Picture perfect spots in Slovenia - fairytale castles and dramatic landscapes
Nestled between the Alps and Adriatic, Slovenia is bursting with beautiful landscapes, fairytale castles and mind-blowing geology. With coastal retreats in the west, mountainous lakesides in the north and the vibrant capital of Ljubljana in the centre, there really is something for everyone in this spectacular, picturesque country.
Whether you’re planning your own trip or just looking for some inspiration, here are some of the most picture perfect spots to visit in Slovenia.
Spanning over 2,000m in length, Lake Bled is an iconic part of Slovenia and no doubt the landscape you’re most likely to see on a postcard! The lake itself is mesmerising, with a small island hosting a church in the middle and an imposing, grand castle on the cliffs above. A great way to see the entire lake is to do the 6km walk around it, taking in views of the beautiful boats, local markets and incredible views at a leisurely pace, with a short hike up to Ojstrica Hill as the west shore of the lake, which offered picture-perfect panoramas across the mountains and lake. It’s a steep climb, but the view is certainly worth it!
Another great viewpoint on this walk is the iconic Bled Castle, a medieval structure positioned dramatically on a precipice 130m above the city. As the oldest Slovenian castle, it was first mentioned in 1011 but later devastated by two earthquakes before being lovingly restored in the 1950s. Now hosting sun-drenched courtyards, an on-site museum, gourmet restaurant and wine cellar, it’s a good place to wander around in the afternoon – and an ideal spot to watch the sunset with a chilled glass of something in hand!
Located in the Triglav National Park just over an hour’s drive from Bled, the ski resort of Vogel is just as brilliant a place for exploring even during the warmer months. There’s a cable car which takes visitors to the top from the car park and will reward you with breath-taking alpine views across the valley – do take extra layers though, as it tends to be much colder at the top.
Also set in Triglav National Park, Lake Bohinj is a gorgeous spot and a good alternative to the busier Lake Bled despite being only a 30 minute drive away. Though not as glamorous or lively as it’s sister lake, it’s placid waters are just as picturesque but without the inevitable crowds, and the area is perfect for outdoor activities such as walking, kayaking or cycling.
Spectacularly built into a cave mouth over 100m high in a southern Slovenian cliff, renaissance fortress Predjama Castle dates back to the 13th Century and is the stuff of myth and legend. With many a story within its walls, its most famous is how it provided refuge for renowned 15th Century robber baron Erazem Leuger whilst he was a fugitive during the wars between the Hungarians and Austrians. Full of secret passageways and majestic stone staircases, this castle is truly unique and a real sight to behold!
The hugely impressive Vintgar Gorge lies just 4km north-west of Bled. A true spectacle of natural beauty, the crystal clear aquamarine waters are magical, and visitors can follow the rapids, pools and waterfalls of the 1.6km gorge along man-made wooden walkways which takes about 2 hours to complete. The vivid colours coupled with the thundering sounds of the water are out of this world.
Given the status of an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, the Škocjan Caves are a spectacular subterranean network of chambers spanning over 6km and are thought to be millions of years old. Stepping inside, you are immediately transported to another world and time, surrounded by stalagmites, vast open canyons and treacherously narrow pathways. For fans of Lord Of The Rings, it’s akin to entering Moria and is a truly unique and special experience – though those with a fear of heights (like me!) will need to have their wits about them!
If coastal views are more your thing, the Italian-inspired seaside town or Piran is another magical place to take in the sunset or just watch the waves lap in. Located on a peninsula in the Istria region, sitting next to the Adriatic Sea and the Croatian border, the characterful town of Piran is full of medieval and gothic architecture, narrow streets and cultural attractions with the small-town feel of a fishing village.
One of the focal points of Slovenia’s exciting capital, Ljubljana, is the medieval fortress of Ljubljana Castle which sits at the top of Castle Hill and is accessible by a funicular railway. Originally built in the 11th century, it has undergone a number of changes and refurbishments over the centuries and is now the cultural centre of the city. The castle hosts an extensive exhibition on Slovenian history and an extraordinary puppet museum, but the real attraction are the beautiful views across the city from the Outlook Tower so make sure you go on a clear day if possible.
The Postojna Cave is a 2 million year old and 24km long network of tunnels and passages hollowed out over time by the Pivka River. It is jaw-droppingly impressive, and the tour explores 5km of the cave network, taking in spectacular sights such as the Russian Bridge which was built by prisoners of war in 1916, the 500m-long Beautiful Caves and snow-white Winter Hall, before finishing in the awe-inspiring Concert Hall which can accommodate 10,000 people.