Essential Slovenia

  • 1 Week

This route is ideal for first-time visitors wanting to experience the highlights of the country’s Alpine, Karst and coastal regions.

Begin in the country's capital, Ljubljana, allowing at least two nights to take in the sights, restaurants and beautiful riverside setting. Next, head north to Lake Bled, overnighting to allow time for lakeside ambles and taking a pletna (gondola) to Bled Island. Lovely Lake Bohinj, 26km southwest of Lake Bled, makes for a more rustic, less touristy base and has direct views to Mt Triglav.

From here, travel northward to Kranjska Gora, the country’s skiing capital and another good base for hiking. It's the northern terminus of the spectacular Vršič Pass, a high-altitude roadway (open May to October) that zigzags for some 50km down to the white-water rafting capital of Bovec. Overnight here and the next day continue along routes 102 and 103 to the amazing cave at Postojna. An easy side trip from here is Predjama, where an impregnable castle set in a cliffside cave defies description.

It’s just a skip to the coastal resorts of Piran and Portorož. If you’re seeking romance, choose Piran; if it’s sun and fun, Portorož is the centre of the action.

Slovenia in Depth

  • 2 Weeks

With two weeks to explore Slovenia, you'll be able to experience the best of the country’s mountains and coast, plus get a good look at the country's untrampled east.

Allow a couple of nights in Ljubljana, then head north, stopping at one or both of the historic towns of Škofja Loka or Radovljica, to Lake Bled. Overnight and explore the lake and Bled Island, or stay a bit longer for adventure, such as rafting or canyoning. To the southwest, picturesque Lake Bohinj is an excellent base for exploring Triglav National Park or even climbing Mt Triglav itself.

Next head north to ski-capital Kranjska Gora to start your climb up and then down to the Soča Valley via the Vršič Pass. After 50km of hairpin turns you'll arrive at the country’s white-water rafting capital of Bovec. Overnight here – especially if you plan to do any adventure sports – or in nearby Kobarid, a pretty town with a Mediterranean feel, an amazing WWI history and some of Slovenia’s best restaurants.

Continue southward through Nova Gorica to the Vipava Valley and on to the Karst region. Little towns here, like Štanjel to the west, are rich in olives, ruby-red Teran wine, pršut (dry-cured ham) and red-tiled roofs.

Further south, following the main Hwy E70 to the coast near Divača, is the awe-inspiring Škocjan Caves, part of an immense system of limestone caves. From here, go coastal. Piran is the most romantic spot on the Adriatic, but Izola has some good food and Portorož can be more fun. Nearby is Sečovlje and its famous salt pans.

The return journey to Ljubljana passes through Postojna, another amazing cave, with a side trip to Predjama Castle. Avoid the capital altogether and continue driving along Hwy E57 to Celje, stopping to visit the awesome Roman necropolis at Šempeter. Celje is worth an afternoon for its wonderful castle and rich museums, but Maribor, Slovenia's second-largest city and regional centre, awaits. The surrounding highlands, the Maribor Pohorje, rate a look, but by now you might just want to spend some downtime along the Drava in Maribor's atmospheric Lent district.

Finish your journey in Ptuj, a charming town with a delightful castle and some excellent accommodation.

Mountain Majesty

  • 1 Week

What Slovenia has in spades is mountains. Active travellers can head for the hills near Kamnik, climb the dizzying heights of the Julian Alps and then descend into the adventure land of the Soča Valley.

Begin in Ljubljana, where you can stock up on hiking gear and regional maps, then make your way to Kamnik and the picturesque, high-altitude pastureland of Velika Planina. Heading back towards Kranj, continue north to impossibly cute Radovljica. Overnight here or a few kilometres north at Lake Bled.

Use Bled or nearby Lake Bohinj for forays into Triglav National Park. Both are popular approaches for scaling Mt Triglav. Proceed northward to the ski centre Kranjska Gora and the heart-stopping Vršič Pass (closed in winter). The road down deposits you in the Soča Valley. Following the Soča River will bring you to the activities centre of Bovec and the WWI battlegrounds around Kobarid. From here, head down through Tolmin to the sleepy town of Cerkno, famous for its pre-Lenten carnival. Route 210 is a sinuous mountain road through the Škofja Loka Hills, a region of steep slopes, deep valleys and ravines, to the charming town of Škofja Loka and back to Ljubljana.

Wine & Spas

  • 1 Week

Eastern and southern Slovenia are known for both their wines and spas. This tour includes the best of each.

From Ljubljana drive southeast to the delightful spa town of Dolenjske Toplice. Otočec and its stunning castle is not far away. Further east, Brežice draws visitors to its Terme Čatež spa complex and the wonderful Bizeljsko-Sremič wine district, known for its medium-dry whites and reds and for repnice – caves for storing wine.

Head north on route 219 to Podčetrtek and another inviting spa, Terme Olimia. From here it's a short distance through the Haloze Hills to atmospheric Rogaška Slatina, Slovenia’s oldest and largest spa, a veritable ‘cure factory’ with a dozen hotels and far more treatments.

Head north to the charming town of Ptuj and its nearby Terme Ptuj spa, then go east to Ormož for the start of the important Jeruzalem-Ljutomer district, home to some of the country’s best whites. Walk or hike the wine trail here.

The region’s biggest city and cultural hub, Maribor, is not very far away. Who could possibly resist seeing the world's oldest (and still productive) grapevine dating back more than three centuries?