The small but beautiful country of Slovenia has some really great attractions for tourists to admire. This Slovenia Itinerary shows you some of the countries highlights in a short time. Its adaptable and can be done on it’s own or as part of a wider European trip. The most well known point in the country is Lake Bled. Popular with backpackers and holidaymakers alike, it’s a real gem in a country full of beautiful spots. Meanwhile Ljubljana is a wonderful capital city, and it’s small size compared to others in Europe enables you to pack a lot in. Additionally Slovenia’s small coastline is a great place to relax and is surprisingly charming.
Slovenia Itinerary – Where to start and how get around
I’ve started this Slovenia Itinerary in Ljubljana, which is home to the only airport in the country. Should you arrive there you can take a bus for a few euros to the city which take 45 minutes to an hour. Or you can jump in one of the shuttle mini vans, which as of 2023 were charging 12 Euros. They take around 30-40 minutes. Ljubljana also has rail and bus connections to neighbouring countries such as Austria, Italy and Croatia. The bus and train station are next to each other in the centre of the city, so are easy to get to.
Once in Slovenia bus is the best way to get around the country. You can take a bus from Ljubljana to all around the country in a few hours time. Tickets can be bought on the bus or from the bus station’s ticket kiosks. Check out the bus timetables here: https://www.ap-ljubljana.si/en
You could also choose to travel by train, as there are connections across the country. However for the destinations in this Slovenia itinerary I recommend using the bus, as it will bring you closer to where you need to go.
Be warned that transport is regularly late in Slovenia, and buses often take longer than advertised. When planning connections make sure you have plenty of time.
If you are coming from Italy then I suggest doing this Slovenia itinerary in reverse. This is because it’s last stop Piran can be reached by bus from Trieste. You may need to change at Koper, but this is not far from Piran.
This Slovenia Itinerary is designed to take 7 days, in terms of time spent exploring. During this time you will stay in Ljubljana, Lake Bled and Piran. It is quite intensive though there is time made to relax too.
However I am of course aware that your method of arriving to and leaving the country may impact this. Therefore you may need up to 9 days, and should adapt it to suit you. For example personally my flight into Slovenia arrived late in the evening, and I didn’t arrive to my accommodation until just before midnight. Therefore if you are doing the same you will need to allocate a night for this. However if you arriving into Ljubljana early morning, and are able to drop your belongings at your accommodation, then you can jump straight into exploring the city.
Ljubljana – 2 days
This is a ‘loose’ guide to spending 2 days in Ljubljana. It has a busy day 1 followed by a slower day 2. Feel free to adapt is as you please, Ljubljana is a compact city and everything mentioned is within walking distance of each other. If you a big museum and art gallery fan then Ljubljana does have a lot to visit, several of which I have listed below. You can of course add an extra day in Ljubljana to this Slovenia Itinerary if you wanted to see them all!
A great way to start this Slovenia itinerary is with a trip to Ljubljana castle. Standing atop a hill in the centre of the city, it is an impressive landmark that has stood here since the 11th century. Though it has gone through several rebuilds during that time! It has an interesting history too, having had several functions. For awhile it served as a residence for the Hapsburg monarchy, the dynasty that ruled the region for several centuries. The castle was also an important as a fortification against attacks from the Ottoman Empire, who often warred with the Hapsburgs. It was then used as military base before later being turned into a prison.
To get up here you can walk the steep path up the hill, which takes around 20 minutes from the old town. Look for the street named Študentovska ulica on google maps to find the way up. Or you could choose to take the short ride up on the funicular railway. Its located on Krekov trg.
Once here the castle grounds are free to visit but you will need to pay to access the exhibitions and the view tower. Personally I paid as I wanted to get the full castle experience. You can also get an audio guide to get some information about the castle as you explore it. For ticket prices and opening times check out the castles website: https://www.ljubljanskigrad.si/en/tickets/
If you buy a ticket you can visit the tower which gives some nice views over the city. As well as over the castle itself!
The Old Town and Ljubljana Cathedral
After this it’s time to explore the old town. This is the area around the base of the castle hill. This is a good place to wander around and enjoy the atmosphere. Look out for the market square, where stands are normally set up selling goods. Usually you should see plenty of fresh fruit and veg on display.
One of the main buildings to see here is the Ljubljana Cathedral, officially named ‘Saint Nicholas’s Church’. You can go inside and admire it’s interior as well as it’s exterior. However for me the main highlights here are actually its doors, in particular the side entrance. The ‘Slovene Door’ was created in 1996 to celebrate the Pope’s visit to the cathedral and shows the history of Slovenia. From top to bottom notable Slovene history is depicted. Special attention is give to how Slovenian literature played a big part on Slovenian national identity.
Famous Bridges and the Town Square
You will notice that the old town is separated from the rest of the city by the river Ljubljanica. Along it is several bridges, the most famous being the Dragon Bridge. The dragon is the symbol of the city, and even features on it’s coat of arms. In fact legend has it that Greek mythological hero Jason and his Argonauts actually defeated a dragon in the Ljubljana area. This then led to the founding of the city. Regardless, the city certainly does love dragons and this bridge is the most notable example of this. It dates from 1901 and the dragon statues adorning it are really impressive.
Nearby is the Butchers’ Bridge, which is covered in ‘love padlocks’. This is where couples have attached a padlock to the bridge to symbolize their ‘eternal love’.
Further down is the triple bridge. Named so because it has 3 ways to cross it. Originally it was just the central bridge however between 1929 and 1932 the architect Jože Plečnik added the 2 other bridges, to create it’s modern look. This was done to help the bridge cope with the amount of traffic crossing it though in 2007 the Old Town actually banned cars and became pedestrianised. Jože Plečnik actually had a big impact on the city, designing a lot of what you will see as you wander around.
Cross over the triple bridge from the old town to find Ljubljana main square, named Prešernov trg. Here you will find the Prešeren Monument, built in honour of Slovenia’s national poet France Prešeren.
It’s also here you find the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. You can visit inside as well as admire out.
A great way to way relax on your first day of this Slovenia itinerary is a visit to Tivoli Park. Its a large green space In the west of the city. Whether you want to walk around or find a place to sit, this park is ideal. You can also look out for the statues and monuments here, there are several to spot.
Museums and galleries
There are several museums to choose from in Ljubljana. It’s also a fantastic city for art and culture, and has several galleries worth visiting. For this Slovenia itinerary I’ve highlighted the 2 I recommend to visit the most. They are actually both in and around Tivoli Park so you could combine it with a trip here if you didn’t get a chance on Day 1.
The National Museum of Contemporary History is a great one to start with. It tells you about Slovenia’s path to independence and the modern day. Beginning at the start of the 20th century, when Slovenia was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, it takes you through the two world wars, Yugoslavian communism, independence and how the modern state came about.
Next up is the National Gallery, which hosts a great exhibition of artwork from the medieval ages up to the 20th century. There is a lot of great work from Slovene artists here and it takes you through the eras nicely. You can see how the art evolved and changed as you make your way through the exhibition rooms which are organised in ‘period’ order.
Other museums to choose from
I’ve listed a few more museums here so if you have the time you can pick more to visit. Generally you shouldn’t need more than 2 hours per museum.
The National Museum of Slovenia shows you the history of the country from the pre-historic times up until the medieval ages. the most important object here is the Neanderthal flute. This is the oldest known musical instrument in the world. Found in a cave in Slovenia, it is between 50000 to 60000 years old and believed to have made by Neanderthals. It is not without controversy – some researchers believe it is just a bone chewed by Hyenas. But the distance and shapes of the holes and the sound it makes definitely makes it seem logical it was used to make music.
The Museum Of Modern Art houses a collection of 20th century Slovenian art as well as a temporary exhibitions. It’s a good collection and I really enjoyed looking around here.
The City Museum of Ljubljana focuses on the history of the city itself. It takes a good look at the Roman era through to the early modern. The name for the Roman settlement in the area was Emona and it’s really interesting to see how the city has developed from there into the modern place it is today.
Last on this list is the Slovene Ethnographic Museum. It looks at objects that define Slovene culture, as well as taking a look at other global cultures. It has several floors that focus on different aspects of culture too. This museum is close to the next place on this Slovenia itinerary, so you could combine visits if you want to visit it.
Once you’ve finished seeing some of Ljubljana’s great museums and galleries, head over to Metelkova. It’s full name is actually the ‘Metelkova City Autonomous Cultural Centre’ and it’s located on the site of an old military barracks. It is an automatous ‘squat’ that has been turned into a great space for art. It also houses feminist and LGBT community associations. I have only visited during the day but it is also known for it’s nightlife, with several clubs and bars. I saw several people repainting walls when I was there, so it seems like the artwork is constantly being changed and updated.
Optional – walking tour
If you have time during these 2 days I recommend joining a free walking tour. It’s a great way to get some good information and context about you are seeing in the city. As with all ‘free’ walking tours in Europe, the guides work for tips, so be sure to have some cash to give to them afterwards. The one I joined it the Ljubljana Free Tour and I really enjoyed it. It’s also a great way to find out what was designed by the aforementioned architect Jože Plečnik!
Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj – 3 days
It’s now time in this Slovenia itinerary to head to the country’s amazing lakes. Lake Bled is of course the most famous, and it’s a great place to spend a few days. The bus from Ljubljana to Bled only takes around an hour so head there early to maximise your day. I recommend staying somewhere on the eastern side of the lake, in the town of Bled itself. This is where the bus station is and most of the amenities. Take note that if you are arriving by train the station is on the north west side of the lake. I did see some of the hostels offering pick ups, so if you are staying at one then I would recommend looking into that. Once you’ve dropped your bags at your accommodation it’s time to get exploring!
A great way to start your visit to Bled is to trek up to the castle. A medieval castle, it’s fairly small and won’t take too long to explore. There are a few rooms to see and some small exhibitions. It is perched on a cliff above the lake, meaning you get some great views over the lake and around.
Walking around the lake and the viewpoints
Lake Bled is truly stunning, and world famous for being so. I really recommend taking a long walk here to really appreciate its beauty from all the different angles. The lake itself take around 2 hours to walk around and has a clear path circling it. There is of course full of places to relax, enjoy some rest and soak up the views. There are also some water sports facilities, as well as areas for swimming and boating.
Additionally it is highly recommend you make the hike up to the Ojstrica and Mala Ojstrica viewpoint’s. It is quite a tough walk but it is definitely worth it. There are marked trails here from the south west corner of the lake and plenty of others will be making the journey too. I went up in the afternoon and that seemed to be the best time for views, presuming the weather is ok.
Optional – visit the island on Lake Bled
Of course one of the stand out features of Lake Bled is it’s island. You can reach by a variety of ways, including swimming or by renting a kayak. Personally as I am terrible at swimming I paid to go over on one of the ‘Pletna’ boats. They leave from the south shore of the lake. When you are there you can pay to visit the islands picturesque church. It’s named the ‘Church of the Mother of God on the lake’ however the entry fee is steep and I have heard several locals say its not worth it. Personally I just walked around the islands path and enjoyed the view of the church from the outside.
Around 45 minutes away from Bled by bus is the beautiful Lake Bohinj. This lake is more ‘serene’ than Bled, though at the weekends and on sunny days it still gets plenty of visitors. It is in a valley in the Julian Alps, so you get amazing views of the surrounding mountains. It’s also part of the Triglav National Park, which is the only national park in Slovenia.
Before leaving to head here I recommend picking up some snacks in Bled, as there isn’t much food offered at Bohinj.
Walking around Lake Bohinj
You can walk around the entirety of Lake Bohinj. However the path on the south side of the lake is above the road, so I recommend skipping it. What I did was take the bus to Bohinj Ukanc, which is small settlement on the south west side of the lake. From there you can walk along the west and northern sides of the lake which are the most tranquil. This path takes you through the woods with plenty of spots to get great views over the lake and its mountainous backdrop. The walk is a couple hours long but I advise taking your time to enjoy it with plenty of stops.
At the eastern side of the lake is the small settlement of Ribčev Laz. This is where you can find the bus back. It also has some places to get refreshments such as ice cream and drinks. There is a small beautiful church here, named the Saint John the Baptist Church.
Look out for the Goldhorn statue here too, related to a local legend about a goat and a hunter.
Now it’s time to head to the Vintgar Gorge! There are shuttle buses that head here from Bled, you can book them at the tourist place by the main bus station. Otherwise you can walk, which takes around 45 minutes from the northern end of Bled. I chose to do the latter and whilst it was fine I should warn you that on a hot day with little shade it was tough going, so take a hat and plenty of water!
Carved by the Radovna River, this 1.6km gorge runs through the hills found north of Bled. It’s part of the Triglav National Park and is a very popular place for tourists to visit. A walkway has been built here where you can walk along the gorge, admiring the gorge and its amazing scenery. It has actually been open to the public since 1893 so has a long history as a tourist attraction! Additionally look out for the Bohinj Railway Bridge towards the end, it’s very impressive piece of engineering.
‘Green Route’ – walk back
The walk through the gorge is one way. When you buy your ticket you are given a map showing the two routes back to the entrance, either the red route or the green route. I chose to walk the green route back as I heard it was more scenic, and I’m glad I did as I really enjoyed it. First it takes you some pretty woods to the very picturesque Church of St Catherine. Next to it there is also a café and a small child’s play area.
From here you then follow the path along the side of the hill back to the Vintgar Gorge carpark. It gives you some amazing views over the surrounding area. I definitely recommend choosing this route, I really enjoyed it and it’s easy going. The only challenge was the sun as it was a hot day, so again a hat and water are a must!
Piran – 2 days
Next up on this Slovenia itinerary is a trip to the coast! The country has only 47 km of coastline which is sandwiched between Italy to the north and Croatia to the south. There are 4 main settlements here, Koper, Izola, Piran, and Portoroz. I chose to visit Piran as it was highly recommend for first time visitors to Slovenia and I have to agree! To get here take the bus from Bled back to Ljubljana and then take another bus from the main station there. Hopefully you will be able to get a direct bus – unfortunately for me it was full in the morning, so rather than wait until much later that day I took a lunchtime one to Koper, and then a local bus to Piran from there.
After the bus journey (and once you’ve checked into your accommodation) I think the best thing to do is just have a wander around Piran’s streets. It has a compact old town with many pretty alleyways and narrow paths to follow. There are a couple of squares to look out for too. The main one is easy to spot and you will come across it soon enough. But keep an eye out for the 1st of May Square too, it actually used to be the main square but now is tucked away a bit.
You can of course pop out and walk along the coastline too, when I was there it was hot and sunny and many people were sunbathing on the rocks or swimming in the sea. Look out for the mermaid statue!
There is also a small lighthouse at the tip of Piran which you can visit at certain times. It’s worth the small entrance fee to go have a quick wander around and enjoy the views. Piran also has a great Mariner which makes for some pretty pictures.
It’s best to start the last day of this Slovenia itinerary with a walk up to to the city walls. Whilst you could visit later in the day, during warm weather is does get very hot. Therefore I think it’s better to visit early before the midday sun. The walls are well preserved and are fun to have a walk along, giving great views over the old town and beyond.
Next up head down to St. George’s Parish Church which sits on a hill overlooking the town. You can visit small museum here and wander around inside the church.
You can also climb the church tower and see the church bells. And of course, more great views!
After this it’s good to relax for awhile. If you like you can walk along the coastline on the east side of the town, which has more nice views over the rocks and sea. If you feel like it you can also visit Piran’s Maritime Museum. It has interesting information about Slovenia’s maritime history, from Roman times up until the 20th century. It covers the countries time as part of Austrian-Hungarian empire and Yugoslavia and has good information about Slovenian’s involvement in their navies.
If you are leaving the country by plane, then you will likely need an additional day to reach the airport. Be careful when booking, as I explained earlier the buses in Slovenia can be lengthy and delayed. Allow plenty of time to get from Piran to the airport. Personally I would advise an evening flight. If that is not possible, and there are only morning or afternoon flight options, I would recommend staying another night in Ljubljana. This advice also applies if you are planning to leave by Ljubljana by train, though late afternoon departures should also be ok.
If you are leaving to go to Italy, then as mentioned earlier you can take a bus to Trieste. This should only take a few hours. In the summer months a ferry service operate too. The ferry is operated by Liberty lines and you can check the schedule on their website: https://www.libertylines.it/orari-tariffe/
If you are heading to Croatia then you can take a bus from southern Slovenia to Rovinj. Take the bus from Piran to Portorož and change there. There are also ferry’s operated by the same company mentioned above.
Slovenia Itinerary – A quickfire FAQ
Yes Slovenia uses Euros.
Slovenia is an average European country to visit in terms of costs. Whilst it does cost less to travel than countries like UK or Germany, in some touristic areas, especially Lake Bled, accommodation and food can get quite pricey.
In all the tourist spots English is spoken widely, especially by workers in the tourism industry, so you shouldn’t have any problems.
Whilst it can get crowded, the summer months are great time to visit Slovenia. This is because the lakes and coast are lovely in the warm weather.
Compared to many European countries Slovenia has a very low crime rate.
Yes Slovenia is part of the Schengen Zone.
If you are vegetarian you should be able to get by just fine in Slovenia. You may not be spoiled for choice but there are usually some options such as pizza and spinach or potato burek. In the tourist areas you can find a few plant based restaurants too.
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