This is the perfect itinerary for you if you only have a limited amount of time but still want to explore the highlights and hidden gems of Slovenia's natural beauty – its mountains, beaches, and cities. From hikes to restaurants: this is the authentic travel guide for you.
This fast-paced itinerary is perfect for travellers with little time who still want to see the best of what Slovenia has to offer. Exploring the small country of Slovenia with this road trip brings you to cities, mountains and beaches – and the longest distance you'll drive is 2.5 hours. We cover highlights and instagram-famous spots like Lake Bled and the Postojna Caves as well as many hidden gems. If you want honest reviews for sights and restaurants this is the travel guide for you.
Beware: The prices in Slovenia are rather Central European than Eastern European and that tourism has really picked up over the last few years, especially during COVID when it became a popular road trip and camping destination.
Start your day exploring the small capital Ljubljana by doing a free walking tour (not sponsored 😉 but we just love doing them wherever we go). The tour gives you a great overview of the major sights of this walkable city with under 300.000 inhabitants. You'll also get some great advice on where to eat your first Slovenian meal. We enjoyed Gostilna Sokol although it was quite touristy. Enjoy a stroll through the lovely streets and alleys in the centre. It's car-free, which we loved, but there are free taxis that you can call or flag down.
Some of our highlights were the free art exhibition in the yard of the city hall, the pink baroque Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, and the market. If you enjoy a good view, in our opinion it's better to enjoy a very reasonably priced drink on the Neboticnik Skyscraper rather than climbing or taking the funicular to the castle. End your day in the street art district Metelkova, which offers unique murals and installations, as well as galleries in an urban atmosphere.
Drive the short distance to the Vintgar Gorge close to Bled. Be aware that parking costs 5€ and entry 10€ and the hike is a one-way walk (as of 2021). The views of the turquoise water are amazing from the wooden boardwalks. At the end of the way, you can decide whether you want to make the short way to the Sum Waterfall viewpoint. We decided to take the "steep" way back to the parking lot which takes about 45 minutes to complete.
Once you arrive in Bled make your way around the lake and enjoy the various views of the small island with the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption. We didn't go to the island because boats were 20€ (2021) and we preferred to have a view of the island to having a view from the island. In our opinion, the castle is not worth the climb. The entrance fee is 13€ (2021) and the view and the exhibitions are rather mediocre. If you're looking for a good view, hike the 30 minutes to the instagram-famous Ojstrica viewpoint. The path was unexpectedly steep and sometimes you almost had to climb a bit using ropes but it's worth it. If you're looking for even more of an adventure, try the Mala Osojnica viewpoint with its steep steps and loads of climbing (although the view was nicer from the Ojstrica viewpoint, to be honest).
Reward yourself with a super delicious Bled Cream Cake in town! We dined at Gostilna Pri Planincu. The waiter was exceptionally friendly but the prices were quite high and the portions rather small.
Distance: 55 km (34 mi)
On your way from Bled to Bovec, the Vrsic Pass is not the quickest route but definitely the most scenic. With an elevation of 1,611 metres (5,285 ft), it's the highest mountain pass in Slovenia. Beware that you share a narrow road with lots of other cars, campers, motorbikes as well as bicycles and driving is quite tiring.
On the other end of the pass, you'll find the Soca Valley, which you could theoretically hike but all major points of interest are also drivable. It starts at the source of the Soca river, which is this amazing blue spring inside a cave. You'll reach it via a via ferrata which was rather steep and scary for us as newbies but we made it. Other points of interest are the small and big throughs of the Soca with their bathing (the water is super cold) and photo opportunities.
We dined at Gostilna Sovdat and really enjoyed the service and food as well as the reasonable prices.
Distance: 84 km (52 mi)
If you have a day to spare, spend it hiking around Bovec. In the morning, we recommend you to visit the scenic Lepena Waterfalls. A one-hour path leads you around the big and small waterfalls in this area. You'll walk along the stream and across various bridges. This is still a true hidden gem and we didn't encounter any other travellers on our way.
After your lunch break, visit Fort Hermann. The hike starts at Fort Kluze and leads you to this abandoned fort, which was built during the Austro-Hungarian monarchy between 1897 and 1900. If you like lost places this is the place for you! The short hike leads you through an old supply tunnel so bring light with you. You can explore many areas of the fort, climb down ladders and delve into the basements.
On your way to Piran, there are several waterfalls you can explore. The Boka Waterfall is the highest waterfall in Slovenia but to be honest it was rather boring to watch, at least in late summer.
We enjoyed the Kozjak Waterfall a lot more. You have to pay a 5€ entrance fee (2021), but it's worth it. You enter a fairytale-like gorge via bridges and wooden boardwalks. Once you turn around the last corner you'll see the cave with its waterfall. We couldn't help ourselves but being reminded of tropical places like Bali. You haven't heard it from us, but it's possible to climb down to the waterfall from behind the viewing platform for some even better pictures.
Another scenic point along the way is the Little Kozjak Fall. If you climb down from the side we marked on our map you'll get a great view – the path on the other side doesn't provide a good angle.
Distance: 176 km (109 mi)
In Piran, you have the opportunity to spend a great day on the beach. We were surprised to see people almost everywhere along the coast sunbathing and swimming. Frequent steps lead you into the water all along the waterfront. There's a pebbly beach very close to the tip of Piran additional to various beach clubs. If you are looking for a sandy beach, you have to go to Portoroz but in our opinion, it's not worth the effort.
If you're feeling more active, there are great hiking opportunities along the coast. We liked walking to Strunjan and seeing the salines and the famous cliffs. There are a lot of swimming opportunities along the pebbly shore. Don't miss strolling through the beautiful alleys of Piran which will remind you of Venice minus the canals. In the evening, we enjoyed great sunset views from the old town wall (2€, 2021).
We dined at Neptun Restaurant. They provided fresh seafood and fish for reasonable prices with excellent service.
This is your longest drive of the trip, but worry not, it will only take you 2.5 hours if you don't end up in traffic. On the way don't miss the famous Postojna Caves and the Predjama Castle. The Postojna karst area is home to the second-largest stalactite caves in the world that are accessible to tourists. The tickets cost 35,70€ (2021) and it is extremely touristy but it's worth it. Where else in the world do you get to drive a train inside a cave? The tour takes around 1.5 hours and it's only 10°C (50°F) in the cave so bring a jacket.
The Predjama Castle is the largest cave castle in the world. We liked the audio guide, which provided interesting explanations without being lengthy. First, you'll visit the outer rooms of the castle, later you'll see the terraces, and last but not least you'll enter the cave part of the castle, which was nothing like we've ever seen.
If you still don't have enough of castles, we recommend you to visit the castle in Celje on your way to Maribor. It was once the largest fortification on Slovenian territory and offers great views over the surrounding valleys.
Distance: 252 km (156 mi)
The Maribor region is famous for its wine so of course you should visit the World's Oldest Vine, maybe do a tasting and also buy some wine to take back home with you. Maribor is the second-largest city in Slovenia with over 100.000 inhabitants. We were surprised to find a large car-free city centre with beautiful cobblestone streets. You can stroll along the waterfront of the Drau River and visit the castle. The city of Maribor is worth a visit even if you don't have time to venture off into the vineyards and see the instagram-famous "heart among vineyards".
Before you go back to Ljubljana to end your road trip you will have thoroughly fallen in love with the beauty of Slovenia.
Distance: 130 km (80 mi)
Of course you can also use Slovenia as a base to explore one of its many neighbors like Austria, Italy, Hungary, or Croatia and the rest of the Balkans.