Combine emerald green rivers, astoundingly beautiful caves, pristine lakes, tall mountains, narrow canyons, hidden waterfalls, underground rivers, cute fortified towns, a stunning coastline along the Adriatic sea and you will have some of the characteristic highlights of a small country named Slovenia. Never heard of this cute gem of a country before? You wouldn’t be the only one. Its uncommon that this country makes it to the top of a European holiday. In fact it wasn’t on our minds either until now but we are glad we made it to this lesser known side of Europe.
We recently came back from a few days of exploring Slovenia by road and adding a fair mix of active hiking just like the Slovenes love to do. In whatever little we were able to see in this short trip the country has left us in awe; strolling through thick forests to hidden waterfalls, finding chameleons on the trails in Tolmin gorge, walking the wooden walkways on the edge of vintgar gorges, hiking to a panoramic viewpoint over Lake bled, seeing the sunset from the church tower in Piran, marveling at the stalagmite formations in the Postjona caves, admiring the marvel of Predjama castle etched in a cliff face with a cave under it, sampling local food at the farmers market in Ljubljana, stomaching the 50 hairpin bends of the Vršič pass in the thick of fog, falling for the magic of autumn and by the end believing in the little dragon. Everyday we got to see sights that we have never come across before on our travels.
Here are a few images that will make you want to experience this country for yourselves. Consider yourself warned if scrolling down gives you a serious wanderlust.
A very unique castle built on a cliff face is a not to miss highlight in Slovenia. Legend has it that Erazem Lueger resided here who was considered to be a robin hood by the then locals, stealing from the rich and giving away to the poor. While the story may or may not be true, the castle is surely fascinating, it is built in a cavern over a 14km long cave system with secret passages and an underground river. Now how often do you get to use all these words in the same sentence.
A waterfall that is regarded as source of life by Slovenes and it is not hard to see why. This waterfal reachable by a quick 20 min walk dramatically tumbles down in two falls feeding an emerald pool. The trail through the woods along the Sava river is very well maintained and is easily accessible from Bohinj.
It is pure magical experience to view the amazing formations of stalagmites in these caves which are over 24 kilometer long . These caves are carved by the Pivka river over millions of years and are a mystical place. It is easy to spend hours marvelling at the ceilings of these caves. There are huge naturally formed halls right next to each other with completely different formations from spaghetti like stalagmites to thick curtains carved in limestone from unimaginable years of dripping limestone water.
We arrived in Piran just in time for the sunset over the mediterranean sea painting the red roofs of this town in a golden glow. This little town is on a piece of land jutting into the sea. We went up the stairs of the bell tower at St George church and were treated to a spectacular sunset and gorgeous views of the Tartini square below.
This narrow gorge tucked deep in the Soca valley offers stunning views of the Tolminka river as it twists and turns creating striking waterfalls. A well marked trail that takes less than an hour to complete is the ideal way to admire this offbeat natural attraction. Don’t be surprised if there is no one else around, just enjoy the tranquility of having the place all to yourself.
If there is one image of Slovenia, people would instantly fall in love with, it is the postcard view of a church on an island floating on the emerald green waters of lake Bled. We had to see it ourselves and took a quick hike to the Ostrica viewpoint for this magnificient view. The park bench is also a great spot to enjoy a picnic.
For a calm and serene experience we would prefer the Lake Bohinj, a half hour drive from the famous Lake bled this is an absolute must. The water here is super calm and only disturbed by the occasional dip of a paddle of a kayaker.
This beautiful river has the most amazing electric blue color we have ever seen. In fact the entire soca valley is an adventure paradise, our favorite activities here were canyoning, kayaking and rafting available for a range of rapids to satisfy adrenaline of every level.
Slap Kozjak Waterfall
Imagine tiptoeing on a wooden pathway, holding to the iron cable and arriving at an emerald pool at whose far end a gushing waterfall empties itself, this image turn real at the Slap Kozjak waterfall. Just outside the town of Kobaird, a well marked trail following the Soca river through thick woods and drowsy streams leads to this gem of a waterfall.
Very close to Kranjska gora is the Jasna lake, it is actually two lakes separated by a small strip of land. The famous Ibex statue adorns its shores and flying fish swim around aimlessly in the crystal clear waters of the lake. One can easily spend hours idling along its shores or take a pleasant walk along the entire lake.
When we arrived at the gorgeous lake Jasna, Triglav and the other mountains of Julian alps were completely obscured by a curtain of mist. But the fall colors and the calm lake surface lent a serene mood and then we spotted flying fish, so all ended up well. #loves_reflections #lakeside #igslovenia #ifeelslovenia #visitslovenia #slovenia #geoslo #thisisSlovenia
The 50 hairpin bends leading to the top of the pass, the highest in Slovenia would probably test the best of the drivers but the drive goes by some of the spectacular scenery of triglav national park. The Julian alps were shrouded in a thick of mist while we were there and it made us love the drive even more. It looks like this in autumn on a clearer day though.
We went exploring the Vintgar gorge and the waterfalls cascading down from the Radvona river which ultimately feeds Lake Bled. Rushing emerald green waters pushed through the narrow canyon walls below us while we walked next to it over wooden paths. It is an ideal detour from the nearby lake Bled and the entire gorge can be experienced in a pleasant hour long walk.
Triglav national park
Triglav is the highest mountain in Slovenians and the Slovens love to trek up to the top. We were content with exploring the lower valleys of the Triglav national park for this short trip. This part of Slovenia with wooden chalets, rolling green meadows and towering granite peaks is surely straight out of fairytale.
After all the active exploring on our trip we loved the relaxed vibes of Ljubljana. With its many bridges and cobbled streets the old town has a romantic feel. The coffee shops and farmers market along the Ljubljana river meant we were serenaded by artisan cheese and loads of caffeine the entire time we spent here.
We know we said 14 pictures, but we couldn’t resist sneaking this picture of Bled lake, just like we couldn’t resist eating it in copious amount. This melt in the mouth custard topped with a crispy layer of a pastry sheet is a must when in Lake bled region. It surely is up there on the top of our list of favorite cakes. Hands down the best place to taste this is at the Slascicarna Smon, a traditional cafe slightly off the main street in Bled.
Have we already given you a serious ache to get yourself to Slovenia ? What do you look for when you visit a new country? We would love to know.
Heading to Europe soon? Read our other posts for some travel inspiration.