We didn’t know a whole lot about Slovenia before selecting it as the last stop on our recent Balkans trip. Birthplace of Melania Trump? Yeah. Place with the little church on an island in a pretty lake? Sure. But that’s about it.
Well, we discovered that it is an amazingly charming and approachable country. Be sure to put these five highlights in your plans for your Slovenia tour. Driving distances are typically short and the country retains a strong sense of its culture as many European nations get progressively more and more diluted.
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5 Places to Include on Your Slovenia Tour
1. Škokjan Caves
This exceptional limestone cave system will spoil you for any other cave visit in your lifetime! This unique sight is home to one of the largest known underground chambers, 6 kilometers of underground passages, and numerous waterfalls.
You begin with a guided tour and then have the option to exit after that tour or walk an extended, outside, route on your own. A visit will take between 2-3.5 hours.
2. Lipica Horse Farm
Located a short drive from Škokjan Caves, the Lipica Horse Farm is home to the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions. It’s worth a visit if you can time things so that you’ll be there during one of the Riding School shows. Shows are held Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday at 3 PM. Alternatively, training sessions can be seen Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 11 AM.
If you’ve been (or are going) to Vienna, don’t miss the chance to see these amazing animals perform at the Spanish Riding School. Occasionally, the horses go on tour. I can still remember seeing them at the now-defunct Richfield Coliseum as a young girl.
3. Predjama Castle
If you ever see a travel ad for Slovenia, there is a good chance that a photo of Predjama Castle will be on it. It’s unique in that it’s built into a cave mouth and hangs precipitously along an expanse of rock.
The castle interior is skippable but there are several small dining establishments that offer fantastic views and great photo ops. If you missed Škokjan Caves above, the smaller Postojna cave system is nearby and offers an easier tourist train tour.
4. Lake Bled
If a travel ad for Slovenia doesn’t feature a shot of Predjama Castle, I can certainly assure you it will feature a shot of Lake Bled! This small, charming, alpine lake is like a fairytale coming to life.
With a day or two in Bled you can:
- Take a Pletna boat out to the small island that houses a pretty church.
- Walk the perimeter of the lake admiring the many scenic viewpoints and historic hotels like the Grand Hotel Toplice and Vila Bled (President Tito’s summer residence).
- Enjoy a memorable tasting menu dinner at Bled Castle. The unforgettable view and free castle admission are a bonus! Highly recommend. Reserve well in advance, try to go a bit before sunset.
- Learn about bee-keeping in the nearby town of Radoviljica.
- Drive through the Julian Alps.
Bled is a fantastic place to relax, dine and recharge your batteries.
Even though Ljubljana was experiencing a small monsoon while we were there, we were absolutely smitten with the charm of the city and can’t wait to go back!
Get your bearings with a free walking tour. Several companies offer them and many include a half-hour boat trip or a funicular ride up to the castle. Tours take about 2 hours and cover all of the historic bridges and highlights of the old town of Ljubljana.
Stop at a cafe for a pick-me-up and then shop for a bit. The old town has lots of neat stores to explore. One even sells horse meat! How’s that for a unique gift for someone back home?
Spend some time exploring the very large open market. There are so many vendors with everything from food items and produce to clothes, toys, and more! I even stumbled across the cool milk vending machine below. Farmers come in and fill it in the morning and customers use a clear glass bottle to collect their fresh milk.
If you happen to be in town on a Friday from March to October, be sure to stop by Open Kitchen at the market. It’s a great way to try food from all the best Slovenian restauranteurs and it’s popular among locals and tourists alike.
Hope you had fun exploring this lovely little gem of a country! For a place that wasn’t on our radar, we were very pleasantly surprised by its cleanliness, modernity, food quality, and more. Add it to your list.
Until next time…keep cultivating a simple, stylish, and satisfying life!