10 days in Slovenia is the perfect amount of time to visit the highlights of this amazing country. Tour lovely Ljubljana, spend several days exploring Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, journey into the Julian Alps, go on a scenic road trip, and end with several days on the Adriatic Sea on this Slovenia itinerary.
Why You’ll Love This Trip
This trip is perfect for families, hikers, and those who love a great road trip. Most of your time will be spent outdoors, either strolling along picture-perfect lakes and mountains, hiking in Triglav National Park, or exploring scenic gorges.
If city sightseeing and museum-hopping is not your idea of perfect vacation, you’ll love Slovenia. Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city, is more about eating, shopping, and exploring the scenic city streets than hopping from museum to museum. And with all of the opportunities to be outdoors (and with little time spent in museums) Slovenia is a great place to take the kids.
This Itinerary is Designed as a Road Trip
This itinerary is designed as a road trip so you will need to rent a car.
You will need a vignette for the rental car. A vignette is a sticker that you attach to the windshield that shows you have paid the highway taxes. If you are renting the car in Slovenia, this should come with the car. However, it’s a good idea to double check this when picking up your rental car. Learn more about the vignette here.
Arrive in Ljubljana
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and the largest city in the country. Even so, it feels wonderfully small. This is the kind of city where it is simply fun to wander without a long list of attractions to visit.
Get settled in your hotel and then spend the afternoon strolling the pretty streets of Ljubljana. Walk along the banks of the Ljubljianica River, visit Preseren Square and the Triple Bridge, and end your day on Stari trg. This pedestrian only street is lined with boutique shops and wonderful restaurants. For dinner, we recommend Julija or Druga Violina.
Where to We Stayed in Ljubljana: We stayed at the Barbo Palace Apartments and Rooms. The name makes this place sound very fancy since these apartments are located in the historic Barbo Palace. I would not describe the rooms as fancy, but they are well decorated, clean, and quiet. The Wi-Fi and air-conditioning work very well. Plus, the Barbo Palace is less than a five-minute walk to the riverfront.
It’s a good idea to start your day at Ljubljana Castle to avoid the crowds. During the summer months, the castle opens at 9 am. To get here, you can either take the funicular or walk up to the castle entrance.
If you are visiting Ljubljana with kids, they will love the escape room game. Rather than touring the castle room to room with an audio guide, this game/scavenger hunt gives you a more thrilling tour of the castle. Your goal is to complete the five puzzles and save the dragon.
Visit the official website for updated hours, cost, and more information on the escape room game.
Sightseeing in Ljubljana
Take the funicular back to town. Near the lower funicular station is Central Market, an outdoor market where you can try local foods or purchase fresh fruit and vegetables.
Visit the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, walk across Butcher’s Bridge, and see the dragons on the iconic Dragon Bridge.
For the afternoon, I have several suggestions for you.
Metelkova Mesto is a neighborhood that is covered with graffiti. If you read other blog posts, some people rave about this spot and say it was their favorite experience in Ljubljana. I can’t say the same thing. We stumbled across needles and syringes on the ground here and recent reviews mention anti-social and drug-related behavior in this neighborhood. If you are curious or have an interest in graffiti art, this may be worth it for you. Otherwise, you might want to skip Metelkova Mesto.
Here are several more ideas for your afternoon in Ljubljana. Stroll through lovely Tivoli Park. For an aerial view over Ljubljana, go to Neboticnik, a skyscraper with a terrace that offers one of the best views of the city. If you are here with kids, visit the Museum of Illusions. If you are here without kids, take a tour at the Union Beer Experience.
End your day with dinner and drinks.
First thing in the morning, drive to Lake Bled. This drive takes 45 minutes, longer if there is traffic. And during the summer months, there can definitely be traffic. Lake Bled is a very popular spot and traffic jams to get into and out of Lake Bled are common during the summer months. I recommend leaving Ljubljana no later than 8 am so you can get right to Lake Bled without hitting traffic.
It is possible to visit the highlights of Lake Bled in one day. However, on this itinerary, you will have more time, so you do not have to rush around Lake Bled like you are in a race. Take your time exploring Lake Bled. What you don’t get to today, you can do on day 5 of this Slovenia itinerary, after visiting Vintgar Gorge.
While at Lake Bled, tour the lake by rowboat or pletna, visit Bled Island and Bled Castle, go stand up paddle boarding, try Bled Cream Cake, and hike to Mala Osojnica for the best view of the lake.
The view from Mala Osojnica
Where to Stay
Beautiful Lake Bled is a gorgeous spot to make your home base for the next few days. However, with its popularity, expect large crowds and expensive prices. Plus, hotels can sell out months in advance, especially for the summer months.
LUXURY: Vila Bled. Located right on the shore of Lake Bled, this was once the summer home of President Tito. This is a gorgeous hotel and its location is hard to beat. From here, you have one of the best views across the lake and you are located near the hike to Mala Osojnica as well as our favorite paddle boarding spot.
MIDRANGE: Lake Bled Apartments. This highly-rated apartment is located right on Lake Bled. This three-bedroom apartment can accommodate up to six people. From the balcony, enjoy the view over the lake.
BUDGET: Garden House Bled. This is a highly rated hostel on Lake Bled. The hostel is located on a side road just a short distance from the shore of the lake. Don’t expect lake views, but prior guests rave about the breakfast, the garden, and the comfortable beds.
Lake Bohinj is similar to Lake Bled, but it is quieter and a little less touristy. However, you will have to drive past Lake Bled every time you day trip to another destination in Slovenia. That’s fine if you don’t mind a little extra driving time (and maybe time sitting in traffic jams during the summer) for a little more peace and tranquility than staying in Lake Bled.
For our list of recommended places to stay in Lake Bohinj, read our Lake Bohinj Travel Guide.
Kranjska Gora also makes a great option for your home base for the next few days. If you are having a hard time finding available accommodations in Lake Bled, or are traveling on a budget, consider Kranjska Gora. This is where we stayed and we had a great experience.
Kranjska Gora is just 30 minutes from Lake Bled. This small town is filled with wonderful restaurants and is set with the backdrop of the jagged, rocky Julian Alps. Since it is not in a tourist hotspot, prices are cheaper than Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj. Plus, you won’t have to deal with traffic problems like you do in Lake Bled.
We stayed at the Apartment House Berghi in Kranjska Gora. We loved Kranjska Gora, but I can’t say that we loved our apartment at the Apartment House Berghi. This apartment had a huge amount of space, with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a full kitchen. But the apartment is not soundproofed well (every night we could clearly hear our neighbors talking and moving around) and this wasn’t the cleanest place we have stayed in. But it did offer lots of space, fast wifi, and a great location. If we did it again, we would probably stay at Hotel Skipass in Kranjska Gora.
Lake Bohinj is another one of Slovenia’s lovely lakes. It is just a short drive from Lake Bled but it is a much different experience.
While you are here, hike to Savica Waterfall, go stand up paddle boarding, ride the Vogel Cable Car into the mountains, hike to Mostnica Gorge, walk the trail around Lake Bohinj, and see the iconic view of St. John the Baptist Church.
Vintgar Gorge is a 1.6 km long gorge located in Triglav National Park. Boardwalks crisscross their way through the gorge, creating an enchanting landscape that is photogenic and fun to explore.
This is one of Slovenia’s most popular spots to visit so it gets to be very crowded midday. For the best experience, plan on getting here just before opening time. Even if you arrive just one hour later, the boardwalks will be packed with people, making this a much less enjoyable experience.
After your visit to Vintgar Gorge, you have the afternoon free. Spend this time in Lake Bled or Lake Bohinj, relaxing by the lake or doing some of the things you didn’t have time for earlier.
Hiking in Triglav National Park or Soča Valley Road Trip
Today you have a choice: go hiking or go on a road trip. Both of these involve a drive up the winding Vršič Pass, the highest mountain pass in Slovenia.
Hiking the Julian Alps
There are tons of hiking trails in Triglav National Park. For a great experience, drive to the top of the Vršič Pass and go hiking from here. The drive lops off a lot of elevation gain so you can get those high mountain views without a lot of climbing.
We did a great 5-mile hike from the Vršič Pass that we highly recommend. On this hike, enjoy amazing views of the Julian Alps, hike through flower-filled valleys, and on a clear day, look out over Austria and Italy. This is a great way to get a taste of the Julian Alps without doing a huge day hike or needing special equipment.
Another popular thing to do in the Julian Alps are via ferrata type hikes where you climb the rocky faces of the mountains while using rock climbing equipment.
You can also summit Triglav, Slovenia’s highest peak. This is a two-day trek. It is possible to do this on this itinerary. Combine Vintgar Gorge and Lake Bled into one day, giving yourself the extra day for this two-day trek.
If you plan to go hiking in Slovenia, I recommend purchasing the book Walking the Julian Alps of Slovenia by Roy Clark and Justi Carey. We referenced this book a lot while in Slovenia and it has great hiking ideas not only in the Julian Alps but also around Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, and Soča Valley.
Soča Valley Road Trip
This road trip takes you up and over the Vršič Pass. Then, you follow the gorgeous Soča River through Bovec and out to Tolmin Gorge, another stunning gorge similar to Vintgar Gorge. You even have the option to do the white-knuckle drive up to the Mangart Saddle, the highest mountain road in Slovenia.
Julian Alps at the Vrsic Pass
This road trip will take a full day. It’s a wonderful way to explore a gorgeous part of Slovenia. It feels quieter and more off-the-beaten-path than Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge, so if you like the idea of smaller crowds, this is a great way to spend a day in Slovenia.
Predjama Castle, Škocjan Cave, and Piran
Most of Slovenia is landlocked with the exception of a tiny sliver of land that stretches out to the Adriatic Sea. Called Slovenian Istria, this small stretch of coastline is home to three colorful towns. Piran, the largest and prettiest town to visit, is our final destination today. However, there are two unique spots to visit on the drive out to the coast.
Predjama Castle is the largest cave castle in the world. A visit here is relatively quick. If you follow the audio guide, a visit here lasts about one hour.
Getting here: From Lake Bled, it takes an hour and fifteen minutes to drive to Predjama Castle. You will drive right past Ljubljana on the way. If you stayed in Kranjska Gora or Lake Bohinj, it takes one hour and forty-five minutes to drive to Predjama Castle.
The Škocjan Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest underground canyons in the world. The cave can only be visited on a tour and tours last 2 hours. For a little more money (and a little more time) you can extend your visit where you follow the Reka River underground.
Getting Here: From Predjama Castle it is a 30-minute drive to get here.
You will no doubt hear a lot about the Postojna Caves. These caves are located very close to Predjama Castle and they are larger and more touristy than Škocjan Caves. Since we did not visit the Postojna Caves I cannot comment on how good they are. However, I can tell you that we were amazed by the Škocjan Caves and we don’t feel like we missed out on anything by skipping Postojna Caves.
From the Škocjan Caves it is a 45-minute drive to Piran. You will drive right past Koper, another town on Slovenian Istria that is worth a quick visit. Depending on the time of day, you can stop here for a quick visit or continue on to Piran.
Once in Piran, check into your hotel, have dinner, and enjoy the sunset.
Where to Stay in Piran: For our hotel recommendations in Piran, read our article 6 Great Things to do in Piran.
With one full day in Piran, you have more than enough time to visit the highlights of this colorful coastal city. Walk the medieval walls, enjoy the view from the Bell Tower, and wander the maze of streets in the old town.
You also have the option to visit Koper, another small town on the coast, or Strunjan, a nature park that sits right next to Piran.
Return to Ljubljana
If you plan to fly home from Ljubljana, I recommend driving back to the city today. Some international flights leave Ljubljana at 7 am, so you need to be in town the day before your flight. You can either stay in a hotel near the airport (more convenient) or stay in a hotel in the city (more fun). It just depends on your flight time the following day.
If you want to spend more time on the coast, spend the day in Piran and drive back to Ljubljana in the evening. Or, drive to Ljubljana in the morning and spend the rest of the day in town.
From Piran, it takes an hour and a half to drive to Ljubljana.
Fly home. Or, for those with more time, continue on to your next destination.
With More Time
From Piran, Venice is just two and a half hours away by car. Tempting, isn’t it?
Consider spending several days in Venice. You can either fly home from Venice or return to Ljubljana and fly home from here.
With several more days, you can visit Croatian Istria. This coastline is dotted with more wonderful seaside towns. Rovinj, Pula, Porec and more are all waiting to be explored. This is a great way to visit Croatia but avoid the crowds that flood the more popular cities such as Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar.
Maribor is a small city located in eastern Slovenia. This is the second largest city in Slovenia. Take in the view from Pyramid Hill, see the oldest grape vine in the world, and stroll along the colorful streets and squares. It feels a lot quieter here than Ljubljana and Lake Bled, so if you are looking to escape the summer crowds in Slovenia (and you like wine) this is a nice place to visit.
You can do this as a day trip from Ljubljana. By car it takes 1.5 hours to drive from Ljubljana to Maribor. If you want to explore one of Slovenia’s best wine regions or want to see another part of the country, consider a day trip to Maribor.
With Less Time
If you need to shorten this itinerary by a few days, here are several ways to do it.
Rather than spending three full days in Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, eliminate one day. Visit Vintgar Gorge and Lake Bled on the same day, starting bright and early at Vintgar Gorge. Visit Lake Bohinj on the second day.
You can visit Predjama Castle, the Skocjan Caves, and Piran all in one big, long day trip from Ljubljana. In fact, there are many tour companies that offer this as a day trip.
Best Time to Visit Slovenia
Summer is a great time to visit Slovenia, but this is also the most crowded and most expensive time to visit. If you like the idea of paddle boarding on the lakes and sunbathing in Piran, summer is the best time to go to Slovenia.
Spring and Fall are wonderful. Temperatures are pleasant and the crowd levels are lower. To see Lake Bled in autumn with the fall colors would be magical.
Winter is the off-season. Expect cold temperatures and snow. However, snow can also create a magical experience at Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, and the opportunity to go skiing in Triglav National Park.
About Our Visit
We visited Slovenia in August 2018. We started on the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia, did a very similar road trip through Slovenia, and then continued into Austria.
If you have any questions about this 10 Day Slovenia itinerary, comment below!
Important Links for Planning Your Trip to Slovenia:
- 20 Epic Things to do in Slovenia
- 14 Best Things to do in Ljubljana
- How to Visit Tolmin Gorge
- 7 Great Things to do at Lake Bohinj in the Summer
- 8 Amazing Things to do in Lake Bled
You May Also Like:
- Montenegro: 10 Epic Days on the Balkan Peninsula: Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Austria: One Perfect Day in Hallstatt
- Croatia: Plitvice Lakes: How to Have the Best Experience
- France: 3 Days in Paris: The Perfect Itinerary for Your First Visit
- Travel Ideas: Our Travels in 2018…aka…Ideas for Your Next Big Trip
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