Luxury abounds in this lesser-known European country, long-beloved by vacationing Europeans and recently gaining popularity with American travelers. Sneak away from the crowds of Paris and Rome for mountain, seaside, and city experiences you'll be talking about for years to come. For more on planning your own locally-curated trip to Slovenia, check out these inspiring tours, itineraries, and travel articles.
Experience a Tasting Menu Curated by a Renowned Female Chef
Tucked away in the countryside with the Italian border on one side and the peaks of Triglav National Park on the other, Hiša Franko is the very definition of a hidden gem. It's not near any major cities and you'll need a car to get there, but it's one of Slovenia's most beloved restaurants and has been attracting foodies from around the world.
Put on the map by Chef Ana Roš, who was featured in the Netflix series Chef's Table in 2017 and ranked as the world's top female chef that same year, the restaurant serves up sophisticated twists on local products. She and her sommelier husband pair up perfect food and wine matches, age cheeses from nearby Tolmin, and source the restaurant's produce within walking distance of the property.
The restaurant is a two-hour drive from Ljubljana or Lake Bled and has a pretty guesthouse attached for those who would prefer to stay overnight. The nearby Soca Valley is a haven for fly fishing, rafting, hiking, and mountain biking. (For a great 15-day hiking and fly-fishing tour, check out this article.)
Sip Award-Winning Wines on a Slovenian Vineyard Tour
Slovenia has been producing wine longer than even Italy or France, with exceptional results. Yet, most of the world has never tried these ancient vintages. Why? Because in past years, Slovenia has kept most of its wine to itself, exporting just a small percentage. In recent years, it's gained more acclaim - and greater demand. But it's still an experience many haven't had yet (and one worth having).
One of the best vineyards in the country is Movia, located in an award-winning region known for its dry wines. The estate lies on the border of Slovenia and Italy, with about half the vines on the Slovenian side. Marjan Simcic, another award-winning producer nestled along the Italian border, is also a good bet for aficionados. And for those looking for a boutique experience, Guerila boasts wines known for their mineral content and vines untouched by pesticides.
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Sleep in a Renovated 14th-Century Manor
If you've ever wanted to spend the night in a castle or a 14th-century manor house, now's your chance. Slovenia has several castles and manors that have been turned into hotels, most of them luxurious. Traveler favorites include the Gothic water castle of Grad Otocec, built on a river and boasting a bar guarded by a suit of armor and spacious rooms with warm wood floors and views over the grounds, and Hotel Kendov Dvorec, a 14th-century countryside manor featuring hand-carved furnishings and views of the hills.
Stay in a Luxury Treehouse at Lake Bled
Lake Bled is one of Slovenia's most popular tourist attractions - and with good reason. The small bright blue lake circled by a well-worn walking path and overlooked by an ancient castle is picturesque at every turn. It's also the home of the famously creamy Bled Cake and quite a few mysterious legends.
In fact, the whole lake is a legend. It's said that the lake used to be a valley where the fairies loved to dance. When farmers overgrazed the land and ruined their grassy dance floor, legend has it the fairies created a lake with an island in the middle where they could practice their moves in peace.
Lake Bled is already a beautiful destination, but there are ways to make it even more special, like staying in one of the beautiful treehouses or the air-conditioned glamping tents at Garden Village Bled.
Indulge in a Luxe Slovenian Spa Day
Thermal baths, saunas, and hot tubs overlooking castles are pretty easy to come by in this castle-dotted country. In Ptuj, at Terme Ptuj, you'll find hot tubs decorated in different world themes and a pathway to the once-secret temples of the god Mithras. In Bled, the Sava Hoteli Bled offers hot tubs with a view of the clifftop castle. In Portorož, the thalassotherapy spa Lepa Vida offers an outdoor spa experience designed to incorporate the unique salt pan environment. And tucked away at the far eastern border, Terme Olimia boats perhaps the best spa in the county.
Drink and Dine in a Castle with 360-Degree Views
Perched atop an imposing cliff overlooking Lake Bled and the only island in Slovenia, Bled Castle is both one of the most well-preserved castles in the country and boasts some of the best views. Even better, a romantic restaurant is perched at the castle's edge overlooking the lake and the mountains beyond it. From 6 p.m. on, the restaurant serves a tasting menu that earns high ranks from visitors and when you book a table at the restaurant, entrance to the castle is included in the price.
Recent tasting menu offerings include rainbow trout carpaccio, homemade pasta filled with buckwheat and asparagus with a local cheese sauce, and chocolate souffle with strawberry sauce. Reservations are recommended, as tables book up quickly.