1000 Shades of Mind-Blowing Slovenia (Guide To Slovenia Road Trip)

To be honest, I would never consider Slovenia as a travel destination for my European summer vacation if my parents have not fell in love with this country and invited me to join them in a family trip. So, as a group of 7 we rented a minivan and started the most unforgettable road trip in Slovenia I could ever dream of.

Slovenia turned out to be a unique hodgepodge of cultures, demonstrating different influences depending on which part of the country you are in. Given its proximity to Italy, Austria, Czech Republic and other states, as well as its long history of invasions, the great cultural diversity has become one of the distinctive features of this tiny European republic. Despite all these differences, Slovenia managed to become a very harmonized and balanced country, where all various elements coexist peacefully.

Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s most known attractions. And it’s well worth a visit!

Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s most known attractions. And it’s well worth a visit!

At the same time, as a vacation spot Slovenia literally has it all - from beachfront wellness resorts and tiny medieval port towns, to cozy Eastern European architecture and amazing natural attractions with mountain lakes, waterfalls and canyons. Besides, one of the best things about Slovenia is that it still remains an off the beaten path spot, meaning you can finally enjoy a holiday away from crowds and all other annoying attributes of a mass-tourism destination (for example, I felt so relieved as no one was trying to sell me a bracelet or a flower while I was dining).  So… let me show you all types of the travel experiences you can live in Slovenia in less than 2 weeks to prove that it is actually one of the most diverse and underrated destinations in Europe!

Lose touch with reality in coastal towns & wellness resorts  

Piran is a small resort town with cute medieval streets and a strong Italian influence

Piran is a small resort town with cute medieval streets and a strong Italian influence

Where: Portoroz and Piran

What is special: Amazing wellness resorts with numerous spa experiences, great food, beautiful views, cozy architecture… and all this, surprisingly, fits the budget.

If you are looking for a relaxed stay in a resort with several pools, all-inclusive meals, and an attractive coastal town and do not want to spend a fortune on this, Portoroz should be the first stop in your road trip to Slovenia. There is a group of beachfront hotels that share a huge spa complex with several outdoor and indoor pools and Jacuzzis where you will immerse in the complete relaxation (seriously, I was melting there and almost blended in the local elite of the old ladies improving their health in the ancient waters).

By the way, beaches are not the best ones as they are really small (and normally there’s no sand), but the whole experience was so unusual and lovely that we didn’t really care about it.

 

Things to do in Portoroz:

-        Spa at one of the LifeClass Hotels (average EUR 100/night in a 4-star hotel in the high season)

-        Beachfront restaurants and bars

-        Trip to the nearby medieval port town of Piran (7 - 10 minutes by car)

-        Trip to other beaches and spots in Italy and Croatia ( for example, it took us 40 minutes by car to get to a luxurious Portopiccolo Beach Club near Trieste and 1.5 hours to get to some of nice Croatian beaches)

-        Hiking & chasing views in the Strujan Natural Park

 

 

Try city hopping in the sweetest European capital

Ljubljana is a perfect example of European architecture - colorful, inviting and neat (and this is the view you can enjoy if you go up to the castle)

Ljubljana is a perfect example of European architecture - colorful, inviting and neat (and this is the view you can enjoy if you go up to the castle)

Where: Ljubljana

What’s special: neat and cozy streets, old castle, delicious food

As the heat was really crazy in August,1-2 days in the capital city were surely enough for me. We explored the old center with its colorful houses, beautiful bridges, cozy squares and amazing restaurants, visited the Ljubljana castle, and couldn’t help but reward ourselves with a delicious dinner on the embankment.

Things to do in Ljubljana:

-        Chasing Instagram - worthy photo spots on the bridges and narrow streets

-        Admiring the one-of-a-kind architecture

-        Visiting the Ljubljanski grad - local castle & museum

-        Fine dining (MOST restaurant)

-        Shopping

-        Destroying the diet & exploding the Instagram feed at the Lolita Cafe

-        Get washed by the rain on a sunny day - right in the center of the Preseren Square there’s a fake rain working 24/7 (YES, a fake rain!)

-        Pub crawling and partying with a taste

Chase ghosts in medieval castles and caves

If I was a ghost, the Predjama Castle would surely be on top of my accomodation list

If I was a ghost, the Predjama Castle would surely be on top of my accomodation list

Where: Predjama Castle & Caves

What’s special: medieval castle built inside a rock with its own story & legend that come together with dozens of caves and secret underground passages.

A road trip in Slovenia would not be complete without the famous Predjama Cave Castel. I have not spotted any ghosts there, which was probably only because of the daylight and other visitors, as this castle has its unique story about a local hero and his sorrowful murder (yet quite unusual as he was killed like Tywin Lannister - while sitting in the restroom). After the tour in the castle (they gave us an audio guide), we spent some 40 minutes in the deep underground caves with bats, spiders and walls covered with bacteria making them look like they are made of gold and silver. Thrilling, isn’t it?

Things to do in the Predjama Castle & Caves:

- Visit the castle and learn about its history and legends

- Admire the serene local views

- Explore the caves

- Try a fast and delicious mushrooms soup at the local cafe (view of the castle is included in the check)

 

Admire Slovenia’s natural wonders (non-stop)

Go up to the Bled Castle to see the breath-taking views of the lake

Go up to the Bled Castle to see the breath-taking views of the lake

 Where: Julian Alps - Lake Bled, Vintgar Gorge, Lake Bohjni (plus a bonus trip to the Italian Lakes Fusine)

What’s special: taking a boat to reach a church-topped tiny island nestled in the middle of the most beautiful lake you have ever seen - does this sound enough special?:) In addition, you will also visit mountain lakes and amazing hiking trails with waterfalls crossed by train bridges.

For the remaining 4 days, we booked a cozy family villa located close to the legendary Lake of Bled that has been rocking Instagram for the past few years. It is 6,960 ft long and 4,530 ft wide blue-water lake, surrounded by picturesque forests & mountains. There you will find a well - developed travel infrastructure, loads of food and accommodation options, and two major sightseeing spots: the church located on a small island in the middle of the lake and the hilltop Castle of Bled. In addition, there is a bunch of hiking trails and road trip options: for instance, in less than 1.5 hours you can visit the stunning Bohjni Lake or the Italian Fusine Lakes.

Things to do on Lake Bled:

-        Walk around and admire the beauty of the lake

-        Swim there!

-        Swim x10 times more!

-        Rent bikes

-        Take a wooden boat/join a boat tour to the island in the middle of the lake

-        Slide down the hill - Summer Tobogganing at the Straza Bled

-        Try the mouth - watering Slovenian cuisine (one of my favorite so far)

-        Hike around - choose among the numerous hiking trails

-        Visit the Bled Castle & Museum

-        Make a trip to the mountain lakes (Lake Bohjni in Slovenia and Laghi di Fusine in Italy)

-        Hike in the Vintgar Gorge (0.99 mi local gorge with spectacular views of the Radovna river and waterfalls)

 

Needless to say, such an itinerary covers nearly all types of things a traveler might expect from a European vacation or a road trip - no matter if it's a family holiday, couple getaway or a solo trip. Moreover, it feels like Slovenia still has a plethora of secrets that are yet to be discovered, and among the travel adventures I’ve already had, this one surely sits on top.