Slovenia is in the heart of Europe and borders the alps and Mediterranean Coast. It’s a country that has a little bit of everything –alps, beaches, pristine lakes, 11,000 karst caves, a Pannonian Plain, healthy water springs, and city life in Ljubljana, European’s Green Capital. No wonder it’s been called the New Zealand of Europe.
Known as the first country in the world to be declared a green destination — based on the Green Destinations Criteria. And it’s the only country with the word LOVE in its name!
I visited for only 3 days, traveled solo and had a wonderful time meeting the local people. Here are some recommendations on where to stay, dine & what to do in Slovenia.
Ljubljana: The Ljubljana Castle is up on a hill and keeps watch over the old town. It’s worth walking to the top for the views, to visit the castle and cafes. Or you can take the funicular up to the medieval castle.
Take a stroll along the promenade that hugs the Ljubljanica River, and venture into the small alleys where you’ll find boutiques and cafes. You can also ride the boats along the river through the town – reserve your seat for a 30 minute ride at one of the boat booths on the pedestrian street along the banks of the river. If you love to walk, visit Tivoli Park and climb Rožnik Hill. Discover the city by bike too.
Don’t Miss! Be sure to visit the farmers’ market.
The Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture is magnificent, as are the creations by the 20th century architect Jože Plečnik. His landmarks are worth noting – the bridges: Tromostovje “Triple Bridge”, the Cobbler’s Bridge, the Dragon Bridge, and the Trnovo Bridge; the Robba Fountain in front of City Hall, Križanke monastery, the central market collonade, the National Library, Gallery & Museum, Plečnik’s House in the Trnovo district, Levstik Square and Žale Cemetery.
Food Tour: Highly recommend! Sign up for a food tour with Roundabout Travel and you can taste & sip local cuisine and wines. In Slovenia, there are 23 food regions and 350 local dishes! Our guide Masa Simcic escorted us to 6 different restaurants where we tried local dishes like turnip millet soup, local breads, sausages, cheeses, pastas filled with potatoes & parsley, and local fish with parsley, garlic, lemon and olive oil, and more. Each dish was paired with a local wine, beer or elderberry juice.
The capital city of Slovenia is a lively town with a vibrant cultural and art scene – concerts, festivals, theatre, fairs, opera, ballet. Visit the Tourism Office link in the Resources section below, and find out the events schedule.
Day Trips from Ljubljana:
Piran: Head to Slovenian’s Istria on the Mediterranean. Explore this coastal town, a little “Venice”. It’s a perfect place to visit on foot. Meander through the alleyways, and visit the market. Climb up to the city walls, and to the top of the bell tower for spectacular views! If you plan to stay the night, check into Hotel Piran.
Postjona Cave: Head south to visit one of thousands of caves in Slovenia. This tour takes you on an electrical train and drops you off into a spectacular underground world where you walk through enormous caverns and passageways filled with colorful limestone curtains, stalagmites and stalactites.
Predjama Castle: Step into a medieval fairytale! Visit the charming village of Predjama and the largest cave castle in Europe. Predjama sits in the gaping mouth of a 400 ft cliff. Our guide told us all about the legend of a famous knight, the owner Erazem Predjamski – called Erasmus and the ‘Slovenian Robin Hood’, and other local folk traditions dating back 800 years.
Lake Bled: Only a couple hours drive from Ljubljana, and you reach the town of Bled. Nature lovers flock to this alpine area next to the Julian Alps. Lake Bled has Slovenia’s only island and lures photographers from around the world to capture its natural beauty. It’s Slovenia’s home of fairy tales, where visitors can hike up to a 12th-century castle perched on a cliff overlooking the lake and surrounding mountain peaks.
Few Things Not to Miss!
- Take a boat ride in a traditional ‘pletna’ boat
- Walk the 99 stone steps up to the Assumption of Mary Church and climb up to the top of the fortune bell tower.
- Taste the famous Slovenian Bled Cream Cake.
Book a tour at: email@example.com or visit their site – Roundabout Travel
I only had a few days, but if you have more time, there are several more daytrips to consider where you can hike, cycle, swim, horseback ride and connect with the local people.
- Škocjan Caves
- Goriška Brda Hills
- Bohinj Lake and take the railway to the Soča Valley and its emerald river
- Piran and Salt Pans
- Herdsmen’s huts at Velika Planina
- The Logar Valley (Logarska dolina) and Rinka Falls in the Solčava Region
I stayed at Antiq Palace, formerly a 16th century palace residence for nobility and today it’s a luxury hotel. It’s central to the Old Town and within walking distance to the castle, town, museums, theaters. The staff provides excellent service to make your stay enjoyable.
There is a lovely courtyard, and each of the 18 spacious suites and boutique rooms are unique with the latest amenities. Special care has been made to preserve the original details of the palace with natural materials – stone and hardwood floors, frescoes, terraces, and other architectural features.
Antiq Palace is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World (520 intimate, privately owned hotels in 70 countries), as well as a member of the renowned collection of the Historic Hotels of Europe and Castle Hotels & Mansions.
Good to note: Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa is only two hours away from Zagreb and Venice Marco Polo international airports. Airport drop-offs can be arranged.
I dined at the Vander Restaurant, located on a terrace of four old town houses that have been converted to Vander Hotel, a Member of Design Hotels. The restaurant is nestled under the Castle Hill along the banks of the River Ljubljanica, and the food was excellent.
There are several Slovenian delicacies to choose from and each traditional dish has the freshest local ingredients. Recommend the grilled sea bass! If you return for breakfast, there are home-made jams and honey from Brkini, butter from Kobarid, Slovenian cheese (Tolmin and Nanos varieties), omelettes and more.
Open Kitchen: Between Mid-March and October, on Fridays, you can visit the Open Kitchen food market and taste freshly made delicacies prepared by Slovenian chefs, farms and restaurants. There are musical performances and other entertainment.
Ljubljana’s Restaurants: There are several restaurants to try Slovenian and Mediterranean seasonal dishes – keep a lookout for JB, Restaurant Strelec in Ljubljana Castle’s picturesque Archers’ Tower, Čubr, Cubo, Kovač, Maxim, and Gostilna Na gradu.
Global Adventuress would like to thank Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa for hosting me at their elegant hotel, and for Vander Hotel for hosting my dinner.
Also, we thank Roundabout Travel for hosting fantastic city and day tours in Slovenia!