Dream trip to Slovenia

To Slovenia by yourself – a mini guide from A to Z

Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

A mini guide to organizing an independent trip to Slovenia. How to go to Slovenia on your own and not to regret your choice. Slovenia travel formats, how to get to Slovenia, what to see, routes in Slovenia, sea and mountain holidays in Slovenia.

Slovenia is a combination of hiking in the mountains with marked routes, relaxation at Lake Bohinj and Lake Bled, and a classic beach holiday at the sea near the historical sights.

Attention! Slovenia has allowed entry to its territory from October 1, 2020, subject to a negative test for Covid-19. The test must be done in certified laboratories. The list is here .

Lake Bohinj in Slovenia

Distances in this country are “child’s play” – from the capital of Ljubljana to all interesting places about an hour by car or at most a couple of hours by bus.

How to get to Slovenia

In 2017, the only Slovenian airline Adria had an attempt to launch a direct flight Kiev – Ljubljana – Kiev. Even media representatives and bloggers were invited to the first flight. But whether they invited the wrong bloggers, or the flight’s price was too high, but the project was not implemented. The direct flight Kiev-Ljubljana was shut down in the fall of 2018. Now, in the fall of 2020, the airline Windrose is going to fly to Slovenia from Kiev.

Today there are two main ways to get to Ljubljana, from which most Slovenian routes begin.

The first way is to arrive in Ljubljana by plane. The capital is served by the Hungarian low-cost airline Wizzair from Brussels and London, and the budget airline Easyjet from London. The main routes to the Slovenian capital should be planned through these cities.

Lake Bohinj in Slovenia

I like the second way better. You need to fly into Budapest with Wizz Air and start your Slovenian itinerary from there. Between Budapest and Ljubljana is an excellent motorway, if you want alpine views – take a route through Austria, which is slightly shorter.

Read also: To Budapest for three days, let’s leave the guides out of work

What to see in Slovenia

In Slovenia there are well known sights and a few little-known places that are known mostly to locals.

The main natural attractions of Slovenia

  • Slovenia’s highest peak – Triglav, which leads several hiking trails
  • Lake Bled, the number one tourist attraction and Slovenia’s calling card
  • Vintgar Gorge, 4 km from Lake Bled
  • Lake Bohinj is less famous than Lake Bled, but no less beautiful. Both lakes are located in the Julian Alps in the Triglav National Park.
  • The Savica waterfall, located by Lake Bohinj, is accessible on a hiking trail from the town of Ucanz
  • Postojna Cave, on the way from Ljubljana to the Adriatic coast
  • River Soca worth visiting for its emerald colored water and photogenic. The most famous towns on the river are Nova Gorica, Kobarid, Bovec and Tolmin. Along the river there are roads 103 and 102, I suggest to drive on one of them and include this place in one of the routes
  • Logarska Dolina is located in the northern part of Slovenia, surrounded by the peaks of the Julian Alps. Here we see the cave Brlozhnica, Rinku waterfall and three dozen other natural attractions. There is a possibility of overnight stay at the tourist farm reserve.

Lake Bohinj in SloveniaSlovenia’s “must visit” cities

  • Ljubljana, the capital and a very beautiful compact town. One day is enough to get around and one night will be enough to continue the route in the morning
  • Piran is a medieval Venetian city on the Adriatic coast.
  • Novo Mesto, a town located in the valley of the Krka River in southeastern Slovenia. Suitable for lovers of educational tourism and active recreation in the surrounding area.
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Ljubljana, SloveniaСities resorts of Slovenia

  • Portoroz – the main resort of Slovenia, the locals call it “the Slovenian Cannes” and in some ways they are right.
  • Izola – a small town by the sea with a marina and seafront, it is ideal for a short 3-4 day holiday in the format of “beach plus walks”, we are very “went for it” in contrast to Portoroz.

Izola, SloveniaHoliday formats in Slovenia

You can, of course, and transit through the country, take the cream of the main attractions, to see one eye and whisk away to Italy.

But if you really can’t sit still, it is better to drive along one of the routes and try rest on the lakes, sea, and hiking in the mountains. You can do it in a week.

Holidays in Izola, Slovenia

The second option is to spend a full vacation in Slovenia and go deeper into each of the locations in the format of lakes plus mountains plus sea. Here even two weeks may not be enough.

Itineraries in Slovenia

All itineraries in Slovenia can be started in Ljubljana. I recommend you check out our Slovenia itinerary, the link is below.

If time permits, be sure to add a trip along the Soča River to your itinerary through the towns of Nova Gorica, Kobarid, Bovec and Tolmin. Highways 102 and 103. This section is good if you are returning from Italy via the city of Udine. After the river you leave in the direction of the Adriatic, see Piran and Izola, optionally Portoroz and then return home via Budapest.

Piran, Slovenia

See the Slovenia section and build your itinerary accordingly.

Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city in one day

We could have made Ljubljana a separate article, but we didn’t want to for two reasons. In order not to break the integrity of this mini guide and honestly the main attractions of the Slovenian capital easily fit into a couple of paragraphs of text.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

One day and a night will be enough to enjoy the city. Everything is compact and the center is small. The bus station and many hotels/apartments in Ljubljana are not far from the historical center.

Main attractions in Ljubljana

Three bridges – three stone bridges over the River Ljubljanica, which connect Ljubljana Old Town and the historic Prešerna Square.

Ljubljanski Grad is a medieval fortress from the 12th century, which has been lovingly restored. It also offers an excellent view of the city. There is a funicular to the castle on the mountain, which can also be considered a sight to behold. Try to take a seat near the back of the glass wall.

The serpent bridge with stone dragons, which are considered the symbols of Ljubljana

The Butcher’s Bridge , also known as the Bridge of lovers, hung with locks.

Museum lovers can visit the National Museum of Slovenia, the National Gallery of Slovenia and the Railway Museum. You can go to the last one with children – success is guaranteed.

Among the most beautiful buildings I would like to mention the Slovenian Opera House and the Franciscan Church on Presherna Square, as well as the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, which is visible from anywhere in the old town and therefore easy to find.

The Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity (Ursuline Church) is considered one of the most beautiful in Ljubljana

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The Town Hall, which you can hardly pass by while walking in the center.

The Local Central Market, also located in the old town, is a must-see for many visitors, but it has become a regular attraction and part of the tourist life of the city.

Old Town Ljubljana

Outside the center there are Tivoli Park and the local Zoo. Tivoli is loved by locals and has few tourists, I recommend it if you have time.

Transport in Slovenia

It is quite possible to travel around Slovenia by bus. There are also trains, but buses are more convenient.

Ljubljana central bus station (Ljubljana AVTOBUSNA POSTAJA) or Ljubljana AP is located near the Old Town, 500 meters from the Triple Bridge.

To get to the lake Bled and Bohinj most convenient bus. The ticket costs 8.30 euros. You can see the bus schedule on the website of the bus company Alpetour

From the same bus station you can get to the coast, to Izola, Piran or Portoroz.

Lake Bohinj in Slovenia

We prefer to travel by rented or own car, a bit more expensive but with more freedom of movement, constant roof over our heads and mobile luggage storage. Sometimes I use my car for overnight stays.

How to save money on accommodation in Slovenia

When searching for hotels or apartments, I recommend that you don’t limit your search to Bucking.com . We check options for Hotels Combined (Room Guru) , the site analyzes offers from many booking systems and selects the best price.

Choose the low season, for example, instead of July, which is very crowded, plan for the end of May-June or September-beginning of October.

Hotel in the mountains of Slovenia

Thus you can save up to half of the hotel price.

Useful links for choosing a hotel or apartment in Slovenia

Where to rent a car for your journey

When traveling in Europe, we look for a car on the website Rentalkars , so as not to think about the deposit for a car you need a card with a sufficient credit limit.

Where to buy cheap airline tickets

I search on two of the market leaders, Aviasales and Skyscanner. Good deals happen on both sites.

If I want to buy low-cost airlines tickets I go directly to Ryanair and Wizzair, and if I have a complicated route I use Kiwi.com.

Useful Links for Travel Planning

Aviasales – low cost tickets around the world

Hotels Combined (RoomGuru) – saves up to 20% when searching for budget lodging, hotels, and apartments since it searches all popular booking sites including Agoda, Booking.com, and others

Booking.com- familiar and convenient site for searching and booking accommodation around the world

Airbnb – the world’s leading search engine for apartments and travel apartments, register here and get cash bonus on your first booking

Rentalcars- worldwide car search and rental site with free cancellation policy

My big Slovenian trip

Slovenia is a place I can return to time and time again. This small but endless country has it all – sea and mountains, lively towns and quiet villages, wine routes and great restaurants, thermal spas and fine hotels. The only question is, how to manage it all in one week? I tried hard!

1. My journey began in Ljubljana. No, actually, it started in Zagreb (where the flight was more convenient), where my plane landed, and from there I took the car and drove to the Slovenian capital. It was only an hour and a half and I was in my favorite city. And this, by the way, is the view from my room window. Not bad, right?

2. I’ve been in love with the cozy and lively Ljubljana for ten years. I first came in December 2008 and was charmed by the Christmas atmosphere, the soft flakes of snow, the way I was welcomed here – a dear friend of mine lives in Ljubljana, whose excellent city guide you must read if you’re going to Slovenia. Ljubljana is green, very pretty, very young, open, accommodating. No matter how many times I visit, I always don’t get enough!

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3. It’s a fabulous city, isn’t it? Everything in Slovenia is somehow toy-like. There are many lovely gingerbread towns, but what makes Ljubljana different from most of them is that it’s real. Life almost never stops here. In summer, when you walk through the city, there is music everywhere, all the terraces are full, people are eating, drinking, walking and making friends.

I wrote about why I love Ljubljana here. Beware, a very emotional post!

5. The good thing about Ljubljana is that it’s easy to get to a lot of incredibly beautiful places, so if you are just planning your Slovenian trip, choose the capital as a base. Hour and a half – and you’re at the sea (described here), another hour and a half – in Slovenian Tuscany (read here), hour – and you’re at the beautiful Lake Bled (here). Forty minutes – and you already are wandering around Prdjamski castle, which was built on the cliff. Jama in Slovene means cave; the castle actually covers the entrance to a huge hole in the rock. Its history goes back as far as the 13th century!

6. Another thirty minutes – and you’re already admiring the incredibly beautiful light gray, almost white horses in Lipica, which is almost on the border with Italy. If you’ve been to Vienna and been to a performance in the Hofburg Palace, you’ll recognize these graceful beauties. The Lippiciana is the correct name for this breed. Enduring and very trainable, these horses are the pride of both Austria and Slovenia. And, as hard as it is to believe, they are born dark!

7. When you ride around the country, you regularly meet all kinds of animals – both livestock and game, such as deer. The former, however, are much easier to photograph.

9. I’ve been to Trieste (Italy) many times, but I’ve never told you about it, but the city is unique. It’s an hour and a half drive from Ljubljana. Trieste was the main resort town of Austria-Hungary, a sort of Vienna on the sea, a stately, handsome man. It has a difficult fate – once part of Italy, it was never fully Italian. The most underrated city in the country is probably Trieste.

10. I will tell you about it separately. My visit was again short, but very rich.

11 One of the pearls in the vicinity of Trieste is the airy, standing on a cliff Miramare Castle. Surrounded by lush gardens, the unusual Scottish style castle was built for Maximilian I, Archduke of Austria and Emperor of Mexico. Near Miramare is Prosecco, the place that gave its name to the famous Italian sparkling wine. It turned out – I never knew that! – that the word comes from the Slovenian prosecca, a cut through the woods.

12. Slovenia is incredibly pretty. Not only because it is located in a wonderful corner of Europe with mountains, sea, hills, and plains, but also because Slovene people adore it and cherish it with unbelievable diligence. In June, for example, almost every house has enormous hydrangea bushes blooming in front of it. In early summer, Slovenia is bathed in pink clouds!

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13. As you travel around the country, you constantly see signs indicating places of interest nearby. So getting to where you’re going on time is incredibly difficult. So tell me, how can you not turn into the hilltop town under the red tile roofs? Meet Staanel!

14. What a view! The gardens down from the city walls are a popular place for weddings.

15. It’s like the top of the world!

16. Little Slovenia, for example, is home to the largest stone (built of blocks) railway bridge on the planet. Solkan connects Italy and Slovenia, spanning over the Soča River, whose valley is one of the most beautiful places in the country.

17. Just imagine – summer, blue sky, mossy clouds, the road winding along the river with an incredible turquoise color of water… Happiness! Kanal town is one of the most picturesque in Sochi. Judge for yourself!

18. The goal of the trip was to visit Triglav National Park on the border of Slovenia, Austria and Italy. Triglav is the highest peak of the country, 2864 meters, and a real symbol of Slovenia. Climbing it is a matter of honor for many Slovenes and those who join in. The way takes 2-3 days … I do not have time for such climbs, so I climbed from the town of Bovec only 2200 meters to the top of Kanin. Below – summer, above – winter and open elevators. Well, am I right when I say that Slovenia has it all?

19. Suspension bridge over the mountain river in a place called Lepena. Scary! Especially when several people walk on the bridge – it rocks so much…

20. Any landscape is more beautiful with a Mini. This baby came all the way from Jersey Island and overtook my tiny blue VW on the turns. Eh, I should take the Mini for rent, so as not to get tired of the good…

21. Here is such a gorge – Lepena, not the most remarkable, by the way. There are even bigger gorges in Slovenia!

22. The road to the mountain pass Vrsic (about fifteen hundred meters high), the scene of bloody events of WWI. The place is incredibly beautiful, breathing peace, quiet and grace. It is frightening to think what battles were fought here…

23. Look closely at the patterns of the rock – do you see a woman’s face? This image is called in Slovene Aidovska deklica. They say once upon a time there lived a sweet and affable girl who helped travelers across the Trenta valley, which lies at the foot of the rugged mountains. The girl could also foresee the future… Neither in life nor in legends such positive heroes are often unlucky – so our beauty is petrified. This face reminded me of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God.

24. The girl was found, now find me! This is one of the most beautiful places in the country… oops, I think I already said that!

26. The road going down from the Vršić Pass is called the Russian Road. The wooden St. Vladimir’s Chapel, built in 1916 by Russian prisoners of war, has stood there for a hundred years. A large group of captive Russian soldiers and officers worked on the construction of the strategically important road through the pass. In March 1916, a huge avalanche descended from the mountains, burying many of them under it. Those who survived erected a chapel.

27. Kranjska Gora, a ski resort and a nice place for a short rest and a coffee break. I can’t get used to the incredible color of the water in Slovenia’s lakes!

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28. Not far from the picturesque Lake Bled (I showed it to you here) there is a deep and well-equipped for walking Vintgar Gorge.

29. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to come into contact with such monumental nature. To find such a corner, to softly ennoble it, to make acquaintance with it pleasant and fascinating for everyone – in this Slovenians know no equal. Huge lazy trout swim in the emerald water!

30. Lake Bohinj, which I have been dreaming of returning to for years, is one of the most romantic places in Slovenia. The huge lake lazily embraces the mountains grayed from fog, a small chapel admires its reflection in the water, the birds sing, the rain drips… Bohinj does not want to let me go, and I certainly do not want to part!

32. I don’t want to, but the road beckons on! If you drive from Bohinj towards Tolmin, the narrow highway will loop endlessly between pine-covered mountains, going down and up again, never ceasing to delight you with views that sweetly make your heart ache…

33. An important point of the route is the restaurant Hisa Franko, one of the top 50 restaurants in the world this year according to San Pellegrino. Ana Roche, the restaurant’s chef, was voted San Pellegrino’s best female chef of the world several years ago. She runs the restaurant together with her husband, Walter: Ana is responsible for the kitchen and Walter for the wine. If you haven’t seen it, watch one of the Netflix Chef’s Table episodes about them and the restaurant. The restaurant is great! I’ll tell you about it separately, but for now I’ll tell you that there are many places in the world where you can get this kind of cuisine, but you can get it only here in Slovenia. Hisa Franko is definitely worth the two and a half hour trip one way!

34. The restaurant is situated not far from the small town of Kobarid, one of the mountains in the suburbs of which is decorated with a memorial to the Italians who fell here during World War I. The battle of Cobarid (or Caporetto as it is called in Italian) was described by Hemingway in his novel “Farewell, Arms”. Cobarid is also home to an excellent museum dedicated to that war.

35. And this is the other end of the country, the part closer to Hungary and Croatia. I, tired from the endless travels and full of impressions, kept on my way to my favorite thermal complex Terme Olimia and stopped for a break in the town of Celje. The Slovenian province is a nice, quiet place.

36. Above the town is a castle, massive, solidly built, perfectly preserved. The boys will like it, but I had enough for a short walk and one picture.

37. And here it is, the thermal paradise, the Slovenian branch. Healing water, days in the bathrobe, massages, sleeping with birds singing, walking in the mountains… How great to come back! I told you about this complex here.

38. I came not only to relax, but also to appreciate just opened family complex Thermalia, equipped with all facilities and entertainment for parents with children. There is everything – from infant pools to water slides for older children. I have never seen so many children’s activities! I will tell you more in a future article.

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