As a holiday destination in Europe, Slovenia is often overlooked in favor of Italy to its north or Croatia to its south. But, for such a small country, Slovenia holds it own. You can find well-preserved history, fairy-tale architecture, alpine mountains and deep crystal-blue lakes, untapped wine regions, and Adriatic coastline all often within an hour’s drive.
Some of our favorite stops in Slovenia include:
- Ljubljana: Slovenia’s largest city is divided in two by the winding Ljubljana River and seems straight out of a picture book. The twisting cobblestone streets bring you over charming bridges and past buildings, intimate squares, and fountains of varying styles – Roman, Baroque Venetian, Viennese Secessionist – all signs of the empires that captured Ljubljana. Stop at the bustling daily market to meet Slovenes and find local goods, from foraged mushrooms to local honey. Ljubljana is also known for its green space like Tivoli Park, often a favorite site in the city.
- Lake Bled: This azure lake is awe-inspiring in every season. You’re guaranteed a photo op that will make friends jealous no matter when you visit. Take the day to stroll around the lake (about 3 miles around) and visit the castle, or take a hike above the lake for incredible vistas! You can also take a short boat ride out to the island in the middle of the lake, where you’ll find a church to visit. In the winter, you’ll see the church peaking above the trees, with its roof dusted in snow.
- Piran: A medieval town that seems straight out of a film, Piran sits on a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Adriatic Sea. It was part of the Venetian empire for 500 years and is composed of perfectly preserved Venetian Gothic architecture. After a day strolling the winding streets,you can pull up a chair at one of many restaurants serving the freshest seafood from the Adriatic and enjoy a glass of fine Slovenian wine as the sun sets.
- Goriska wine region: Situated in the western part of the country, this ‘Tuscany of Slovenia’ produces traditional and experimental Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc wines, as well as Rubela, a young, fruity white wine. We spend a day visiting two wineries on our trip, with a stop in the medieval fortress of Šmartno. At the end of it, you’re sure to wonder why we don’t see more Slovenian wines next to the Italian and Austrian wines in the shop!