Slovenia is a European country that has it all: a rich history, a versatile cuisine, and breathtaking mountain landscapes. Although the country is relatively small in size (even El Salvador, the smallest country in continental North America, is bigger) it definitely doesn’t lack sights for tourists to visit.
Whether it’s the coat of the Adriatic Sea, the capital Ljubljana with its museums or the Julian Alps, you will get your share of adventure in Slovenia. We’ve been busy and compiled a list of 5 amazing places in Slovenia that you simply must visit.
Ljubljana: One of the Smallest Capitals on the Continent
The capital of Slovenia is home to just under 300,000 people but has a lot to offer to people who visit it. Established in the 13th century, Ljubljana is the economic, political, and cultural hub of Slovenia. Its picturesque streets offer plenty of cafes, restaurants and confectionery shops where you can try local delicacies, as well as dishes from the entire country.
The symbol of the city is a dragon that the locals believe embodies courage, power, and grandeur. Don’t be surprised if you run into sculptures of dragons at numerous bridges over the Ljubljanica River.
The best place you can see the entire city from is Ljubljana Castle. This 16th-century fortification sits on Castle Hill, overlooking the metro area. The castle is popular with tourists because it is easily accessible by foot and an inexpensive public tram. Several festivals are held there, as well as a Christmas market which is one of the best in all of Europe.
Unique Life Forms in Postojna Cave
The Slovenian landscape is predominantly mountainous which results in a large number of caves and subterranean formations. The most famous one is by far the Postojna Cave, which gets the largest number of visitors per year and for a good reason.
Namely, it is home to an endemic species of aquatic salamander called the olm or proteus. The local tourism industry knows how to cash in from this unique landscape carved by the Pivka River, as there are guided tours that last just over an hour and a half.
The cave, full of odd karst formations is quite acoustic so no wonder they use it for concerts, complete with a nativity scene set in which live actors take part every December. If you have a car, you can drop by the nearby by Predjama Castle which is surrounded by “ethno restaurants.”
The Roof of Slovenia: Triglav National Park
Looming near the border with Slovenia and Austria, Triglav is the tallest mountain in Slovenia. At 2,863 meters high, it was the highest peak in the former Yugoslavia, a country much larger in size than present-day Slovenia. Triglav sits in the center of the eponymous national park established to preserve the national symbol of the country, depicted in the Slovenian coat of arms as well.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, then Triglav has more to offer than just beautiful hills, lakes, pastures, and snow capped mountain tops. Apart from hiking, you can rent a raft, go kayaking or skydiving which are all memorable experiences. As far as climbing is concerned, Triglav is safe but you need to adhere to the basic rock climbing principles to safely enjoy the scenery.
If you grow hungry from all the outdoor activities, head to any of the local restaurants, mostly situated near Bohinj Lake. You should try the local version of the strudel and hot national dishes, like pasulj (a thick bean soup) with sausage.
Bled: The Most Beautiful Lake You’ll Ever See
Located northwest from the capital Ljubljana, Bled is a lake like no other. Tourists flock to it using a nearby highway that is also used to access the Triglav Mountain. People visit Bled because of a small island with a belfry in the middle of the lake.
Instagram is full of images of Bled made by visitors and it is hard to distinguish which one is the most beautiful. No wonder then that this sight is among the top landmarks in the Balkans that foreigners prefer to visit.
Since you can’t reach the islet by swimming (not even in summer), it is more convenient to use a pletna, a traditional kind of gondola in the Julian Alps. When you reach the island, there are 99 steps to the top and the church situated there. Newlyweds like to get wed here so a number of hospitality services with large banquet halls offer great national dishes in the surrounding area.
Koper: the Only Port in Slovenia
Although mountain landscapes are what Slovenia is famous for, it does have a small coastline, giving it access to the Adriatic. Koper is told to be the oldest town in the whole country, dating back to the times of Ancient Greece. Koper’s old town features Tito’s square, one of the prettiest Venetian-type squares in the entire Mediterranean.
If you have a car, be sure to visit the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park near Portorož, where salt is still harvested manually like for centuries before. The Italian city of Trieste is also nearby so you might drop by on a short excursion.
While staying in Koper, be sure to try the local Mediterranean cuisine, somewhat different from the Slovenian national cuisine. You will find typical Istrian products on the menu, such as olive oil and various fish dishes, as well as Italian-style pizzas and pasta dishes.
From the capital Ljubljana to various picturesque townships, Slovenia throws a bit of everything at you. Whether you go hiking through the Triglav region or decide to eat dinner in a seaside tavern in Koper, the experience will prove to be unforgettable.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORNina is a lifestyle blogger, yoga aficionado and a travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor. She’s passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas. In her free time, she loves to design clothes and furniture. If you wanna see what she’s up to you can find her on Twitter.
(Cover photo: Image source)