A perfect mix of gorgeous natural scenery, vibrant historic towns, and a burgeoning food scene make Slovenia a winning destination no matter what you’re after. For the outdoorsy folk, snow-capped peaks, mountain lakes and river rapids await, while those preferring cobbled lanes and cosy cafes will fall for Slovenia’s lively historic towns. Though places like Bled, Slovenia’s showpiece destination, have been popular for years, there’s much more to discover here for those willing to look a little further, and maybe get out of bed a little earlier!
Slovenia is a land of stunning landscapes and natural beauty. The iconic lakes, the gorgeous forest, and exploring quirky neighbourhoods are just some of the wholesome things to do in Slovenia that will make any nature lover swoon… Oh Slovenia, you old charmer, you!
1. Fall in love with Ljubljana’s old town
Locks on Butcher’s Bridge 📷: Sandy Feet
On a whirlwind tour of Europe, its many historic towns can start to feel a bit familiar, but Ljubljana has a bit of added spice. Whether it’s the castle standing guard on the cliff top, its pedestrian only cobbled streets, the bridges that crisscross the river, or the many cosy restaurants and bars hidden around town, Ljubljana knows how to charm… Oh stop it Ljublijana – you old flirt! If you’re stuck for things to do in Ljubljana, join a free walking tour to get a solid introduction to the city, learn some of its history and pick up a few insider tips from your stay to impress your mates back home!
2. Experience the kookiness of Metelkova Mesto
Looks like a weird crowd… 📷: Sandy Feet
Metelkova Mesto, a quirky and colourful neighbourhood in Ljubljana, is one of the best places to visit in Slovenia, and quite possibly the wackiest place you’ll ever encounter. Psychedelic murals adorn the walls, Gollum-like figurines hang from window frames and horseshoes and car parts come together to create surprisingly intricate art. It’s a kooky, alternative space, perfect for getting lost with your phone in hand to snap that edgy Instagram. How precious…
Artists are often at work here so you may be lucky enough to see a brand new piece come to life. Or, pay a visit at night time when the colourful exteriors open up as a mix of galleries and bars, creating an alternative place to party in the Ljubljana. Celica Art Hostel, a repurposed jail, now stylish hostel, sits in the same block, so you can dance the night away and wake up in the most comfortable jail cell ever.
3. Stop by Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave
Gorgeous Street Art at Metelkova Mesto 📷: Sandy Feet
It’s not every day you see a castle built into the side of a cliff, right? Intriguing Predjama Castle is just that, sitting perched on a 123-metre cliff and standing guard over the surrounds. A curious network of tunnels links the main structure to the chambers of the Postojna Caves, just 9km away. You can take a small train through the massive karst system shuttling past impressive stalagmites and stalactites and through vast caverns beneath the ground.
4. Get the best views of Bled at Mala Osojnica
Views of Lake Bled 📷: Sandy Feet
Bled and its postcard-perfect setting is the kind of place that makes you feel you’ve stepped straight into a fairy tale and so it should come as no surprise that it’s a bit of a tourist magnet. One of the best ways to escape the crowds is to head up to the Mala Osojnica look out and gaze down on Bled from above.
The narrow trail leads off the road on the far side of the lake and is a steep 45-minute jaunt, but as you can tell from the photos the view is definitely worth it.
5. Eat Cream Cake in Bled
OMG! 😍 📷: @tasteorwaste
With so many things to do in Bled, there will come a point when you’re craving something sweet to get your energy levels back up. Thankfully, Cream Cake is Bled’s signature pastry, which features a layer of cream, custard, and puff pastry – finished off with a dusting of icing sugar.
Tasty slices are sold all around town but rumour has it the best can be found at the Slaščičarna Zima.
6. Cycle or walk around Lake Bohinj
Look at those colours! Lake Bohinj 📷: Sandy Feet
Rugged and untainted, Lake Bohinj is, if possible, the more beautiful little sister of Bled, although we’re not trying to start a cat fight! Although Bohinj is just a short bus ride away it receives few visitors.
Catch a bus to the tiny village of Ribčev Laz and pop by the iconic church by the water. From there, a path encircling the lake leads you past mountain peaks, hidden waterfalls and shaded waterside benches – the perfect place to have a break.
The full loop is an easy 12km through the forest, though at the half way mark, you can opt for a scenic boat trip back to the village. For the more adventurous, a small detour will take you to the thunderous Savica Waterfall.
7. Get lost in Triglav National Park
Just keep swimming! 📷: Sandy Feet
There is no shortage of things to do in Slovenia for nature lovers, and if you just can’t get enough of the country’s jaw-dropping beauty (and you have enough space left on your camera roll), then you need to devote a little extra time to Triglav National Park.
Though there are plenty of places to explore in the park, Mount Vogel overlooking Lake Bohinj is an easily accessible option. Be whisked up in a cable car for epic panoramic views over the lake and the surrounding peaks and if you’re after something more active, there are several trails that fan out from this point.
8. Amble through Vintgar Gorge
Šum lovely scenes at Waterfall Šum 📷: Sandy Feet
Funnelling the brilliant blue thread of the Radovna River between its steep walls, beautiful Vintgar Gorge makes a great day trip from Bled. Walk 4 km through countryside villages and lush forests to reach the entrance gate. From there, a wooden boardwalk hugs the cliff and crisscrosses the turquoise river before leading to Šum Waterfall. If you happen to visit in autumn when in the forest blushes orange, you’re in for an extra treat.
9. Indulge on seafood in Piran
Looking down the waterfront at Piran 📷: Sandy Feet
This charming seaside village on Slovenia’s tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, coastline boasts a thriving alfresco dining scene, a labyrinth of cobblestone laneways and a deliciously slow-paced life.
Built on a strong fishing tradition, Piran is also the best place in Slovenia to dine on seafood. For lunch, head to the impossible to pronounce Okrepcevalnica Cantina, a friendly, open-air canteen-style restaurant set beneath a canopy of vines and tucked away in a small plaza. For an afternoon pick-me-up, pop by any café on the main square and enjoy the people watching and laid-back vibes.
10. Climb the bell tower in Piran
The view from Piran’s bell tower looking down over the main square 📷: Sandy Feet
With views overlooking the jigsaw of terracotta rooftops that make up Piran’s old town, a climb up the bell tower is a must on any trip to this quaint village. If you have a fear of heights, the rickety staircases and somewhat flimsy banisters make the climb up a little nerve-wracking, but the views are well worth a bit of vertigo.
Be sure to hold onto your phones though – when the bell chimes, you’re sure to get a fright and it’s a long way down!
11. Tackle the rapids on the Soča River
Soca River at Soca Valley 📷: @aliciafischer_photography
As with many rivers in Eastern Europe, the Soča is painted a striking turquoise. Pouring from the Julian Alps through the stunning Triglav National Park, it’s a veritable playground for adventurers with the biggest draw being a thrilling whitewater rafting experience.
Paddle your way between mountains and lush summer pastures while trying to stay on board. Be warned though, water temperatures are icy all year round, so falling in is anything but nice, nice baby!
12. Experience the amazing food scene in Ljubljana
Ljubljana’s central market has a pizza my heart! 📷: Sandy Feet
Many of the best things to do in Slovenia involved expending a lot of energy for the sake of stunning views, but here’s a more foodie-friendly option. With a bustling produce market at its core, a sprinkling of cute cafes and trendy bars lining the river and a weekly open-air market packed with delicious street food, Ljubljana is a place where all you’ll want to do is eat and eat and eat. You can pick up local fruit and veg at the sprawling central market any day of the week or swing by on Fridays when the lively Open Kitchen event, combining local and international street food and excellent live music, is in full swing.
If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, stop by the lovely café Lolita to sample beautifully prepared pastries by the river that will have others simply drooling over your Instagram feed. Klobarsarna is also somewhat of an institution in town, serving up tasty morsels of the local delicacy, Carniolian sausage.
13. Celebrate all things wine in Maribor
Cheers to the oldest vine in the world 📷@natashadria
Maribor can seem a little rough around the edges, but it oozes rustic, small town charm, despite being Slovenia’s second largest city. The historic town wraps around the Drava River which feeds into the countryside laced with vineyards dotted with wineries. Arrive on the 11th of November to join in on the boozy festivities of St. Martin’s Day, a celebration to bid farewell to autumn and mark the end of the Old Vine festival. Maribor is also home to the world’s oldest vine, don’t you know?!
A hike in the crisp air of the nearby Pohorje Hills is the perfect antidote for even the worst hangover and come winter, the area transforms into a playground for snow sports lovers.
14. Pass by the herders’ huts at Velika Planina
The herders huts 📷@yanchi.k
Nestled in the mountainous north of Slovenia, quirky Velika Planina is a community of herder’s that bring their flocks to graze on the lush summer pastures.
It’s a beautiful area for hiking during the warmer months and a stunning sight in winter when the traditional huts are covered in a light dusting of snow. Expect scenes straight out of a Christmas card!
Have you been to Bled or Ljubljana? What are some of your favourite things to do in Slovenia? Any places to visit we’ve overlooked?
Author Bio: Freya and Chris are the writer and photographer duo behind the travel blog, The Sandy Feet. They’re always looking for the next adventure, whether it’s hiking the mountains of Central Asia, getting lost in a historic town in Eastern Europe or lounging on a secluded beach in Tahiti. By sharing their experiences in unconventional places, they hope to show that the less explored corners of the world can be just as beautiful as destinations we already know and love. You can follow their day-to-day adventures on Instagram.