Get Outdoors in Slovenia
Slovenia is a country just begging to be discovered on foot, by river raft, even from a rope descending a rock face. It’s a nation abounding in nature, with nearly 60% of it blanketed in rich green forests of spruce and chestnut trees. In the whole of Europe, only Finland and Sweden offer more forest cover than Slovenia.
Then there are the rivers, which are perfect for fishing and white-water rafting. That’s to say nothing of the mountains, such as the Julian Alps, which offer some of the greatest high-altitude treks on the continent. Below we provide a rundown of these and other activities perfectly suited for outdoor enthusiasts discovering the unspoiled beauty of Slovenia for the first time.
Rafting & Kayaking the Soča River
Hop in a raft or kayak and venture down the waters of one of Slovenia’s world-famous rivers. These arterial waterways are renowned for a reason: it’s all but impossible to find waters so impossibly turquoise and crystalline outside of Patagonia. There may be no better location for river rafting in all of Europe.
The most popular option for rafting/kayaking in Slovenia is the Soča River, which is located in the west and runs north-south. You can access it from the town of Bovec, located in the green Trenta Valley and near to an abundance of canyons and mountains. It's this incredible scenery that provides the backdrop for rafting/kayaking journeys in the area. The Soča is a popular spot because there are sections suitable to all skill levels, with classes of rapids ranging from gentle I to raging V.
Another option is the Save River, which is located in eastern Slovenia and runs in an east-west direction. It’s a popular option for vacationers and rafters with little experience as the rapids are an exciting but not terrifying class II-III. It's also easily accessible from popular Lake Bled, which is Slovenia’s most famous lake. No matter which river you decide to raft or kayak, tours typically last about three hours, with a quick safety tutorial before each journey.
In Slovenia, because the areas surrounding the rivers are so ideal, you’ll often see rafting excursions paired with other adventure activities like zip-line tours or canyoning/abseiling. A good example can be found in this seven-day ultimate outdoor Slovenian adventure.
Canyoning, Abseiling, & Caving in Triglav National Park
The many river canyons in the north of Slovenia offer as much opportunity for fun and excitement as the rivers themselves. It makes sense, then, that these destinations have become something of a prime canyoning/abseiling destination in recent years. And while “abseiling” may sound like a technical term, it just means having fun rappelling alongside waterfalls and playing in natural river pools.
If you're interested, you can make Lake Bled your home base for excursions. There are abseiling tours that leave from the lake to nearby canyons like Grmecica or Jereka, which are both located in Triglav National Park. If you have more time, we recommend visiting Bovec. You can make day trips from here to Sušec Canyon, which offers a network of natural rock slides that plunge into pools of crystalline water. Also nearby is Fratarica Canyon, where you can descend 147 feet (45 meters) down a sheer waterfall.
For a different kind of experience, you can abseil down 29 feet (nine meters) to an underground river in Slovenia’s Postojna Caves. There are 15 miles (24 km) of underground caverns with hanging stalactites and waters filled with prehistoric cave-dwelling creatures like albino salamanders. Often the minimum age for a canyoning excursion in Slovenia is 12 years old, and all equipment and clothing is provided.
Yet another unforgettable caving adventure is to explore the Križna Caves on a combined four-day excursion that also includes paddleboarding down rivers.
Hot-Air Ballooning at Lake Bled
To appreciate the full scope of Slovenia’s immense natural beauty, you need to see it from the air. To this end, there’s only one proper mode of travel, and it isn’t on a passenger jet or helicopter tour—it’s from the basket of a hot-air balloon. There’s something to be said for viewing the bucolic majesty of the Slovenian countryside from a tranquil aircraft flight unpolluted by the noise of an engine.
The perfect destination in which to embark on such a flight is unquestionably Lake Bled. Looking down from the basket while in flight, you'll see Bled Island protruding like a beauty mark on the glassy waters of the lake’s surface, the iconic steeple of the 17th-century Church of the Mother of God jutting into the air. On top of a bird’s eye view of these famous landmarks, you’ll also have sweeping 360° views of the surrounding forests as well as the snow-capped peaks of the Julian Alps.
If you’re only staying Ljubljana during your trip, not to worry. You can also enjoy balloon rides over the capital. You’ll ascend over the historic Old Town and the Ljubljanica River that snakes through it. You’ll be treated to views down below of Ljubljana Castle but also beyond the metropolitan borders to the green forests beyond.
Although beautiful, Lake Bled and Ljubljana aren't the only highlights in this country. Discover them all on an eight-day tour that will take you from the capital to the mountains to the Adriatic coast.
Fly-Fishing the Krka, Ljubljanica, and Soča Rivers
Being a nation comprised mostly of wilderness, Slovenia has almost limitless options for outdoor activities. The aforementioned rivers in this country not only offer great conditions for rafting and canyoning but for fly-fishing as well. There are so many prime rivers, in fact, that you could go well beyond a top 10 list of the best fly-fishing spots in Slovenia.
As for the highlights, the emerald waters of the Krka River, in central Slovenia, are teeming with brown trout and grayling. The springs of the Ljubljanica River, east of the capital near the historic town of Vrhnika, are the place to fish for pike and rainbow trout. Of course no list of fishing spots would be complete without the turquoise waters of the Soča River, which cuts through gorgeous alpine valleys and is home to marble trout.
The time of year in which you visit Slovenia will dictate the best fishing conditions in the different rivers. The spring months of April and May are regarded by locals as the best time to go fly-fishing in Slovenia in general. Summer is ideal to catch large trout, and the fall months of October and November are good for pike and grayling. Winter is the best time to go after Slovenia’s most prized aquatic denizen, the huchen.
If you'd like to combine your fly-fishing excursion with a nature hike, check out this active 15-day Slovenian getaway.
If wildlife photography is a passion of yours, then you shouldn't miss out on Slovenia. The country is a hotbed for Birders who can view many exotic specimens in and around Slovenia’s forests, lakes, and countryside. These include various woodpeckers, falcons, warblers, thrushes, and ducks. Impressive individual species include the white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, Ural owl, pygmy owl, white & black stork, and others.
The king of Slovenia’s wilderness, however, is the brown bear. Notranjska Regional Park, in southwestern Slovenia, is home to about 600 brown bears. A tour with an expert guide involves trekking through the wilderness to purpose-built observation stations where you can view these animals in their natural habitat. It’s an awe-inspiring experience that not only affords the opportunity to view bears, but the occasional wild boar, fox, deer, and wolf as well.
If you'd like more details about wildlife spotting in Slovenia, consider this three-day nature and wildlife tour.
Mountaineering in the Julian Alps
You can find great canyoning and rock climbing throughout the country, but for world-class mountain trekking, there's only one destination: the Julian Alps. Summer is the best time to come for high-altitude hiking, with the hotter sea-level temps turning refreshing the higher you climb. Conversely, in winter it may be chilly and snowy, but that means great conditions for ice climbing as well as skiing.
No matter what time of year you visit, there are great views in the Julian Alps. Particularly the Vršič Mountain Pass, which is the highest pass in Slovenia at 5,285 feet (1,611 meters) afford some of the best views in the country. There's also the three-day trek to Mt. Triglav, which is the highest peak in Slovenia at 9,396 feet (2,864 meters). Other notable mountain hikes include the Soča Trail to Bovec, and the trail up Mt. Krn (7,362 feet/1,985 meters), which affords beautiful views of the Soča Valley below.
Looking for even more ideas for enjoying the Julian Alps? Consider an eight-day bike tour.