Slovenia, this small European country, tucked between the Alps and the Mediterranean has become very popular amongst international tourists in the last decade. Lately I have gotten so many questions in my inbox about where to go and what to see, I decided to finally write a proper itinerary post about my beautiful home country. As much as I would like to convince you that you absolutely need to spend at least a month here to experience it really, I am aware most of you have limited holiday days and can usually take 5-7 days for it. Don´t be distracted by its small size on the map though – there is really lots to do and the landscape changes in just minutes of driving. This itinerary covers only the central and western parts of the country, simply because they are the ones most known & visited, most developed and most diverse. This is perfect for first time visitors and those who would like to see the main attractions (but with a couple of insider tips from my side). Following this 1 week itinerary you get to see the capital city, famous lakes of Bled & Bohinj, ski jumps in Planica, Julian Alps, stunning Soča river, charming vineyards in Goriška Brda, Lipica stud farm, lovely Piran at the Adriatic coast, one of Europe´s longest caves and much more. So, lets go.
On this route you will drive approximately 600km. You will need a VIGNETTE and I suggest you stick to the speed limits. Also, this itinerary works best in SPRING, SUMMER or AUTUMN. Winters can be snowy and not all roads in this itinerary are opened, plus you can´t do all activities mentioned. I strongly recommend discovering the country with either your CAR or a rented one. It will save you time and to be honest, PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION is not as efficient as in some other countries. You can jump in anywhere in this route, but I will start in Ljubljana, the capital. You can currently FLY TO LJUBLJANA in with Easyjet, Wizzair, Transavia, AF, LH, LOT and others. The other bigger airports not so far away are VENICE (Italy) and ZAGREB (Croatia).
day 1: LJUBLJANA | SLOVENIA 1 week itinerary
Spending a day in Slovenia´s capital city is a great way to start your journey around the country. LJUBLJANA happens to be my home town so I could write on and on about how gorgeous it is, but I´ll try to keep it short. The city itself is really not that big and if you have a plan you can see a lot in just 1 day. The best is to find a hotel in the OLD CITY CENTER and explore everything ON FOOT. Check out some of the MUSEUMS and GALLERIES, hike up the CASTLE (or take the funicular) and don´t forget to go all the way up to the tower for the best views, buy fresh local products at the OPEN AIR MARKET, take a scenic BOAT RIDE on Ljubljanica river, relax at TIVOLI PARK, walk across the famous TRIPPLE BRIDGE and eat something delicious.
In the evenings the narrow streets on both sides of the RIVER and behind are lively and it´s nice to have a drink and a bite to eat at one of the BARS & RESTAURANTS. For a different experience check out METELKOVA TOWN – an autonomous social and cultural centre. There are lots of concerts and other events especially in the summer time and over the weekends. Foodies should not miss the Fridays´s OPEN KITCHEN event on Pogacarjev trg square, architecture lovers can visit PLEČNIK´S HOUSE. Make sure you get enough sleep for the next day, this itinerary is not for those who like to sleep in until midday.
day 2: LJUBLJANA – BLED | SLOVENIA 1 week itinerary
In less than 1 HOUR DRIVE FROM LJUBLJANA you reach this magnificent gorge near BLED, called VINTGAR GORGE. Mind, there is entry fee and possibly lots of visitors (specially over the weekends), it is also closed in winter time. So try and beat the crowds with an early arrival. Walk on wooden bridges between waterfalls, pools and rapids for about 1,5km in each direction – it is worth your time.
Just a few minutes drive and you arrive to LAKE BLED. The most famous lake in Slovenia, seen in every tourist brochure, guidebook cover and postcard. Although it surely is stunning and the TINY ISLAND WITH A CHURCH in the middle of the lake makes it really special, it is not my favourite lake. It is way too busy for me, but you should definitely visit it. Make sure you RENT A WOODEN BOAT or hop on one with a DRIVER and head to the ISLAND to RING THE CHURCH BELL. Lots of weddings here on Saturdays.
There are a couple of SWIMMING AREAS around the lake, very refreshing to jump in in the summer. You can also CYCLE or WALK AROUND THE LAKE (around 6km or 1,5 hrs of walking). Also, walk or drive up the CASTLE for amazing VIEWS and a bite to eat. Bled is also famous for its cream cake called KREMSHNITA (kremšnita). And for those who are more active – HIKE UP TO MALA OSOJNICA (steep hike for less than 30min) for the absolute best views on the lake to finish your day. There is a CAMPING PLACE in ZAKA close to the lake, you can also stay at camping ŠOBEC a few kilometres before Bled. Lots of hotels, apartments and glamping possibilities as well.
day 3: BLED – BOHINJ – KRANJSKA GORA | SLOVENIA 1 week itinerary
Start early in the morning with a 30min drive to BOHINJ LAKE. I prefer this one as it is much quieter and pristine. Great for swimming, kayaking, SUP. There are 2 main areas, RIBČEV LAZ and UKANC, both fairly worth a visit. You can just relax by the lake for a while, then hike up to SAVICA WATERFALL (20min each way). Unfortunately there is no time to do a longer serious hike in this itinerary. If you love the mountains you should definitely consider spending more time here. Another great thing for those more active is PARAGLIDING. The starting point is on the top of mount VOGEL (there is a gondola lift going up), which in wintertime is a beautiful SKI PLACE. You basically jump and fly across the lake and land on the other side.
Count in around 1 HOUR DRIVE TO KRANJSKA GORA – you can either take the highway from Bled or the less known countryside road through RADOVNA. Once in Kranjska Gora, which is one of the most visited SKI PLACES in the country, it all depends on your time. Let´s imagine you are tired and just want to relax. Head to JASNA LAKE for a drink and WALK AROUND, the views on the ALPS are just stunning and would you look at that water colour. I love it up there. You are very close to the only national park in Slovenia now, called TRIGLAV NATIONAL PARK (named after our highest peak Triglav, 2864m). Lots of places to sleep around the lake or down in the town.
*If you have enough time and energy left on this day, you can squeeze in a visit to ZELENCI and PLANICA and have more time on day 4. Otherwise plan an early breakfast again.
day 4: KRANJSKA GORA – VRŠIČ PASS – BOVEC | SLOVENIA 1 week itinerary
There are so many things to see and do around Kranjska Gora, but with this schedule, there is no time for everything and we´ll just make sure to tick off the main attractions. One of them being the beautiful ZELENCI NATURE RESERVE, just a 10min drive from Kranjska Gora and a very short walk from the parking at the main road. This is actually a SPRING of SAVA DOLINKA RIVER and sometimes you can see the bubbles in the water coming up. The combination of this ESMERALD WATER with the MOUNTAINS behind is simply amazing, so make sure you don´t miss it. There is a WOODEN PATH to walk on and a VIEWING TOWER at the end.
Just a little further you reach the WORLD FAMOUS SKI JUMPS IN PLANICA. Here, you can witness the jumpers practising also in the summer and it is really spectacular to watch if you´ve never seen it before. There is also a newer VISITORS CENTER close by. This is a dead end road, from here you can WALK TO TAMAR VALLEY (45min each direction) and do more serious hikes, but I´m afraid time might be a problem because there is still some driving to do on this day. But if you feel like you are good in time and would love to do an easy hike, Tamar is a good choice.
Ready to drive over one of SLOVENIA´S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN PASS ROADS? Here we go, shortly after Jasna Lake in Kranjska Gora, the road starts ascending and you are looking at 50 SERPENTINES (approximately half up and half down) before you reach TRENTA on the other side. It is a very SCENIC DRIVE, but go slow when it´s wet. You can make a couple of stops along the way – see the RUSSIAN CHAPEL, TIČARJEV DOM & POŠTARSKI DOM huts on the top, the ALPINE BOTANICAL GARDEN JULIJANA and KUGY MEMORIAL for example. Stunning colours in Autumn as you cna see on the pictures, but I love it up there between the mountains in any time of the year. In the WINTER this pass is usually closed due to snow.
Once on the other side, after about 1 HOUR DRIVING OVER THE PASS you arrive to TRENTA and continue to BOVEC along the CRYSTAL BLUE SOČA RIVER. Here you can stop at many places, I suggest to walk around MALA & VELIKA KORITA SOČE GORGE or KORITNICA GORGE and relax the rest of the evening.
This part of Slovenia is all about WATER SPORTS. I suggest you pick something you want to try, like RAFTING or CANYONING or KAYAKING or more and prepare in advance, book a tour for the exact date, because it is fairly booked out if you come without reservations. Even if you are more on the lazy side and you just want to enjoy the views, you will not get bored here. SOČA RIVER is very cold though, so swimming is only for the brave ones. There are lots of CAMPING SITES around, but also hotels and appartments.
day 5: BOVEC – SOČA VALLEY – GORIŠKA BRDA | SLOVENIA 1 week itinerary
I went RAFTING here a few years ago and it was awesome. And don´t worry, your fitness level has really nothing to do with it, you just need to be prepared for a dose of adrenaline and you´ll have a great time. I suggest doing it in the morning, so that you have enough time left in the day. On the way to GORIŠKA BRDA you can stop at ČEZSOČA, KOBARID, MOST NA SOČI towns and try to fit in a visit to one of these WATERFALLS: VIRJE, BOKA or KOZJAK. As always, you will not be able to see it all, so the best is to do a researche online and choose one.
Arriving to GORIŠKA BRDA WINE COUNTRY (especially just before sunset) is always special. After an active day it is time to relax, eat good and drink even better. There are lots of cute little VILLAGES dotted on the hills, my favourite is MEDANA. I suggest picking a smaller place to stay that also has a SWIMMING POOL and their own wines. In other case just visit one of the local wineries. One of my favourite regions in Slovenia and it is not yet discovered by the masses.
Worth a stop is also GONJAČE VIEWING TOWER (magnificent views on the hills). In Medana you are very close to the ITALIAN BORDER. This could also be your starting point if you are arriving from Italy. I especially like this place in the Spring when everything is green and the CHERRY TREES are in bloom. The drive without stops from Bovec to Medana is 1 hour and 20 minutes.
day 6: GORIŠKA BRDA – KARST REGION – PIRAN | SLOVENIA 1 week itinerary
Treat yourselves with a yummy breakfast (with a view) and drive off towards the coast. You can make your first stop in ŠTANJEL in the KARST REGION. In Štanjel, you shouldn´t miss seeing the gorgeous FERRARI GARDEN and the town´s CASTLE. This region also has many GOOD RESTAURANTS if you are already hungry. Next, stop at LIPICA STUD FARM. Here, a world famous stud farm for white LIPPIZAN HORSES, which, you guessed it right, are named after this place. You can spend here anything from an hour to a fully day, taking a GUIDED TOUR or VISIT IT INDEPENDENTLY. From here it will take you another 50minutes of driving to PIRAN at the coast.
Ahh finaly at the sea! Put the car windows down, breath in the salty air and listen to the crickets hidden in the pine trees along the roads. Now, SLOVENIAN COAST is only 42km long. Doesn´t sound like much but yet there is a lot to see and do. You can definitely stay longer, but if you have time (like here) for just a short visit I would pick PIRAN. It is the most AUTHENTIC CHARMING OLD TOWN with a CASTLE (amazing views, when good visibility you can also see he Alps behind), NARROW ALLEYS, lovely ARCHITECTURE, many RESTAURANTS, little SHOPS, a MARINA and TARTINI SQUARE, surrounded by COLORFUL HOUSES. You should not expect dreamy sandy beaches though! We don´t have that in Slovenia. You can of course swim in the sea or hang out on beaches with little stones. Note that a large part of Piran is a CAR FREE town. You can park in one of the 2 GARAGES though.
If by any chance there is some time left, you can WALK TO PORTOROŽ (a bigger town, with less flair in my opinion but some people prefer such towns) and or SPLURGE on an amazing SPA EXPERIENCE in the middle of a SALT PANS NATURE PARK – you can even cycle to it from Piran, or go with a car. It is called Lepa Vida, opened only in the summer. You can also do that your last day in the morning.
day 7: PIRAN – POSTOJNA CAVE – LJUBLJANA | SLOVENIA 1 week itinerary
You can start your last day with a morning swim and head back to LJUBLJANA later on in the day, completing the circle. I would definitely not leave Slovenia without visiting the famous POSTOJNA CAVE, which is on your way this day. Even though one of Slovenia´s top 3 attractions and therefore pretty busy and touristy – it is still incredible and amazing. You cannot enter on your own, you will need to join a GUIDED TOUR. You can buy a COMBINED TICKET for PREDJAMA CASTLE and the CAVE which are located not too far from each other.
The cave is simply stunning and you enter through the first, longer part riding a TRAIN. Yup, you read it correctly. Later on you walk around with your group – bring good shoes since it can be wet and slippery. A torch can be useful too in some parts. And also, inside the cave there is a constant temperature of around 10C so bring something warm to wear in the summer.
After the visit all that is left is to RETURN TO LJUBLJANA. As you might have noticed, this itinerary is not suitable for lazy people haha. It requires getting up in the morning to avoid the crowds and the summer heat, as well as some physical activities. You can of course drive the same circle and leave out some of the activities. There are of course many many many nice places ín Slovenia, but it is always impossible to see it all in such a short time. I´m putting together a 2-week long itinerary for a similar route so stayed tuned if you wish to find out more.
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