Slovenia — Attractions
Slovenia has a lot of interesting manmade and natural attractions for the inquisitive traveler. Slovenia’s checkered history has bestowed upon it a legacy of fascinating architecture, ranging from medieval castles to Baroque churches and beautifully decorated Secession style buildings. The region’s stunning natural beauty lures visitors with mountains, forests, waterfalls, and caves that lend itself to a variety of outdoor persuits, such as hiking, swimming, fishing, skiing, and of course, photography.
Prešeren Square and Ljubljana Old Town
Pretty, oval-shaped Prešeren Square is the hub of Ljubljana where several main roads, including the shopping street of Čop Street converge. In the center of the square is a statue of Slovenia’s most famous poet, Dr France Preseren, surrounded by many fine buildings from the Vienna Succession (early 1900’s), notable for their colorful geometric designs. The famous pink 17th century Franciscan Church of the Assumption can also be found here. Largely pedestrianized, this is a good area to explore on foot and the Ars Magna Association run free tours that start from the square. The surrounding streets have many cafés, bars, and shops to enjoy and are linked to the Old Town by Ljubljana’s famous Dragon Bridge. Be sure to seek out Ljubljana’s oldest house, now a café on Ribji Trg No. 2.
Address: Prešeren Square, Ljubljana Old Town
The amazing caverns of the 12.5 mile Postojna cave system were formed by the waters of the Pivka River carving and dripping through the rock. An easy daytrip from Bled or Ljubljana, there are three miles of caves open to the public that have been an established tourist attraction for 180 years. Visitors enter via a thrilling 1.2 mile train ride followed by a guided walking tour. The caves feature stalactites and stalagmites, and a number of insects and amphibians, including the olm, a large pale pink-and-white amphibian unique to the area. The caves have excellent acoustics and one has even been converted into a 10,000-seat concert hall. It is advised to bring warm clothes as the underground temperatures hover consistently around 48° F.
Address: Jamska cesta 30 6230 Postojna, Slovenia
A photographer’s dream, the 1,000-year old romantic Bled Castle sits atop a rock overlooking picturesque Lake Bled. Set around two courtyards, the impressive structure has a tower, a drawbridge and a moat. Most of the visible portion dates back to the Middle Ages and the vaulted interior of the 16th century chapel is decorated with frescoes. The castle has a museum with historic artifacts, including a peacock brooch from the 6th century. After taking in a documentary in the Knights Hall, travelers can create a souvenir coin at the Castle Forge or get a printed memento from a replica Gutenberg press in the Castle Printing Works. There is a restaurant, a wine cellar, and an herbal gallery of natural products.
Address: Bled Castle (Grad), Lake Bled, Bled, 4260, Slovenia
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Škocjan Caves are a natural phenomenon on an epic scale, ranked alongside the Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef for uniqueness. The caves feature the largest known underground canyon, which is vast enough to have its own microclimate. There are two main caverns — the first a guided tour featuring limestone formations and the second, a self-guided tour of the underground canyon, lakes, and waterfalls. Above ground, the park has several walks and exhibits to help visitors appreciate the significance of the area. The view from the Cerkvenik Bridge, 154 feet above the Reka River, is truly spectacular. The site can be reached by public transportation by taking a train to Divača then a bus to the caves. Alternatively, walkers can follow a 45-minute route from the station to the attraction. Many find it convenient to rent a car or join an organized day trip from Ljubljana.
Address: Škocjan Caves Regional Park, Škocjan 2, 6215 Divača, Slovenia
Triglav National Park
Attracting hikers and nature lovers from around the world, the park contains most of the Slovenian peaks of the Julian Alps. Named after the highest summit in Slovenia, Mount Triglav is the crown jewel of the region. Many climbers make the two-day journey to the top, with the ascent from hut to summit taking one of the days. The trail can be completed by inexperienced, but fit climbers and is suitable for all ages as long as they’re in shape. This area is only open between June and October, and climbers should be wary of the changing weather conditions. Visitors to the park can see wild goats, rivers, streams, and pine forests. One of the more famous waterfalls is the beautiful Slap Savica Waterfall, which can be reached via 558 steps from the parking lot of Koca pri Savici, three miles west of Lake Bohinj, the largest glacial lake in the area. Popular with hikers, photographers, swimmers, boating enthusiasts, and oddly enough, divers, three boats have been sunk at Pod Skalca, which provides ample underwater scenery. Vintnar Gorge, a two-mile walk from Lake Bled, is another popular hike which features a wooden walkway built in 1893 that leads to the pretty Šum Waterfall where there is a café selling refreshments.
Address: Triglav National Park, Ljubljanska cesta 27, Bled 4260, Slovenia
Old Vine House
Slovenes have been producing wine since before Roman times. Today, the country has over 28,000 wineries, making mainly whites, most of which are destined for domestic consumption. There are three main wine districts: the Littoral, the Lower Sava Valley and the Drava Valley. The Drava Valley is the largest and home to the oldest grapevine on the planet as recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records. It is over 400 years old and sits outside the quaint Old Vine House on the banks of the Drava River in Maribor, but the wine made from these special grapes is reserved for national and international dignitaries. Old Vine House has a museum where visitors can learn about the history of wine making, taste test, and see the evolution of bottles through the years.
Address: Old Vine House, Vojasniska Street 8, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia.
Tartini Square Piran
Many years of occupation by the Venetians resulted in a different architectural character in sections of Slovenia including the fortified fishing village of Piran. Once home to pirates who disrupted the nearby trade routes, the village sits on a finger of land jutting out into the Adriatic Sea. Its pink, yellow, and whitewashed buildings with red tiled roofs are reminiscent of an Italian seaside town. Historic Tartini Square is at the center; an oval-shaped public square that was once a marina, but now paved with white stone after being silted up. In the center stands a statue of the famous Slovenian violinist Giuseppe Tartini, who was born in Piran. The square is home to a number of notable historic buildings, including a beautiful red Venetian Gothic mansion, the oldest in the area, and the Church of St George, which has an ornate interior with a painted ceiling and lovely views from the bell tower.
Address: Tartini Square, 6330 Piran