This Tiny European Country Is Home to Cliffside Castles, Emerald Lakes, and a Green Capital City

Everything you need to know in order to get the most out of a trip to Slovenia.

Five people on an overlook in Slovenia, with mountains in background.

With tall, craggy mountains, emerald lakes, and a good selection of national parks, Slovenia is an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Photo by Julia Nimke

Slovenia packs a lot into a small footprint. Within its borders, travelers will find snow-capped peaks, beaches on the Adriatic Sea, pint-size medieval towns, and a green capital city.

Here’s everything you need to know to plan a trip to Slovenia:

Things to do

Visit Ljubljana

Slovenia’s capital has a thriving arts scene and ample walking and biking paths. Wander Old Town and be sure to stop at Prešernov Trg (the main square) and the Triple Bridge. Then, swing by Central Market for snacks to take on the funicular to the medieval Ljubljana Castle for a picnic.

Hike the Juliana Trail

Writer Peggy Orenstein trekked 10 sections of the Juliana Trail, starting in Kranjska Gora and ending in Bovec, over nine days. The trail’s official website explains the various sections and provides information on mileage, elevation gain, and scenic viewpoints. For assistance with planning, contact the booking center, which will help organize an itinerary and offers luggage forwarding.

Catch the view at Lake Bled

For some of the best views of this Alpine lake, head up to Bled’s clifftop castle, which was first mentioned in written records in 1011. From the ramparts, visitors can see Lake Bled’s island, which is accessible by traditional, wooden pletna boats. Once on the island, ascend the 99 stairs to the church to ring the wishing bell.

Where to eat and drink

Two women outdoors, one holding 2 wooden trays of food

Photo by Julia Nimke

Aljažev Dom

Set in Triglav National Park, the shingled Aljažev Dom lodge is a popular spot for a post-hike lunch. Named after Slovenian mountaineer, writer, composer, and priest Jakob Aljaž, the restaurant offers apple strudel and house-made soups.

Bled Castle Restaurant

Superlative wines, stellar views: Located in Bled castle, this restaurant also serves a five-course tasting menu with seasonal dishes (such as a Krškopolje pig filet with sweet potato purée, roasted baby cabbage, and chimichurri). Reservations are a must.


A family-run log cabin restaurant and guesthouse in Kranjska Gora, Kosobrin focuses on hearty Slovenian classics, such as dumplings, sausages, and cream cakes.

Hiša Franko

Chef Ana Roš Stojan’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Kobarid, some 75 miles northwest of Ljubljana, draws visitors for its multicourse tasting menu, which is centered on foraged and seasonal ingredients—think watermelon, pimpinella, cucumber, and langoustine from the Kvarner Gulf in the northern Adriatic Sea.

Where to stay

Left: An outdoor pool at Hotel Bohinj. Right: A wooden bucket and ladle inside a sauna.

Hikers on the Juliana Trail can experience sauna culture at the Hotel Bohinj in Ribčev Laz.

Photos by Julia Nimke

Grand Hotel Toplice

Book now: From $250 per night.

Paul McCartney and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright have both been guests at this hotel, which dates to the mid-19th century. The furnishings are decidedly Old World— expect heavy brass keys and antique furniture in the 87 rooms, 28 suites (many of which have balconies overlooking Lake Bled), and presidential apartment. The property is a member of Small Luxury Hotels and includes a spa, a terrace bar, and an indoor mineral pool.

Kendov Dvorec

Book now: From $200 per night.

This Relais & Châteaux hotel is located a couple miles north of Idrija. Historically known for lace and its now-closed mercury mines, the town today draws cyclists, fly-fishing enthusiasts, and hikers. Originally built as a home in the 14th century, the mansion has 11 rooms and landscaped gardens.

InterContinental Ljubljana

Book now: From $175 per night.

Slovenia’s first five-star hotel has 165 modern rooms with generous windows, deep soaking tubs, and marshmallow-soft bedding. Take advantage of breakfast: The restaurant is on the 20th floor, with impressive views of the city.

Hotel Bohinj

Book now: From $215 per night.

A few minutes’ stroll from Lake Bohinj, this property has an Ecolabel certificate from the European Union for its sustainability practices. It counts 62 rooms, a salt wall room, saunas, and hot tubs among its offerings.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at Afar. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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