia bear watching in the wilderness

Additional Stop 1: Bear watching in Slovenia

An activity that is absolutely thrilling - yet completely safe - is bear watching in Slovenia! Yep, those fuzzy brown bears in the wilderness! In Slovenia, bear watching is possible from a safe lookout, while learning about their natural habitat. 

An hour's drive south of Ljubljana is the small town of Lož, where you can embark on an adventure into the deep forest of Slovenia. With a wildlife expert, you’ll be taken to a wooden lookout where you’ll be able to watch these mighty brown bears in nature. Don’t worry - contrary to popular beliefs, bears are mostly vegetarians! They prefer forest fruits, mushrooms, and roots. And they’re actually very shy creatures. If you’re interested in this activity, be sure to check out Bear Watching Slovenia.

Additional Stop 2: Slovenia’s beaches and coast

The notable towns on Slovenia’s sliver of the ocean are Piran, Portoroz, Izola and Koper. They’re all within half an hour's drive from each other and worth checking out if you want a getaway to the Adriatic sea. Since each town is so small in size, it’s easy to base yourself in one of them and then hop around to the others for quick visits. 

What Gigi had to say about her time on Slovenia’s seaside was, “Beautiful small coastal cities full of colourful buildings and harbours full of boats. They all have a similar vibe but each one has something different to offer. Absolutely amazing cities and sunper underrated.”

Map of Slovenia 

Live the World map banner

“No matter where I am in the country, I’m just taken away by the visceral feeling of human connection amongst the locals.” - Logan Ly 

Slovenia is a genuinely understated gem that you still have to discover in Central Europe. It’s a country with the scintillating blue of the Adriatic sea, snow-capped mountains, and a coastline that rivals even the best of the Mediterranean. 

Now, it may be small (about half the size of Switzerland), but between the sublime natural beauty, Slovenia is jam-packed with awe-inspiring architecture and cuisine that champions locally sourced produce (like its orange wine - more on that later!). The country is like a slice of a pie between Italy and Croatia - yet its homespun culture couldn’t be more unique.

A crystal blue lake with an island in the middle in the lake with a church.

There’s no one way to explore Slovenia - it’s a jewel that reflects its light on every type of traveller. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-fueled adventure, a beach holiday, sights of unmatched landscape or just want to sink your teeth into its gastronomic twists, it’s easy to get off the beaten track no matter which turns you take in Slovenia. 

That’s why at Live the World, Slovenia is one of the most unforgettable countries our team members keep returning to. Each time I’m in Slovenia, there’s another region to explore, another dish I want to try. So in this itinerary, with some of the well-seasoned travellers at Live the World, we rounded up must-visit spots in Slovenia with things to do that Slovenes do. You can stretch this itinerary out as you like, shorten it, spend as many days or skip some - whichever way, Slovenia awaits! 

Know before you go

Best Season and Weather: 

I’ll cut to the chase - there are literally no bad seasons to visit Slovenia. It’s one of the rare countries where whichever season you go, there’s something to do, sights to see, and experiences to share. Alright, if I had to choose, I would say each season in Slovenia definitely depends on your own interests but summer and autumn in Slovenia is a given, with endless activities to do in the sun. 

From March to May, you’ll feel like you have the country to yourself. Since this isn’t peak travel season, not even for the locals, the many hotspots and activities you can explore are still open, but without the masses. There’s less rain during this time of the year, and the average temperature is around 10ºC. The skiing season here usually goes until April too! 

Ariel view of a Slovenia's capital city, Ljubljana.

From May until August, summer arrives in Slovenia. Average temperatures are between a balmy 25ºC to 30ºC. While this is the most popular season for travellers to explore Slovenia, an added bonus is how relatively less crowded Slovenia still is compared to its neighbouring countries.  

Autumn in Slovenia is one of my favourite times of the year - the foliage this country gets is like a firework display of oranges, reds and gold splashed out in the surrounded nature. From the months of late September to November, while the temperatures dip - it doesn’t get too low, at an average of 20ºC to 16ºC. 

December to early March ushers in Slovenia’s winter sports season. For a country known for its mountains, there are a plethora of snow-dappled things to do. The temperatures get low from an average of 6ºC to 1ºC, depending on whether you’re up in the alps or in the cities. 

Lake Bled, a picuresque lake with an island in the middle of the lake.

Driving:

Either with your own vehicle or renting a car, driving is the best way to explore Slovenia. The capital, ​​Ljubljana, is essentially in the centre of the country, so it’s easy to start from there and drive out in any direction. 

Since the country isn’t big, the roads are well-connected to all the smaller towns, the alps or the seaside. The best thing is, you can reach anywhere in Slovenia within about an hour’s drive from Ljubljana. 

Stop 1: Ljubljana

Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is both the largest city in the country and one of the smallest capitals in Europe. My friend Jakob, who grew up in Ljubljana, told me that “it feels like a cosy village. Everyone knows each other, so whenever you’re in the markets or square, you’ll always run into someone you can say hi to”. 

That just also goes to show the friendliness of Slovenians and how welcoming the people are. When you’re there, it’s hard not to take notice of that warmth and openness. Also, due to its size, Ljubljana is easy to explore within a day (or two) at a leisurely pace. It’s a dense city, and that makes for a wonderful way to see it on foot.‍

To get a good sense of just how compact Ljubljana is - start your discovery of the city off at Ljubljana Castle, aka Ljubjanski grad. Ljubljana castle is the symbol of the city, sitting on a central hill of the old town. There are several ways to reach the Medieval fortress, by a glass funicular, by driving, or by one of the many pathways walking up. Within its stone walls, you can roam around the prisons and walk up the peculiar tower to look out from its window view from great heights. The view is one of the most spectacular ones in Ljubljana, where you have a panoramic view of the orange-tinted rooftops of its historical buildings as well as snow-capped rugged alps on the horizon. 

Ljubljana with orange rooftop houses and a river running through the city.
View of Ljubljana

Making your way down the castle, you’ll cross the Triple Bridge, locally known as Tromostovje, a wide cobblestone pedestrian bridge that connects the two main squares of the city together. On one side you have the Town Square, with the Ljubjana Cathedral. On the other, Prešeren Square is like the beating heart of the city. This is where you’ll hear the sound of live music from musicians, see artists paint, or just residents walking their dogs. The square is also where the bright salmon pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation stands along with the Prešeren Monument, a bronze sculpture of a poet and his muse. For locals of the city, oftentimes when you’re meeting up with a friend for a night out, Slovenes will mark the poet as where to rendezvous. 

Nearby is Zmajski most, known as the Dragon Bridge. You’ll notice right away four dragon statues guarding each corner of this art nouveau bridge, as dragons are emblems of Ljubljana. Built in 1888, local legend has it that Ljubljana was founded by Jason, a hero from Greek mythology. Jason and the Argonauts slay a dragon where the city was then founded. Now, dragons are heraldic of the capital, standing for courage, and woven into Slovenian tales and songs. 

A few steps from the Dragon Bridge on the banks of the pristine Ljubljanica river is the Central Market. Slovenia prides itself on local small businesses, farmers, and sustainable practices when it comes to preserving traditional and regional dishes and food of the country. You can see how the Central Market is a hub for that with farmers' stalls selling locally made honey brandy, to produce like ruby orange and red beet syrup. There’s also a two-storey indoor portion of the market and, as a pastry-lover, it was like heaven for me to snack on homemade biscuits and try the different wood-oven baked bread there. 

A grafitti building with makeshift flags and design in Metelkova.
Metelkova

While you’re here, right beside the Central market is Odprta Kuhna, a street-food market, where you can take a big bite into Slovenian cuisine. Admittingly, this is also where I spent most of my time in the capital, as it’s such a jovial atmosphere with the most salivating dishes cooked up by such passionate chefs. We’re talking open grills with soaring embers as cooks turn slabs of best-aged ribs, classic Slovenian braised pork, plus a stall for organic mussels cooked in wine, and then there’s a stall for miške, a traditional Slovenian carnival doughnut. Each food stall at Odprta Kuhna is different - offering vegan specialities as well as international flairs like Korean, Mexican and Thai food. 

When I asked Jakob what anyone visiting Ljubljana shouldn’t miss out on, he said “without a doubt, Metelkova, which is the artists’ district.” Just north of the old town, Metelkova is a creative quarter where artists, riff-raffs, and bohemians meet. An urban sprawl that is now an abandoned military base from former Yugoslavia, it’s covered in graffiti and street art that makes you ponder its strangeness, making the once-run down area a renewed cultural centre. On any given night, Metelkova is a playground for festivals, concerts, and art exhibitions - a reflection of its underground subculture. It’s a whole different side to Ljubljana’s historical and cobblestone streets, yet Metelkova’s relaxed ambience is a welcoming make-shift place for any walks of life. Cementing this district as a creative hub, nearby is the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova and smaller art galleries like KUD Mreža.

Where to stay in Ljubljana:

Dežnik Hostel

Smacked middle of the city centre with great local staff, this is an awesome budget-friendly hostel to be based in.

Atelier Hotel

Modern interior design that's only an 11 minute walk to the city's castle = it's a win-win for me!

Hotel Emonec

Love that this is right in Ljubljana's pedestrian street - so when you walk out, everything is within reach.

The Logar Valley with many mountains on its side and a huge valley running through it.
Logar Valley

Stop 2: Kamnik, Logar Valley and Velika Planina

Heading north of Ljubljana, half an hour's drive away is the medieval town of Kamnik. Nestled in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the town looks like what one would imagine for a fantasy storybook setting in the mountains. Kamnik is made up of traditional burnt orange rooftops, narrow alleyways, high-standing castles and an alpine skyline stretched to the Velika Planina plateau. 

Anchored by the two castles of the town, Mali grad (Little Castle) and Stari grad, there’s also Zaprice Castle and Castle Katzenberg which adds to Kamnik’s rich history as a once thriving trading town. Taking a stroll down Šutna street you’ll notice yesteryear signboards, older generations doing their dailies from the many artisanal shops, and spectacular scenes of Kamnik’s bygone era architecture. Take a side step into Frančiškanski samostan Kamnik, a Franciscan church and convent. The library in this church is famous for having a collection of over 10,000 books which were all printed before the end of the 18th century. 

Kamnik is worth spending half a day exploring, and then embarking from urban escapades into the earthly paradise that embraces Kamnik, the Logar Valley (Logarska Dolina). The Logar Valley is an alpine carved hollow from a glacier, within the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.  From this park, there are several day hikes and different routes you can take. 

Herdsmen settlement and multiple cows on a huge grassy plain with mountains in the background.
Velika Planina

For the trekking enthusiast, one technical hike is to the Kamniška koča na Kamniškem sedlu, which is a great mountain lodge via the Kamnik Saddle. The Kamnik Saddle has an unbeatable view of the valley as well as the Brana and Planja mountains. This hike takes about 2-3 hours to reach the summit. 

You can also add that hike onto an uphill walk to Rinka Waterfall, or go here separately. It’s a superbly tall waterfall, gushing down from 91 metres. Be prepared to feel the misty refreshing splash of the water! Rinka Waterfall is great for any season since in the winter the water is still flowing yet the basin is all frozen in a shiny white sparkle. There’s also a cafe with a killer view that’s built right into the mountainside, Orlovo Gnezdo aka Eagle’s Nest Bar

Further north from the Logar Valley is Velika Planina. Velika Planina is a huge mountain plateau with settlements from herdsmen still living there to this day.  Walking around this rustic settlement feels like you’re on a set of Game of Thrones, with over 140 wooden huts and barns dotting the purple blanket saffrons of Velika Planina. The unique characteristic of the huts ties into the shepherding heritage, with plenty of cattle and herdsmen, abound. While some huts are residential and others for work, some are open for visitors - where you can even have an authentic shepherd’s lunch. Comprised of sour milk and žganci (which is buckwheat mush) this hearty lunch along with goulash, home curdled cheeses, and jota (which are bean and sauerkraut hotpot) will floor you with the number of flavours and hospitality from this remote plateau. Of course, it’s made with extra love since the dairy delicacies are by the local herdsmen themselves! 

I think this is one of the most tranquil places in the whole country as it’s such an escape from our regular urban lives, putting us in touch with a slower pastoral pace of living. You’ll hear the constant chime of cowbells, and experience traditional Alpine herdsmen's culture amongst the karst dolines and meadows. And just for a moment, it’ll feel like all the responsibilities in the world are lifted from your shoulders. 

Where to stay in Kamnik:

Glamping Ob Robu Gozda

How cool is this? Go glamping and stay in pristine nature - as well as a beautiful accomodation.

Guest House Repnik

Operated by locals from Kamnik, this guest house includes free bike rentals so you can explore the area by wheels.

Hiša stare mame

This one is for those who like a little romance with their getaway.

Lake Bled with mountains in the background and surrounding lush forests. A little island is in the middl of the lake.
Lake Bled

Stop 3: Lake Bled

Oh, Lake Bled. I remember even before knowing anything about Slovenia, I’d heard about this ethereal place deep in the country’s Julian alps region. Since my first time travelling there, Lake Bled still has an airy grace that makes me return to its shores each time I’m in the country. 

Whether locals do a weekend getaway to Bled or travellers do a day trip there, it has long since established itself as an iconic destination not just in Slovenia, but among Europe’s most beautiful places. After the Bohinj Glacier had long melted, the basin was filled up with the glassy turquoise waters that now make up Lake Bled (not to be confused with the town, Bled). A view of it is striking, with a tiny remote island in the middle of the lake, only to be anchored by a long Baroque stairwell (99 steps in total!) that leads up to the historical Assumption of Maria Church. You can kayak or row out to the calm island, or take the Plenta boat (which is a traditional Slovenian wooden boat) that’s used to carry guests back and forth. At the church itself, there’s a bell you can ring to make a wish, and the ring will echo throughout the lake. 

Whenever I’m at Lake Bled, I usually rent a bike and leisurely cycle along the lakeside path of Veslaška promenada (I say this as I reminisce balancing one hand on the bike handle, the other hand holding an ice cream cone).
Joris, Live the World co-founder who travelled with his family here, said “You should go for a run around the lake, it’s said you burn as many calories as eating the famous Bled cream cake.” The Bled cream cake, otherwise known to locals as Blejska kremna rezina or kremšnita, is a creamy pastry topped off with powdered sugar. You can try the Bled cream cake from the original location that invented it, at Kavarna Park’s cafe and restaurant right on the waterfront.

A stone bridge over a river, with lush forests and trees around it.
Vintgar Gorge

There are spots all around the water where you can throw down your towel and just go into the tranquil waters for a dip, as I hung out at several different green slopes that lead down to the water. Another great spot is Grajsko kopališče, aka Castle Bathing Area. Here you can rent stand-up paddle boards and boats, have an after-swim bite at the snack bar or just sunbathe like the locals. 

High above the cliffs is Bled Castle, which gives phenomenal panoramic views of Lake Bled. There’s a museum inside the castle that takes you through Slovenia’s history. During the summer, definitely decide if you want to visit Lake Bled on a weekday or weekend - as it can get super packed with people during the high season. 

Pair your downtime at Lake Bled with a visit to the nearby Vintgar Gorge, aka Soteska Vintgar, where you walk along the best of nature. From waters that are so clear that it looks like an impressionistic painting to an easy hike up to waterfalls in between lush gorges… There’s no other word for this slice of Slovenia: enchanting. 

Where to stay in Bled:

Čarman House

Right beside the lake itself, you'll have a piece of the pier all to yourself at this accommodation.

Adora Luxury Hotel

For those wanting a finer experience by Lake Bled, look no further than the Adora.

Travellers’ Haven Hostel Bled

For a rustic, down to earth stay, this budget-friendly hostel is only a stone-throw away from everything you need.

Snow-capped mountains of Triglav National Park
Triglav National Park

Stop 4: Triglav National Park

In Slovenia’s one and only national park, Triglav National Park is a boundless beauty of rolling greenery, stretching over almost the entirety of the Julian alps of the country. You can do countless activities - canyoning, hiking, kayaking, rafting, cycling or even climbing Mount Triglav, the country’s tallest mountain at 2864 metres. Yep, for an outdoor enthusiast, Triglav National Park is like a haven and a place that local Slovenes return to time and again.  

Triglav National Park gets its name from the three-headed Mount Triglav, an emblem of strength for the entire country and the Slovenes. There are various routes you can take to reach the summit, but no matter which trek you embark on, you’ll have to sleep overnight in one of the mountain huts. All ascents take at least two days up Mount Triglav.

There’s a few ways to enter Triglav National Park - the other stops in our itineraries, Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are also part of the National Park.

Another spectacular nature area of the Julian alps is the Seven Lakes Valley. Aptly named for the seven lakes scattered throughout the glacial alpine valley, each lake is astoundingly magical for its clear reflection. The water is so clear it could be the setting of how Narcissus, the Greek nymph fell in love with his own reflection in the water. The valley is about 8 kilometres long, starting from Planina Blato, an alpine pasture that is a well-known starting point for treks in the region. For a hike to the Seven Lakes Valley, from Planina Blato is takes about 3 and a half hours to hike one way, and about 7 hours to do a loop. Adding to the magic of the Seven Lakes valley, due to the low crowds of Slovenia, in various parts of your hike you really feel like you have the whole hiking trail to yourself. It’s so easy here to imagine what this corner of Europe was like before any settlement since the nature feels so uncharted and still untouched. Very few places on the continent still leave you with that feeling, and yet the mountains, forests, and valleys of Triglav National Park is that rare gem. 

A church and a stone bridge of Lake Bohinj looking over the lake.
A beachy spot and crystal clear water of Lake Bohinj

Stop 5: Lake Bohinj 

What most people may not know is that Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are actually still part of the Triglav National Park. Yep, the park is that big - covering a vast amount of this area in Slovenia! 

Lake Bled may be the star, taking most of the attention and adoration, but just a 30-minute drive away, Lake Bohinj is an underrated gem with way less crowds. For any hike-lovers, there’s tons of trails all around Lake Bohinj (we are still in the heart of the Julian alps after all). Definitely don’t miss out on hiking to Savica Waterfall, where a cascading rush of glacial streams await you at the end of a cliff. 

Gigi, a team member at Live the World who recently spent some time at Lake Bohinj says, “I stayed at Camp Bohinj, which has so much to offer! It’s a great place for kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding, hiking and a lot of outdoor activities. This is great for any type of traveller whether going solo to connect with nature or driving a car full of kids for a week or weekend of camping.”

Dotted all around Lake Bohinj are little beaches where you can go for a swim in the crystal clear waters. A thing to note though, Lake Bohinj is really, really cold while Lake Bled’s water is warm thanks to the thermal springs.

There’s also Kramar caslafe (Restavracija Kramar), where you can get ice cream and snacks - but a favourite amongst the kids and locals is a mini pier right next to the cafe. This is where you’ll see a lot of people running off to the end of the pier to jump into the pristine lake for a refreshing swim. 

Translucent waters running through Soca Valley
Soca Valley

Where to stay by Lake Bohinj:

Hostel pod Voglom

It's a laid-back, very affordable stay for not only Lake Bohinj but Triglav National Park too.

Hotel Jezero

On the pricier side of accommodation, but the big draw is the lake and mountain views.

House Budkovic

Amongst the town's centre, it's still close by to Lake Bohinj while being a very affordable accommodation.

Stop 6: Soca Valley 

There are few places in the world where you can see water that’s so rich in aquamarine colour. Already a landscape of sweeping valleys and tapering gorges, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast or an adrenaline junkie, the Soca Valley has so many activities one can do to fill that thirst. 

Tolmin Gorges, located in the Soca Valley, is a winding walk where you’ll pass by moss-covered rocks and a suspension bridge over the tranquil glassy waters. If you go to all viewpoints in the Tolmin Gorges (definitely do), it takes about 2 hours, but you could do just the short loop in about 1 hour. Simply, there are more things to uncover here, like little tunnels that snake their way to surreal natural spots under caves.

A town to base yourself on while exploring Soca Valley is the picturesque Bovec. You can do any outdoor spots here, from kayaking and alpine ziplining to rafting, and no part of the surrounding mountains or river seems untouched by thrilling activities in Bovec. 

Multiple streams of ruhing water running down Vrje Waterfalls

From Bovec, venture out into the Great Soca Gorge where deep in the forest you’ll be greeted by geomorphological shapes and a basin where people go swimming and sunbathing. On the other side of town, you can do an easy hike to Boka Waterfall. There’s a standing platform there for a rewarding view of the highest waterfall in Slovenia. Then even closer to Bovec’s town centre is the Virje Waterfall where an emerald-glistening basin sits below the cascading falls. All this within reach from Bovec on lovely walks? It’s another town that you’ll definitely swoon over in Slovenia. 

While you’re in Bovec, be on the lookout for bovški krafi, a traditional Slovenian dumpling dessert. It’s stuffed with sweet pears and even originated in Bovec itself. The casual Sovdat restaurant in town serves them up as well at the alpine inn of Gostisce Hedvika Hedvika Mlekuz s. P.

Where to stay by Soca Valley:

Pristava Lepena

I absolutely adore how charming this wooden cabin-like guest house is!

Hostel Soca Rocks

A great place to meet other travellers while travelling on a budget.

Hotel Mangart

No matter what season you're here, this hotel is perfect for a winter stay or a summer getaway (it's also one of the few hotels in the area with air conditioning!)

The wine vineyards of Slovenia all over the hillside.
Vineyards of Slovenia

Stop 7: Slovenia’s orange wine in Goriška Brda

Coming down not too far from Soca Valley is a corner of Slovenia where rows upon rows of sun-kissed orchards, hillside villages, and vineyards prosper beyond the mountain ranges. Even though it borders Italy, the Goriška Brda wine region of Slovenia is already making a name for itself. 

There are plenty of different wines that are produced in this region, from whites like the Mighty Rebula, to the reds like merlot. But what I find most unique to this particular wine region of the country (as there are others to the East as well), is the orange wine of Slovenia! Using the same procedure to make red wine, the region swapped out the grapes for white grapes. 

This creates an interesting softening of natural pigments and tannins that in turn create the distinctive orange wine. Not only unique in its orange colour - but the flavour resembles somewhat similar to a sherry. If it takes your fancy, in the area you can tour wineries like Edi Simčič Wine Estate or Klet Brda, and have a wine tasting. 

Where to stay by Goriška Brda:

Hotel Kozana

You can use this fine hotel as a great base for your wine adventures.

Dvor Vipolže

Experience the luxury of Tuscany - at just half the price-point. The surrounding vineyards look like the Tuscan country-side while you're still exploring stunning Slovenia.

Aldilà Art Rooms, Apartment and Vacation House

In a historical village, this hotel provides all the ambience of a true holiday with personable hospitality.

Four brown bears including a big mama bear in the wilderness.
Slovenia bear watching in the wilderness

Additional Stop 1: Bear watching in Slovenia

An activity that is absolutely thrilling - yet completely safe - is bear watching in Slovenia! Yep, those fuzzy brown bears in the wilderness! In Slovenia, bear watching is possible from a safe lookout, while learning about their natural habitat. 

An hour's drive south of Ljubljana is the small town of Lož, where you can embark on an adventure into the deep forest of Slovenia. With a wildlife expert, you’ll be taken to a wooden lookout where you’ll be able to watch these mighty brown bears in nature. Don’t worry - contrary to popular beliefs, bears are mostly vegetarians! They prefer forest fruits, mushrooms, and roots. And they’re actually very shy creatures. If you’re interested in this activity, be sure to check out Bear Watching Slovenia.

Additional Stop 2: Slovenia’s beaches and coast

The notable towns on Slovenia’s sliver of the ocean are Piran, Portoroz, Izola and Koper. They’re all within half an hour's drive from each other and worth checking out if you want a getaway to the Adriatic sea. Since each town is so small in size, it’s easy to base yourself in one of them and then hop around to the others for quick visits. 

What Gigi had to say about her time on Slovenia’s seaside was, “Beautiful small coastal cities full of colourful buildings and harbours full of boats. They all have a similar vibe but each one has something different to offer. Absolutely amazing cities and sunper underrated.”

Map of Slovenia 

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