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Slovenia has it all – rich history, culture, lush greenery, beautiful countryside, and coastal views.
This Slovenia itinerary will transport you back in time with its old structures and museums, it will take you closer to the environment with its mountain paths and hiking trails, it will take you underground with its cave systems and above ground with its mountain passes and peaks.
Slovenia has something for everyone to discover from ski resorts in the winter to beach resorts in the summer. And it is cheaper than its Croatian and Italian counterparts. It is a true Eastern European gem.
Geographically, Slovenia is bordered by Austria to the north, Hungary to the east, Croatia to the south and Italy to the west.
It borrows different elements from all its neighbors – be it food, structures, culture or alpine and coastal views.
Come, let’s explore the Land of the Dragons, shall we? Quite literally, because the symbol of the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, is a DRAGON!
And it features everywhere from their coat of arms, to the flag and even the bridge. More on that once the Slovenia itinerary begins.
SLOVENIA BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
Ljubljana houses the only major international airport in Slovenia and the country is well-connected by public transport like trains and buses.
You can also hire your own vehicle to drive around.
But don’t forget to check their baggage policies as these are very strict and you might end up paying a hefty fee that is equivalent, if not more, than your flight ticket.
An alternative to this, especially if you’re arriving from another European city, is by train or bus. For trains and rail passes you can check out Interrail.
A very handy tool for comparing prices between flights, trains and buses and picking the best option from these is Omio.
Another practical option is renting a car and going on a Slovenia road trip on these scenic routes.
All the wonderful places listed below can totally be explored by road.
It is not only a cost-effective option but also a time-saver since you’re not dependent on public transport in cases where buses ply at irregular intervals.
Plus, this way you can also explore off-course gems which aren’t possible when using public transport.
The Slovenia itinerary mentioned below can be used as a road trip itinerary as well since most of the commute times are in terms of how long it’ll take a bus to reach and it should approximately take the same time for a car, give or take the time to ask for directions and such.
Tip: Make sure to read the fine print on what is included and what isn’t when you’re booking your rental car. Because things like travel insurance, accident protection, fuel, road assistance, etc are sometimes excluded from the quote provided and you end up paying so much more for these amenities.
In a lot of cases it is cheaper when pre-booked well in advance so I’d recommend doing that instead of landing there and then spending time on booking places.
The Ultimate Slovenia Itinerary
Day 1: Ljubljana – The City
The capital city of Slovenia is an obvious choice to arrive at to begin your one-week Slovenian holiday. It makes an excellent start to your Slovenia itinerary!
It was named Europe’s Green Capitol in 2016 which means it’s extremely clean, environmentally friendly and full of greenery (it even has a tree-lined bridge as you’ll find out reading on).
There are Northern as well as Southern (with respect to Ljubljana) attractions to be seen. So, you can use Ljubljana as a base to reach all other points of interest because it is centrally located.
Pick an accommodation that is near the city center for easy connectivity. If you haven’t then don’t worry because the city is totally walkable considering its small size. And the entire city center is a pedestrian zone so no cars will be bustling about.
Get a Ljubljana card to save some money. You can use it to get free access to more than 20 sights and museums, a guided tour, a funicular ride to the castle, free travel on public transport in the city and much more. You also get discounts for large groups.
You can relax and pass time in Tivoli Park which is the capital’s largest park and is located near the city center. It offers many activities and has a few cafes and bars too. You can even have a small picnic on the lawns if it’s a bright and sunny day.
In the evening, you can try a new way to explore the city. Go on a city tour by Stand up paddling on the Ljubljanica River.
If you want something more relaxed then you can go for a scenic stroll along Ljubljanica River and grab some local Slovenian food and wine in one of the riverside restaurants.
You’ll find that the prices are very affordable since Slovenia hasn’t experienced the tourist boom yet. (HOW?!)
Enjoy the sunset views as the river glistens in front of you while listening to soothing sounds from street musicians performing in the vicinity.
End the day with a leisurely river cruise (free with the card) and have dinner on board. Indulge in Ljubljana’s famous ice cream (it is sometimes referred to as the ice-cream capital of the world) at Vigò, Cacao or Ice Wave as dessert afterward!
Day 2: Explore Ljubljana – The Bridges, Old Town, the Castle, and the Food
Join a walking tour of the city. Cross the iconic Triple Bridge over the Ljubljanica River, to get to the Old Town and immerse yourself in the medieval architecture.
Remember how I said I’d get to the dragon bit later?
Ljubljana has another iconic bridge, the Dragon Bridge, which has dragon statues perched, with teeth bared, wings spread and glaring down at you, on all four corners. Learn about the legends behind these mystical creatures from the locals or on a guided tour of the city.
Cross the Trnovo Bridge, which is the only tree-lined bridge in Europe and possibly the world, to get to the Plečnik Museum.
Jože Plečnik was Slovenia’s most famous architect and the one behind the cityscapes of the capital. You’ll find original pieces of furniture and tools from when he lived in the house turned museum.
Next head to the Town Hall which is the seat of the capital’s municipality.
Its signature clock tower was built in the 15th century but later renovated so it has an amalgamation of Baroque architecture and a Gothic courtyard. You can get a tour of this place on request.
Take a food tour to try traditional Slovenian cuisine.
Or if you’re visiting on a Friday between May and October, be sure to visit the culinary melting pot, Odprta kuhna or Open Kitchen Market, when Pogačar square turns into a foodie’s delight and countless food stalls sell local street food alongside mouth-watering delicacies by some of the finest restaurants throughout the country with drinks from wineries and breweries to complement them.
Ljubljana also has some unique cultural venues like the Metelkova Mesto centre or the Kižanke, a unique venue which was once a monastery now converted into a music and theatre space. You can catch a festival in the former or a performance/concert in the latter.
In the evening, a relaxed tram ride or a short hike up the hill will take you to the Ljubljana Castle. You can explore the medieval fortress, its viewing tower and its dungeons, if you feel adventurous enough. Many cultural events also take place on the grounds.
End the day by catching the sunset view of the city from the Castle Hill. And then enjoy a traditional dinner at the restaurant in the castle’s courtyard.
Day 3: Lake Bled and Triglav National Park
We start with the Northern part of the itinerary. Ljubljana has frequent (almost hourly) buses that take you to Lake Bled. Hop on one of these and enjoy a scenic early morning hour long trip to one of the most photographed places in Europe.
Once there, you will notice that it is incredibly scenic. Forested hills all around and a tiny island on the lake with a 17th century baroque-style church with a clock tower that makes for a picture-perfect postcard.
Once on the island, visitors have to walk up 99 steps to reach the church and it is considered good luck to ring the bell of the church three times once there.
You could walk around the lake at leisure (usually takes about 2 hours to cover all of it) and enjoy a lovely picnic by the lakeside.
Then to build up an appetite for the rest of the day, you can head to Triglav National Park and hike on one of the many trails or go kayaking or rafting.
Once back at Bled, stroll along the lakeside shops and pop into one of them to try a slice of the delicious Bled cream cake or Kremšnita with your coffee.
Board a hand-propelled wooden gondola (or “pletna”) to reach the island, or rent your own rowing boat to row across to the island.
Climb up to Slovenia’s oldest castle, the medieval Bled Castle, situated across the lake, through the forest on one of two trails.
Enjoy a lovely dinner on the terrace of the Bled Castle restaurant with a stunning view of the lake and the Julian Alps.
I suggest staying back in Bled for the night to truly experience the lake and its atmosphere.
Day 4: Vingtar Gorge and Lake Bohinj
The next two places can be covered in an easy day trip from Bled and will provide you with some dramatic views.
Head out early in the morning (recommended!) to Vingtar Gorge to enjoy a nice, soothing time amidst cool waterfalls and scenic views.
If you don’t have your own vehicle you can opt to go by one of the several shuttle buses from Bled. The 1.6 km gorge was carved out by the Radovna River, a crystal-clear river that looks emerald green or aqua depending on the light.
The gorge has boardwalks crisscrossing across the cascades and along the rock walls before finally reaching Šum Waterfall. It is easy to walk and makes for an enchanting landscape. Every photographer’s delight!
If you walk right to the end of the gorge, you will see this large stone bridge that still has trains running along it. And a café where you can get some refreshments before you start your return trip.
Next head to the lovely Lake Bohinj which is an alpine lake situated at the foot of the Julian Alps in Triglav National Park. It is less touristy than its Bled counterpart and offers you a view of Mt. Triglav.
From the village of Ribčev Laz, you could take a boat across the lake to Ukanc, then up the Vogel cable car for spectacular views over the whole lake and valley.
Day 5: Kranjska Gora, Vrsic Pass, Soča Valley and Bovec
Kranjska Gora is a winter sports town with one of Slovenia’s best-equipped ski resorts housing a Snow Fun Park.
It looks surreal when covered in snow during the winter and offers a range of activities like skiing, hiking, mountaineering, snowboarding and sledding.
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there’s something for everyone on the slopes. If you have a fair bit of knowledge of skiing you can even try the cross-country skiing track.
From here you have to go via the Vršič Pass to get to the other side. This mountain pass across the Julian Alps is the highest road pass and has views that will leave you in awe and terrified at the same time.
The road zigzags along the slopes until you reach a wooden Russian chapel built by Russian prisoners of war for hundreds of their counterparts who got buried in an avalanche while building this pass.
From here on, the serpentine road climbs for a few more kilometers before the steep eye-shutting descent begins, ultimately leading to Soča valley and finally to Bovec.
The Soča valley is named after the emerald-green/aquamarine-colored Soča river that meanders through it.
Going on the Soča trail will take you hiking in the valley to see some gorgeous views of the river, hanging bridges and the Soča gorge.
Don’t forget to spot the Solkan Bridge which still has trains plying on it and holds the world record for being the longest stone train bridge. The adventurous lot can try bungee jumping off the bridge,
Bovec is a pleasant mountain town and acts as a base for all the adventure activities.
There are provisions for white water rafting, kayaking or canoeing on the river. However, I’d suggest you try out zip-lining across the river to get your adrenaline pumping.
Imagine zip-lining across the valley with the river below, the mountains above and trees all around. Such a surreal experience!
After an eventful and exciting day, head back to the capital to get a good night’s rest.
Day 6: Postojna caves, Predjama Castle and Skocjan caves
You can now head Southward to the Karst region to experience the underground cave world. The Postjana caves are your first stop as they are closer from the capital but barely by half an hour or so. This is one of the most visited caves of Slovenia.
Both of them are karst cave systems, i.e., they have been formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, some of them as old as a million years. They are made up of a web of tunnels and caverns with stalagmites, stalactites and other rock formation-lined passageways.
Postajana’s passageways were carved by the Pivka river and can be traversed on a 90-minute guided tour. While, Skocjan’s caverns have been formed due to the Reka river. This river flows through the caves and underground in parts and ultimately into the Adriatic Sea.
From here you can head to the Predjama Castle which is a 20 mins ride from Postjana.
This 16th century Renaissance castle is one of the most dramatic castles as it has impregnable fortification and is built in the mouth of a cavern halfway up a cliff. It also has a dungeon and a secret tunnel. This castle was home to its very own local Robin Hood who would hide in this castle and use the secret tunnels to get in and out of it, especially when it was under siege.
There is a cave system below the castle that is open from May to September and closed during the winter so as to not disturb the bats that use it for hibernation.
Tip: Book your tickets at least 3-4 days in advance for the castle or cave tours
Next up are the Skocjan caves which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can choose to visit just one of the two caves if you wish to, since they have quite a few similarities.
The Skocjan caves website has a nice, interactive section when you visit their website which gives you a preview of what to expect when you get there.
Day 7: Head to Piran
On your last day, head from the lush green landscapes to the sea blue views by visiting this coastal town about 1.5 hours’ drive away from the capital. This picturesque small town can easily be covered in a day trip.
Relax at the beach and enjoy the fantastic views of the Adriatic coastline. Hop into one of the waterfront eateries to enjoy some seafood.
Then get transported back in time while exploring the quaint, narrow alleys on cobblestoned paths and climbing the medieval walled-structures in Old Town.
Evenings call for cocktails so pick another seaside beach bar and sip on some while watching the boats sailing by against the backdrop of the sun setting on the coastline.
Head back to Ljubljana and fly out.
So, there you have it, the ultimate one week Slovenia itinerary that will leave you wanting more!
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