Tourism has boomed in Slovenia over the last decade. Though it may not be a well-known destination for American tourists yet, Slovenia is no longer a hidden gem for many Europeans who flock to the Eastern European nation for their summer vacation.
Small and easily navigable, Slovenia is great for families and nature lovers. There you’ll find endless emerald creeks, lush forests, wildflower meadows, and waterfalls with jagged mountains as a backdrop.
Scrolling through the pictures in this article will probably be enough to entice your wanderlust, so here is everything you need to know to plan the most perfect 1-week road trip through Slovenia!
Have more time to explore Slovenia? Check out my 2-week Slovenia Itinerary!
Where is Slovenia?
Slovenia is a small European country nestled between Austria, Italy, Croatia, and Hungary. It is located at the end of the Alpine range, called the Julian Alps and boasts 47 km/ 29 mi of coastline along the Adriatic Sea.
How to get there?
The largest airport in the country (LJU) is located in the capital city of Ljubljana, where this itinerary begins and ends. From there, I highly recommend getting a rental car to get around. Relying on public transport to get from one region of Slovenia to another would prevent you from accessing many of the locations in this itinerary.
DRIVING IN SLOVENIAtourism has grown in slovenia, but the infrastructure hasn’t always adapted. as a result, many parking lots have become way too small to accommodate the crowds. many roads are also very narrow with blind curves around a rock wall. speed limits are enforced but not always indicated, so make sure to familiarize yourself with the driving rules and keep to your side of the road at all times. don’t forget You will need to purchase an e-vignette online prior to driving on slovenian motorways.
When to visit?
Summer offers the best chance for sunshine but can be quite hot and dry, especially if you’re interested in hiking or kayaking. July and August also get very crowded in Slovenia. I recommend visiting in June or September for fewer crowds and good weather. Late spring gives you the best chance for flowing waterfalls and rivers.
What to eat?
As in most slavic countries, Slovenian cuisine is hearty and rich in meat products. On Slovenian menus, you’ll find lots of stews, sausages, soups, but also gnocchis thanks to the proximity with the Italian borders. Garrett loves mushrooms, so we indulged in mushroom soup on more than one occasion during our trip.
When you visit Bled, make sure not to miss out on Bled cake. It was the best dessert we had during our time in Western Europe.
A few words in Slovenian
I learned a few Slovenian words translating road signs during our visit. I highly recommend learning a few basic words to help you navigate through towns and interact with the locals in Slovenia. Based on our experience, all the Slovenes we interacted with spoke perfect English except for the older generation in the remote Logar Valley.
To help you with pronunciation, here are two important rules to remember: J is pronounced as a y and consonants with a diacritic (the v-shaped accent) indicate a variation in pronunciation. For example, č is pronounced tch, and š is pronounced sh as in shin.
|You’re welcome||Ni za kaj|
Day 1 – Ljubljana
This road trip will start you in Slovenia’s capital. Ljubljana is a great town for foodies with a worldwide variety. If you’re particularly interested in local cuisine, I recommend heading to Gostilna Sokol near the Robba Fountain for some authentic and delicious Slovenian food. If you’re running out of time and would rather grab something on the go, make sure to check out Ljubljana’s open-air market (Ljubljanska tržnica) on the footsteps of the cathedral. You’ll find everything from fresh flowers, produce, farm-fresh dairy, honey…
Once you have satisfied your hungry stomach, set out on a stroll through the city streets. Here are a few of the locations you shouldn’t miss:
- Neboticnik Skyscraper (Roof terrace with amazing views of the city)
- Preseren Square
- Ljubljana’s 3D map
- Triple Bridge
- St Nicolas Cathedral/ Ljubljana Katedrala (make sure to take a look inside, it’s absolutely worth it)
- Ljubljanska tržnica (open-air market)
- Dragon Bridge/ Zmajski Most
- Metelkova Mesto Art Center
- Robba Fountain
- Ljubljanski Grad (Ljubljana Castle)
- Ribja Brv (great views of Triple Bridge and Preseren Square)
- Park Tivoli
The city center is quite small, so you should easily manage to see the main attractions on this list with some time leftover to head to the Logar Valley or enjoy a relaxing evening.
Day 2 – Logar Valley
The Logar Valley (Logarska Dolina) is one of the most remote areas in Slovenia, located about 1h30 from Ljubljana. The roads leading into the valley are very mountainous with many 180° curves. We saw much fewer crowds there than in other locations, but it was one of my favorite areas to explore.
Perk Tourist Farm
We stayed at the Perk Tourist Farm (Turistična kmetija Perk). The Logar Valley abounds with tourist-farm-style accommodations. I loved the concept and our stay. We slept in very comfortable beds, had great views over the mountains, and a large breakfast made with local farm products all for 99 euros. The night sky views were also the best I’ve seen in my entire life, so if you are into astrophotography, it’s a huge plus!
After a full breakfast at the farm, we headed to Slap Rinka in the Logar Valley. There is a 7 euro entrance fee per vehicle, but the views to the waterfalls alone are absolutely worth it! Click here for fees and opening hours. The waterfall trailhead is located about a 10-minute drive from the entrance booth. The hike to the waterfall is fairly easy with a slight elevation gain. It takes on average 20 minutes to complete this 1.2 km hike.
Our next stop took us 45 minutes out of the Logar Valley through the Austrian borders on some beautiful windy mountain roads to Plansarsko Jezero. Lake Plansar is great for families with a small restaurant nearby. Enjoy some lunch lakeside before spending the afternoon swimming and reading on the shore.
I recommend heading to Bled that evening to avoid midday traffic and staying at Pension Knafel. We opted for a private bedroom with a shared bathroom and found the hotel to be a great budget option and very clean. They also offer breakfast for an additional fee.
Day 3 – Lake Bled
If you choose to head into Bled in the morning, know that traffic gets backed up quite a ways around lunch time. Bled is one of the most touristy areas in Slovenia, but it is absolutely worth a stop. I recommend parking your car at Pristava parking lot for easy access to the swim beach and trailhead.
Though the lakeshore offers breathtaking views of Lake Bled and its islet, I highly recommend hiking to the Mala Osojnica viewpoint. The trail is a 6 km/ 3.7 mi there and back and pretty steep. There is a long stretch of narrow stairs toward the very end. If you do not feel comfortable completing the 1-hour hike, you can hike the first 10-15 minutes of the trail for some nice overlooks along the way.
We swam in the lake both before and after the hike. There are small beaches all around the shore near the trailhead. By beaches, I mean patches of grass with lake access. The water was unbelievably clear and so refreshing! I highly recommend spending a few hours simply enjoying the lake and taking in the scenery. It’s also perfect for photography, especially midday.
When you get hungry, head to Kavarna Belvedere for some homemade Bled cream cake. It is absolutely delicious, and their portions are huge. The view from their balcony is absolutely breathtaking.
If you are looking for more things to do in Bled, consider visiting Bled castle, renting a paddle boat, or taking a boat to Cerkev Marijinega Vnebovzetja, the church on Lake Bled’s center island.
To end the day well, head to Gostilna Pri Planincu in Bled for a delicious and heartwarming Slovenian dinner before returning to Pension Knafel.
Day 4 – Vintgar Gorge & Lake Bohinj
In the early morning, head to Vintgar Gorge to admire one of the biggest gems in Slovenia. If you are visiting in the summer months, I highly recommend getting tickets online ahead of time and choosing the first time slot of the day. Vintgar Gorge is a popular tourist destination and fills up quickly. If you don’t want boardwalks overcrowded with people in all of your photos, arrive no later than 9am. Click here for ticket reservations, parking fees, and opening hours.
The walk along the gorge is one-way only, and you have two options to reach the parking lot from the end of the gorge. As you exit Vintgar Gorge, make sure to go down the step and over the bridge to the Šum Waterfall viewpoint before climbing back up. From there, you can either choose the green or red route.
- The green route (Vintgar – Sv Katrarina) is 5,7 km/ 3.5 mi long (including the walk along the gorge) and takes about 85 minutes to complete. This route will take you through the forest and to a small chapel with beautiful views of the Gorenjska region below. This is the route we took, and I highly recommend it!
- The red route (Vintgar – Blejska Dobrava) is 4,3 km/ 2.7 mi long (including the walk along the gorge) and takes about 75 minutes to complete. This route will take you through the forest and above the gorge back to the wooden hut at the entrance.
After enjoying the gorge, make your way back to the north shore of Lake Bled to Lake Bohinj. Park your car along the lake and settle in for a nice picnic and a refreshing swim.
As you wrap up your day on the lake, head to Slap Savica, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Slovenia, for your last hike of the day. The hike to the waterfall is only 1.8 km/ 1.1 mi long and takes about 45 minutes to complete. There is a small entrance fee of 3 euros per adult (4 euros in July and August) to access the trail. I recommend doing this hike toward the end of the day as the late afternoon light is perfect for photography!
I recommend staying in Pension Knafel again for the night before heading into Kransjka Gora in the morning.
Day 5 – Kranjska Gora & Vrsič Pass
Zelenci Nature Reserve
It is about a 40-minute drive from Pension Knafel to Zelenci Nature Reserve. The nature reserve is location in the Kransjka Gora region famous for its gorgeous mountains and ski station. There is a small restaurant with an outdoor terrace and a large parking lot at the entrance of the trail. The viewing platform is located only 5 minutes from the restaurant parking lot and offers breathtaking views of the mountains.
After a quick stop at Zelenci Nature Reserve, head to Lake Jasna. This large, two-part lake is great for swimming and offers gorgeous mountain views. There are benches all along the shore and lots of room for families to spread out and enjoy a good book or board game. As you make your way around the lake, make sure not to miss the super realistic mountain goat statue overlooking the mountains on the north end. When you get ready for lunch, you’ll have plenty of restaurants to choose from in town.
After a relaxing afternoon on the lake, get back in the car to drive over the Vrsič Pass. It takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive over the pass to Bovec. This does not account for any time spent at the various overlooks enjoying the views of the Julian Alps. For this reason, I recommend leaving the lake around 4pm. This should give you plenty of time to get over the pass and pull over as desired without running out of daylight.
As you make your way down the Soča Valley toward Bovec, make sure to check out the roadside pullouts along the river to admire the many suspension bridges towering over emerald blue waters.
In Bovec, we stayed at Hostel Soča Rocks. It is the cleanest, nicest hostel we have ever stayed at, and we have stayed at many hostels across Europe and Hawaii. I recommend booking a private room if you are unsure about a hostel stay. Make sure to book in advance as those rooms book up weeks, sometimes even months in advance.
Day 6 – Soča Valley
Float the Soča River
Hostel Soča Rocks offers freshly-baked croissants for breakfast as well as homemade iced teas and lemonade throughout the day. It is truly the perfect option for those traveling on a budget! After breakfast, I recommend you go on one of the many excursions offered by the hostel. You’ll get a 10% off discount for all water sports and activities on the Soča River with Aktivni Planet. The hostel staff makes reservations directly with the company and organizes a shuttle pick up from the hostel. They take care of everything, and you have nothing to do but show up with some cash at pickup. It was such a great, hassle-free experience.
Among the water sports offered by Aktivni Planet are kayaking (both for beginners and experienced kayakers), rafting, and canyoning trips. The trips can either be taken in the morning or afternoon, but I highly recommend the morning trip if you decide to go kayaking or rafting as you’ll have the sun in your back rather than shining in your face.
After meandering your way through the rapids of Soča for 2-3 hours, you’ll likely be more than ready for lunch. Because we were constantly on the move, Garrett and I often got sandwiches from the gas stations. They’re pretty yummy and super cheap.
Just 10 minutes down the road from the hostel, you’ll find the Great Soča Gorge (Velika Korita Soče), which is perfect for swimming and cliff jumping. The parking lot fills up quickly, so make sure you arrive early to secure a spot. It is not rare to find cars parked behind a row of vehicles waiting for a spot to become available. The parking situation in Slovenia was very challenging, so heed my warnings and arrive early or visit off season.
There are 2 waterfall hikes near Bovec: Slap Virje and Slap Boka. Slap Virje is a very short hike; it’s about a 5-minute walk downhill to the waterfall, but absolutely no swimming is allowed. If you visit on a hot summer day, you’ll likely see other tourists do it anyway. Please respect the rules by sticking to the edges of the pool to protect the biodiversity.
Slap Boka is the largest waterfall in Slovenia. There is a viewing platform located 15-20 minutes up from the main road. The hike is pretty steep but quite short. If you want to take an even closer look at the falls, there is a higher viewpoint about 45 minutes up the hill, but this hike is a lot more strenuous especially if attempted in the summer heat.
I highly recommend treating yourself to a delicious dinner at Gostišče Hedvika Hedvika Mlekuž in Kal-Koritnica that evening. Their mushroom gnocchis and the mountain views are to die for. It’s also budget friendly, and the service is very quick. Return to Hostel Soča Rocks for the evening.
Day 7 – Tolmin
After enjoying breakfast at the hostel, head down the road to Slap Kozjak in Kobarid. The Kozjak waterfall is a 15-meter (50 ft) waterfall located in a rocky amphitheater and emptying into a mystical green pool. The hike to the waterfall takes approximately 45 minutes to complete the 2.5 km (1.5 mi). Not only is it the easiest hike we went on, its suspension bridge also offers some of the best views of the Soča River. The trail is open from April 2nd to October 31st. Opening hours vary depending on the time of year, but the 5 euro entrance fee remains the same. Click here for more information.
When you get done with the Slap Kozjak hike, drive another 30 minutes south to Tolminska Korita. The Tolmin Gorges are open from 8am to 8pm in the summer, but I recommend getting here early to beat the crowds and avoid the late evenings as the gorges get quite darks once the sun starts laying low. The path will take you down along the gorge and then up above the water across a bridge and back down to the parking lot. The hike is 2 km (1.2 mi) long and takes about 1.5 hours to complete. We found the climbing to be quite challenging in the heat but really enjoyed the different views of the gorges.
After enjoying some lunch in Tolmin, head to the Slap Beri trailhead. Be very careful when looking up directions, as Google Maps might take you way high up over Tolmin to an old, not well maintained, and highly dangerous trail. To make sure you reach the correct location, follow the Slap Beri signs in town or search for the Slap Beri parking lot. The trailhead is located in a cul de sac in between two homes. You will feel like you are entering private property, but the parking lot is nearby! The 2.4km hike is fairly easy and takes about 45 minutes to complete.
Where to stay?
When you finish your hike, head to Kanal Ob Soči for a relaxing evening. Once you arrive in Kanal, you’ll notice a major change of scenery. At this point you’ll have already driven through many different regions in Slovenia, but Kanal definitely gives off a more mediterranean vibe, confirming that you are getting closer to the Adriatic. In Kanal, settle at the Soča Guesthouse before heading out for dinner and a late swim under the bridge.
We absolutely LOVED our stay at Soča Guesthouse in Kanal. The hotel was so clean and quiet and the check in process seamless. The entire place has recently been renovated, and the decor is a perfect mix of old and new. They offer a small breakfast buffet with my favorite cereal, and the owner stopped by in the morning to make sure we had a nice stay. I cannot recommend this place enough, and the price is more than affordable!
Day 18 – Postojna
After enjoying a nice breakfast at Soča Guesthouse, you’ll drive one hour down to Postojna and pass by the majestic Solkan Bridge located near the Italian border.
When you reach Postojna Cave Park, I recommend you start by visiting the castle in the morning and the caves in the afternoon. Predjama Castle is the largest cave castle in the world featuring more than 800 years of history within its walls. The parking lot fills up quickly, so it’s best to arrive in the morning. The castle is open 9am to 7pm during the summer months, and a visit takes approximately 1 hour. When you get ready for lunch, there are tons of restaurants located near the castle and within Postojna Cave Park.
Postojna Cave Park is 15 minutes down the road from the Predjama Castle and offers a lot more than just the caves. The park also features a vivarium and a cave karst exhibition featuring the Earth’s many geological changes as well as butterflies from all over the world. You can purchase package deals that allow entry into all 4 attractions.
I was a little skeptical that visiting these caves would be worth the price, but they are the prettiest I’ve seen and the only ones in the world with an underground train. Make sure you bring a jacket or hoodie as the temperature in the cave stays at 10°C or 50°F year round regardless of outside temperature. It was 36-37°C (around 100°F) the day we visited and though it felt nice at first, I quickly got cold, and a sweet lady gave me her shirt to finish the tour. The visit lasts about 1 hour, and chances are you’ll want to leave with a stuffed olm as much as I did!
You can either spend the night in Postojna or head to Piran. This is completely up to you, but from a budget perspective, it is much cheaper to stay in Postojna. Accommodations in Piran were a lot more expensive than any other regions in Slovenia. The city is also inaccessible to cars, meaning you must leave your vehicle in a parking garage, where rates start at $15 a day.
Day 9 – Piran
If you chose to stay in Postojna, you’ll have a 1-hour drive to Piran in the morning. As mentioned above, absolutely no cars are allowed to enter the city of Piran, so you’ll have to leave your car in one of the 2 parking garages: Fornče or Arze. The southern parking garage known of Fornače is more expensive (24 euros/ day) but offers a free shuttle bus that takes you directly to Tartini square every few minutes. Arze parking garage is cheaper (15 euros/ day) and located much closer to downtown Piran, but it is only accessible on foot.
I recommend parking your car at Arze parking garage as it is much cheaper and only a 3-minute walk from the entrance of the city walls, one of Piran’s must-see attractions. The walk back up to the garage is steep, but you will be climbing that hill to get to the city walls anyway, even if you park at Fornače. Click here for additional information on parking in Piran.
What to do
Now that you have left your vehicle at the parking garage, you can start enjoying the beauty of Piran, here’s a non-exhaustive list of things you might want to see and do in Piran over the next day or two:
- Walk the city walls
- Climb the bell tower
- Linger on Tartini Square
- Go shopping through Piran’s tiny pedestrian streets
- Enjoy a fresh seafood dinner at Pirat
- Watch the sunset on the harbor
- Go on a glass-bottomed boat tour
- Swim in the Adriatic Sea
- Hike the coastal trail to Strunjan Nature Park from Piran
Both the city walls and the bell tower require an entrance fee of 3 and 2 euros respectively. In my opinion, this is a small price to pay for the views that await you at the end of your climb. I recommend adding a walk down the Fiesa coastal trail, which begins near the bell tower. It will lead you along the prettiest, most secluded pebble beaches in Piran. If you continue all the way to Fiesa, you’ll find the more popular Fiesa Beach and its grassy turf.
Where to stay?
I wish I had recommendations for a place to stay in Piran, but I cannot recommend the hostel where we stayed. The location was great, but it was not cheap, nor clean. Because the city is pedestrian-only, I recommend finding an accommodation intra-muros (within city walls) to minimize commuting time.
There is a 1h30 drive back to Ljubljana from Piran, so it is up to you whether you want to drive back at the end of the 9th day or early on the 10th day. This will depend heavily on flight and car rental drop-off time. Piran is by far the most expensive region to stay in Slovenia, so spending the night in Ljubljana could save you money on both accommodation and parking. Leaving in the evening also reduces your odds of running into traffic near the capital. It’s up to you to decide which city you would rather spend your time in!
ATTENTION!as soon as we arrived on tartini square we were approached by a woman who asked us to sign a petition. this is a well-known scamming technique used in popular tourist destinations. while you are busy signing, a pickpocket approaches and steals your belongings. beware of your surroundings and consider storing valuables in a hidden pocket or fanny pack.
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