The Best Places of Slovenia for Tourists
Tucked between Italy, Austria, and Croatia, Slovenia is so small you might skip over it—but that would be a mistake. Though it's roughly the size of Massachusetts, it packs a major visual punch: alpine villages, cliffside castles, emerald lakes, fields of white horses, and some of the most beautiful forests in the entire world. In other words, it's a fairy tale setting come to life. Here are some of the best and most beautiful places the country has to offer—start packing your bags.
There's a reason Lake Bled is one of Slovenia's most popular sites. With its emerald waters, church-dotted islet, views of the Julien Alps, and Disney-like castle on a hill, you won't be short of picture-perfect views.
Located within Triglav National Park at an elevation of around 3,600-4,600 feet, Pokljuka is a plateau of forests and idyllic mountain pastures, like Uskovnica, Lipanca, and Zajamniki (pictured). It is known for its winter sports facilities, and is a popular starting point for people hiking the Julian Alps.
Slovenia's capital city is as romantic and charming as they come—and clean, having been named the “Green Capital of Europe 2016” by the European Commission. Stroll through the pedestrian-only Old Town, sip coffee by the leafy banks of the Ljubljanica River, or take in the baroque architecture and hilltop sixteenth-century Ljubljana Castle.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is found in the Karst region, a limestone plateau stretching from southwest Slovenia to Italy. The system of caves consists of 3.8 miles of underground passages, waterfalls, and rapids, and the enormous Martel Chamber—one of the largest underground chambers in the world. Guided tours of the caves and underground river are available.
A village located close to the border of Italy, Lipica is known for one thing in particular: its horses. The town is home to the world-renowned Lipica Stud Farm, an establishment that first bred Lipizzan horses back in the 16th century. Visits to the farm include trail riding, carriage rides, museum tours, and stud performances.
The Gothic-style Predjama Castle is easily one of the world's most dramatic castles, built directly into the side of a 404-foot cliff that hides a network of cave passages. Tours of the castle are available year-round, although hibernating bats in the caves restrict underground tours to the months of May-September.
Situated on a picturesque peninsula on the Adriatic coastline, Piran is one of Slovenia's most beautiful cities. Its pedestrian-only Old Town is reminiscent of Venice in miniature, with Gothic architecture, alfresco wine bars, narrow alleyways, and glowing sunsets.
Sitting just over two miles north of Lake Bled, Vintgar Gorge is a wild natural monument located in the heart of the Julian Alps (it's part of Triglav National Park). More than 5,000 feet of wooden walkways wind through the gorge, taking you over rapids, pools, and rivers before reaching the spectacular Šum Waterfall.
Flowing for 86 miles through the Julian Alps in western Slovenia and Italy, Soča is one seriously beautiful river—startlingly clear and impossibly emerald. Adventurers flock to its waters for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and canyoning.
Slovenia's second-largest city is provincial and charming, with a medieval Old Town, pedestrian-only central streets, and a skyline defined by orange roofs and rolling hills. The town is also the site of a glorious landmark: "the oldest vine in the world." Stara Trta (literally "Old Vine") is more than 400 years old, and is a symbol of the rich wine culture in Maribor.
Kranjska Gora is one of Slovenia's best resort towns (especially during the winter months), equipped with many hotels, restaurants, and ski slopes. The area is surrounded by stunning lakes and some of the highest peaks in the Julian Alps.
Škofja Loka is one of the oldest towns in Slovenia, and is located a bit off the beaten tourist path (about 18 miles west of Ljubljana and 16 miles south of Bled). It is well worth the drive, especially since the town is one of the most fairy tale-esque places in the country—think hilly countrysides, buildings with Baroque frescoes and stone towers, and a castle that becomes illuminated at night.