The immense system of karst caves at Škocjan, a Unesco World Heritage site, easily rival those at Postojna, and for many travellers, a visit here will be a highlight of their trip to Slovenia – a page right out of Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Centre of the Earth. The Škocjan Caves (Škocjanske Jame), 5.
A quiet town in the Cerknica River Valley, Cerkno is an important destination for ethnologists and party-goers alike when the Laufarija, the ancient Shrovetide celebration, takes place. Nearby are the remains of a secret Partisan hospital from WWII. Glavni trg, where the buses stop, is the main square and the centre of Cerkno.
Snežnik Castle & Around
The secluded Lož Valley southeast of Cerknica is home to the recently restored 16th-century Renaissance Snežnik Castle, one of the loveliest and best-situated fortresses in Slovenia, and surrounded by attractive parkland. Entrance is through a double barbican with drawbridge and moat.
This fertile, wine-rich valley stretches southeast from Nova Gorica into the Karst. Some of the red wines produced here are world class, and Vipava merlot is among the best wines of Central Europe. It’s an excellent place to tour by car or bike; ask the TIC in Nova Gorica for the brochure Wine Road of the Lower Vipava Valley.
The impact of Lipica, some 9km southwest of Divača and 2km from the Italian border, has been far greater than its tiny size would suggest. This tiny village lives for and on its snow-white Lipizzaner horses, which were first bred here for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna in the late 16th century.
Predjama Castle is a short hop from Postojna and is one of the world's most dramatic castles. It teaches a clear lesson: if you want to build an impregnable redoubt, put it in the gaping mouth of a cavern halfway up a 123m cliff. Its four storeys were built piecemeal over the years from 1202, but most of what you see today is from the 16th century.
Salt-making is a centuries-old business along the Slovenian coast. The best place to get a briny taste is at the old salt pans of the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park, on the Croatian border. The 721-hectare area, criss-crossed with dikes, channels, pools and canals, was once a hive of activity and was one of the biggest money-spinners on the coast in the Middle Ages.
The Romanesque church in this tiny Karst village is the Istrian equivalent of St John the Baptist’s Church in Bohinj. OK, so it’s not on a lake. But it is small, surrounded by medieval walls with corner towers and covered inside with extraordinary 15th-century frescoes. This is the reason to make the trip here – as difficult as it can be.