A country where centuries-old towns collide with blissful seascapes, beech-shaded forests, turquoise glacial lakes and majestic snow-dipped alpine scenery can only stay secret so long. Welcome to Slovenia, the newest addition to your European travel bucket list.
With Central Europe’s hip coastal hot-spot Croatia hanging underneath and drawing travellers to its beaches, Slovenia’s still coming into its own. As the medieval streets of Piran or Ljubljana and the hiking trails continue to fill, there’s no better time than now to zip over to the country that truly encapsulates everything that makes Central Europe the continent’s most compelling escape.
Give your passport the stamp it deserves. Maximize your limited vacation time and discover what to do in Slovenia with this 10-day Slovenia itinerary for independent travellers.
Need ideas on what to do in Slovenia? Dive in deep with this quick-and-easy 10-day Slovenia itinerary.
Whether you’re a light adventure traveller, beach bum or an urban explorer, there are a ton of things to do in Slovenia. The biggest challenge is fitting it all in. If you only have 10 days, you’ll have to resign to carving out a tighter plan for your Slovenia itinerary. Even in a country as compact as Slovenia, you don’t want to spend all of your precious vacation days in transit!
Renting a car resolves some of the issues. Driving in Slovenia tends to be far quicker to get between point A to point B than relying solely on public transit. This is especially true for more rural destinations like Predjama Castle where public transportation is less frequent, slower or less convenient. Booking local sightseeing tours to pack more sights into your day is another option to consider for making more efficient use of your time.
Nearly every visit to Slovenia begins with a stay in Ljubljana. Slovenia’s tiny capital is not only one of Europe’s most compact, but one of its most mesmerizing. Even if you can’t wrap your vocal chords around the tongue-twisting name, Ljubljana’s bound to become one of your favourite European cities even if you can only dedicate a few days to it.
It’s also the perfect destination to base yourself for epic Ljubljana day trips. In a small country like Slovenia, getting from place to place is easy. If you’re super-tight on time and don’t want to pack your bags so often, I’d recommend sticking around longer in Ljubljana. Four days seems to be a good compromise, allowing for two full days of exploring Ljubljana and two days for day trips elsewhere in Slovenia.
What to Do in Ljubljana
Planning out things to do in Ljubljana hardly involves much guesswork. Most attractions lie within tightly-packed central Ljubljana, especially in and around Old Town. You can reach just about everything you’d want to see in Ljubljana by foot.
Wander around Old Town
Ljubljana’s life emanates from its Old Town, a smattering of medieval streets studded with graceful architecture. With Triple Bridge and Prešeren Square as your anchor, dig into the Old Town by crossing east over the Ljubljanica into the old quarter. There’s a host of excellent cafés and restaurants perched along the Ljubljanica. Stop in for a quick bite or a coffee to fuel up for the day ahead.
Admire the city from Ljubljana Castle
What better way to experience Ljubljana than from above? Trek up (or take the funicular) to Ljubljana Castle, the city’s most famous landmark. The castle grounds are shrouded in sheer beauty, and are a wonderful way to spend some time unwinding. Rehydrate with a sip of wine or beer in the courtyard before stealing some incredible views over the medieval centre from the castle ramparts or Outlook Tower.
Soak in the artful Ljubljana Cathedral
Ljubljana Cathedral is also worth a detour when touring Old Town. As beautiful as the quintessentially-Central European church towers and domes are, the biggest drawcards of Ljubljana Cathedral are inside, not out. Enter through the sculpted bronze doors to marvel at the incredible 18th-century Baroque frescoes and marvel at the gilded details.
Time-travel on a day trip to Škofja Loka
Choosing just one contender from all the possible day trips from Ljubljana seems an impossible task. One of the easiest is a quick half-day out to the beautiful medieval town of Škofja Loka.
Experiencing Škofja Loka is as easy as simply allowing yourself to become lost in the ageless streets. Besides slogging up to Škofja Loka Castle and its Loka Museum, keep on the lookout for Capuchin Bridge north of the old town to snap that classic postcard of Škofja Loka.
Discover the Slovenian tradition on a day trip to Kamnik and Velika Planina
One of the best sites in the whole country to uncover Slovenia’s past is in Velika Planina outside of the town of Kamnik. For its Old Town and two castle ruins (Mali Grad and Stari Grad), the town of Kamnik is itself worthy of a day trip. Throw in a visit to Velika Planina and you’ll soon declare the day a huge winner.
When in Velika Planina, don’t miss the “herdsmen’s settlement.” This small village, characterized by its traditional pine-shingled huts, swings back into action every summer starting in June. Resembling something you’d sooner uncover in a fairytale than in a modern European country, Velika Planina’s delightfully quirky village is bound to spellbind you. Feeling extra adventurous? Gulp down a traditional herder’s meal of sour milk and corn.
Although its possible to power through your day trip by public transportation and walking, renting a car or joining an organized tour like the Kamnik and Velika Planina Small-Group Tour is the easiest way to make the most your day.
Where to stay
The quality of accommodations in Ljubljana is generally good and always improving. With Ljubljana’s recent burst of popularity, booking during high season presents some challenges. Book early to avoid wrecking your travel plans!
- Budget: Bed & Breakfast Atticus (starting at $38)
- Mid-Range: City Hotel Ljubljana (starting at $111)
- Luxury: Vander Urbani Resort (starting at $170)
By air: Several airlines serve Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU) from the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada including Adria Airways, Slovenia’s flagship carrier. If you’re looking to save money, easyJet flies to Ljubljana from London (Stansted) and London (Gatwick).
By bus: There are regular buses to Ljubljana from Zagreb (2h15m), Venice (3h29m) and Vienna (5h47m).
By train: From elsewhere in Central Europe, there are several trains to Ljubljana including Zagreb (2h18m), Vienna (6h4m), Salzburg, (5h8m), and Bratislava (7h31m).
Everyone knows about Croatia’s famous Adriatic coastline; fewer realize that Slovenia rocks out its own little blissful Istrian riviera wedged between the Croatian and Italian coasts.
The most famous—or at least prettiest—Slovenian resort town is Piran. If you’re craving fun in the sun after a little sightseeing in the deep alpine woods or cities of Slovenia, Piran’s the best answer.
What to Do in Piran
The overwhelmingly picturesque Piran isn’t as jam-packed with activities as other Slovenian destinations. Discover this Mediterranean gem at a relaxed pace to truly appreciate what it has to offer. Not that there aren’t plenty of things to do in Piran. But expect your days to be filled less with an over-stuffed itinerary than with small memorable moments like enjoying a seaside coffee, downing succulently-fresh seafood, and sucking in the seabreeze sliding off the Adriatic.
Hike up to the city walls to steal a bird’s-eye view of Old Town
Besides wandering aimlessly throughout Piran’s Old Town, no better experience awaits in Piran than finding your way up the old city walls for a view over the town. Piran—not unlike more famous destinations like Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia—features stunning Venetian architecture impressive enough to trick you into thinking you’re in Italy. (Although Italy is just steps away, so it’s not a stretch!) At the height of tourist season, scaling along the city walls will also give you a much needed break from the thick crowds of central Piran.
Enjoy a seaside meal on Prešernovo nabrežje
If you love seafood, there’s no better place in Slovenia to stuff yourself than in Piran. Break through to the edge of the peninsula where Old Town pokes into the Adriatic and you’ll find Prešernovo nabrežje, a coast-hugging street that hosts a wealth of Piran’s best restaurants.
Explore the earth on a day trip to Škojcan Caves and Postojna Cave
Spending 3 days in Piran provides a chance to grab a day trip or two. Of all the Piran day trips, the two most unique might be Škojcan Caves and Postojna Cave. Although you could also visit both as day trips from Ljubljana, attacking them from Piran will save you a little time.
To see both Škojcan Caves and Postojna Cave without wasting your entire day, you’ll probably need to rent a car. Throw the impressive Predjama Castle into the mix, and you’ll have one amazing of day out from Piran!
Where to stay
There’s a good selection of accommodations in Piran. At the height of tourist season, things get busy in the seaside town. You’ll often need to book several months ahead to snag the best deals and secure a room in the best hotels in Piran.
- Budget: Val Hostel Piran (starting at $32)
- Mid-Range: Hotel Piran (starting at $101)
- Luxury: Second Life in Piran – Holiday Home (starting at $214)
By bus: The bus from Ljubljana to Piran costs €12 and takes between 2 and 2.5 hours, depending on traffic.
By train: There’s no train station in Piran. The closest train service is to Koper, 30 minutes away. Unless you’re planning a stopover in Koper, you’re better off to take the bus.
As much as you’ll love visiting Ljubljana, it’s hard to leave Slovenia without a trip to Bled tugging at your heart strings. You can sort through hundreds of reasons to visit Bled. But you need only one to pull the trigger: Experiencing the transcendent beauty of Lake Bled for yourself.
Bled is one of the most amazing outdoor destinations in Europe, and offers some of the best landscapes you’ll find anywhere on the planet.
What to Do in Bled
Digging into all the things to do in Bled begins and ends with what you’ll find outdoors. Slovenia’s done a superb job of making the Bled area a top adventure destination. The bustling tourism centre of Bled acts as the perfect base to explore an area whose crystalline lakes and snow-kissed alpine scenery will no doubt stick with you for a lifetime.
Walk around Lake Bled
After arriving in Bled, the easiest activity for beginners is to grab a view of the turquoise waters of Lake Bled from every possible angle. The 2-kilometre walk around the lake is the perfect place to start. The walk is an easy one, sliding along over flat terrain. The best views are from the lake’s southern and eastern shores where the towering Julien Alps spill into the panorama, accented by Bled Island and Bled Castle.
Trudge up to Bled Castle
The views over Lake Bled from Bled Castle are among the best you’ll find anywhere in Europe. Getting up there isn’t always easy. But burn out those calf muscles to reveal a sweeping panorama over Lake Bled that will knock your socks off. After soaking in some views, stop at the Bled Castle wine cellar to cork your own bottle of souvenir Slovenian wine with the resident monk sommelier.
Explore the depths of Vintgar Gorge or the beauty of Lake Bohinj
Extending your stay in Bled opens up an array of day tripping opportunities. A mere one-hour walk (or 10-minute drive) will get you to Vintgar Gorge, one of Slovenia’s best outdoor destinations. Trek your way through the 1.6-kilometre Vintgar Gorge along wooden bridges and paths that hover above the Radovna River.
Will to go a little further afoot? Slovenia’s second most famous lake, Lake Bohinj, lies on the fringes of Triglav National Park just 40 minutes from Bled. A round-the-lake walk clocks in at 12 kilometres, requiring a little more gusto than the comparably zippy walk around Lake Bled.
Unlike Lake Bled, motorized boats are allowed on Lake Bohinj. Snag your chance to see the lake up close aboard the Bohinj and Zlatorog, the lake’s two sightseeing boats that depart from the lakeside town of Ribčev Laz.
Where to stay
If there was ever any doubt about Lake Bled’s popularity, simply take a look at the sheer number of hotels in Bled. Like all of the best places to visit in Slovenia, Bled books up quickly requiring a little pre-planning to score a good room. Unless you have a car, try to stay close to town so that you’re within close walking distance of the best Bled attractions and restaurants.
- Budget: Penzion Kaps (starting at $53)
- Mid-Range: Penzion Vila Prešeren (starting at $101)
- Luxury: Chalet MM (starting at $163)
By bus: The most convenient way to get to Bled is by bus. From most destinations in Slovenia, you’ll need to backtrack to Ljubljana to find your way to Bled. Buses from Ljubljana leave roughly hourly and take approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes (or less). A one-way ticket from Ljubljana will set you back about €7.
By train: There are two train stations around Bled: Lesce and Jezero Bled. Neither station is convenient for most travellers as they are located several kilometres away from town. Trains from Ljubljana stop in Lesce while Jezero Bled serves trains from Jezenice. If you simply must take the train, save cash for a taxi or a bus into town.
Need more ideas? Apply these 10-day Slovenia itinerary tweaks.
- Want to dig deeper into the outdoors? Stay longer in Bled, overnight at Lake Bohinj or add Bovec to your itinerary. Whether on the western or eastern edges of Triglav National Park, you’ll be in touch with the spectacular Slovenian outdoors.
- Need some more fun in the sun? Hang out longer on the Istrian Coast. Choose to extend your stay in Piran or try spending time in the tourist-resort retreats of Portorož or Izola.
- A self-proclaimed oenophile? Carve out a day in Ptuj, an ancient town in the heart of Slovenia’s best-known wine-growing region. The Ptuj Wine Cellar is the oldest in the country and offers up some of the country’s best white wines.
Finished your 10 days in Slovenia? Here’s where to go next…
- Croatia: Explore more of the former Yugoslavia with a short jaunt down to Croatia. Follow along with this Croatia itinerary to get the most out of your trip.
- Austria: From Slovenia it’s a short train ride north into Austria. Start your Austria itinerary off in Graz or Salzburg, the two closest major Austrian cities to the border.
- Italy: On Slovenia’s Istrian Coast you’re literally steps away from Italy. Continue on from Slovenia to Venice to launch an Italy itinerary in grand style!