Take a trip to Slovenia this summer to avoid the stifling heat of mainstream destinations and cool off in mountain air, luscious forests and blue waters. From the Adriatic Sea to Slovenia’s lakes and rivers, if there’s any blue around here, it tends to be azure, clear and sparkling in Mediterranean sunlight. Read on to discover 7 unbelievably beautiful destinations in Slovenia…
As the coolest city in southern Europe during summer, if you’re looking for a way of escaping the summer heatwaves then Ljubljana is for you. Lying in the Ljubljana basin between the Alps and the Karst, its average high temperature during summer is a comfortable 26c. It also makes the perfect starting point for day trips to cooling mountain lakes and forests (see below).
For panoramic views of the city, visit Ljubljana castle – a medieval castle with Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance elements, built in the 12th century as a residence of the Margraves. It’s located on the summit of Castle hill around which the city is built, making the perfect place to watch the sun set over the city.
As the capital and largest city of Slovenia, its importance is reflected in the city’s beautiful architecture: after the 1895 earthquake it was rebuilt in the Vienna secession style, making a vibrant and elegant contrast against the remaining baroque style buildings.
After winning the 2016 European Green Capital Award for environmental achievements, it comes as no surprise that the city has many green spaces. Perfect for picnicking are the Tivoli City Park designed by French engineer Jean Blanchard or the Ljubljana Botanical Gardens where you can see exotic flowers belonging only to Slovenia.
Another key place of interest in Ljubljana is the Dragon Bridge, dating back to 1901. From the moment it was built it became famous because of its architectural beauty, with flaming green dragons on the pedestals of its four corners. The dragons refer to the legend of Jason, a mythological Greek hero who killed the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece, and, legend has it, founded the city of Ljubljana.
The city is a hub of cultural events and festivals of theatre, music and art. Enjoy weekly Sunday flee markets, riverside coffee shops and street art in the Metelkova district. Its central square with many top restaurants and bars, Prešeren Square, is dedicated to the Romantic period poet of the same name.
2. Lake Bled
Just 35km away from Ljubljana International Airport lies the fairytale, dream-like Lake Bled.
Completing its magical appearance is the Medieval Bled Castle on its northern shore and the iconic Pilgrimage Church on a quaint island in the middle of the lake.
Visitors report swimming to the island and catching a glimpse of the numerous weddings that take place there. For the best views of the lake, try the the Ojstrica hike into the surrounding hills, best done at sunrise to avoid the crowds.
Another bonus of Lake Bled are its many restaurant options for vegans and those with specific dietary requirements, as guests have happily reported.
3. Zelenci Nature Reserve
Tucked away in the North West of Slovenia, not far from the borders of Italy and Austria, the Zelenci Nature Reserve is perhaps less well known than it deserves. Zelenci is the Slovenian word for green, and the area lives up to this in every sense.
Forest-hemmed marshes out of which Slovenia’s longest river, the Sava, springs into crystal clear, turquoise pools – the magic of Zelenci is hard to rival. The subject of many paintings and literature due to its beauty, this place has to be on your list of destinations to see in Slovenia.
Slovenia’s second largest city located in the winemaking region, Maribor‘s quaint red-roofed houses can be found amongst rolling and green vineyard-strewn hills.
Named the Pohorje hills, after a night of wine tasting you can gently walk away your hangover exploring this beautiful countryside or the many cafes that line the town’s Drave River.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also raft along this river. Or, for those musically-minded, visit in June to enjoy the open-air music festival in the city’s Lent quarter.
Not many people think of Slovenia when considering a summer holiday by the sea. But Piran is perhaps one of the Adriatic coast’s best kept secrets. With pastel hued townhouses and peaceful streets, Piran will feel like a welcome break from the busy hubbub of tourist-saturated Lake Bled. Italian was the main language of the town until the 18th century and there are still influences to be seen in both the architecture and the culture.
With fewer tourists come lower prices. Enjoy a (very reasonably priced) cocktail in Tartini square, a place named after the composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini.
Walk up to the Piran bell tower for views over the town or walk to nearby Strunjan Nature reserve, pebble beaches making 4 km of the Slovenian coast. Its dramatic cliffs roll into the sea leaving a thin strip of pristine coastline to walk along the water’s edge.
For swimming, you can also visit the nearby town of Portoroz – a slightly livelier hot spot for spas, casinos and sailing.
6. Palenk Waterfall in Nature Park Logar Valley
If you’re looking for more positive vibes than the country alone can offer, head to the waterfall of Palenk where 78 metres of plunging waters give off health-benefiting ions. The area is ideal for lovers of hiking with several other waterfalls in the area, making it one of the best places to visit in Slovenia.
7. Soca River
The Soca river, also known as the Isonzo in Italian, is a 138 km river flowing from the Trenta valley in the Julian Alps, through western Slovenia and north eastern Italy. For many years it was the border between the Kingdom of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and so as the location of many battles has an eerily bloody past.
You can hardly believe this though, as you drift down its serene waters in a canoe or kayak. For those seeking a more active holiday, start in Bovec in the north where the river is faster flowing. For swimming, however, go to the slower flowing areas between Kobarid and Tolmin. The white pebbles and the turquoise water will have you feeling almost like you’re on a desert island. Adding to the river’s charm are beautiful, almost otherworldly bridges such as the Solkan Bridge or the Kobarid Napoleon Bridge.
When to visit? Visit in August if you want to avoid the typical heat of central Europe and swim in the lakes, in spring if you want to hike and in autumn for romantic sunsets over golden forests. Happy travels ❤