This nine-day road trip includes stops at all of Slovenia and Croatian Istria's best spots. Explore both countries with the help of a local guide who will take you to the best locations and introduce you to the local culture. Discover the rich history of Ljubljana, then head to the rugged alpine landscape of the country's northwest to see the Julian Alps, crystalline lakes, and high limestone peaks. Then, make your way to the underground depths of the Škocjan Caves and go truffle-hunting near Rovinj. Finish your tour at the historic Roman city of Pula.

Highlights

  • Walk in the steps of gladiators in the ancient Colosseum of Pula
  • Visit a shepherd's hunt and learn about their way of life in an alpine meadow
  • Taste world-class local wine in "Slovenian Tuscany"
  • Explore the emerald depths of the Soča Valley

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Ljubljana Ljubljana
Day 2 Velika Planina meadow Ljubljana
Day 3 Full day at Lake Bled Lake Bled
Day 4 Lake Bohinj Day Trip Lake Bled
Day 5 The stunning views of the Julian Alps Bovec
Day 6 Soča Valley, WWI, and the wine hills Goriška Brda
Day 7 Škocjan Caves, truffles and the Adriatic Rovinj
Day 8 Ancient Porec and Roman Pula Pula 
Day 9 Depart Pula  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ljubljana

Ljubljana

Welcome to Slovenia!

Upon arrival at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, you will get a transfer to your hotel in Ljubljana (30 minutes away).

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, and with a population of around 300,000, it's also the country's largest city. Ljubljana is so old that it even predates the Romans, but its city center was shaped much later, during the Middle Ages. The area is a pedestrian zone and is very easy to walk around. You can explore the narrow streets or stroll along the banks of the Ljubljanica River.

At the top of the hill above the city, Ljubljana Castle is another great place for a short walk with a beautiful view. Have a drink along the riverbanks or take the funicular up to the castle. Then, have dinner in one of the city's many restaurants, which are run by young talented chefs. 

If you arrive early, you can also join a biking tour and explore Ljubljana on two wheels or have a food expert take you around the best local bars, bistros, and cafes to discover the local food scene. 

Day 2: Velika Planina meadow

Velika Planina

Today, visit one of Slovenia's most charming alpine pastures, Velika Planina (the Big Meadow, in English). Here you'll discover unique alpine architecture and peaceful green pastures. You'll also learn about the local shepherds and their culture by visiting one of the oldest huts in the area and trying some fresh, homemade dairy products. After the hike, settle down for a delicious home-cooked meal before returning to Ljubljana in the afternoon.   

Hike: 8.5 miles (14 km) / elevation gain +1,300 ft (400 m), -1,300 ft (400 m) / approx. 4 hours

Day 3: Full day at Lake Bled

Lake Bled

Located in the foothills of the Julian Alps, this postcard-perfect lake and its island are one of Slovenia's main attractions.

Touring Bled Castle and visiting the island are two of the most popular activities in the area. Bled is also a great place for outdoor sports, like hiking and biking through the surrounding mountains to see forests, gorges, and old villages. 

Have a stroll around the lake, and make sure to visit a local cafe and try a traditional Bled cream cake.

You can also visit the nearby town of Radovljica, meet a local bee-keeper, or walk through the nearby Vintgar Gorge.

Day 4: Lake Bohinj Day Trip

The lake's scenic surroundings
The lake's scenic surroundings

 

Nearby Lake Bohinj deserves to be explored and gives its neighbor Lake Bled some serious competition for the prettiest waterfront scenery. There are countless hikes around suitable for all ability levels. Choose the one that you prefer, or opt for a different kind of challenge and go 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 like spending time on the lake, 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 5: The stunning views of the Julian Alps

The Julian Alps

Today, you'll visit Peričnik Falls in the Vrata Valley. You'll be able to walk beneath the waterfall and feel its cold curtain of water on your skin. Then, you'll travel to the heart of the Julian Alps and Vršič Pass. You'll explore the area, walk along a road built by Russian war prisoners during WWI, and learn more about the area's history. After lunch at a traditional cozy mountain hut, you'll drive to the Soča Valley. There, you can decide between rafting, kayaking, or canyoning. Other options in the area include paragliding, sky diving or going down Europe's longest zip-line.

Hike: 6 miles (10 km / elevation gain) +1,300 ft (400 m), -1,300 ft (400m) / approx. 4 hours

Day 6: Soča Valley, WWI and the Wine Hills

Goriška Brda

Continue driving south to visit the historic town of Kobarid, and learn about the region's sad WWI history, described in Ernest Hemingway's famous novel A Farewell to Arms. You'll meet a local historian who will explain the war's influence on the area and its repercussions. 

Then, leave the Alps behind and drive an hour to reach "Slovenian Tuscany," Goriška Brda. This is the land of rolling vineyard-covered hills, medieval hilltop villages, and countless orchards—and of course, an amazing food and wine scene. Meet wine producers and taste some world-class vintages. Then, spend the night in private rooms at a local winery. 

Day 7: Škocjan Caves, Truffles, and the Adriatic

Škocjan Caves

Today you'll visit the Karst and the coast. Start with a journey underground through the stunning canyons of the Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then, you'll have the option to visit an organic orange wine producer and have a nice lunch at their homestead. 

Afterward, cross the border into Croatia to go truffle hunting, and continue on to the coastal town of Rovinj in the late afternoon. Enjoy an evening on the Adriatic Coast and explore the town. 

Driving time: approx. 3-4 hour driving time

Day 8: Ancient Porec and Roman Pula

Pula Arena

Today, you'll see the ancient cities of Porec and Pula. Visit the Euphrasian Basilica and the Colosseum, which is one of the ten largest colosseums that the Romans ever built, to appreciate the Ancient Romans' long cultural legacy. You'll be able to walk through the tunnels and corridors where warriors and lions were kept before entertaining crowds of up to 25,000.

You'll also have the option to drive to a nearby olive grove and taste some olive oil or visit an organic cheese farm to try some homemade goat cheese. Another option is to book a sailing trip along the coast of Istria

Day 9: Depart Pula

Rovinj

Enjoy a relaxed breakfast before heading to the international airport in Pula. If you have a bit of time, you can also visit some of the other Roman ruins in the area, including the Arch of the Sergii—an ancient Roman arch dating to 29 BCE—and the Temple of Augustus, a Roman temple built in 2 BCE.

Map

Map of Road Trip through Slovenia and Istria - 9 Days
Map of Road Trip through Slovenia and Istria - 9 Days