It’s Easy to Find the LOVE in sLOVEnia
8 Amazing Things to Do in Slovenia
There is so much to love about this small country of two million people. Roughly the size of New Jersey, this heavily forested, mountainous country is known for beautiful scenery, numerous rivers, and lakes, karst formations, and countless caves – so many amazing things to do in Slovenia. In fact, Postojna Cave is the most visited cave in the world, and Skocjan Caves is a UNESCO recognized site. All this natural beauty is complemented by friendly people, a unique history, wonderful local foods and wines, and beautiful cities of Slovenia.
Adventurous Things to do in Slovenina – Bovec
An outdoor lover’s dream, the Bovec area is in the mountainous northwest part of the country. Bovec is a mecca for whitewater rafting, zip lining, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, and other great outdoor activities.
Close to the Italian border, Bovec attracts vacationers from within Slovenia as well as Italy and many other Central European countries. This should definitely be number on your list of things to do in Slovenia.
1. Rafting in Slovenia
SocaRiver Rafting in Bovec is one of the top outfitters that offer zip lining, water rafting, canyoning, hydrospeeding, and other outdoor activities. We started our adventures with a two-hour float down the turquoise colored waters of the Soca River.
Winding its way through mountainous terrain, the cool waters flow calmly at some points, but become increasingly challenging as they gain momentum and crash over boulders downstream. No matter what your level is, the Soca River has different stretches that are perfect for beginners, intermediates, and more experienced water enthusiasts.
2. Ziplining in Slovenia
The next day, instead of floating on the waters, we flew over them attached to zip lines high overhead. We just wanted to add a unique touch on our list of things to do in Slovenia The biggest zip line park in Slovenia, SocaRafting offers ten different zip lines through the scenic Ucja Valley, with lines as long as 600 meters and as high as 200 meters above the river. The views are spectacular, and the thrills are real as you fly high above the gorge.
Relaxing Things to do in Slovenia – Lake Bled
3. Relaxing on the shores of Lake Bled
The fairytale setting of Lake Bled, with the towering Castle Bled perched on a sheer cliff overlooking the clear blue waters of the beautiful lake, is awe inspiring. Pletnas, traditional flat-bottom boats used by locals, take passengers to the small island. Church bells tolled as people disembarked from the pletnas, grabbing a gelato or espresso while admiring the scenery.
4. Dinner at Castle Bled
Dinner at Castle Bled was memorable for its great food, and of course, for the panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Seated outside on the edge of the cliff, we had the best seats in the house, perfect for enjoying the chef’s fantastic tasting menu.
We started with thin slices of aged beef served with pear, goat cheese, and baby lettuce. This was followed by a tasty spinach tagliatelle. For the main course, my son had the trout fillet with buckwheat and fennel, celery, and pear cream with parsley root.
I chose the piglet with baby corn mousse, fried polenta, and tomato salsa. Both were delicious and set the stage for dessert. It was hard to decide, but my son was very happy with his chocolate mousse with mint, almond crumble, raspberry ice cream, and kisses. I was also pleased with my choice of white chocolate and yogurt mousse with forest fruits, buckwheat crumble, and meringue.
Slovenian food is hearty, delicious, and very diverse. Some dishes reminded me of Italy, others of Germany, Poland, and the Balkans.
We stayed at the lovely Rikli Balance Hotel, one of several lodging run by Sava Hotels and Resorts. Recently renovated, the Rikli has a great view of Lake Bled and has the largest thermal pool complex in town. Guests can also pamper themselves with a wide array of wellness treatments with a fresh alpine touch. With lots of space for conferences, free wi-fi and parking, and a perfect central location, Rikli Balance Hotel is a great choice.
5. Straza Adventure Park
Our Slovenia itinerary included a fun afternoon at Straza Adventure Park in Bled, including a toboggan ride on a rail down a grassy slope overlooking Lake Bled. It was a blast! We also made the short ten-minute drive to the extraordinary Vintgar Gorge. An easy 1.6 km walk on stone paths and wooden walkways, the views of the water rushing through the beautiful gorge carved by the Radovna River are breathtaking.
Cities of Slovenia – Ljubljana
6. Exploring the magical city of Ljubljana
Ljubljana, the Dragon City, is the capital and largest of all cities of Slovenia. Everywhere you see the influence of Joze Plecnik, the famous Slovenian architect who left his mark on many iconic buildings and landmarks. Also famous for its bridges, visitors are intrigued by the Triple Bridge, the Dragon Bridge, the Cobbler’s Bridge, and the Butcher’s Bridge.
Natasa, our animated tour guide, showed us the historic city center on the River Ljubljanica, with its lively cafes and interesting architecture.
And what European city would be complete without a castle? Ljubljana Castle sits high atop a hill, overlooking the city center for almost 900 years. The castle has an interesting history museum, a puppet museum, two restaurants, and a grand view of Ljubljana.
Dinner at Gostilna na Gradu, one of two restaurants inside the castle, was excellent. The young chefs here have learned well from three masters of Slovenian Cuisine –Ana Ros and ValterKramar from Hisa Franko, and SvetozarRaspopovicfronGostilne As. In addition to a great place for lunch or dinner, with its lovely location and views of Ljubljana, this restaurant is also a popular venue for weddings and other celebrations. The grounds are beautiful, and the service is professional and friendly.
I had my first bite of the beef tongue as an appetizer, a very tasty dish once you get over the thoughts of eating tongue. The courgetti (zucchini) soup was outstanding – light but flavorful, just the right combination of pureed courgette, spices, and broth. The entrée was tender lamb roasted to perfection, with a savory gravy, mashed potatoes, and a wonderful cabbage roll on the side. Dessert was an indescribably delicious white chocolate cream with strawberries and elderflower.
Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle
7. Visiting the Center of the Earth at Postojna Caves
Our Slovenia itinerary included a tour to the Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle. Because of the karst, or limestone formations found throughout Slovenia, the country is home to thousands of underground caves, rivers, and other geological phenomena. Arguably the most famous, and most visited cave throughout history is the spectacular Postojna Cave, less than an hour from Ljubljana. Visitors first ride a train into the interior of the formations and then walk through a fantastic web of tunnels, galleries and passages.
After touring this natural wonder, you will understand why over 38 million people have visited from all over the world. Don’t forget to check out the baby dragon, the amazing cave salamander that lives in the deep recesses of the cave system. Living in total darkness, the salamander, also known as an olm, is a sightless creature that can survive ten years without eating. According to legend, this salamander was the offspring of dragons who dwelled in the cave in ancient times.
8. Feeling like a King at Predjama Castle
Equally fascinating is the Predjama Castle, about five miles from the caves. Built into the side of a sheer cliff, Predjama Castle is impenetrable, a marvel of medieval engineering and ingenuity. During its long history, Predjama Castle has been the hideaway of a robber baron and the summer residence of the Cobenzl family before being turned into a museum. The castle was even featured in the Jackie Chan movie, Armour of God.
The restaurant located in Hotel Jama was part of a huge renovation project for the hotel completed in 2016. Only 100 meters from the entrance to Postojna Cave, this nicely refurbished hotel is clean, comfortable, and very convenient, and offers discounts to guests for the main attractions in the area.
With its stylish new interior, great food and service, and convenient location, the hotel restaurant was the perfect place for an enjoyable meal after spending the morning touring the cave. We started with a delicious beef and mushroom pate. I then had a very tasty entrée of petite beef fillets served with broccoli and struklji, and a wonderful trio of local desserts. Of course, Hotel Jama makes a great place to spend the night, if you want to explore more of the region. You can book it here.
There are so many things to do in Slovenia, and the country has so much to offer. Although it is small in size, Slovenia is big in diversity. The great outdoors, stunning scenery and geologic formations, historic city centers, friendly people, delicious local foods, and wine are calling. Wherever you visit in this magical country, you will be sure to find the LOVE in sLOVEnia.
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Amazing Things to do in Slovenia was written by Scott Kendall for Europeupclose.com.
Thanks for the hospitality and assistance of the Slovenian Tourist Bureau, Ljubljana Tourist Bureau, Imagine Communications (SocaRafting, Bled Castle Restaurant, Gostilna na Gradu Restaurant, Hotel Jama Restaurant, Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle).
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