15 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Slovenia
Home to Mount Triglav (a mythical being who is Slovenia's national symbol), dramatic scenery, historic towns, and a long coastline, Slovenia has plenty of beautiful places to visit.
The country is also rich in fascinating cultural and culinary sights, including fascinating Roman ruins, home-grown food and wine, and the chance to sample the best traditional dishes. There are also ski slopes in the country's interior, where skiers and snowboarders of all levels enjoy a spectacular range of scenic vistas.
To find the best places to visit in Slovenia, start with these top attractions: the National Park of Predjama Castle, Preservice Nature Reserve of the Triglav Lakes, Mount Triglav (one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites in Europe), and the town of Bled. Plan your trip with our list of the top attractions in Slovenia.
Lake Bled is just over 2 miles long and surrounded by picturesque mountains, at an altitude of about 2,500 meters. It is one of the most beautiful, peaceful, and picturesque lakes in Slovenia, renowned for its charming scenery, wildlife, and its unique population of cranes. After arriving in Bled, enjoy a cruise on the picturesque lake, and stop at the little island of Leta, which has the oldest church in Slovenia.
Ljubljana Castle (Zbornik na Ljubljano) dates back to the 13th century and features medieval towers and interesting sights such as the Romanesque portal of the Ljubljanica River. The castle was partially destroyed during the 17th century but much of it was restored, as was the city itself, making it an attractive and lively tourist center. The castle and the castle museum are all in one main building; however, there are also many other museums and other sights in Ljubljana. Ljubljana's Spodnji Grad (Lower Town) is known for its characteristic multi-towered buildings and narrow streets; for older exhibits visit the nearby Slovenski Muzej (Slovenian Museum), which contains exhibits relating to Slovene history. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMU) houses the largest collection of modern Slovenian art. Museums such as the Ethnographic Museum and History Museum are also worth visiting for their unique collections of ancient history and natural science.
Slovenia, a small country located between Italy and Austria, is home to Europe's deepest cave system, the Postojna Cave. Visitors can tour the cavernous galleries and experience the unusual underwater ecosystem of postojna River, the river that flows through the caverns and into the Karst Plateau which creates an unusual freshwater canyon. The cave was discovered in 1963 and opens its doors to visitors who want to take in its stunning, awe-inspiring beauty.
The area around Bled is filled with small towns and vineyards, surrounded by scenic mountains and meadows that stretch to the nearby Alps. Perhaps one of the most idyllic and serene places in all of Europe, Bled is filled with soaring peaks and whitewashed houses, and was even popular with the likes of artist Monet and former French President Pompidou. It's a perfect place for a hike along the panoramic paved path to some of the many old chapels and vineyards, which rise above the sprawling mountains and Bled Castle, situated at the very edge of the town. The thermal waters of nearby Tezno are the only natural hot spring in Europe that has been designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Triglav National Park
Situated in the center of the country, the breathtaking landscapes of the National Park of the Three Collared Mountain include several high peaks and sheer cliffs, forming a significant part of the boundary between the Dinaric and Pannonian regions of Slovenia. This park, which extends over 2,156 km2, contains a variety of high and medium altitude vegetation zones, ranging from the Tertiary mountains, which date from the post-glacial period, to the warm micro climate of the Danubian plains, and including a large stretch of mediterranean habitat, all strung out over a number of ridge systems. At 2,600 m high, Mount Smelter is the park's highest peak, and it can be reached through a steep, but not especially difficult, 2.5 hour hike. The lower slopes of the mountain are covered with beech, fir, pine and spruce trees, whereas alpine pastures provide grazing for mountain goats and wild sheep. Between Fruška Gora and the park are the villages of Konjice, Pragersko, Strojarsko Brdo, Šmarna Gora and Partizanska Gora. These contain magnificent 18th century manor houses surrounded by walled gardens, and are usually visited on a day trip from Ljubljana. The main highlights in the Park are the cliffs on the south side of the Stičica Creek, the sites of Anderjevec and Velika Slana, and the sites of Dolina and Popova Cave.
Slovenia's largest lake, also one of its most spectacular, Lake Bohinj was formed by the river Bohinj. It is roughly triangular and offers a more placid way of experiencing the beautiful mountainous landscape surrounding it, best seen on a trek through the spruce forests. Visitors to Lake Bohinj stay in the town of Radovljica, in the center of the lake at an altitude of 855 meters above sea level. During the winter months, skiers head to the area around the south end of the lake, where there are several ski resorts.
Small and unknown in terms of tourist spots, Ptuj is nevertheless one of the most picturesque towns in Slovenia and lies in a valley with stunning views of Mount Ptuj and the surrounding countryside. These panoramic views over a lush green landscape will be captured as you walk along the stone-walled streets, past the rustic painted houses, which on summer days are often open to visitors, where locals sit outside on the porches to chat and drink a glass of wine with a friend. In Ptuj you will find interesting modern museums, a memorial to Slovene poet France Prešeren, a Jewish memorial to Holocaust victims and remnants of a medieval castle.
Located on Slovenia's southernmost tip, this resort town with a handful of 19th-century seafront palaces has been popular with European royalty since the 19th century. The coast here is some of the finest in the region and, after seeing the beautiful, tranquil bay at nearby Sledje, makes for a pleasant spot to wind down. There are good hiking opportunities in the nearby mountains and also in the nearby region of Upper Carniola.
Maribor, also known as Maribor Castle, is a beautiful medieval city in Slovenia. Its handsome main square, the biggest in the country, is surrounded by architectural gems, including two medieval city gates, a Gothic cathedral, a Renaissance palace and some beautiful examples of Baroque architecture. Take a stroll through the old center, where the characteristic arcades and squares are filled with cafes, bars, and boutiques. Things to do in Maribor include visiting the 15th century Gothic cathedral and other churches, as well as a series of medieval city gates, and a 15th century Renaissance palace. Adjacent to the palace is the 15th century city gate, today a monument, that leads into the city's New Town and the imposing castle which now serves as a museum, museum of the history of architecture and Slovenia's city hall.
Vintgar Gorge, a deep and narrow valley of limestone, is Slovenia's oldest nature reserve, being designated in 1928. It was the habitat of the Vintgar, the Slovenian form of Neanderthal, and one of the longest surviving human cultural traditions in Europe. The gorge has been virtually untouched by humans since the last glacier retreated about 9,000 years ago. About half the original size of the valley, it is now confined to the west by the growing city of Nova Gorica and the east by Vintgar Lake, which separates it from Šiška, the highest peak in the region. Because of its remoteness, little is known about the unique natural environment and inhabitants of Vintgar Gorge. Strict protection and care has been provided in the gorge by the Slovenian Nature Protection Society for approximately the last hundred years. Visitors are given specific tours of the gorge, mostly in the second half of the day, when weather permits. All tours must be booked in advance and reservations must be made at least two weeks prior to the visit date. Tours are limited to 10 persons per group.
Bled Castle (Blejski Grad) is the best-preserved castle on Lake Bled. It was built by the Counts of Celje in the 15th century. The castle is known for its wall paintings, which include the well-known Bled Room, with its depiction of St. Christopher with a staff and the world map. This extraordinary room was repainted in 1988 as part of the celebrations surrounding the 10th anniversary of the International Bled Summer Festival. A small museum in the castle museum contains paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts that tell the story of the history of Bled. Visitors can also enjoy many kinds of outdoor activities on and around the lake, including horseback riding, boating, kayaking, and even hot air balloon rides. Bled Castle is on the shores of Lake Bled. Access to the castle is through an entrance located on the southern side of the lake. A free shuttle bus runs between the castle and the Belvedere Torlak, where an observation platform overlooks the castle.
Laško National Park
This UNESCO World Heritage site is a great place for hiking and biking with around 1000m-high limestone cliffs rising above the seabed of the Adriatic. The limestone cliffs in the deepest part of the canyon, all over 150 meters high, were formed through the millennia and can reach 150 meters in places. The canyon wall itself is made of different kinds of stone, resulting in a variety of habitats and vegetation. Next to each other, these natural formations make up a series of scenic lookout points, hiking and biking trails and picturesque, natural sculptures. The National Park of Laško includes an important landscape with natural and cultural heritage that is located about 10km from the city of Maribor.
The village of Savinja Valley is located in northwest Slovenia, and is renowned for its cheese-making. The picturesque location and plentiful historical charm contribute to a feeling of antiquity that is reflected in the number of tiny houses and attractive churches in the area. Savinja means "forest" in Slovenian, and these two characteristics give Savinja Valley the feel of a small hamlet. The village is very popular with hikers in the summer and is easily reached by train from the capital, Ljubljana. However, most visitors find a visit to Savinja convenient if they are staying at one of the resort hotels in the surrounding area. These include the Zlatna potoka hotel on the outskirts of Savinja village, which is a 15-minute bus ride from the town. Within the village of Savinja Valley there are three large churches. The oldest is called St. Clement's, and dates back to the early 14th century. The most famous is the church of St. Cyril and Methodius. This cathedral was built in 1925, and its octagonal, onion-shape form is an original building, which contrasts with the other houses in the village. It has great importance in Slovenian history as it is the main monument from which the Slovenes proclaimed the independence from the Habsburg emperor in 1863. There are also several museums in the area including the St. Nicholas' Museum in the main building of St. Nicholas Church and the Museum of Folk Architecture in the restored House of St. Anna in the center of the village.
Bovec, the capital of the Sava Valley and a true gem of a place, lies near the head of the beautiful Sava River on the border with Austria. Bovec's center is a series of old and new villages, built on the steep and narrow terraces of the valley. The stone houses blend in a harmonious fashion with the red-roofed old churches, majestic spruce-covered peaks, the white limestone cliffs and the meandering river. What to do in Bovec? The country's main sight, to see the city's 200-year-old bridge which dates back to the days of Austria's Emperor Franz Josef I. It is a true masterpiece of engineering and a meeting point for the two banks of the river, Sava and Pivka. It has also been proclaimed a World Heritage Site.
The Julian Alps
These mountainous regions of northern Slovenia are one of the country's greatest attractions, with over two dozen ski resorts, great hiking and skiing, villages steeped in history, and stunning alpine scenery. The Julian Alps are clustered around the central region of Triglav National Park, a haven for hiking, skiing and cross-country skiing as well as being a home to over 100 species of bird. Covering an area of 1,365 square kilometers (543 square miles), Triglav National Park is one of the few natural parks that crosses national boundaries. The park is a stronghold of the European brown bear (Ursus arctos), but is also home to lynx, golden eagles, wildcats, wolves, and beech marten. There are more than 75 natural caves in the area, as well as numerous historical sites, some of which are very much in use. Interesting activities in the region include activities such as white water rafting, paragliding, and mountaineering.