Slovenia is a very diverse country and due to its small size, it feels like you could visit most of the “must see” destinations within a few days. However, if you really want to get the most out it, a week or even two is barely enough.
From beautiful crystal clear rivers and high mountain peaks on one side and diverse coastline on the other side, there’s definitely something here to find for every type of traveler.
However, this post is not about those easy to find and famous spots or adventures that everyone knows of, such as lake Bled. Instead I will tell you about the true best things to do here for adventure travelers and best places to visit in Slovenia, that will definitely make you want to come back. So keep reading only if you want to find out about my list of what to do in Slovenia (tips by locals).
This journey will take you from Ljubljana – the capital of Slovenia and of the greenest cities in the world, to one of Europe’s most beautiful alpine valley and we will finish our trip at the seaside.
Welcome To Ljubljana
Ljubljana is quite often the first stop for people visiting Slovenia. If you are flying to Ljubljana airport, it might be a good idea to spend your first day in the capital and biggest city of Slovenia.
Despite being the biggest city of the country, Ljubljana only has about 300.000 inhabitants and the city itself is quite small and for the most part it is easy to explore on foot.
Facts about Ljubljana
- One of the smallest European capitals with only 300.000 people,
- Vast green spaces, zero waste objective and car-free city center,
- The city center is open only to pedestrians and cyclists and is very easy to explore on foot,
- Ljubljana is one of the safest cities you’ll ever visit. The city is safe even at night. Slovenia ranks among 10 safest countries in the world.
- Ljubljana owes some of its beauty to a catastrophe. An earthquake in 1895 destroyed a large part of the city. But on the other hand, this was an opportunity for visionaries like Jože Plečnik to build majestic urban masterpieces from the rubble.
For those of you that don’t like moving around much and swithing accommodation, Ljubljana is a great location to stay for your whole Slovenia holiday, since it is situated in the center of the country and you can take great day trips to some of the most popular destiantions such as the Slovenian coast (1,5 hour drive), Bled (40 min drive), Soča valley (2 hour drive), Škocjan caves (1 hour drive).
What To Do in Ljubljana
Ljubljana is a modern, lively, safe and environmentally friendly city. In 2016, the city has won the European green capital award. The main reasons are Ljubljana’s car-free city center, low-emission public transportation, zero waste objective and its cycling network.
When searching for accommodation in Ljubljana, we suggest staying somewhere in the old town, which is the most beautiful part of the city. You’ll then have a perfect starting point for exploring the city. You can start by taking a stroll down the streets of the old town, exploring countless little shops and cafes with a stunning view of the Ljubljanica river.
Right by the Ljubljanica river, you will find the Prešeren Square. This is the very center of the city and possibly the liveliest place of Ljubljana. It is the place where the city meets up and celebrates.
The Locals Recommend
You should always listen to the locals right? 😉 So don’t leave Ljubljana without exploring at least some of these main attractions.
There’s no place in town that offers a better view than the famous Ljubljana castle – originally a medieval fortress built in the 11th century.
Take A Day Trip
Being situated in the center of the country, Ljubljana is a great starting point for day trips, such as the Postojna cave or lake Bled.
Visit The Tivoli Park
A green space with elegant gardens and avenues designed in 1813 by a French engineer Jean Blanchard. Great place to take a relaxing walk or go for a morning run.
One of the best ways to see the city center and the modern architecture of Ljubljana, is by taking a lovely boat tour down the Ljubljanica river
Next Stop – The Soča Valley
If you’re wondering what to do in Slovenia and you end up not visiting the Soča valley, you’d miss out a lot, believe me. It’s not only a place for adventure travelers, but for everyone who loves to discover beautiful nature, relax and enjoy amazing views.
The Soča valley is one of Europe’s best kept secrets, which means it won’t be as flooded with tourists as other more famous destinations, such as lake Bled.
Facts About The Soča Valley
- Crystal clear emerald Soča – One of the most beautiful rivers in the world
- A great place to do some hiking. You can choose between easy hikes along the Soča river or get up early in the morning and conquer one of the high mountain peaks.
- If you love adventure and adrenaline, this is the place to be. The Soča river offers some of the best rafting in the world as well as canyoning, kayaking, skydiving…
- Bovec is a tiny town in the heart of the Soča valley. It is the recommended place to stay for those of you who want to try some outdoor adventures, hiking and hit some pubs in the evening.
If you’re into history, you’ll also find the Soča valley to be an interesting place to visit. One of the biggest battles of the World War 1 took place in this area. Old forteresses, bunkers and other remains, are still visible to this day and remind us of that tragic time.
The Soča valley is also a popular filming location for numerous commercials and films, the most famous one being The Cronicles of Narnia.
What To Do in The Soča Valley
No traveler should leave Slovenia without visiting the Soča Valley. This alpine valley is located in the northwest of the country. It’s named after the crystal clear Soča river. To say that the place is stunning would be a bit of an understatement.
You can never be bored in a place as beautiful as this, with so many possible things to do. Every type of traveler will find something to do in
the Soča valley.
The Locals Recommend
Adventurous travelers will enjoy one of the more challenging canyoning trips. Couples and families will definitely have a great time hiking and whitewater rafting. A lot of travelers say, these outdoor activities were the highlight of their trip and one of their favorite things to do in Slovenia.
Visiting some natural wonders such as waterfalls and relaxing on the banks of the Soča river will appeal to the less adventurous people.
Part of the Soča valley lies in the Triglav National Park, which is a
must visit as well and offers some great hiking options to the highest mountain peaks in the area.
The Great Soča Gorge
The longest and most beautiful canyon of the Soča river, with a small sandy beach located at the end of the gorge. Perfect to relax after a day of outdoor adventures.
The Soča Trail
25km long easy hiking trail from the source of the Soča river to the third Soča gorge near Bovec. Experience stunning scenery, picturesque footbridges and freshness of the Soča river.
Kanin Ski Resort
The highest ski resort in Slovenia with huge amounts of snow, becomes a paradise for hikers and mountain bikers in the summertime.
You can find the schedule and prices at their website: www.kanin.si
Go Rafting or Canyoning
A must do while staying in the Soča valley. Discover hidden beautiful parts of the Soča river while whitewater rafting or numerous secret canyons, by going on a canyoning trip. The Soča Valley offer some of the best whitewater rafting and canyoning in the world with different difficulty levels, which makes it ideal for families and less adventurous people as well as adrenaline lovers!
The Boka and Kozjak Waterfalls
Take your time to see at least these two waterfalls (there are at least a hundred others in the valley). Boka – a majestic 106m waterfall. Go see it in the spring time or after a heavy rainfall and you will feel the amazing power of the nature. Kozjak – world famous waterfall in a “cave”.
Finally – The Mediterranean and Karst in Slovenia
Most people visiting Slovenia are here to for the mountainous regions and don’t neccessarily think about the seaside, but that’s a big mistake. Slovenia lies on the Adriatic coast and there are several beautiful old towns and beaches you should definitely pay attention to.
Facts About The Mediterrannean
- With only 47km Slovenia’s coastline is not the longest, but it is definitely very diverse with its nice little beaches and majestic cliffs.
- There are more than 8000 karst caves in Slovenia. You should definitely visit at least one.
- If you love good wine and food, you don’t want to skip Goriška Brda region.
- Slovenia’s picturesque costal towns such as Portorož and Piran are perfect for a romantic walk in the evening.
- Enjoy relaxing treatments on the Slovenian coast. Listen to the sound of the waves and experience the power of the sea and thermal energy.
Piran is probably the most beautiful of the old seaside towns. The town has a really charming atmosphere – perfect for an evening walk.
On the other hand we have Portorož, which is the exact opposite of Piran. It’s a very modern coastal town, with huge luxury hotels, casinos, central beach and beach cafes. I suggest you visit both towns.
Don’t miss your chance to explore the underground world of the Slovenian Karst as well. The cave systems such as the Postojna and Škocjan caves are an amazing work of nature.
What To Do There
If you are following our travel guide carefully, your previous stop should have been the Soča valley. From the Soča valley, you will head south towards Nova Gorica, which is just minutes away from your first stop – the Goriška Brda wine region.
After you’ve had enough of the fine dining and wine tasting, you should continue further south in the direction of Koper. On the way to the coast, you could stop at one of the world famous cave systems on the Slovenian Karst.
The Locals Recommend
Piran and Portorož
The two most popular coastal towns will be perfect for an evening walk along the beach or dinner in one of the many great restaurants.
A huge underground cave system, that made it to the UNESCO’s list of natural and cultural world heritage sites. Explore this spectacular underground canyon, with interesting rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites. Info: www.park-skocjanske-jame.si
This region with a landscape straight from a fairytale, situated between the Alps and the Adriatic, is a must visit for people who love good wine and fine dining.
Moon Bay Beach
Probably the most beautiful beach in Slovenia. To get to the beach, you will have to walk under a steep cliff, but it’s well worth it.
Well that was a long post (a bit longer than what I had originally planed 😊). Thanks for taking the time and I hope you found these suggestions about what to do in Slovenia useful and worth reading.
Have been to Slovenia before? What was your favorite thing to do here? Let us know in the comments below.