crossing5oceans.com | Published January 10th, 2021 | Last Updated January 10th, 2021
All Images © 2021 - Kelly Girouard - Please Contact for Permission to Use
Slovenia is, to this day, one of my favourite European destinations; from the food and landscapes to the country's people and diversity, there are so many things to love about Slovenia. Let’s jump right in!
Driving through Slovenia is what I would call a road trip of oohs and ahhs. There are numerous incredible landscapes. One turn after another is full of stunning vistas such as the rivers of emerald green water, the Mediterranean coast with its signature terra cotta roofs, the mountainous areas with their spectacular snow-capped peaks and the interior with its caves and castles. These remarkable landscapes will probably make drive times longer than originally planned since the photo opportunities are too good to pass up.
Cattle grazing in the picturesque Slovenian Landscape
View of Lake Bled from a Terrace at Bled Castle
The People of Slovenia
The people I encountered in Slovenia were salt of the earth. It was the most genuine and down to earth experience I've had in a country in my many years of travel. It wasn’t just the hotel operators; it was the servers in restaurants, the people at the markets, the tour operators, and people on the streets of both the capital city of Ljubljana and the smaller towns. It goes without saying that when you feel welcome, you want to stay, and you wish to return. Slovenia hit the mark of friendly, welcoming people at each city I visited throughout the country.
Chasing Bubbles in Ljubljana
Even the Cows were Friendly. He's winking at me!
Slovenia borders Italy, Croatia, Austria and Hungary. The regions closest to those countries seemed to have adapted their menus. Who knew I would go to Slovenia and have the best gnocchi dish I've ever eaten?
And how about a little ambiance while eating all this fabulous cuisine? As I was driving through the mountains, I passed a small restaurant that looked inviting, so I stopped in for a bite. Upon entering the building, I heard a warm “Hello” from a man in the dining room. He asked if I would like to sit inside or outside. It was a warm enough day, so out we went. As he opened the door, I let out a little gasp. The terrace was nestled on a small hill with a perfect view of the magnificent mountain range that I had just driven to the top of. You can’t beat eating a delicious lunch with scenery like this in front of you.
Goulash with a View!
The Diversity of the Country
From one side of Slovenia to the other, you get a glimpse of some of the best that Europe has to offer, all inside the borders of one country.
THE NORTH-WESTERN PART OF SLOVENIA borders Austria and shares the Alps in common with it. As mentioned above, driving through these mountain ranges was spectacular, and the climb in altitude was exhilarating. The roads were safe, clear, well marked with signage, and very easy to navigate. It's a drive you shouldn't miss when visiting Slovenia!
Stone Piles at Vrsic Pass - Triglav National Park
THE SOCA RIVER VALLEY has water that is such a unique colour that people may think the photos have been altered, but I can assure you, they're not. It really is that striking shade of surreal green. It's considered the most beautiful river in Europe and spending some time hiking the trails in this area will not disappoint.
The Incredible Colours of the Soca River Valley
THE WESTERN PART OF SLOVENIA is a complete departure from the North. Unfolding in front of you are red-roofed Mediterranean houses perched on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. The Mediterranean isn’t often an image associated with Slovenia, but it’s here, and it’s post-card worthy. I stayed in the lovely city of Piran, walked along the water, shopped in cobblestoned market squares, and breathed in the fresh sea air.
Cobblestone walkways overlooking the Gulf of Trieste in Piran
Scooter Life in Tartini Square, Piran
IF YOU WANT TO SOAK UP THE CITIES IN SLOVENIA you can head to the capital city of Ljubljana or the ever popular area of Lake Bled. Ljubljana is a lovely city to enjoy numerous cafes, green spaces, beautiful architecture, museums, and other points of interest. Lake Bled on the other hand is meant to be enjoyed by taking a tranquil afternoon walk (or two) around the trail that circles it.
While these areas are inclined to have more tourists, than other cities in Slovenia they still pale in comparison to the volume of people visiting other cities of the world. With Slovenia's beauty being revealed through photography websites and social media; it seems that it won't stay under the radar forever.
Architecture along Ljubljanica River in Ljubljana
Sunset over Lake Bled
IN THE EASTERN PART OF THE COUNTRY the mountains continue. One of the areas of particular interest is Velika Planina, which has several shepherd's houses at the top of a mountain. The view on the drive up was exceptional and seeing clouds rolling past the car when reaching the top was an unforgettable experience.
Driving in the Clouds at Velika Planina
Shepherds Houses at the Top of Velika Planina
It doesn't matter where you end up in the country, you're sure to pass some of the most picturesque lakes set within a backdrop of mountains, churches and pretty towns.
Tranquility at Lake Bohinj
The entire country is an attraction in itself, but here I’m referring to the caves and castles. To the East of Piran is a unique cave system in the area of Predjama and Postojna. The tours through the caves were fascinating, and the sheer size of the interiors was remarkable. I spent most of one afternoon taking in Predjama Castle and the grounds surrounding it. Predjama sits at the mouth of a cave, and as dusk started to set in, bats came out and were flying overhead. You're standing in front of a literal bat cave; how cool! You can go on an underground tour to learn of the castle's history, which I did and highly recommend. One caveat, though, there are bats on the ceiling inside the underground cave, so fair warning if bats are not up your alley.
The Expansive Postojna Cave System
At Dusk, Bats Flew Around Predjama Castle Making it a Literal Bat Cave
For all of these reasons, it seems that Slovenia is currently one of Europe’s most underrated travel destinations. It's a place of diversity, energy and surreal landscapes that should be added to any travellers bucket list. If you choose to do a self-driving tour, which is a beautiful way to see the country, I would recommend giving yourself at the very least 12 days to see the sights and get a glimpse at what this incredible country has to offer.