This outdoorsy 8-day road trip allows you to travel through Slovenia's gorgeous countryside at your own pace. Starting from the laidback riverside cafés of Ljubljana, you'll explore the fairytale shores of Lake Bled, rocky passes of the Julian Alps, rushing waters of Soça River, and rolling hills of Goriška Brda wine region. Enjoy alfresco activities that this small country is known for—i.e. hiking, biking, swimming, and river rafting—along with caves, castles, and centuries of history.

Highlights

  • Walk, bike, or jog along Ljubljana's riverfront, lined with cafes and wine bars
  • Enjoy summery vibes with swimming and sunbathing in Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj
  • Spend an afternoon rafting in the Soça River followed by a dinner of fresh trout 
  • Explore the underground Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Watch the sunset over the Adriatic Sea from a medieval port

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Ljubljana Ljubljana
Day 2 Drive from Ljubljana to Lake Bled Lake Bled
Day 3 Day Trip to Lake Bohinj Lake Bled
Day 4 Drive from Lake Bled to Bovec Bovec
Day 5 Hiking, Biking & Rafting in Bovec Bovec
Day 6 Drive from Bovec to Goriška Brda Goriška Brda
Day 7 Explore Skocjan caves and the Adriatic Coast Piran
Day 8 Drive from Piran to Ljubljana, Depart  

Day 1: Arrive in Ljubljana

The riverfront promenade is great for walking and biking

Welcome to Slovenia! Upon arrival to Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport*, you'll pick up your rental car and drive to your hotel. Settle into your accommodation and meet them team over a welcome drink to discuss your trip details.

Afterward, explore the lively city center and saunter down the main street along the banks of the Ljubljanica river, stopping in whatever small boutique, outdoor cafe, or wine bar terrace strikes your fancy as you breathe in the fresh air of one of the continent's greenest cities. A classic European castle, parks, and churches are all on offer as you wind your way around by foot or bicycle.

You'll notice the legacy of modern architect Jože Plečnik around the city at worthwhile stops such as the National Library, Central Market, Triple Bridge, and Plečnik's own home turned museum, all under the watchful eyes of the city's many signature dragons. The Central Market is also a key site for sampling local cuisine at its many stalls.

*Alternate airports include Venice (144 miles / 231 km) and Zagreb (87 miles / 140 km).

Day 2: Drive from Ljubljana to Lake Bled

The Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria on Bled Island

After breakfast in the capital, you'll drive to Lake Bled. This picture-postcard lake with its island is one of Slovenia's main attractions. You can choose between a plethora of shorter hikes through gorges or to scenic viewpoints. The craggy walkways and waterfalls of the popular Vintgar Gorge are just 2.5 miles (4 km) from town.

You can also climb up to the castle and tour its smithy, wine cellar, and printing press before enjoying a traditional meal in the restaurant, or row or paddleboard across the placid waters. Once you reach the fairytale island at the lake's center, climb up the church's 99 steps, where legend has it the ringing of the bell can grant your wishes. If that's still not enough, enjoy cycling on side roads through typical Slovenian countryside, visit a local beekeeper, or simply sunbathe on the lakeside with a slice of the famous Bled cream cake from the Park Hotel or Slascicarna Zima bakery.

Driving time: 45 minutes
Driving distance: 34 miles (55 km)

Day 3: Day Trip to Lake Bohinj

Lake Bohinj's rural surroundings

Nearby Lake Bohinj deserves time for exploration of its own, giving its neighboring lake some serious competition for the prettiest waterfront views. There are countless walks in the area for all ability levels; you choose the one that suits you best, or go vertical with rock climbing instead. Don't forget to pay a visit to the statue of the Zlatorog, or Golden Horn, a mythical stag believed to live in the mountains.

If you're feeling more aquatically inclined, you can also canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard on the smooth water before your return to Lake Bled. If you haven't visited Bled Castle yet, consider splurging on a royal dinner with a view at its restaurant.

Driving time: 2 hours (roundtrip) 
Driving distance: 34 miles (56 km)

Day 4: Drive from Lake Bled to Bovec

One of many scenic detours along the way

After breakfast, you'll check out of your hotel and get back on the road. It's time to change locations and drive across Slovenia's highest pass, the Vršič Pass (5,285 feet / 1,611 m) in the central Julian Alps. Admire the nearby limestone walls as you make your way up the winding road with potential detours to several view-filled walks of varying lengths, including a stroll into the region's history on paths built by Russian prisoners of war.

After you've stretched your legs, have a coffee with a scenic mountain view and a typical alpine lunch in a cozy hut. In the afternoon, drive to the Soča Valley to explore its hidden spots, including WWI forts, river gorges, and mountain town of Bovec, where you can relax in a microbrewery when you settle in for the night.

Driving time: 2 hours
Driving distance: 54 miles (87 km)

Day 5: Hiking, Biking & Rafting in Bovec

Rafting in the Soça River

Today is a free day to enjoy the natural surroundings of Bovec—one of Slovenia's top outdoor sports destinations—surrounded by the Soça Valley and Julian Alps. Perhaps you want to start the morning with a combination of hiking and biking on moderate trails. Take advantage of the best of both methods of transportation to experience the hidden spots of the area, including bright turquoise pools, historic forts, and river gorges.

You can then spend the afternoon in the brightly-colored Soça River, either relaxing offshore or getting in the water with a guided tour. A rafting experience takes you down a section near Bovec with several stops to soak up the scenery. Once you've dried off, continue on foot to the town of Kobarid, home to the region's WWI Museum. Learn about the region's involvement in the war, also featured in Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms."

The Soça River is also home to the famous Soça trout, sought after by fishermen from all over the world. Sample one without having to catch it yourself at the Dobra Vila restaurant, or head for a casual dinner at Bovec's local microbrewery.

Day 6: Drive from Bovec to Goriška Brda

The rolling hills of  Goriška Brda

After breakfast in Bovec, you'll have the chance to discover more of the hidden spots of the Soča River as you drive south towards Slovenia's Goriška Brda wine country. 

Dotted with family vineyard estates, petite churches, and cypress trees, the region earns its nickname of the 'Slovenian Tuscany.' Climb a village tower to enjoy the best view from the Slovenian Alps to the Adriatic Sea, bike through the hillside, or visit a winemaker or two (or four).

When you're ready to retire for the evening, try dinner at one of the region's local inns and sample the local produce alongside specialty cured meats and cheeses. For the ultimate dining experience, visit Ana Roš, voted World's Best Female Chef in 2017, with a reservation at House Franko restaurant. Fun fact: Ana's husband is the sommelier!

Driving time: 1.5 hours
Driving distance: 43 miles (70 km)

Day 7: Explore Skocjan caves and the Adriatic Coast

A deep gorge at the entrance of the caves

Today, after breakfast, it's time to visit the Slovenian Karst region and the Adriatic coast. Go underground with a stroll through the stunning canyons of the limestone Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boardwalks will lead you through the specialized ecosystem of one of the world's largest known underground caverns. The caves are believed to have been visited by humans drawn to their majesty since the Iron Age.

In the afternoon, continue driving towards the coast and get lost among the picturesque narrow streets and squares of Piran. Sitting snugly seaside on its peninsula, Piran's old city walls, Venetian-style architecture, and stony beaches are filled with history and charm. Enjoy the evening on the Adriatic at one of Piran's many seafood restaurants before you retire, with a casual drink and fresh seafood snacks off the blackboard at Cantina Klet, family-size platters at Restaurant Neptune, or an elegant evening at Riva Piran.

Driving time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Driving distance: 77 miles (124 km)

Day 8: Drive from Piran to Ljubljana, Depart

Sneak in a bit more scenery before you go

It's time to say farewell to Slovenia! Enjoy your last moments in this beautiful country with a leisurely breakfast and nature stroll before you drive to Ljubljana for your return flight home.

Driving time: 1.5 hours
Driving distance: 80 miles (128 km)

*Alternate airports include Venice (119 miles / 192 km) and Zagreb (158 miles / 254 km).

Map

Map of Highlights of Slovenia - 8 Days
Map of Highlights of Slovenia - 8 Days