Imagine historical towns rimmed by blue waters, unending vineyards punctuated with wineries and eateries, Alpine lakes that change colour every hour of the day, and scenic villages surrounded by meadows as far as the eye can see – Slovenia is all that and more!
Slovenia is a tiny country and not an obvious choice for a road trip but it offers incredible panoramas at every step. A drive through Slovenia definitely makes it to our list of best road trips in the world. A road trip in Slovenia offers something for everyone – there are hikes and adventure sports for active travellers, beaches and historical towns for culture enthusiasts, and olive groves and vineyards for gourmands. The best part? It is one of the most affordable European countries we’ve travelled to! We’ve included 3 different itineraries for road trips in Slovenia below – choose one depending on the amount of time you have at hand and get going – we’re sure you’ll love it as much as we do 🙂
Suggested Itineraries for your road trip in Slovenia
- Suggested Itinerary I – 4 days
Days 1 and 2 – Fly into Ljubljana and explore Ljubljana
Days 3 and 4 – Explore Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, and Fly back
- Suggested Itinerary II – 1 Week
Day 1 : Fly to Ljubljana
Days 2&3 : Explore Ljubljana and surroundings
Day 4 : Explore the Adriatic Coast (Piran, Portoroz, and Izola)
Day 5 : Lake Bled
Days 6: Drive around Lake Bohinj, Triglav National Park, and Jamnik
Day 7: Fly out from Ljubljana
- Suggested Itinerary III – 2 weeks
Day 1 : Fly to Ljubljana
Days 2&3 : Explore Ljubljana and surroundings
Day 4 : Take a day trip to the Karst Region (Skocjan Caves, Vipava Valley, and Predjama Castle)
Days 5&6 : Explore the Adriatic Coast (Piran, Portoroz, and Izola)
Days 7&8 : Fall in love with Lake Bled
Days 9 & 10: Drive around Lake Bohinj, Triglav National Park, and Jamnik
Days 11 and 12 :Drive around the Soca River Valley
Day 13: Introduce yourself to Idrija and Kamnik
Day 14 : Fly out from Ljubljana
Why Choose Slovenia for your road trip in Europe?
There are many reasons you should choose Slovenia for a road trip but here are our top #3
- It offers a bit of everything – natural splendour, beaches, seaside towns, fine dining, wine tastings, and UNESCO Heritage sites by the dozen.
- It is small and easy to get around – Slovenia is one of the few countries where everything is a short drive away. In fact, in you don’t enjoy moving around too much on your holidays, you can explore most of the country by taking day trips from the capital Ljubljana.
- It is affordable – Slovenia offers scenery comparable to Switzerland’s villages (Julian Alps and Triglav National Parks), gorgeous seaside towns comparable to Crotia’s Dubrovnik (Piran and Portoroz), and wine regions comparable to Italy’s Tuscany (Vipava Valley) at much cheaper rates. In fact we would say it is one of the most affordable European countries we’ve visited so far.
Budgeting for your road trip in Slovenia
Driving around Slovenia isn’t just fun – it’s affordable too. Expect to spend around €100 per person per day once you are there – this estimate includes costs for car rental, fuel, mid-range accommodation, meals, and activities too.
Accommodation in Slovenia
The best part about exploring Slovenia is that it is a small country. Consequently you could base yourself in an AirBnB apartment (you’ll get a discount if you’re a first time user) or hotel in Ljubljana or Lake Bled and explore most of the places mentioned below on day trips. That way you don’t have to lug your suitcases around every couple of days and the break feels like a real holiday. However we would highly recommend spending at least a couple of days in a hotel overlooking Lake Bled. It is truly special waking up to a view of the stunning lake each morning and it will definitely be one of the highlights of your road trip in Slovenia.
We’ve suggested a couple of our favourite hotels in our article on choosing accommodation for your road trip in Slovenia. The article also includes some other commendable hotels that we stayed at, in case you would like to stay in a few differen locations during your road trip in Slovenia 🙂
Read choosing accommodation for your road trip in Slovenia (opens in new tab)
Renting A Car In Slovenia
Although it’s possible to get around in Slovenia using public transport, to really explore the gorgeous nooks and crannies of the country we highly recommend you rent a car. We rented a sedan through EconomyBookings, a platform that compares rental prices from all providers. Car rental in Slovenia is much cheaper as compared to France or UK. A comfortable sedan will set you back by around GBP 15/day. We have rented with Economy Bookings on a lot of our road trips and have always been satisfied with the prices and service. We loved driving through Slovenia 🙂
A day-by-day itinerary with tips and suggestions for your road trip in Slovenia
Day 1 Fly into Ljubljana
The capital city of Ljubljana is well connected and there are direct flights available from most cities in Europe. It’s also possible to fly into one of the neighbouring countries and drive or take a taxi to Ljubljana. If you are staying in a hotel in downtown Ljubljana, then refrain from picking up your rental car at this stage as parking is quite expensive and not readily available in the centre. Opt for a cab instead.
If you have chosen to base yourself in an Air BnB apartment with free parking, then just pick your car and drive to the apartment.
Days 2 and 3 – Explore Ljubljana and drive to Hrase
Ljubljana is one of the most charming European cities we’ve visited in a long time. The city’s cobblestoned alleys are lined with cafes, restaurants, and bars but it continued to retain an old world charm. This combination makes it irresistible to visitors.
Spend your days in Ljubljana walking around the old town and exploring its food markets. Walk past its iconic bridges and sip on a coffee as you watch locals go about their lives. A couple of things we enjoyed in Ljubljana include
- Walking past Triple Bridge, an icon in the city
- Exploring Metelkova Mesta, an alternative complex that boasts of a lot lots of street art and urban culture.
- The architect, Plecnik, is largely responsible for the way the city of Ljubljana looks today. Visit Plecnik’s fascinating house in the suburb of Krakovska, a short walk away from the centre. Even if you do not intend to visit the museum, the pretty suburb makes for an amazing afternoon walk.
- Have a coffee or a drink at the terrace of Neboticnik – a skyscraper in the middle of the city with commanding views of the castle, especially at sunset
- Go for a drive to the picturesque cathedral at Hrase. It’s less than 20 minutes away from Ljubljana but provides a perfect taste of the Slovenian countryside.
There are dozens of amazing restaurants in Ljubljana but here are a couple of eateries we loved:
- Barbarella is really good for vegan food and smoothie bowls. It is extremely affordable and offers scrumptious food that is healthy food
- If you’re in the mood for some gourmet burgers, Hoodburger serves some delicious ones at reasonable prices. The restaurant is extremely popular with locals, so you might have to wait to get a table.
- If you’re celebrating a special occasion, Strelec Restaurant is perfect for a spot of fine dining. Sample medieval Slovenian cuisine that has been modernised for the twenty first century gourmand
Day 4 – Take a day trip to the Karst Region
Most tourists to Slovenia end up visiting only Ljubljana and Lake Bled. But we would urge you to include a day trip to the Karst region of Slovenia on your road trip in the country. If you’ve been staying at a hotel in downtown Ljubljana, pick up your rental car on this day, stock up on snacks, and drive into the Slovenian countryside. Here’s what you could do during the day
- Spend the morning at the Skocjan caves – these mysterious caves are less popular than the Postojna caves and this makes them ideal because there are fewer tourists. A two hour tour introduces visitors to this unique caves – you will spot stalactites and stalagmites crafted out of limescale, unique room-like formations, and pools of waters. It is quite dark inside the caves and this only amplifies the mystery of the natural phenomenon. Photography isn’t allowed during the tour but you can click photos on getting out of the caves. You can even go on a scenic hike on leaving the cave.
- You would’ve worked up quite an appetite after walking through the caves and hiking in the area. You could have a picnic in the countryside but if you’re in the mood for a sit-down lunch, then we would recommend Domacija sajna Essen. The gorgeous restaurant, boasts of tables under vines. It serves generous portions of hearty Slovenian food – expect creamy risottos, decadent prosciutto ham, flavourful olive oil with freshly-baked breads.
- After that lunch, continue to explore the area. Stop by the medieval village of Stanjel with characteristic orange roofs– the stunning village has crumbling ruins and a castle with a commanding view. Walking through Stanjel is like going back in time – highly recommended.
- You can also visit Predjama Castle – a large Renaissance castle that is carved into a cave. The castle is surrounded by unending meadows and boasts of a viewpoint that affords stunning views of the Slovenian countryside
- Spend the evening driving through Vipava Valley – the area is known for its vineyards and olive groves – think of it as an offbeat Tuscany. There are lots of opportunities for wine tasting in Vipava Valley – we loved Wine Bar and Shop Faladur, a boutique gourmet wine tasting experience. This is also the perfect place to pick up a bottle (or five) of Slovenian wine for your road trip – it’s the perfect way to wrap up your day on the road.
After a busy day of exploring the Karst Region and Vipava Valley, you can head back to your hotel in Ljubljana. Alternatively you could stay in the area – there is a gorgeous Slovenian B&B near the Skocjan caves. Hotel Jama, located minutes away from Predjama Castle is another option.
Days 5 & 6 – Explore seaside towns of Piran, Portoroz, and Izola
It’s time to take a short break from exploring the lush green countryside and head to the glistening blue waters of the Adriatic Coast. Almost seven years ago when we drove to Dubrovnik in Croatia, we fell in love with it. But subsequent years and Game of Thrones have made sure that Dubrovnik is now one of the most frequented cities in Europe. If you want to escape the tourist hordes and experience the splendor of the Adriatic Coast, head to the Slovenian seaside towns of Piran, Portoroz, and Izola. It’s hard to describe the feeling of gazing at historical towns with terracotta rooftops rimmed by blue water. Climb the medieval walls of Piran and you’ll know what we mean. Spend your days sampling fresh seafood in waterfront eateries, sunbathing, or sipping on cocktails.
If you are short on time, you can easily explore the Adriatic Coast on a day trip from Ljubljana. But if you have time on you, then we would highly recommend staying in Izola for a night or two as Piran can get quite crowded during summer months.
Days 7 and 8: Drive to Lake Bled and fall in love
Lake Bled is the most visited site in Slovenia. Ordinarily we are wary about places that are so hyped. But sometimes, just sometimes, those places actually live up to the hype. Lake Bled is one of those places. The azure waters of this sylvan lake seem to change colour every hour – perhaps this is what makes it endlessly fascinating. I just know this – I could spend hours staring at Lake Bled from sunrise right through to sunset. A word of warning – try not to visit Lake Bled on the weekend as it can get incredibly crowded!
While you are at the lake, make sure you do the following:
- Visit the Bled Castle for a panoramic view of the lake
- Sip on a cup of coffee and sample the traditional Bled Cream Cake (too creamy and rich for us but most people seem to love it!) at Bled Castle’s café. You could even stick around for a meal at the in-house restaurant.
- Don’t waste money going to the island on Lake Bled just to ring a bell – it’s overcrowded and almost always, prettier from a distance.
- Rent a traditional wooden boat and go rowing on Lake Bled
- Visit the neighbouring Vintar Gorge and Sum Waterfall to get a bit of exercise and marvel at Slovenia’s natural wonders.
- Go for a hike to Ojstrica and Osojnica for the most magnificent view of the lake
If you’re looking for a unique place to spend time around Lake Bled, then consider the quirky glamping huts at Camping Bled. These cute little huts offer all creature comforts, including private hot tubs and bathrooms, proper beds, power points, and generous breakfasts. The best part is that they are extremely affordable. However since they are quite little, book your stay just for a night or two. Spend the rest of your time at Lake Bled at Grand Hotel Toplice, which boasts of a stunning view of the lake. Walking out of the hotel room onto your balcony overlooking Bled Castle is an experience we will remember for a long time to come.
Days 9 and 10: Jamnik, Lake Bohinj, and Triglav National Park
Once you’ve had your fill of panoramas at Lake Bled, it’s time to explore some of Slovenia’s most scenic sights. You can continue to stay at Lake Bled but spend your days driving deeper into the Julian Alps and exploring everything the area has to offer. We suggest driving to the following spots:
- Jamnik – The drive from Lake Bled to Jamnik is a short but incredibly scenic one. Jamnik doesn’t feature on most itineraries of Slovenia but we highly recommend a visit to its hilltop cathedral. You will love the view – definitely one for keen photographers.
- Lake Bohinj – Lake Bohinj is an alpine lake just 30 minutes away from Lake Bled. It is a lot more peaceful than Lake Bled and it’s easy to find the entire lakeshore to yourself if you walk away from the entry point into Bohinj. We suggest visiting Lake Bohinj at sunset – it is at its best at that time of the day.
- Triglav National Park – Don’t stop at Lake Bohinj. Continue your exploration of the picturesque Triglav National Park. You will spot gorges, canyons, waterfalls, and bright green waters everywhere you look. Don’t forget to pack a picnic 🙂
Days 11 and 12: Drive to Soca River Valley
Less than 2 hours away from Lake Bled, Soca River Valley is the epicentre of adventure sports in Slovenia. Base yourself in Kobarid, Kanal, or Tolmin and spend your day(s) ziplining through the valley, rafting in Soca River, hiking (we love the Tolminka Gorge hike!), bungee jumping, or paragliding. The characteristic green water of Soca River will make you fall in love with it in no time at all.
Day 13: Introduce yourself to Idrija and Kamnik
So far you’ve driven to areas that are familiar to most tourists. Now it’s time to drive into the Slovenian hinterland and acquaint yourself with the beating heart of Slovenia by visiting areas only locals know about.
Drive to Kamnik which is home to tumbling springs and scenic waterfalls. Expect picture postcard panoramas everywhere you look – make sure you drive all the way to Kamniska Bistrica – springs famous for their translucent aquamarine water. You won’t find any tourists (or people!) here and you’ll LOVE it 🙂
Next drive to Idrija – the region is known for its erstwhile mercury mines and intricate handmade lace. It even boasts of a lace university. But you are here to explore some offbeat and truly panoramic points of view. Drive to St. Anton’s Church on the top of a hill for a gorgeous view of the surrounding areas. If you’re in the mood, hike further up, and you’ll get stunning bird’s eye views of Idrija. While driving out, stop by one of the 17 hanging bridges suspended over River Idrijca. You are bound to feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale as you gingerly cross a bridge or two.
It is easy to explore Kamnik and Idrija if you’re staying in Ljubljana but there are tons of gorgeous properties in the area. Hotel Kendov Dvorec is an intimate and luxurious Relais and Chateaux property with just 20 rooms. It boasts of incredible views over Idrija and guests are treated to decadent Slovenian cuisine at every meal. If you would like something more affordable Penzion Repnik is an idyllic guesthouse situated in the lap of mother nature in Kamnik. Peter, the manager, is friendly and leaves no stone unturned to make a stay at Penzion Repnik an incredible one!
Day 14 Fly back from Ljubljana
That’s it – the end to an amazing road trip in Slovenia. Slovenia is undoubtedly one of the prettiest European countries we have been to and we can’t wait to go back 😀 If you’ve been to Slovenia, share your favourite spots with us in the comments below 🙂