(aka Top Places to See in Slovenia)
Slovenia is absolutely amazing, and we will never miss the opportunity to say it time and time again. The country is green, inviting, and cozy. One of its absolute highlights and pros is the fact that it is also small. This makes it absolutely convenient to pick any city as a base while taking day trips and exploring the country in all of its diversity. For today’s post, we are rolling out 16 amazing day trips from Ljubljana, assuming that you have already covered all the things to do in Ljubljana, and are ready to explore.
1. Day trip from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, 40 min by car
GPS 46.363438, 14.092257
On the list of Ljubljana day trips, this will probably be the most recommended one, and for a good reason. Located within a 40-minute drive from the capital, Lake Bled is the perfect destination to escape the city life. You can also reach the lake by train or by bus, but in both cases, there will be some additional walking or a taxi ride involved.
Lake Bled is a good idea regardless of the season since the area offers lots of things to do. Its pristine blue waters are perfect for a swim in the summer, late spring, or early fall. It has a big beach and smaller hidden spots to relax at.
If you’re feeling adventurous, opt-in for hikes to the Lake Bled castle or to Mala Osojnica for a stunning panorama of the valley. You can also rent a boat, ride a pletna to the Bled island, rent a bike, or have coffee and the famous Bled cake in one of many small cafes with a beautiful view.
In winter, a day trip to lake Bled from Ljubljana becomes a destination for many sports activities.
2. Ljubljana to Lake Bohinj, 1 hr by car
GPS 46.281205, 13.848327
This lake is absolutely stunning. It is located in the Triglav National Park, and it is a piece of raw, mesmerizing nature. The lake is surrounded by mountains, tops of which are often hidden in the clouds. Closer to the beach, the water of the lake is clear blue. However, just a few meters into the lake, where it gets deep, the water dramatically changes its color to dark-blue, which results in this beautiful double-color pattern that only Bohinj has.
The best part about Lake Bohinj is that you can either choose a beach closer to the town and all the activities, or drive a little further, and settle in one of many secluded spots. There is a camp in the western part of the lake. Also, this part of Bohinj is where hiking trails start.
You can also reach this destination by bus.
3. Day trip from Ljubljana to Zelenci, Kranska Gora, 1 hr by car
GPS 46.494484, 13.734013
This is the place to be at to admire Slovenia and its nature. Not far from where Slovenia, Italy, and Austria meet, there is the Zelenci National Reserve. It is the source of the river Sava, Slovenia’s longest river, that flows into the Danube and eventually reaches the Black Sea.
The place is a magical one. Seemingly not far from the road, it is serene and quiet. The source is a small lake of unimaginable jade green and turquoise colors. The clear spring water emerges in small bubbles, creating an idyllic picture. The alpine scenery around the lake is the show-stopper, too. What’s interesting is that the spring does not freeze in winter, which makes this a go-to destination regardless of the season.
From the parking lot, it is a pleasant 15-minute walk to the spring, which is well worth the ride.
4. Day trip from Ljubljana to 2 picturesque Italian lakes, 1 hr 40 minutes by car
Slovenia’s place in the heart of Europe makes it a perfect fit for all sorts of adventures. Even if sometimes they are not within the country. If you’re up for this experiment, we’re offering you to head to the two gorgeous lakes just a few kilometers beyond the Slovenian border, in Italy.
The first lake is technically two glacial lakes, Laghi di Fusine (GPS 46.473606, 13.671694). If you are in Zelenci, Kranjska Gora, it is just a short 20-minute ride to the foot of the Mangart massif. Slovenians call these lakes Belopeska Jezera. There is no entrance fee to attend the lake. It is a hidden gem, and definitely an underrated one, but this is what also makes it great. No crowds. Just you and nature. Leave the car and head into a meditative hike around Lago di Fusine Superiore. It is connected to Lago di Fusine Inferiore by a path.
Next on the itinerary is Lago del Predil (GPS 46.415297, 13.553416), another hidden gem of this region, with its signature spot – a small island with the tall pine trees. The backdrop to this lake is the beautiful Julian Alps.
5. From Ljubljana to Mangart Saddle, 1 hour 50 minutes by car
GPS 46.443726, 13.641628
While most of the locations recommended above are suitable for any weather, the only proper season for this route is a warm one. On a sunny day. To be more specific, the road is opened May through November, but if it is a foggy or a rainy day, there is no point in going.
The Mangart Saddle, also known as the Mangart Pass, as well as the Mangartsko Sedlo, is the highest road in Slovenia. It is also one of the most breathtaking ones. We will not build suspense by saying that this is a highly dangerous road. If you are a skilled and calm driver, this should be a manageable serpentine road for you.
Just know that in many of its turns, it is very narrow. We did talk to a lady that managed to drive a camper van. Not sure if it is a great idea, but it looks like it is possible. Also, if you feel carsick, please mind that this is 12 kilometers of hairpin turns, and take care.
There is a toll to pay, which is 5 Euros. After that, the adventure begins. The road is narrow, partially hidden in the forest, but only for a small fragment. For the most part, it is breathtaking views of the mountains and the heart-stopping panoramas. The road reaches a small parking lot at the top. From here, it is a short hike to the edge of the cliff, with the absolute view of the day. Spoiler, you can spot one of the abovementioned lakes from the top of the mountain.
6. Hike to Kofce where Slovenia borders with Austria, 1 hr by car…
…and then another 30 to 40 minutes to hike up to Dom na Kofcah.
Dom na Kofcah is an absolute and hidden gem that only the locals know about. A fun side note here about the Slovenians that our Kranj-based friend shared with us. After work, many locals head to explore the new hiking trails. Then, the next day, they share their experience and new spots in the office.
The road to the small parking lot is a serpentine one, and also not asphalted. Be aware of the sharp rocks here and there. It is a good idea to have a spare tire in the car, and to know how to replace one. Once you’ve reached the dead-end of the serpentine road, leave the car and head up. Follow the trail.
This is a pleasant hike of medium complexity. Most of it is in the shadows of the pine trees. About halfway up, you will come across the spring with clear mountain water, and then, you’ll reach the chapel. Rest here, and then it is the final sprint to the top. Once on the plain, try to climb as close to the small wooden house atop the mountain as possible, before you turn around.
Now, turn around. And hold your breath.
The view from Dom na Kofcah is stunning. Everywhere you look, it is blue-gray mountain tips and the lush greens of the pine forests.
Inside the house, order some strukli, which is a local dessert. Here, in Kofce, you will be able to pick among numerous flavors, from chocolate to berries and more.
7. Head to Slovenian coastal towns, 1 hr 20 minutes by car
The Adriatic coast of Slovenia is relatively small, but it still has so much to offer. Visit Piran, Izola, Koper, Strunjan, or Portoroz, which are all popular towns along the Slovenian coastline.
For a day by the sea, explore the cobbled beaches of Izola. One of the ultimate favorites is Moon Beach, which is a pebbled coastal line. The only way to get to Moon Beach is to leave the car in Belveder and walk. Maybe this explains why this location is not overcrowded. For the sand beaches, drive to Portoroz.
For lunch by the sea, as well as for walks along the old streets, Piran is the best pick. Head up the town walls to enjoy the panoramic views, or stroll along the Riviera.
To escape the crowds, head to Koper. While one of the biggest towns in Istria, it is not as popular among tourists as Piran.
8. Opt-in for the Vintgar Gorge hike, 40 min by car
GPS 46.390744, 14.085252
You can combine this day trip from Ljubljana with your visit to lake Bled, and simply schedule it early in the morning. Vintgar Gorge is an easy, relaxing, and picturesque walk. The boardwalk trail follows the flow of the Radovna River and ends with the powerful Sum waterfall. The color of the water is beautiful. Depending on the season and the weather conditions, it is either emerald-green or clear-blue and absolutely mesmerizing.
Most of the Vintgar Gorge hike is in the shadows of the valley’s cliffs. This is a circular route about two-miles long. There are no steep climbs on the way, so it is an easy walk to complete.
9. Travel to Kranj for a day trip from Ljubljana, 27 min by car
Kranj is a small town, but it is also incredibly cute, and with plenty of things to do for a day. The downtown is walkable, but you can also rent a bicycle. For starters, stop by the canyon of River Kokra, a beautiful splash of nature amidst an old city center. You can either admire the views from the bridge or walk down the stairs, closer to the river.
Then, head to the Smarjetna Gora for an even more impressive panorama of the entire valley, along with Kranj. For a slightly more exotic experience, descend to Rovi pod Starim Kranjem, the old bunkers for the guided tour. Then, proceed to explore the old and cozy streets and towers, as well as the observation point.
For drinks, stop by Hisa Layer, an artistic hub with a beautiful outside terrace. For local food, head to Valter.
10. Take a tour of Slovenian caves, 1 hr drive by car
Head south-west from Ljubljana to discover the legendary Postojna Caves (GPS 45.779353, 14.205102) and the Skocjan Caves (GPS 45.663673, 13.988536). Both of these are surreal, but very different experiences. Hopefully, you won’t get to choose between these two, but if you do, here’s what you need to consider.
The Postojna Jama, while being criticized as a more touristic site, if definitely worth a visit. Even the touristic sites have their advantages. This adventure is family-friendly, and many tourists head here with kids. It has a fun Disneylandish twist to it, too, with trains taking passengers almost 1 mile down to the belly of the mountain.
The Skocjan Caves are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Here, the lighting does the trick. As the group moves through the mountain, the guide lights parts of the caves, revealing the underground wonders. These are two miles of tunnels, bridges, lakes, waterfalls, and gorges. And wait for that huge hall that looks as if you were in the Lord of the Rings series. These caves are second to none.
11. Stop by the Predjama Castle, 50 min by car
GPS 45.814495, 14.129021
While on the way to Postojna Caves on a day trip from Ljubljana, take a couple of hours to explore the cave castle of Predjama.
It holds a Guinness World Record for being the largest cave castle in the world. The only thing that comes to mind when looking at this fortress rising from the cliff is: “How? How did they manage to build it here?”
The Predjama Castle is the true medieval work of art that dates back to the 15th century. Its exposition displays living areas, the torture chambers, and medieval weapons. From the windows, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful views of the valley. The tour of the castle is complemented with a convenient audioguide.
Both the castle and the caves are part of the Park Postojnska Jama. In the summertime, you can get from one location to another by a shuttle bus or on foot as part of the hike.
12. Drive to Kamnik and Velika Planina, 45 min by car
Hidden in the Alps, this shepherd’s village is a rather unique site. One of the few seasonal villages left standing, Velika Planina comes back to life each June. This is the season when the villagers return to tend their flocks in the plateau. The season lasts till September.
Stop by the huts, discover the process for making the popular Trnic cheese, hike to the Kamniska Bistrica Valley, and dine at one of the lodges.
On a way to or from the valley, also stop by the town of Kamnik. Hike to its Stari Grad, the ruins of the Old Castle, or stroll along the main street of Sutna. Spend some time at the Zaprice manor, or relax at the thermal baths.
13. Take a scenic drive to the Soca Valley, 2 hrs by car one way
The mountain road that runs along the Soca river is filled with noteworthy stops. The aquamarine waters of the river carve their way through gorges and forests. Among stops to look for, there is the Trenta Valley where the river’s source is, the Tomlin Gorge, the Devil’s Bridge, and Dante’s cave, as well as the Krn Lake and the Boka Waterfall. This drive can be easily combined with the trip to the Magart Saddle.
14. A day trip from Ljubljana to Skofja Loka, 28 min by car
Easily accessible by both a car and public transportation, Skofja Loka is a Medieval gem with a valuable mix of old architecture, beautiful nature, and exciting hikes. Back in the 1200s, this was a busy Medieval market place. High walls with five gateways surrounded this area. The alleys, which are arteries between upper and lower towns, are among a few reminders of those days.
Cross the Sora river via the Capucine bridge and head into the old town, with its cobbled streets. Explore the Loca Castle and the museum, and shop for souvenirs in the local artisan shops.
15. Take a wine tour to Maribor, 1 hr 18 min by car
Known for its winemaking heritage, Maribor is a perfect day trip from Ljubljana. Some of the city’s vine houses are more than 500 years old.
But of course, this city is suitable not only for drinking. Its Glavni Trg, the central square of the old town is where your adventure starts. From here, explore the water tower, the Maribor castle, and Mestny park, or take a boat tour along the river of Drava.
16. Why not…? Travel from Ljubljana to Venice, 2 hrs 20 min by car
So, this may be a bit of a stretch, and an offer only for the most adventurous. But if you do feel like you have time and are in the mood, then why not explore Venice? You can leave a car either on any of the parking lots before the dam (5 Euros/day) and hop on a bus, or drive to the island. Parking will be more expensive there, up to 25 Euros, so this decision is up to you.
From the Piazzale Roma, cross over Ponte della Constituzione, and head into the heart of the city. If we start naming all the attractions of this city, this post will go on forever. Among some of the definite must-sees is the Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco and all of its palaces and museums, Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, the Jewish quarter and so much more.
Written by Inessa Rezanova
I am a Kyiv-based screenwriter with 10+ years of experience in producing scripts. I love my job, and no, I did not quit it to travel the world. I see different countries in my spare time. As a storyteller, I believe that it is the emotional journey that matters the most. This is why together with my sister I started this blog to encourage everyone to travel and to do so with a heart and mind opened to adventures.
Images by Natalie Rezanova
I am a photographer based in Kyiv, Ukraine. I am lucky to be able to do what I love the most for a living. Photography is an endless source of inspiration for me. My mission on this blog is to inspire by sharing some of the favorite captions from my journeys. I also provide professional photography tips to help the readers bring home some beautiful photo memories.