In a country as breathtakingly beautiful and diverse as Slovenia, it's next to impossible to narrow down the most Instagrammable sights, but we've tried our best to do so - and also come up with a shortlist of a dozen rather than the usual ten.
If there was a tick sheet of things a tourist or traveler would want from a place based purely on aesthetics, it would probably run something as follows: big blue lake, idyllic island, iconic church, domineering castle atop a hill. Lake Bled has all of this, with the added bonus of the fairy-tale church sitting proudly in the middle of the island. It is among the most popular places to visit in Slovenia, and for good reason. As picturesque as a destination can be, Bled is one of the most striking Alpine resorts going and offers something for all manner of visitors, be they old, young, those in search of activity or in need of relaxation. It truly is the dictionary definition of serenity.
Comprised of three roughly parallel valleys - Robanov Kot, Logarska Dolina and Matkov Kot - which are connect by a small river valley to the north that eventually becomes the Savinja river, the main town of Solčava gives the region its name. Of the three valleys, the wide picture-perfect Logarska Dolina is the most known (so much so that even Slovenes colloquially refer to the whole region by that name). There are amazing sights around every corner, from breathtakingly sublime landscapes to countless simple wonders that never cease to amaze visitors such as ourselves: galloping alpine horses, friendly pot-bellied pigs, tiny weather-worn chapels, centuries-old farmhouses, feisty roosters, fields exploding with flowers of every colour and so on seemingly infinitely!
Already arguably the most impressive square in Slovenia, all debate was put to rest in 2008 when it was transformed into a pedestrian-only zone with outdoor cafés taking the place of parked cars. Fronted by two large neo-Renaissance buildings on one side and a mélange of smaller buildings of varying architectural styles on the other, the square itself is younger than almost all of them, having been part of Piran's harbour until it was filled in in 1884. The square's inner oval was given its distinctive shape when it served as the terminus for an electric railway that connected Piran to Portorož and Lucija until 1953, while its white marble surface was something of a posthumous gift to the late Tartini in 1992 on what would have been his 300th birthday. In addition to lending his name, the great composer is also represented in the square by a very photogenic statue standing near its centre.
They say a picture tells a thousand words, in which case, seeing the magnificent Jasna lake in reality must tell a million. Purity, colour, serenity, clarity do not go any way to describing the setting, the mixed spruce and deciduous covered slopes in the near-distance giving way to soaring rocky peaks in the dramatic background. This paradise is a quick escape from Kranjska Gora, only a 20-minute walk up the winding road toward Vršič. You are greeted at the lake's shore by the gruff face of the legendary white chamois, looking contentedly northwards from his rock. While away an hour on one of the benches lining the shore, then get a drink in one of the nearby bars and soak up that view for even longer. If you visit in the summer months you can also bring a swimsuit, as there are now several piers and a 6m-high viewing and diving platform. If you'd like to have an extended stay in this beautiful setting, we highly recommend the lakeside Jasna Chalet Resort.
Perched on top of Castle Hill (Grajska planota) and dominating the city skyline to the south, Ljubljana’s magnificent castle stands on the site of several former defensive buildings in a hilly area of land stretching away to the south of the Old Town. The castle in its current form was built by Emperor Frederick III of the Habsburgs in the second half of the 15th century. The fortress was used to consolidate Frederik’s influence in the area and to defend against increasing incursions of the Ottoman Army. Not unlike Kraków's Wawel Castle in Poland, Ljubljana Castle has served as both a royal residence, penitentiary, military barracks and social housing over the centuries.
The alpine valley of Bohinj is a truly idyllic landscape, steep mountains rise above quaint villages and lush pastures, and at the end of the valley, in the Triglav National Park, is the spectacular Lake Bohinj - the largest permanent lake in Slovenia. The glacial lake’s fresh crystal clear waters are in summer, whilst it’s just one of the many natural attractions to see and then there are also countless outdoor activities on offer. As well as the rich nature heritage, there are also plenty of opportunities to get in touch with local history and culture - perhaps drop by traditional cheese maker, visit some of the museums and cute churches dotted throughout the valley and a visit to a gostilna to try local specialties is a must.
As one transcends the winding road up from Tolmin, or descends the southside of Vršič mountain pass, they become mesmerised by flashes of turquoise appearing at their side. Steal a glance or two more and you realise it is an enchanting river, none other than the Soča. Along its banks, in its catchment area, several towns and numerous villages have lain since the Slavic tribes settled here in the 6th century, the ancestors of modern day Slovenes, their luck untold. It is a beautiful valley, in the true sense of the word. Towering rocky mountains of Triglav National Park, lush green forest and that crystalline water on pure white stones. Breathtaking.
Ljubljana’s famous artists’ colony hosts a number of clubs, most of which play thrash style music to a dreadlocked black-clad audience of all ages. Unfortunately little of the website is in English so it would be a case of try it and see, but what we can say for sure is that it provides a refreshing and alternative alternative to the dance music found in most other clubs and attracts a crowd who probably care more that you’re ‘cool’ as in non-judgmental than ‘cool’ as in what you’re wearing and how you sip your drink. Well worth checking-out both for itself and for the philosophy behind the whole set-up.
Maribor's Old Vine
There's no more prominent or fitting feather in the proverbial cap of Slovenia's viticulture bone fides than Maribor's Stara Trta, or simply the Old Vine, which holds the distinction of being the oldest in the world. Planted more than 400 years ago, it now covers the entire façade of the a 16th-century house found along the riverside promenade in Maribor's old town. It's seen quite a lot in its many days, and managed to survive everything from numerous medieval fires to vine lice and other plagues that wiped out all of its older brethren across the continent, and even Allied bombings during the Second World War that partially destroy the house on which it lives. Now standing alone and certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, the venerable plant is rightly afforded a place of pride in the city, the region and the entire country, with various events held in its honour during the year - it's even got its own anthem, which old true citizens of Maribor know by heart.
Located in Brežice Castle, this is one of the finest and best preserved Baroque halls in all of Slovenia. It was constructed at the end of the 17th century, after the castle had come into the possession of the Attems family. The large hall is most notable for the ornate frescoes and murals that cover the ceilings and walls, which depict various mythological, classical and religious subjects, and were commissioned by Ignac Marija Attems, the first in a long line of the family's owners. The hall recently underwent extension renovations, and is open to visitors as part of the Posavje Museum, as well as during concerts and other events.
Sečovlje Salina Nature Park
Once upon a time, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities in the world. The phrase ‘not worth his salt’ had to have come from somewhere, and it turns out that origin dates back to when a Roman soldier had his salary cut. In the Roman times of course, part of the soldier’s wage was paid in salt because of its high value. It may not play such a vital role economically these days, but it still happens to be something we can’t live without. It is of great interest then that less than 10km from Piran, Sečovlje Salina Nature Park plays host to one of the only still functioning traditional salt flats in the Mediterranean, as well as a truly unique mix of flora and fauna that have come to thrive in the salty lands.
Located some 10km north of Postojna is the Guinness world record holder for the largest 'cave castle' in the world, and the only preserved one of its kind in the world. Predjama Castle (or Predjamski grad, Höhlenburg Lueg and Castel Lueghi in Slovene, German and Italian respectively), was built in a Gothic style by the Patriarch of Aquileia sometime during the 13th century and first mentioned in the historical record in the year 1274. Perched under a natural archway 123m up a sheer cliff face and surrounded by a thick stone wall, throughout the centuries the castle has gained a well-deserved reputation for being virtually impregnable. Nowadays the castle is open to the public and serves as a museum. It has been completely restored to its original grandeur, and among other sights visitors can see the residential quarters, the chapel and of course the dungeon.