Slovenia, one of the most beautiful countries in the Balkans, is a perfect place to spend a week. Slovenia is a small country with only 2.1m people but packed with alpine mountains, thick forests, beautiful historic cities, and a small coastline. I absolutely love the Balkans and cherish my visits to other countries in former Yugoslavia like Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro etc, as well as Bulgaria (not part of Yugoslavia).
Slovenia is different than the other countries above as it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire prior to becoming Yugoslavia. With it, the culture and history was shaped differently. It seceded from Yugoslavia following the death of Josip Tito without much drama, avoiding the bloodshed that would befall the region years later. It was the first former Yugoslavian country to join the European Union in 2004.
If you’re thinking of visiting this beautiful country and have 5-8 days to do so, this is the perfect itinerary for you to get started on your planning! Slovenia Holidays are the perfect way to experience the region when booking Balkan Tours.
Where I went in Slovenia
I had just under a week to spend traveling around Slovenia. I wish I could have had a few more days but oh well, you get what you can!
I came here in December and spent the holidays here. I figured visiting Lake Bled in the winter time would be magical and I wasn’t wrong. While the mountain area in the Alps were quite cold, the town of Ljubljana and its surroundings were not that bad.
Weather in the capital city was around 5-10 degrees during the day time. Around Lake Bled it was around about 5 degrees colder on average. As there is elevation, the temperature really dips down in the night.
As we were visiting in winter, we also decided to spend a few days skiing in the Triglav National Park. The Slovenian Alps are stunningly beautiful and much cheaper as a ski destination than neighboring Italy (which really isn’t that expensive either). If we had a few more days and were traveling in the summer months, I would have definitely spent a day or two in the very south by the coast. The coastal towns of Slovenia’s Riviera like Koper and Piran look absolutely beautiful!
In total, this itinerary is anyone that has about a week or so to dedicate to Slovenia. Of course this itinerary can be shortened or lengthened depending on your schedule. I visited the following areas on this itinerary
- Predjama Castle
- Lake Bled
- Kransjka Gora
- Lake Bohinj
If these places ring a bell and sound like the places you want to visit, this is the perfect itinerary for you!
Renting a car in Slovenia
Slovenia makes for the perfect road trip country. While you don’t need a car to travel through Slovenia because of its small size and excellent bus coverage, I always like a good road trip so I can visit the sights I want whenever I want to. Another option is to book a Slovenia Cycling Holidays or even planning Walking Holidays Slovenia.
Renting a car in Slovenia is incredibly cheap. For a one week rental for the cheapest automatic car, I paid just under 100 euros. Granted it was a Peugeot car that was mediocre at best, it got me everywhere I needed to in that week. We rented with Green Motion which I had used once before in Crete, Greece. The overall experience was quite good and we had no issues with the rental car.
Unlike driving through Puglia, Italy where the roads are tiny, I didn’t’ feel like I really needed a tiny car in Slovenia as most places were “normal sized”.
This itinerary starts in Ljubljana. From Ljubljana, we spent a few nights and then drove towards Lake Bled. Along the way we stopped in Kranj, a quaint Slovenian town with beautiful mountain views.
We spent two nights in Lake Bled with its picturesque views and took a day trip to the Kranjska Gora area north. I wish we had more time to explore this region because it was very picturesque.
After Lake Bled, we drove towards Lake Bohinj to do some skiing as it was the winter. Vogel mountain is known for its beautiful views. Finally, we drove towards Predjama Castle and stopped for the best lunch ever at Kmetija odprtih vrat “na Kurenu” which served a family style Slovenian feast at their farm. After this we ended the trip in Ljubljana. If we had more time, we would have taken another day or two and visited the coastal towns of Piran and Koper.
If I had more time, I would have loved to do some private tours in Slovenia that would take me to the southern towns.
Day 1-2: Ljublana
The itinerary starts in the capital Ljublana. Our flight arrived here from Frankfurt in just over 1 hour and we picked up our car at the airport. We spent our first 2 nights in Ljubljana for no reason other than the weather was nice this time. Alternatively, you can do the itinerary and have Ljubljana at the end by going straight to Lake Bled upon landing.
Ljubljana is a beautiful city that tends to fly under the radar when compared to other European mainstays like Dubrovnik or Prague. The old town is incredibly charming, the buildings are beautiful, the food is delicious, and it is certainly worth a few days of your time.
Make sure to do the free walking tour that visits all the highlights of the old town, and then make a visit to the Ljubljana castle on your own. If you’re visiting in the summer, enjoy drinks along the riverbank and absolutely make sure to try a traditional Slovenian struklji dumpling.
For more information on Ljubljana, make sure to read my detailed travel guide for the city!
Visiting the town of Kranj
The drive from Ljubljana to Lake Bled is only 40 minutes through very good roads. However, if you have time, make sure to make a pit stop in the town of Kranj which is located just off the main highway (no detours!)
Kranj has always been the capital of the Slovenian Alps and is considered the cultural heart of Slovenia because of the greatest Slovenian poet France Prešeren. The special feature of the town is a river canyon in the town centre.
Kranj is the oldest Slovenian settlement with 6,000 years of continuous settlement and it is located on a rock by the second largest canyon in Europe. There are tons of nice cafes and restaurants here but as it was the middle of winter, many were closed. Definitely worth a few more hours in the warmer months.
Day 3-4: Lake Bled
No itinerary for Slovenia would be complete without visiting its most iconic attraction, Lake Bled.
Located just 45 minutes from Ljubljana, this charming little town is famous for its picturesque mountain backdrop and its impossibly adorable little island with its church. This lake attraction always existed, but only really blew up as an international must visit sight in the past 10 years thanks to Instagram.
To get to Lake Bled, we left Ljubljana and followed the main highway north to the town of Bled. There are signs all over so there’s no way you can get lost.
I recommend a full two nights in the Lake Bled area so you can experience this beautiful lake at all times of the day. Sunrise and sunset are must dos to see the contrasts and colors. A climb to the top of Mala Osojnica is a must for the panoramic views, and the food is so good. If you do get bored, make a half day trip to Kransjka Gora which is another stunning area filled with lakes and mountains.
Expect food and drink prices to be much higher in Lake Bled as it is the tourist hotspot of Slovenia. We went to some nice restaurants here and a glass of wine was about €5 for 0.1L!!! That may not seem like a lot if you’re coming from New York or Scandinavia but I can guarantee you that these are not normal prices in the region. For example, we went to a restaurant in Lake Bohinj a few days later, and a glass is €1.5-€2 for the same volume!
Day 5-7: Lake Bohinj
From Lake Bled, it is another 30 minutes or so to Lake Bohinj. Lake Bohinj is the gateway to some fantastic skiing in the Slovenia Alps. As for Lake Bohinj itself, it is like the more rugged big brother to Lake Bled. While Lake Bled is incredibly developed and just has the most picturesque photography of all time, Lake Bohinj does not have many houses around the edges of the lake. The scenery is more wild as it is more mountainous and more heavily forested.
There isn’t much to do around Lake Bohinj in the winter months as it is more of a summer destination. While the winter months were also pretty, you could tell that more colors in this place would be even more beautiful.
Vogel Ski Resort
Vogel Ski resort is rated one of the best in Slovenia and the views here are quite stunning. We allotted a day here specifically for skiing. The skiing here is very cheap at only €32 a day.
Unfortunately, as it was end of December, there wasn’t much snow at the resort. There were only two open runs out of over a dozen so we weren’t able to ski as much as we’d like. Because of this, we only paid €20 for the lift ticket and €24 for a day worth of full ski equipment.
Had we known the snow would have been bad, we probably would have just skipped it and made a day trip down to the coastal towns of Koper and Piran. They are the perfect destination for memorable shore excursions Koper. Next time!
If you’re not keen on skiing, I would still highly recommend a visit to the top of Vogel. You can take the gondola which runs every half hour for €20 round trip. From the top, you can enjoy a scenic lunch with spectacular views of the lake and nearby mountain ranges.
Day 7: Pedjama Castle
Our last day was to visit the Predjama Castle which was highly recommended. The drive from Lake Bohinj was about 2 hours through windy roads.
Lunch at Kmetija odprtih vrat “na Kurenu”
We stopped for lunch at this absolutely amazing restaurant. It was a farmhouse that only serves lunch on the weekends. We completely stumbled upon this by chance when looking for food options in the area. Safe to say, this was one of the highlights of Slovenia and certainly the most delicious meal we had. As it was located literally in the middle of nowhere at the top of a mountain, we knew we were in for a treat.
The menu here is completely local and the ingredients are fresh from the farm and surrounding areas. They slow cook all their meat in their traditional ovens. We had the deer leg which was amazingly tender and juicy. We had starters, wine, rakia, and the most amazing strudels. Our bill was €40 total for an absolute feast. We were actually short a few euros and instead of making us drive 20 minutes to the closest city, they said don’t worry about it and gave us more Rakia. Can’t recommend this place enough!!
Arriving to Predjama Castle
The Predjama Castle is absolutely worth a visit. It is probably one of the most unique castles I’ve ever seen in that it is built into the mountain. It sort of reminds of Petra in Jordan but just built over 1500 years later. It was built in the mountainside as a natural defense system for those looking to attack. In addition, they had tunnels in the castle that would allow residents to escape to the other side of the mountain. When invaders left after realizing no one was there, they could make their way back.
The cave below the castle is part of the 14km Predjama cave system. It’s open to visitors from May to September (but closed in winter so as not to disturb its colony of bats during their hibernation).
You can also tour the inside of the castle but entry tickets are €15 per person which we didn’t feel like paying.
Day by Day breakdown of my Slovenia
Here is a day by day breakdown of the Puglia itinerary. It’s pretty involved each day so absolutely feel free to spread it out over more days if you have the time!
Day 1: Land in Brindisi, visit Ostuni, overnight in Alberobello
Day 2: Matera in the morning, Pugliano de Mare and Monopoli in the afternoon
Day 3: Taranto in the morning, fill up wine in Manduria, drive along the coast towards Gallipoli.
Day 4: Visit beaches in the morning, Leuca for lunch, stay the night in Sternatia
Day 5: Drive along the coast from Leuca to Otranto
Day 6: Lecce in the morning, flight home from Brindisi
What I would do differently
There is so much to do in Puglia that the time I allocated to my trip was definitely not enough. If I had another 2 to 3 days I think that would have been perfect. I would have spent one night in Matera because I just think the stone city is so beautiful. This would have allowed me more time to explore Pugliano de Mare and Monopoli as well.
Combining this with the rest of the Balkans
It’s very popular to combine Slovenia with its neighbouring Croatia. If you have even more time, you can combine it with the other Balkan countries like Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. I spent two weeks traveling through the Balkans a few years before Slovenia and it was absolutely amazing. I think the Balkans might just be my favorite region of Europe actually.
From Ljubljana, I would do the itinerary mentioned above, and then proceed to Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. From Zagreb, I would visit the famous Krka National Park with its beautiful waterfalls.
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