Slovenia. You know the country famous for its lake with the island and church in the middle of it? Still don’t know? Ok good, let’s take it from the top shall we? I like to describe Slovenia as the hidden gem of Central Europe (for how much longer I’m not sure). Its neighbours are Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Italy. This small country only has 2 million inhabitants. Just to get an idea, the population of Sydney in Australia is double that alone, so it’s pretty small. It is, however, one of the safest countries in the world. If Slovenia is on your bucket list (and it should be), here’s your Slovenia hit list, with five of the country’s top highlights you shouldn’t miss.
The Slovenia hit list: 5 places you NEED to visit
Imagine green pastures as far as you can see and cows roaming about freely. Located in Kamnik and only roughly a one hour drive from Ljubljana (Slovenia’s capital city) is Velika Planina. To reach the top of Velika Planina, you can either catch a cable car or hike. It’s definitely worth the hike, so you can enjoy the nature and lovely location. As you walk around you’ll notice reconstructions of the original shepherd houses. Some have turned into accommodation for people to rent and others are restaurants. While you are there you can’t go past a traditional meal of sour milk and buckwheat mush and don’t go home without buying a quality homemade cheese.
Predjamski Grad (Predjama Castle)
Slovenia is not short on castles – you will find them in most cities. Of all its castles, however, there is one you definitely should not miss. Predjama Castle is built into a 123 m high cliff. Not only has it been around for more than 800 years but it’s also in the Guinness World Records for being the largest cave castle in the world. It’s a remarkable sight to see how the castle and cave are intertwined. What’s even more remarkable is the legend of the notorious tenant Erazem of Predjama – I’d tell you his story but I don’t want to ruin the experience for you!
Probably the most well-known location in all of Slovenia, the famous Lake Bled is picturesque in every way and in every season. To enjoy this beautiful sight there are day trips from Ljubljana (only a one hour’s drive away). Sitting in the middle of the Lake is an island with a church which can be accessed by boat (a Pletna boat to be exact), which departs from various points around the lake. Once you reach the island, there are 99 stairs that lead to the church and, as a tradition for those who marry there, the groom carries the bride to the top. I’m not sure how they do it because I struggled walking up there myself!
A yummy speciality in Bled is the local ‘cream cake’, which can be found at most restaurants in the area. I mean, you definitely deserve it after climbing those stairs! You’ll also notice that sitting above the lake is Bled Castle. It’s worth the tour and it also gives an amazing vantage point of the lake and church.
The capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana is known for its recent achievement of being Europe’s Green Capital in 2016 and the World’s Most Sustainable Destination. The capital city offers so many things to do and see at all times of the year. From spring until late fall, you’ll find the well-regarded Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen), held every Friday. Stalls of local restaurants set up and serve their best plates and I promise you won’t be leaving hungry.
You’ll also notice that sitting high above the city is Ljubljanski Grad (Ljubljana Castle), which offers beautiful views of the city below. It’s worth walking around and getting lost in the centre, where you’ll walk across the famous Triple Bridge and nearby Tivoli Park. If you visit in summer, organise a picnic, sit down and enjoy the warm day.
Image by Lorenzo Magnis via Flickr
Bordering Austria is Svečina, a lovely wine region and also the location of the heart road. Fun fact: Svečina has a Wine Queen (like most regions do), who represents Slovenian wines, tourism and cultural heritage as well as the care and culture of wine consumption. They also hold Vinotours, for you to walk around the area and get a good taste of quality Slovenian Wine, which there is plenty of!
So there you have it: five places in Slovenia you NEED to visit (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!). Follow more of my adventures in Slovenia on my blog.
Looking for more inspiration on travel in Europe? Read these posts next:
- 9 Underrated Things to do in Madrid
- A Beginner’s Guide to London: 20 Things to Know Before You Go
- The Best Free Things to do in Rome
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What would you add to our Slovenia hit list? Tell us in the comments!