Get introduced to Slovenia on this self-drive trip that takes you through some of its most popular spots. After starting on the shores of Lake Bled, you'll make your way independently through the Julian Alps down to the Adriatic coast and back to the capital of Ljubljana, exploring from mountaintops down to the shores and underground along the way.

Highlights

  • Bask on the fairytale shores of Lakes Bled and Bohinj
  • Sip your way through Slovenia's Tuscany: the Goriska Brda wine region
  • Explore the UNESCO-protected Skocjan Caves, visited since the Iron Age
  • Take in the Adriatic Sea air in Venetian-influenced Piran
  • Stroll the picturesque streets of capital city Ljubljana

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Ljubljana, Transfer to Lake Bled Lake Bled
Day 2 Explore Lake Bled Lake Bled
Day 3 Lake Bohinj Day Trip Lake Bled
Day 4 Drive from Lake Bled to Bovec Bovec
Day 5 Free Day in Soča Valley Bovec
Day 6 Drive from Bovec to Goriška Brda Goriška Brda
Day 7 Drive from Goriška Brda to Škocjan Caves & Piran Piran
Day 8 Free Day in Piran Piran
Day 9 Drive from Piran to Ljubljana Ljubljana
Day 10 Depart Ljubljana  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ljubljana, Transfer to Lake Bled

Aerial view of Lake Bled
Aerial view of Lake Bled

Welcome to Slovenia! Meet your transfer at the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport* to make your way to the fairytale town of Bled.

Bled's tourism industry dates all the way back to the 1800s, when Swiss Arnold Rikli opened a health facility on the lake, attracted to its long swimming season and beautiful scenery. He based his treatment plans on "water, air, and light," with key tenets of regular walks and swims, nude sunbathing, and a vegetarian diet. 

Today, Bled is popular with honeymooners and adventure-seekers alike. Whether you opt for hikes, history, or a lakeside happy hour on one of the hotel decks, you're sure to find something that suits your travel style. 

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

Driving time: 30 minutes
Driving distance:  24 miles (38 km)

Day 2: Explore Lake Bled

The views are worth the walk
The views are worth the walk

Explore the scenic shores of Lake Bled, where you can choose between a plethora of shorter hikes through gorges or to scenic viewpoints. One of the stars of the region is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from town, at the popular Vintgar Gorge with its craggy walkways and waterfalls, .

You can also climb up to Bled Castle and tour its blacksmith's workshop, wine cellar, and printing press before enjoying a traditional meal in the restaurant. Row or paddleboard across the placid waters to the fairytale island at the lake's center and 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, cycle 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 at the Park Hotel or Slascicarna Zima bakery.

Day 3: Lake Bohinj Day Trip

The lake's scenic surroundings
The lake's scenic 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 (Lake Bled to Lake Bohinj): 30 minutes

Day 4: Drive from Lake Bled to Bovec

One of many scenic detours along the way
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: Free Day in Soča Valley

Village of Kobarid in the Soča Valley
Village of Kobarid in the Soča Valley

Get up close with the Soča River, also known as the Emerald River for its bright colors. Explore on a raft, zipline, or canyoning excursion, or just take a leisurely swim in its scenic pools. If you prefer to stay dry, walk along the banks or bike the area, with nearby destinations including the WWI Museum in Kobarid.

You can also cast your rod in search of the famous Soča trout, sought after by fishermen from all over the world. Try it for yourself without the effort at the Dobra Vila restaurant, known for its traditional cuisine.

Day 6: Drive from Bovec to Goriška Brda

The rolling hills of  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: Drive from Goriška Brda to Škocjan Caves & Piran

Škocjan Caves
Škocjan Caves

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 Adriatic coast and check in to your hotel. Piran's old city walls, Venetian-style architecture, and stony beaches are filled with history and charm. Get lost among the picturesque narrow streets and squares and enjoy the evening in one of Piran's many seafood restaurants before you retire, with a casual drink and fresh seafood.

Driving time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Driving distance: 88 miles (124 km)

Day 8: Free Day in Piran

Piran on its peninsula
Piran on its peninsula

Spend the day getting 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. Relax after all that time on the trail at one of the city's many spas, specially known for their mud and salt treatments. Or see it at the source, with a walk through the salt pans of  Sečovlje Salina Nature Park.

Enjoy the evening on the Adriatic at one of Piran's many seafood restaurants before you retire. Have 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.

Day 9: Drive from Piran to Ljubljana

Along the Ljubljanica

Return to Ljubljana in the morning, then spend your day exploring the capital city. Guided tours are available if you'd like an inside perspective on stories of the Ljubljana's history and culture or secret food spots, or choose to explore and stumble upon your own discoveries.  

Start by strolling on 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. Many of the restaurants offer a multi-course prix fixe lunch menu, perfect for long, leisurely lunch. You can also get onto the river itself with a canoe or stand-up paddleboard.

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.

Driving time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Driving distance: 75 miles (121 km)

Day 10: Depart Ljubljana

The riverfront promenade
The riverfront promenade

Depending on your departure details you may have time to visit local museums and galleries or simply sit down on the riverbank and relax with an ice cream before you head home.