Slovenians know their country is something special—and with its supremely walkable capital city, centuries-old wine culture, and countless ways to get outside, travelers are beginning to understand why. So how do locals take advantage of all their country has to offer? Here are five authentic experiences you can have on your own trip to Slovenia.

A Festival For Every Occasion

OdprtaKuhna
Food stalls at Odprta Kuhna in Ljubljana

Slovenians love festivals, and they have hundreds of them happening all year round with nearly every town and village offering up something unique that celebrates everything from art, music, and literature to all manner of food and even shopping.

Head to Radovljica in April for their Chocolate Festival. In June, Idrija hosts a Lace Festival while the town of Črnomelj hosts one of oldest folklore festivals called Jurjevanje. In July you'll find a Beer and Flower Festival taking place in Laško while wine lovers and gourmands won't want to miss the Slovenian Wine and Culinary Festivals happening in November.

One of the more popular festivals in Ljubljana is Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen), which is an outdoor food festival that takes place every Friday from March through October. And as a predominantly Roman Catholic country, you'll find numerous Shrovetide festivals happening throughout the nation that incorporates ancient pagan rituals and traditions.

Enjoy Life's Simple Pleasures in Ljubljana

Prešeren Square
Prešeren Square at night

Slovenians enjoy life's simple pleasures, and there is no better place to take advantage of it than Ljubljana. The capital city is small, safe, laid back and, with a city center closed to traffic, its best seen by either foot or bike. The general meeting place for locals and tourists alike is Prešernov trg (Prešeren Square). From there head across the Tromostovje (Triple Bridge) to Plečnik's Covered Market to take in all the sights and smells of local produce and maybe grab a bite to eat.

Relax outside with a cup of coffee at one of the many cafés or enjoy all the colors of fall on a stroll through Tivoli Park. If beer is your thing, skip Union, their national beer and try one of the many local craft breweries popping up like Reservoir Dogs, Pelicon, or Human Fish. In the evening, take in the nightlife with a walk down the Ljubljanica River, which runs through the heart of the city, or hit up a bar or club in Metelkova, the city's alternative cultural center.

For more must-see stops in Slovenia, check out this article on the country's best places to visit.

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Make Time for a Traditional Slovenian Sunday Lunch

Potica
A traditional potica

No matter where you travel in Slovenia, one meal you'll find almost anywhere is a Sunday lunch. Similar to a casual brunch, these meals typically start with beef or mushroom soup, followed by a roasted meat dish served with a side of potatoes, salad and of course, dessert.

For those who prefer eating on the go, there is no shortage of traditional treats. One thing you'll find nearly anywhere is a wide variety of štruklji, a doughy roll stuffed with either sweet or savory fillings (tarragon is most popular). Other sweets include potica, a rolled cake typically made with tarragon, but often filled with nuts, poppy seeds, and different fillings or prekmurska gibanica, a layered strudel cake.

Slovenia also has a handful of regional treats. Carb lovers should try idrijski žlikrof, dumplings stuffed with potatoes, onion and lard typically served with a meat sauce and are a specialty of Idrija, a town west of Ljubljana. Don't pass up kranjska klobasa, a sausage which happens to be a protected product, and can only be made using pork, bacon fat, salt, pepper, and garlic—and nothing else. And last, but not least, head to Bled to try a recent classic: the custard-filled kremšnita known as the Bled cream cake.

Turn Your Day Trip Into an Outdoor Adventure

The Soca River
The stunning Soča river in all its turquoise glory

It seems no matter the season, Slovenians love spending time outdoors, and you really can't blame them. At roughly the size of New Jersey, Slovenia is not a vast country, but that only makes it easier to take advantage of its mountainous terrain, dense forestation, and intricate cave systems—making it prime territory as a booming ecotourist destination.

If you can only plan one excursion, head to Soča Valley. The Soča River is famed for its emerald blue waters, and with its many waterfalls and gorges, there is plenty to do including kayaking, rafting or fly fishing. For those who prefer sticking to more land-based activities, there are hiking and biking trails for all levels of expertise. And if you aren't afraid of heights, head to nearby Bovec for zip-lining, paragliding or skydiving.

If you plan to stick around Ljubljana, there are plenty of things to do outside year round. During the warmer months take a paddleboard out on the Ljubljanica river or attend an outdoor summer concert at the Križanke Outdoor Theatre. For great views, climb up Ljubljana Castle in the city center or hike Šmarna Gora (Mount Saint Mary) north of the city for an even grander view of the country. And in December, sip on mulled wine while exploring the Christmas Market on the Cankarjevo nabrežje.

For more outdoor inspiration, read about the Top 5 Adventures in Slovenia and the Best Summer Hikes in the Slovenian Alps

Appreciate Slovenia's (Underappreciated) Wine Culture

The Old Vine in Maribor
The Old Vine in Maribor

With ideal soil and climate (and over 28,000 wineries!) wine is a big part of Slovenian culture. French, Italian and Austrian wines may be better known, but Slovenia has an older wine culture that consistently produces some of the best wines in the world.

Slovenia's wine-producing regions are located mostly on the eastern and southwestern sides of the country in three major wine regions. Podravska is famous for their dry white wines, Posavska for a low-alcohol light red wine called Cviček, and Primorska. Primorska is home to Goriska Brda—often called the "Tuscany" of Slovenia, the vineyards here are situated amid rolling hills and charming medieval villages. This region also contains Karst, where red wine is especially unique due to the limestone content in the soil and the cellars cut directly into the rock. 

If you want to try wine from every region of the country in one locale, come for the Ljubljana Wine Route, which takes place twice a year (June and November) and attracts wineries from all over the country. And for true oenophiles, no visit is complete without a stop to Maribor to see the world's oldest grape-producing vine. At 400-years old, it features wine tasting and its very own museum.

For more inspiration for your trip, check out some more of the Best Things to Do in Slovenia.