There’s no outlook more typically Slovenian than the view of Bled Castle, a red roofed fortress sitting atop a dizzying precipice next to glacial fed Lake Bled.
Yet, there is a whole world to explore beyond this dreamlike lake. Venture into Slovenia’s lush green countryside and you’ll happen upon a plethora of snow-capped peaks, rushing rivers and historic towns, just begging to be explored. It’s a small and remarkably ‘drivable’ country so let’s hop in the car and find out what else Slovenia has to offer.
Just over an hour’s drive from Lake Bled lies the incomparable Skocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986. These impressive caves, carved over millions of years by the Reka River, are some of the most revered in Europe and are certainly the best amongst the 7,000 caves in Slovenia.
Giant, cavernous underground cave systems connected by natural bridges and peppered with swallow holes mean that there is plenty for the curious traveller to unfurl. Caves are made safe by plenty of cordoned off walkways, and there is a small museum, guided tours and an ‘education trail’, to help you get the most from your visit to these wondrous caverns.
Being so close to the upper corner of Italy means Slovenia shares some of the same rugged coastal beauty as its Italian neighbour. Venetian style architecture and the deep blue Adriatic Sea abound in Piran, a charming town situated on a spiky peninsular along Slovenia’s west coast.
Park the car and venture into the centre by foot, winding through tiny alleyways until you arrive at the pièce de résistance, Tartini Square; the hub of all activity and an incredible place to sit back with a glass of local wine and watch the world go by. For those looking to get into the sea, Piran has a rich underwater scene and a scuba diving excursion will uncover reefs teeming with tropical fish.
A road trip through Slovenia simply wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the nation’s capital. Famous for the winding Ljubljanica River flowing through its centre and wide, green open spaces, it’s quite simply one of the prettiest capital cities around.
Its compact size means you can wander on foot and explore the many highlights such as Tromostovje, or ‘Triple Bridge’; three separate picturesque bridges arching the river, and Tivoli Park which has a wonderful view over the city accessed by Rožnik hill. Don’t miss the Old Town, which is a charming mix of medieval architecture, characterful squares and delicate finishing touches in the form of statues and fountains.
This glorious natural wonder is the perfect place to stop and cool off on your way back to the Alps and Lake Bled. Situated in the northwest of the country, it’s slightly off the tourist track but well worth the trip for those looking to uncover the true beauty of Slovenia.
Park the car at Napoleon Bridge and follow the well-marked trail for around 2km to reach this natural oasis. It can be a demanding hike in places, so take sturdy footwear and be prepared for a hop, skip and jump across a few rocks to reach the money shot!
Take the northernmost road back to Bled via Kranjska Gora, the crowning glory of the Julian Alps, separating Slovenia from Austria. Most famous for its winter sports, this jaw-dropping town is just as lovely in the summer, framed by saw-toothed mountains on almost every side.
The town itself is small but perfectly formed, and boasts a lively après ski scene. Its surrounding mountains and lakes provide the ideal opportunity to get active, with miles of marked trails to climb. Be sure to visit Jasna Lake which boasts an emerald green tint, and is backed by snowy mountains year round. By the end of your trip you’ll most likely be planning a winter return to take advantage of its beautiful pistes, aimed mostly at beginner skiers.