Located in the heart of Europe in the eastern Alps, at the north eastern end of the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia is a small country famed for its picturesque lakes and mountains. Boasting an outstanding variety of terrain, from Mediterranean beaches to the peaks of the Julian Alps, Slovenia holidays offer a thrilling range of experiences. Plus, Slovenians are friendly, good-natured, and always willing to show off the best of their country.
There are grand castles, rewarding museums, breath-taking hikes and scenery, pristine beaches, and a surprisingly varied cuisine along with a brilliant blend of folk culture. Thanks to its neighbours, Italy, and Croatia, Slovenia is a melting pot of cultures. You will see evidence of the neighbours’ influence in the diversity of Slovenian food, architecture and art.
The capital, Ljubljana, is the traditional starting point for holidays in Slovenia. A pocket-sized city with a rich medieval heritage, you can discover it in day or in a week, depending on your schedule. Away from the capital is the stunning Lake Bled, Slovenia’s number one beauty spot, with its shimmering blue water and picture-perfect island.
In the north of the country, the Slovenian Alps loom, offering unforgettable views and sleepy alpine villages. Whilst on the coast, the seaside town of Piran is Slovenia’s answer to Venice, with its walled city, cobbled streets and gothic architecture that will surely delight you. You can appreciate the peaks and passes of Vogel and Vršič, take a refreshing dip in Lake Bohinj or explore underground in the Postojna Caves. There is so much to do and explore in this Slavic gem.
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Slovenian
- Time Zone: GMT +1
- Average flight time: 2h 10m
When to go
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No visit to Slovenia is complete without a visit to Castle Hill, in the heart of the old town of Ljubljana. You can take a miniature railway to the top, where you’ll find yourself at the imposing Ljubljana Castle. Climb up to the famous clock tower for incredible views over the city, or drop into the 15th century Chapel of St George, a small Gothic masterpiece attached to the castle. Around the city there are beautifully designed bridges, museums, galleries and churches that can all be explored on foot. Ljubljana is also home to Slovenia’s thriving beer scene, with a number of brewing festivals taking place throughout the year.
There are a number of superb hiking trails in the Slovenian Alps, such as the 500km Slovenian Mountain Trail and the thirst-quenching Jeruzalem-Ljutomer wine road, where you can drop in on local wine cellars. If you’re all hiked out, take a break in one of Slovenia’s refreshing thermal spa resorts at Portoroz or Stajerska.
Slovenia is blessed with several jaw-dropping caves that you can explore. The Postojna Cave system is a series of caverns and passages that are two million years old and were hollowed out by the Pivka River. You can discover the cave network on the electric train, but bring a jacket as temperatures are a cool 8°C to 10°C. The other caves worth a visit are the spectacular subterranean chambers of the Škocjan Caves, which were carved out by the Reka River. The river follows a gorge to the village of Škocjan, flowing into the Dead Lake at the end of the cave. Again, you should pack your walking shoes and dress warmly, as it get cooler below ground.
Wine and Dine
Eat your way around Slovenia by sampling the many different regional cuisines, from hearty stews and soups to vibrant local wines. Slovenia’s location at the heart of Europe means that there are also Italian, German and Slavic influences on the food on offer here. The region also produces some wonderful wines, which are not available on the UK market, so make sure you take some home from your Slovenia holiday.
Slovenians love their food and drink so much that they host several festivals throughout the year to celebrate it, including the Sevnica Salami Festival, Pumpkin Festival, Chocolate Festival and the Fisherman’s Festival.
If you want to sample some up-market cuisine, then book a table at Špajza. Set in Ljubljana’s old town, its homely décor is complimented by a pretty garden with rustic furniture. Expect typically Slovenian fare, as well as horse and goat on the menu.
Located in Kobarid, Hiša Franko is in a beautiful old country house that is surrounded by orchards, vegetable gardens and the mountains. This family-run restaurant serves up flawless tasty menus with specialities such as nettle risotto and caramelised mackerel.
A prime destination for families, holidays in Slovenia offer everything from water parks, caves, swimming lakes and walking trails designed for children.
In Ljubljana the little ones can live their fantasies at a castle reached by funicular railway and cross a bridge guarded by dragons. There is also a mega-waterpark, a zoo and the House of Experiments in the city.
For an adventurous day out, the whole family can visit the Julian Alps and take the cable car up to mountaintops or swim and take a boat ride in Lake Bled. You can also explore the gorges and waterfalls and even go glamping. There is the opportunity to try rafting, canyoning and kayaking on the Soča River as well.
If you are heading to the coast and the Karst Region, then take the family to the enormous caves, or watch the Lipizzaner dancing horses at the Lipica stud farm.
Action and Adventure
Whether you like cycling, paragliding or white-water rafting, a holiday in Slovenia will offer you activities in spectacular surroundings. From the tops of the Alps, down below in the caves and to the depths of the sea and lakes, you can see Slovenia from many different angles.
To experience the dramatic Slovenia landscape, take a trip to one of Europe’s largest national reserves, Triglav National Park. Home to the iconic Mount Triglav, the park is ideal for climbers of all abilities. During winter you can hit the piste at one of the various ski resorts.
Take a zip line in either Bovec or Planica for a white-knuckle descent. Fly over the giant Planica ski jump, the largest ski jump in the world, whilst taking in the outstanding panoramic views of the valley and the nearby mountains.
For water lovers, both the Soča and Sava rivers are ideal for the hydrospeed adrenaline sport. Wearing protective equipment, you will have direct contact with water, steering the float with flippers on your feet.
Life's a Beach
The Slovenian Riviera stretches along the Adriatic Sea and is flanked by pebble beaches and delightful coastal towns. With grand resort towns and secluded cliff side bays that you can only reach by foot, Slovenia holidays will offer you a wealth of beach options.
Popular with the locals, Piran Beach is perched on the edge of a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Adriatic Sea. You can reach the sea easily from stairwells descending into the sea and swim in the fresh clear waters.
If you want a lively sandy beach, pack you bucket and spade and head to Portorož Beach. With great amenities, including restaurants, shops and cafés on the seafront, tourists pack the sands with parasols and sandcastles.
Situated in Koper, the largest coastal town in Slovenia, Mestna Beach has an Italian feel and offers a pebbly beach. Another pebble beach is Mesečev Zaliv which is located within the Strunjan Nature Park. This preserved area offers crisp, clean water which is surrounded by protected wild animal and plant life. The beach can only be accessed by foot, so you can count on privacy here as you sunbathe and take a dip in the warm waters.
Also near Strunjan Nature Park, in an old fishing village, is Izola Beach. Along with great views of the fishermen and fishing boats at work, you can also venture to a picturesque lighthouse and taste the local seafood at several beachside restaurants.
When the sun sets on your Slovenia holiday you can head to the buzzing bars and vibrant nightclubs or chic casinos and festivals.
In Ljubljana, you will find jazz bars and quirky cocktail bars like Centralna Postaja along the river. With street-art tags on the walls and dazzling neon signs, the bar transforms into a club with DJs at the weekend. If you fancy a bit of live music, Klub Daktari offers music sets, jam sessions, theatre, cabaret and an eclectic mix of other cultural events in a retro atmosphere.
On the coast of Portorož, the stylish café-bar of Kavarna Cacao is a brilliant place to chill out. You can catch the sun on the wonderful water front terrace.
For some late-night partying, head to Stop Club in Bled and join 300 other party-goers to enjoy concerts and DJ performances.
The country’s natural beauty makes holidays in Slovenia so memorable. Feel the love with a night in a secluded treehouse or take in the view of the sunset over the sea. When you share the experience with another person, romance can take many forms.
You and your loved one can visit the romantic lake in Bled which will allow you to relax and take in the alpine surroundings. Pay a visit to Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary on the lake and take the 99 steps to ring the bell of wishes together. During the evening you can dine at the Restaurant 1906 at the Hotel Triglav Bled. As Bled's most romantic place to eat, the restaurant boats amazing views of Lake Bled and its teardrop-shaped island. With produce from local farmers from around the lake, you can expect a wonderfully fresh meal washed down with the restaurant’s own label of sparkling white wine.
For a dreamlike experience you should head to the peaceful salt works of Secovlje or be mesmerised by the emerald-hued Soca River and the mysterious Trenta valley, which both make for a romantic day out.
Slovenia has a very varied culture with a plethora museums, galleries and cultural centres, as well as professional opera and ballet companies in Ljubljana and Maribor performing in various professional theatres. In the summer there are a series of festivals featuring appearances of world-renowned artists.
The National Museum of Slovenia is a testament of the high level of culture in the area of Slovenia since prehistoric times. Located in Ljubljana , the museum is home to the oldest musical instrument in the world, the 60,000-year old flute of a Neanderthal, the museum also houses other valuable items, including the Vače Situla.
From the period between the 13th and 20th century, the National Gallery of Slovenia has exhibits of Slovenian art with depictions of the Slovenian landscape. You will also see the works of Anton Ažbe, Jurij Šubic and Jožef Petkovšek at the gallery, artists also based in Ljubljana.
In Vitanje, KSEVT, the Cultural Centre of European Space Technologies, offers a learning experience on all the things that connect art, culture, science, and space. The building that KSEVT occupies is particularly special as it is designed as the living wheel space station of Herman Potočnik Noordung.