The Republic of Slovenia is a naturally stunning country located in central Europe.
Blessed with an incredible assortment of pristine landscapes from the Julian Alps in the north-west to the idyllic wine regions of the south, to the mesmerizing waterfalls and gorges in the west – it really is a nature lover’s dream destination.
If that’s not really your thing, the capital city, Ljubljana, is a lively city with a constant pulse and never a shortage of ways to spend your time.
By day, some of the historic streets are lined with markets, the sound of music plays through the streets and squares as the majestic Ljubljana Castle looks over the city from above.
By night, Ljubljana shows another side, an energetic space for individuality, expression and enjoyment – as venues like Metelkova City Autonomous Cultural Centre, located in an old military headquarters have undergone a somewhat bohemian arthouse metamophosis to authentically capture the current character and culture of the local people.
Even though the land mass of Slovenia isn’t too large, it features very mountainous places and lots of rural landscapes with very little development.
This means it can be easy to miss something amazing, but it does show that a little further exploration is always rewarded in an exciting way.
So here is a list of my favourite things to see and do in Slovenia, with an interactive map showing the complete list.
Find tranquility in Triglav National Park
The Triglav National Park is possibly the most beautiful place in all of Slovenia.
The National Park is named after Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia and indeed, the Julian Alps.
It is the only National Park in Slovenia and it’s home to some truly memorable locations with mountains, gorges, moors, waterfalls, caves and forests to explore.
Located in the north-west of the country, not far from borders with neighbouring Italy and Austria, this wild park is home to the source of the Soča and Sava rivers and offers a variety of possibilities for outdoor activities on land and in the water.
Enjoy the vibrance of Ljubljana
The city of Ljubljana is a charming city with a peaceful ambience by day and a youthful energy by night.
Take a walk along the picturesque Ljubljanica river or cross one of the many ornate bridges like the Dragon Bridge and Triple Bridge and soak up the atmosphere as riverside cafes and bars are full of life.
Learn about Slovenia’s history and culture in one of the many museums or watch a live performance in a range of theatres and live music venues.
Don’t forget to check out Ljubljana Castle, easily one of the most eye-catching in Slovenia, for great views over the city
Ljubljana is a very walkable city with a great variety of things to see and do, free from much of the tourist crowds that can be seen in other European capitals.
Thanks to the modest proportions of the city you should be able to explore and experience quite a bit of it over a long weekend.
Visit Bled and its many wonders
Perhaps the most recognisable image of Slovenia – Lake Bled and it’s fairytale-like island draws in lots of visitors every year, infatuated by its beautiful location and relaxing vibe.
On the island you will find a church with a bell tower that you can climb if you don’t mind the steep steps for some great views all around the lake.
Perched on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the lake, Bled Castle is an impressive 1,000 year-old structure set in a peaceful location with the most memorable views.
Explore the Metelkova community
Located in the capital city, Ljubljana, there is an eye-catching community of huts and structures full of colour, unusual art and an air of mystery.
Originally a military headquarters, the site was claimed by local squatters after it was left abandoned and gradually over time has been branded with it’s own unique tattoos.
There is an enormous mix of spray-painted murals, detailed mosaics and thought-provoking sculptures that have given Metelkova the style that it synonymous with.
Today, Metelkova is an autonomous social and cultural centre with the addition of a bar, inn a club and an art gallery, Galerija Alkatraz.
Metelkova is a neighbourhood for an alternative community, not a place that was designed for tourists.
By all means you should visit, for the brave why not make some friends and squat there to see how the place transforms as it turns to night.
Explore enchanting historic locations
Slovenia boasts an impressive collection of over 500 castles, palaces, mansions and monasteries.
Many of them have been preserved extremely well, while others have fallen to ruin, gradually being reclaimed by the surrounding nature.
Every castle is unique in design, with their own story of myth and legend. The locations you will find the castles in are spectacular and sometimes obscure.
For the more fearless traveller and fans of abandoned architecture, there are many epic and eerie locations for exploring and taking photographs.
Be careful and exercise caution when exploring these structures if you decide to, as they are often damaged and unsafe.
Take a road trip through the country
The roads in Slovenia are some of the best I have had the pleasure of riding on.
Winding single-lane roads transport you through the glorious vineyards.
Spot wild animals as you ride through forested roads and chase the skies as you tackle steep mountain passes where astonishing views can always be found.
The potential for exciting scenic drives in Slovenia is tremendous.
There are fantastic roads in the north-west of the country around Triglav National Park, in the north and north-east heading towards Maribor and in the south, in the vicinity of Mount Snežnik.
That should give you an idea of some places to start.
Visit the Karst caves
Not only does Slovenia feature sensational natural beauty in its landscapes above ground, but below the surface it has many more secrets for you to discover.
Slovenia is home to more than 8,000 caves, although only around 20 can be explored by members of the public.
What is so significant and special about the caves in Slovenia, is that they were the first in the world where scientists discovered evidence of karst topology, this is the way that soluble rock like limestone and gypsum has dissolved over millions of years to form alien-like cave formations that really give you the impression that you are in another world.
Often where you get karst, you also find pristine blue lakes running through the cave with sinkholes and small waterfalls that add to the magical beauty of the landscape.
The most popular of the karst caves is Postojna cave, which incredibly holds concerts and events and is the only cave network in the world to feature a double-track railway which you can ride on!
If you would prefer less crowds check out Škocjan caves, perhaps less impressive but also less busy!
Have fun on the water
Slovenia does not have many lakes, (it is quite a small country) but the lakes it does have are truly special.
In the warmer months, the lakes and rivers hold host to a wide range of exhilarating water sports for you to take part in from rafting to canoeing and kayaking, to electric panoramic boat rides.
Lake Bohinj is a stunning location where many water activities are available, but for the greatest choice I would recommend the areas of Bovec and Kobarid.
Taking to water allows you to enjoy a unique perspective of the mountainous nature that otherwise could not be seen on foot.