We drove into Ljubljana at the tail end of a 2-week road trip in Croatia and Slovenia.
What followed was an exciting medley of sights and activities that I never thought could fit comfortably into a 5-day road trip. From the beautiful and charming Ljubljana, we explored medieval castles and towns, saw spectacular caves, and drove past stunning landscapes. We hiked up a mountain and through a ravine. We spent mornings in cafés and afternoons by the lake, all while eating delicious local cuisine and having fun and lighthearted conversations with friendly locals and happy travelers.
There’s a lot to love about Slovenia and so much more to experience beyond Lake Bled and Ljubljana. It’s an ideal destination for a road trip, with beautiful countryside and smooth roads. It’s also a compact country that’s easy to explore, letting you see a lot in a few days. While there’s certainly much more to discover, here’s a great start to spending 5 days in Slovenia.
Little Holidays Guide to Slovenia
- How to spend 5 days in Slovenia
- Map – essential landmarks
- Best things to do in Slovenia
- Tours and day trips
- What to eat and where
- Planning your trip
- Beyond Slovenia – where to go next
- Download the PDF travel guide
This itinerary is best done as a road trip – Slovenia has smooth roads, a convenient vignette system (a tolling sticker that will let you use all Slovenian motorways and expressways), and is quite compact that you can drive to almost every point in the country from Ljubljana in under two hours.
I’d recommend having two bases for this trip – sleep on nights 1-2 in Ljubljana, then nights 3-5 (or more!) in Bled. You can pick up your rental car in Ljubljana and drop it off at Bled before going to your next destination.
If you don’t plan to drive, though, I’d recommend staying in Ljubljana for the entire trip and joining day tours to explore Slovenia’s diverse natural landscapes.
Day 1 – Start your adventures in Slovenia’s lovely capital city, Ljubljana. Take a stroll along the Ljubljanica river and fall into step with the city’s relaxed rhythm. Enjoy the city center’s beautiful architecture, green and cobbled streets, and delicious cuisine. From the old town, make your way up to the castle and stay to watch the sunset.
Day 2 – Drive southwest to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle and get a taste of Slovenia’s diverse natural and historical landmarks. You’ll also get to experience the joy of driving around Slovenia’s motorways and countryside and ease into your adventures outside the city.
Day 3 – Now it’s time for a more ambitious road trip! Start early and make your way to the beautiful coastal town of Piran and spend the morning walking along the coastline and checking out the old town and the historic medieval walls. Take advantage of the many restaurants serving fresh and delicious seafood! Then drive to Goriška Brda for an afternoon in the charming Slovenian wine region and more fantastic food to end the day.
Day 4 – Now, it’s time to explore Slovenia’s most loved destination: Lake Bled. No matter how many pictures you’ve seen of it on Pinterest and Instagram, it will surely take your breath away. Spend the day around the lake and visit the island and the castle for the most amazing views.
Day 5 – Don’t leave Bled just yet – see more of the beautiful Triglav National Park. You can be as laidback as spending the day swimming and sunbathing at the Lake Bohinj or as intense as going for a hike to the Triglav Peak. A short hike to Savica Waterfalls and along Vintgar Gorge is a happy medium.
Tell us: What are you most excited about your trip to Slovenia?
Use this Google map to plan your holiday in Slovenia. I added all the important landmarks, the best places to visit, and the best areas and hotels to stay in.
For your road trip, I recommend using Waze to navigate. Make sure you have a valid Slovenian vignette that allows you to use the tolled roads, then add it to your Waze app’s list of toll & HOV passes to get the best routes. (Go to: Settings > Navigation > Toll & HOV Passes > Vignette SLO – Vinjeta)
Day 1 – Ljubljana
Ljubljana is one of Europe’s greenest cities and has a car-free, leafy, and laidback historic old town and city center. It’s also quite compact with most of its key sights within walking distance. If you start early, you can explore Ljubljana in a day.
Tromostovje (Triple Bridge) and Ljubljanica riverbanks
Start at the Tromostovje to instantly get a glimpse of what makes Ljubljana so lovable and memorable. The bridge connects the city’s historical and medieval town on one bank, and the modern city center on the other. From here, you can see the leafy and lively banks of the Ljubljanica River and feel the laidback and playful vibe of the city’s residents and tourists. You’ll also get acquainted with the aesthetics of the modernist architect Jože Plečnik, whose beautiful modernist works you’ll see all around Ljubljana.
Take a stroll along Ljubljanica’s riverbanks. From Tromostovje to the Dragon Bridge, you’ll be walking past several Baroque and modern buildings, starting with the Prešeren Square and the distinctive pink Franciscan church. You’ll also pass by the Butcher’s Bridge and the Central Market.
Once you’ve soaked up the atmosphere along the Ljubljanica riverbanks and fueled up for the day, make your way to the old town.
From the Dragon Bridge, slowly make your way to the Old Town. Stop and explore the Central Market and check out the Slovenian products and fresh produce. The indoor market is also a great place to buy cured meat products, homemade pastries, and local cheeses.
During Fridays from March to October, you’ll find local restaurateurs setting up stalls and taking part in Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen) and offering the best of local and international cuisine in the outdoor market. Make sure to come hungry and enjoy one of the city’s most popular street food markets!
From the Central Market, take a quick tour of the Baroque Cathedral of St. Nicolas, then continue walking along the Ciril-Metodov trg until you see the Town Hall and the Robba fountain. This is a nice spot to do some shopping or pop into a café. The nearby restaurants, Klobasarna and Robba, are great spots for lunch.
From the Old Town, make your way to Krekov trg and either ride the funicular up to the Ljubljana Castle or go on foot starting at the Študentovska ulica. It’s a nice 20-30-minute walk up with great views as you get higher.
The Ljubljana Castle was originally a medieval fortress constructed in the 11th century, which then became the seat of lords of Carniola in the 14th century. Now it’s mainly a cultural venue where you can learn about the city’s history and appreciate art exhibits. Up the viewing tower, you’ll find not just tourists but locals hanging out and enjoying the beautiful panoramic views of the city.
You’ll find art and history exhibits within the castle walls and vast green spaces outside the castle. There are plenty of architectural and historical monuments on the castle hill with many pleasant walking trails to cover them, and it’s also a great spot to watch the sunset.
If you’re up for a fancy dinner, cap off the night at Gostilna na Gradu – make sure to call ahead for a reservation, especially if you’re visiting during the peak summer months.
Ljubljana at night
There’s still much you can do after the sun sets in Ljubljana.
From the castle, walk down towards the west side of the castle hill then cross the Cobblers Bridge to the modern city center. Walk around the Congress Square then make your way to the Nebotičnik (Skyscraper). Go up to the café and the observation deck for gorgeous night views of the city.
More fun things to do in Ljubljana
If you have a couple more days to spend in Ljubljana, here are several places and activities you can check out:
Tivoli Park and the Ljubljana Zoo – As one of Europe’s greenest cities, you can be sure that the city takes its parks and green spaces seriously. Tivoli Park is the largest one in Ljubljana, and if you love to walk, you can easily spend a whole day exploring around the area. There are a couple of hiking trails, a pond, a mansion, a beautiful promenade, and on the southern part stands the Ljubljana Zoo.
Metelkova Mesto – Metelkova Mesto is Ljubljana’s alternative culture center. Previously the site of the military headquarters of the Austro-Hungarian Empire army and then that of the Yugoslav National Arms, it became a squat in 1993 after the Slovenian and Croatian declaration of independence. Since then, it has become the city’s center of underground music and art, hosting performances, exhibitions, and festivals. You can see several art installations and exhibitions while walking around here.
Museums of Ljubljana – If you want to learn more about Slovenia’s art and culture, spend a day visiting Ljubljana’s top museums: the National Museum of Slovenia, the National Gallery, and the Museum of Modern Art.
Jože Plečnik’s Ljubljana – As you explore the city, you’ll see much of the works of Slovenian modernist architect Jože Plečnik. His works can be seen not only in Ljubljana, but also in Vienna, Prague, and Belgrade. He was commissioned to rebuild most of the important structures and spaces in the city after a devastating earthquake in 1895. His works include the National and University Library, the Tromostovje or Triple Bridge, the central market or Tržnica, and the embankment of the Ljubljanica River. If you’re keen to know more about his works, visit his home Plečnikova Hiša.
Ljubljana’s Food and Wine Scene – While you can pretty much follow your nose to find your next meal as you weave in and out of Ljubljana’s lively streets, if you want a bit of direction, you can check out the Google map above for my top recommended places to eat and drink. Or, if you want to dedicate an entire evening to tasting the best of the city’s gastronomy, join this food tour and get a tasty introduction to Slovenian cuisine.
Ljubljana Bike Tour – Biking around Ljubljana is a great way to see the city. This 4-hour bike tour will bring you through the old city center, the Krakovo gardens, the Metelkova neighborhood, and all the way to Tivoli Park. It’s a fun and active way to experience much of the city in a short time.
Day 2 – Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle
After a full day in Ljubljana, now it’s time to discover more of Slovenia’s natural and historic landscapes outside the capital. Drive 1.5 hours southwest to Postojna Cave then continue to Predjama Castle.
(If you’re not driving, here’s a day tour you can join.)
The Postojna Cave is a 24-km cave system carved out by the Pivka River over millions of years. You’ll get to explore 5 kms of the cave in 90 minutes, which starts with an underground electric train ride, and then a guided walk through corridors, galleries, and halls with diverse karst features.
One of the best parts, though, happens at the end of the tour. You’ll get to see the olm or “baby dragon,” which are endemic to the caves and are the largest troglodytic amphibians in the world.
Postojna Cave has a constant temperature of 8-10°C, so make sure to bring a warm jacket and wear closed and comfortable shoes when you visit. You can also rent capes at the entrance. Lines can be long at the Postojna Cave ticket office, so consider buying tickets online in advance. You can get a combined ticket for Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle here.
Predjama Castle is a short 15-minute drive from Postojna Cave and is the largest – and certainly the most dramatic – cave castle in the world. The Renaissance castle was built in the mouth of a cavern up a rocky cliff with a series of secret tunnels behind it, and it was virtually impenetrable when it was built in the 13th century.
Its most famous occupant was Erazem of Predjama, a 15th-century robber-baron who was able to resist a siege for over a year. You’ll get to hear more about his life as you go through the audio guides around the castle. It’s definitely got all the elements of an exciting medieval tale.
If you’re up for an elevated dining experience after your visit to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle, drive to Gostilna pri Lojzetu. Call ahead for a reservation.
Day 3 – Piran and Brda
After Day 2’s relatively easy road trip, now it’s time for a more ambitious one! Go from coast to countryside as you explore one of Slovenia’s prettiest coastal cities and a lush wine region.
(If you’re not driving, you can join this day tour to Piran from Ljubljana.)
The drive from Ljubljana to Piran takes a little over 2 hours, but once you’re there, the views of the Adriatic Sea – and the prospect of a delicious seafood lunch – will make the drive worthwhile.
Piran is a car-free town, so you’ll have to park outside – the Garage Fornače (see the Google map) is a good option. From there, you can ride the shuttle or walk 15 minutes to the center. If you’re ready for lunch, you’ll find a lot of restaurants along the harbor and within the old town – Pirat and Fritolin Pri Cantini are great options.
Tartinijev trg (Tartini Central Square) is a great place to start your adventures around Piran. The square is named after Giuseppe Tartini, an Italian Baroque composer and violinist.
Tartini Square is the heart of the old town and used to be an inner fishing port. If the vibe here feels a little bit like Italy, that’s because it was part of the Republic of Venice for 500 years until 1797. Much of the architecture and cuisine have strong Italian influences, and it’s also not very far from the Italian border.
From Tartini Square, visit St. George’s Parish Church, go up the Bell Tower for amazing views of the sea and the town, then walk along the seaside promenade towards the lighthouse. If you don’t mind a bit of a trek, the Walls of Piran also offer fantastic views of the surroundings.
From Piran, it’s now time to head to Goriška Brda, one of Slovenia’s wine-growing regions. It’s a 90-minute drive from Piran to Brda past beautiful countryside scenery.
Goriška Brda produces world-class wine, but that’s not all the region has to offer. It’s a great place to visit if you love charming historic towns, medieval villages, and the sight of vineyards everywhere you look.
Start your drive towards the Brda region. Make a short side trip to see the Solkan Bridge, a large, beautiful stone bridge over the Soča River.
Continue to Dobrovo, the region’s capital, and explore the castle. Visit Klet Brda if you’re keen on learning more about Slovenian wines. You can schedule a wine-tasting with them and tour the cellar.
From Dobrovo, make your way to Šmartno, a small medieval walled town perched on top of a hill in the center of the wine-growing region. Spend some time going around the cobbled alleys – the town is small, so it’s the perfect place to wander around. You’ll get some incredible views from here, and if you’re hungry, Marica serves traditional Slovenian cuisine and the region’s best wines.
One last stop before you head home: the Gonjače lookout tower. Go up 144 stairs for a sweeping view of the Brda region. With clear skies, you’ll be able to see all the way to the Julian and Carnian Alps, as well as the Dolomites to the north. Beside the tower is a bronze monument dedicated to the 315 citizens of Brda, who gave their lives in World War 2.
From Brda, Ljubljana and Bled are both about a 2-hour drive away, so at this point, I’d recommend that you plan to stay in Bled after your day trip to Brda. If you want to soak up Brda’s atmosphere a bit longer, a night or two here would be ideal. Marica in Šmartno and B&B Calligaris in Dobrovo are lovely places to stay in Goriška Brda.
Day 4 – Lake Bled
Now it’s time to explore one of Europe’s most picturesque destinations: Lake Bled.
If you’re not driving or you’re in Slovenia for a short time, you can definitely go to Bled on a day trip. You can visit the castle, the island, and even a few other places around Bled in a day. But if you can, I really recommend spending a couple of days here and exploring outside the touristy areas. Beyond the breathtaking views and beautiful photos you can certainly get in a short visit, Bled and the Triglav National Park is a wonderful place to explore and enjoy nature.
Here’s my travel guide to Lake Bled.
Spend the day exploring Lake Bled. You can go for a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk or go for a hike around the lake. The most popular trail is the one to Mala Osojnica, where you can get amazing views of Lake Bled against the backdrop of the Julian Alps.
Ride a pletna or row your own boat to Bled Island. During warm months, you can also swim in designated areas around Lake Bled.
Lastly, go up the Castle Bled for amazing views of the lake and the island. It’s also a great place to learn more about the history and traditions of Bled and Slovenia, plus a great spot to try the Lake Bled cream cake (which has quite the backstory).
There are lots of fantastic restaurants along the lake – Ostarija Peglez’n was our favorite! Be prepared to wait for a table, though, especially for dinner. Sova is also great, but you’ll need to make a reservation.
Day 5 – Triglav National Park
While Lake Bled may be Slovenia’s most famous landmark, there are a lot more places to visit around the area. You can be as laidback as spending the day swimming and sunbathing at the Lake Bohinj or as intense as going for a hike to the Triglav Peak. For something in between, a short trek to visit the Savica Waterfalls or a leisurely walk along the Vintgar Gorge is a great way to see Slovenia’s natural wonders up close.
Lake Bohinj is about a 30-minute drive from Bled and is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports during the summer.
(We had brunch on our way from Bled to Lake Bohinj at Gostilnica Štrudl – one of our favorite meals! Be warned, though, they have huge servings so you might have to share mains.)
Lake Bohinj is Slovenia’s largest lake, so even at the peak of summer, it’s easy to find a spot to lay down your beach towel and relax. You can go cycling and hiking around the lake, with plenty of trails passing through hamlets and quiet, lovely villages.
You can also ride the Vogel cable car for amazing views of the Julian alps. There are several hiking trails from the upper station, one of which brings you all the way to the Vogel summit.
From Lake Bohinj, drive 10 minutes to the parking lot near Savica Waterfalls (Koča pri Savici). The drive itself is an adventure, with lots of winding roads and hairpin bends. From the parking lot, you can then climb the stone steps through the woods to the waterfalls in around 20 minutes.
From the parking lot, there are more hiking trails you can follow if you have more time.
If you only have a few hours before leaving Bled, I’d suggest you go to Vintgar Gorge instead. This is nearer to Bled (15-minute drive), and you can walk through the ravine trail and back to your car in 2 hours (3 KM walk).
It’s a pleasant, easy stroll on wooden boardwalks along the gorge carved out by the Radovna river, with spectacular emerald waters, plenty of small waterfalls, and rapids along the way. You’ll also see a preserved and functioning stone arch railway bridge that was built in 1904 from cut stone.
At the end of the gorge, you’ll see the beautiful Šum waterfalls, and you can either go back again through the gorge (fastest way back to your car) or take a longer, alternate hiking trail back to the parking lot.
I already mentioned a couple of hiking trails around Bled and the rest of Triglav National Park, but here are more trails you can hike and bike. There are easy trails as short as 1 KM (the Goreljek bog nature trail) and cycling trails like the 16-km Radovna trail.
If you love nature trails and beautiful landscapes, you just might have to add an extra day or two to your trip!
Slovenia is an ideal destination for road trips, but driving is not the only way to get around. If you’re not driving, you can stay in Ljubljana during your entire trip and join day tours to see the rest of Slovenia. Here are the top recommended tours you can take from Ljubljana.
If you have a couple days to add to your Slovenia trip, here are more destinations to check out.
- Soča River – This is a nice day trip to Slovenia’s “adventure capital.” You can white water raft down the Soča River as well as visit several historical landmarks on the drive there and back.
- Kranjska Gora – If you can’t get enough of Lake Bled, go back to the Julian Alps and visit Kranjska Gora. You’ll see more picturesque mountain ranges, breathe in the fresh air, and drive through the gorgeous countryside.
- Maribor and Ptuj – Take a trip back in time to Slovenia’s oldest town, Ptuj. You can wander through the medieval town and learn more about Slovenia’s history and traditions.
- Vipava Valley – If lovely little villages and vineyards are more your jam, head to Vipava Valley for wine-tasting in a boutique family-run winery.
You’ll find my restaurant recommendations all throughout this itinerary, but here’s a quick list of delicious foods to try in Slovenia.
Kranjska klobasa (Carniolan sausage) and Kraški pršut (Karst prosciutto) are must-tries for meat-lovers. Make sure to stop by Klobasarna in Ljubljana’s Old Town to try the sausage then go to Ala Pršuterija for a pršut and cheese platter paired with a glass of dark-red Teran wine.
You’ll also find a lot of buckwheat-based dishes in Slovenian restaurants. One that I tried in Gostilnica Štrudl on our way to Lake Bohinj was the ajdovi žganci, a simple yet delicious and filling buckwheat dish topped with pork cracklings. We had it with a platter of meats, and it was plenty for two.
For dessert, try the Prekmurska gibanica, the potica, and when you’re in Bled, the Bled cream cake or kremšnita.
Flying – You can fly to Ljubljana from many European cities, and then it’s a 20-minute ride to the city center. Other nearby convenient airports with more international connections are Venice, which is a 2-hour drive to Ljubljana, and Trieste, which is a 1-hour drive to Ljubljana.
Renting a car – Slovenia is an excellent destination for a road trip. You can reserve a rental car online in advance and pick it up either in Ljubljana airport, near the train station, or in locations near the city center.
Vignette for driving on Slovenian motorways – Make sure that your car has a valid vignette for driving on Slovenian motorways – most rental cars from within Slovenia would have this. If you’re coming from neighboring countries, you can buy it from gas stations in border towns.
Waze is a good app for navigating around the country.
Joining day tours – If you don’t plan to drive, I’d recommend joining day tours from Ljubljana or Bled to see the rest of the country.
Public transportation – You can also travel around the country by bus. From Ljubljana, you can ride a bus to almost every Slovenian town or city. Here’s where you can check for bus connections and timetables.
Best places to stay in Slovenia – best hotels in Ljubljana and Bled
For this 5-day road trip itinerary, I’d recommend splitting your time between Ljubljana (for the first 2 nights) and Bled (last 3 nights).
Ljubljana is an excellent base for exploring most of the popular destinations around the country. As Slovenia is compact and has an excellent motorway system, you can get to any point in the country from Ljubljana in under 2 hours. House Trta and Vila Minka are great options for a road trip base in Ljubljana.
Here are my other recommended hotels in Ljubljana.
Stay in Bled for 2-3 nights to explore the beautiful lake and the rest of the Julian Alps region. Vila Bled is a great option right next to the lake. If you plan to drive out to the countryside for most of your trip, stay in Old Bled House or Vila Cvetka instead.
Here’s my guide on where to stay in Lake Bled.
Top tips for travel to Slovenia
Languages spoken: Slovenian, English
Money: Euro (1 EUR ~ 1.08 USD ~ 1.51 SGD)
- Accommodations –A stay for two in a luxurious hotel (like Vila Bled) can cost from EUR 200/night. A beautiful boutique hotel (like the Urban Hotel in Ljubljana’s city center) can cost from EUR 90/night. You’ll also find lots of budget stays in and around tourist destinations (like MS Sparrow Hostel in Ljubljana), where you can find beds from EUR 17/night.
- Food – You can spend EUR 30 upwards for a nice dinner for two.
Tipping: Tipping is not expected, but 10-15% of the bill is appreciated.
Weather and best times to go: Slovenia is best enjoyed outdoors, so May to September are ideal months to go hiking, cycling, and sightseeing. You can go skiing in the northwestern alpine regions from December to March. Ljubljana and Lake Bled are beautiful year-round.
If Slovenia’s beautiful roads and natural landscapes got you hooked to road-tripping around Europe, here are more amazing destinations for your next holidays.
Explore two of Austria’s beautiful cities – Salzburg and Vienna – by road tripping across the beautiful Salzkammergut region or Lake District. This is a great road trip itinerary if you love charming villages, gorgeous natural landscapes, and outdoor activities.
Head to the sunny region of Alsace, France to enjoy and explore historic wine trails, delicious wine and food, vast national parks, and plenty of hiking and biking trails.
Here’s another underrated destination for lovers of nature, history, and gastronomy – the Czech Republic’s South Moravian wine region. You’ll find plenty of castle towns, forests, and vineyards to explore.
While parts of the Swiss Jungfrau region are definitely touristy, head to the quieter areas of Lauterbrunnen and Mürren to enjoy that traditional Swiss countryside ambiance. You’ll find plenty of hiking trails, stunning alpine views, and warm and welcoming chalets.
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I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Slovenia!
It’s really an amazing destination with beautiful cities and towns, plenty of historical sights, and gorgeous natural landscapes. We had the perfect road trip in Slovenia, thanks to the smooth roads and breathtaking countryside. We also loved how easy it was to get around and how genuinely friendly and welcoming the locals were. I can’t gush enough about it – visit and you’ll see why!
Make sure to download the PDF guide and use it to plan the perfect little holiday. If you have any questions or need extra help planning your trip, send me a message, and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Thanks for reading and have a fun and exciting road trip in Slovenia!
First published – 18 May 2020
Last updated – 19 July 2021 – updated links, prices, and travel information