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, there’s a reason Ljubljana makes it into the top things to do in Slovenia. It definitely 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 things to do 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
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.
Located near Postojna cave, this medieval castle has been looming over the cliffs for over 800 years. The castle actually broke a Guinness World Record for being the largest cave castle in world and is connected to Predjama Cave via several secret tunnels.
The Castle has a wild and romanticised folklore story that continues to draw in visitors and makes it a key thing to do in Slovenia. The Castle’s legend suggests that when Knight Erazem – the Slovenian Robin Hood – came under conflict with wealthy Slovenian and Austrian high society, he barricaded himself in the castle for a year. He supposedly smuggled food from a tunnel that lead to the town (although this has still not been found). It’s suggested that Erazem met his end while on the toilet, shot by a canon by one of his own men…
The castle is known in the modern day for being a romantic spot and is a popular place for wedding photos, largely because of its history and general mystery.
Tickets cost €13.80 for adults in the low season and €14.90 in the high season. If you plan on going to the Postojna Cave as well, you can save money by getting a joint ticket! Shuttle buses also run in the summer from Postojna Cave which takes around 20 minutes.
From June to September you can also visit the cave under the castle.
4. Explore Postojna Cave
Prepare to feel like you’re in Harry Potter, as the underground tunnels take you deep into Slovenia’s largest stalactite cave. Formed over millions of years by water droplets, bizarre but captivating rock formations have been created over time. Around half of the tour is by train and half by foot.
There’s also something else truly wild here – baby dragons. Yep, you read that right. For centuries, tiny little creatures called Olms have lived in the caves and are native to the region. They have no eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, can go without food for up to 12 years and can live up to 100 years. All this makes the Cave a perfect place to call home. There’s a glass tank on display for you to spot these fascinating creatures for yourself! The Cave is located inside the Park Postojnska Jama, where you’ll find heaps of restaurants and hippy-style gift shops.
This is a major attraction in Slovenia, so it’s best to book your tickets in advance. Tickets for adults cost €25.80 in the low season and €27.90 in the high season. Get to know the area in depth by staying at Proteus hostel in Postojna. The hostel has a free shuttle bus service that can get you around the town. It’s also on parkland with heaps of outdoor activities on offer!
5. Get the best views of Bled at Mala Osojnica
Views of Lake Bled ?:📸: Sandy Feet
Lake Bled is that beautiful ocean blue lake with the tiny island church that you see in every guide book and advertisement for Slovenia. It’s basically the face of Slovenia – and for good reason! This lake inside Trivlav National Park is not only stunning, but there are heaps of activities to do all year round. Plus, it’s virtually impossible to take a bad picture here (seriously, we tried).
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.
Hiking is a big pastime around Bled, and there are trails suitable for all fitness types. The lake freezes over in winter, so if you’re up for it you can walk or skate. You can do swimming, cycling, water sports and even ziplining! Hop on a Pletna boat to get to Bled Island, where you can get up close and personal with the iconic and charming church. The church was once a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess of life and fertility. Today, visitors can ring the wishing bell and express their wishes so that the Mother of God can hear them.
Overlooking the drop-dead gorgeous Lake Bled is Bled Castle – reportedly the oldest castle in Slovenia, dating back to 1011. Complementing this romantic landscape, it’s the perfect place to finish your dreamy exploration.
How to get there: you can get to Lake Bled and Trivlav National Park by bus from Ljubljana. It takes around 75 minutes and costs around €17.
Extend your stay and check out the hostels in Lake Bled. Bled Hostel is a fun and social choice with regular activities like karaoke, movie nights and outdoor activities like horseback riding and paragliding.
6. 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.
7. Cycle or walk around Lake Bohinj
Look at those colours! Lake Bohinj ?:📸: Sandy Feet
If you are looking for something to do in Slovenia away from the crowds pay a visit to Lake Bohinj. Rugged and untainted it 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
Enjoy your stay by the beach at one of the hostels in Piran. Hostal Pirano is right in the city centre, and they offer awesome activities like snorkelling, scuba diving and trekking so you can make the most out of this hidden wonder!
11. Climb the bell tower in Piran and sunbake on the Slovene Riviera
The view from Piran’s bell tower looking down over the main square ?:📸: Sandy Feet
Grab your bathing suit, because the beach town of Piran is Slovenia’s best kept secret, and it’s all sunshine and blue seas. Formerly under Venetian rule, this charming coastal town features a medieval Old Town reminiscent of King’s Landing, just an hour from Italy’s Trieste.
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!
12. 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!
13. 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.
Slovenia has a lot of local delicacies including Kranjska Klobasa (smoked sausage), Prekmurska Gibanica (dessert with cottage cheese, egg, walnuts, poppy seeds and apple), Idrijski Zlikrofi (meat dumplings) and Kisla Jukha (pork soup with vinegar and vegetables).
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. Or grab a bite at Druga Violina (Second Fiddle) – a restaurant in the old city centre that employs people with disabilities. This is also a great place to try some of their delicious local delicacies.
14. 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.
Check into Uni Youth Hostel after a busy day of sightseeing and wine tasting. A classy end to a classy day.
15. 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!
16. Try some Slovenian honey
Slovenian’s REALLY love bees. Like a lot. They are the only European country to have officially protected their native bee species and beekeeping in Slovenia is one of their longest traditions, so preserving these crucial creatures has become a major governmental initiative. The country also created the United Nations recognised World Bee Day. Which we think is bee-rilliant!
So it can’t be a surprise that Slovenia produces some top quality honey. Three types of Slovenian honey are EU protected, and they have a “unique beekeeping method” that creates types of acacia, lime, chestnut, fir, spruce, floral and forest honey.
Check out Medeni Zakladi (Honey Treasures) in Ljubljana that’s dedicated to all things honey.
If you’re keen to learn more about the country’s dedication to bee conservation, you can stop by Cebelarski Muzej (Beekeeping Museum) in Radovljica.
Mountains, beaches and cities oh my! Can landscapes in Slovenia get any more diverse? While this country is on the rise with backpackers, there are still so many things to do in Slovenia that are undiscovered by the typical traveller. So go on… do your thing.
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?
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.