Before we begin we’d like to give you a friendly warning: don’t mistake Slovenia for Slovakia like Berlusconi once did. It’s such a common mistake that the staff of both Slovak and Slovenian embassies meet once a month to exchange wrongly addressed mails. Both are very beautiful countries, but very different too.
Going to Slovenia feels like going to a real-life Disney movie: dragons, castles, small picturesque villages, strange creatures, and beware; chances are you can very easily find your blond-haired prince or princess too. This lovely, small country is squeezed between Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia. Knowing the beauty-reputation of its neighbors it’s only fair to say that Slovenia is their strong competitor. The easiest way to explore the country from east to west is to stay in the capital: the quiet beauty – Ljubljana, which is situated in the center of Slovenia, so everything you would like to see is no more than a 2-hour-drive away.
Day 1 – Ljubljana
If this city had a gender, it would have definitely been a young woman – shy and charismatic, who would surprise you how much fun she could be. The city center must be the first place you visit, so head down to Prešernov trg square and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
This square is the heart of Ljubljana literally built of love; the monument of the famous poet France Prešern is facing the window where his beloved Juliija lived.
Once you decide you want to see more cool places like this, it doesn’t matter which direction you take because every street will lead you to beautiful places such as the Trimostovje (Triple Bridge); Kongresni Trg (Congress Square); the Central Market where you can buy fresh flowers or fruit; the St. Nicholas city cathedral; Mesarski Most (Butchers’ Bridge) where despite the not-so-pleasant name you can put a love-lock; Zmajski Most (Dragon Bridge) where you can take a picture with one of the dragons (they’re not Daenerys’ dragons, but still…).
The list can go on eternally, but don’t be afraid to just stroll around without a map, because every corner is worth a sigh. And when your feet start hurting find Centralna Postaja on Trubarjeva street and have the most delightful jasmine tea, or if you simply want to keep staring at the classy façades sit in a café alongside the river Ljubljanica.
Day 2 – Ljubljana
Since this is the fairytale land why don’t you treat yourself like royalty and have a cake for breakfast and add some more magic to your trip? It will make you smile and give you energy for the walk to the Castle, keeping your eyes open while you breathe Medieval history. Of course, if you are not a morning person you can hop on the funicular to reach the Castle. Take the “time machine” tour or just wander around the castle by yourself; either way, you win. The panoramic view of Ljubljana from up there, the ivy stone walls and nature are simply breathtaking.
And since you started the day with history you can keep the same pace and go to the National Museum of Slovenia, or maybe if you are more into art you can go to the Museum of Modern Art or the main art museum the National Gallery. All three are in a range of 200m.
In the night, to clear your mind after the busy day you should definitely visit the Metelkova Street. This represents a different, alternative Ljubljana situated in the barracks of the former Yugoslavian army. Have a beer or two, watch a performance, dance or do whatever you like, because no one will judge you. But if you are more interested in a “normal” night out, the city center can offer you that with a range of pubs, bars, restaurants etc.
Small tip: Slovenians have always been considered as the “Austrians on the Balkan”, but yet they enjoy the rhythm of the controversial turbo-folk music that comes from the ex-Yugoslavia countries, so be brave and find a party where they play this music and let loose.
Day 3 – Postojnska Jama Park
You may have been in a cave before, but you’ve definitely never visited anything similar to this! Just imagine the beauty if Postojna Cave got electricity before Ljubljana. A 45-minute ride from the capital, this million-year-old underworld carved by the Pivka River is full of priceless jewelry in the form of majestic draperies made of stalagmites and stalactites. You can even find the only underground post office in the world there, right into the Concert Hall which has perfect acoustics.
So, take the train ride and I promise you’ll get the feeling like you’re riding through Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Plus, you get to see the odd-looking human-fish: a blind, endemic amphibia. Oh, and bring some warm clothing because it won’t get any higher than 10°C.
When you finish your magical journey through the cave you will feel like you’re excited for some more, so that’s when you head to the Predjama Castle – the biggest cave castle in the world that has stood on that cliff for more than 800 years. If you are faint-hearted – beware, because a few years ago a crew from Discovery Channel recorded some yet unexplained sounds and visuals inside the castle.
If the excitement gets you hungry you can enjoy a nice ice-cream just outside the cave or go for the “real” food in the nearby restaurants.
Day 4 – Lake Bled
If you are a hopeless romantic, this day-trip is made for you. If you are not, go to the trip anyway and you will return a completely changed person full of beautiful emotions and feelings. You might even regret that you didn’t overnight there, so have that in mind while you’re planning.
The area of Lake Bled is like a postcard. You can enjoy kayaking, rafting, horse riding, hiking and many other fun activities. If you are not very adventurous you can go to the island with a traditional Pletna boat and explore the Gothic church and the captivating surroundings, or get on a Fijaker coach and head to the Bled castle to enjoy the panoramic view of the lake. And if this is not enough for you, you can always head to the gorgeous Vintgar gorge and lose your head over how much it feels like you’re in Rivendell, Middle-earth. To properly end your day taste the local Bled cream cake.
Day 5 – Maribor
Maribor is the second biggest and most charming city in Slovenia. An hour and a half drive away from Ljubljana there’s this cozy city cut into two by the Drava River. For the wine lovers, you’re in the right place! Head to the Pyramid Hill to see the vineyards looming over the city and after this splendid walk go for some wine tasting in the Old Wine House.
Now that the wine cheered you up you should definitely visit the Escape Room Enigmarium and have some smart fun. Wander around the Old City, the park, the riverbank and be amazed by the Medieval, Gothic and Renaissance buildings. If you’re visiting in winter you should go to the Pohorje Ski Resort just a few minutes away from Maribor. It’s the biggest ski resort in the country and it offers 80km of ski trails.
Day 6 – Piran
Slovenia may have only 47km of coast, but Piran is for sure one of the most beautiful Mediterranean towns. In the summer it can get overcrowded, but it still doesn’t lose its real spirit. Wander around the narrow streets to admire the Venetian gothic architecture, take a climb on the city walls and see the town from above, drink a coffee on the Tartini Square and when it’s sunset o’clock go to the seashore and enjoy your dinner with the best possible background.
Meanwhile, if you want to explore more, a 10km ride passing through the resort Portoroz will get you to Sechovlje Salt Pans, where they still produce more than 6 tons of salt a year in the traditional way, by hand.
Day 7 – Ljubljana
It’s been a week filled with magical places, tasteful cakes and good wine that make you anxious about going home. That’s why today is reserved for the peaceful nature where you can reflect on your extraordinary journey while enjoying a walk or a bike ride (Bicike(LJ)) around Tivoli, the biggest park in the whole country that was designed in the early 19th century. Pick your favorite spot and have a picnic. Later, go to the Ljubljana Zoo, situated on a slope of a hill by a 20-minute walk from the center. It offers excellent housing for the animals and both education and fun for the visitors. If you have children they will surely love it!
Before going home don’t forget to buy an authentic souvenir from one of the many creative shops around the city!