** Updated July 2018
Slovenia is Europe's hidden gem, it is a naturally beautiful country and our favourite in Europe. For us, it is reminiscent of New Zealand which is why I think we fell so hard for it.
We done a road trip of Slovenia last summer and discovered all the best places to visit in the country. It has everything you could possibly desire all within such a small area. It is home to the incredible capital of Ljubljana, crystal clear lakes and stunning mountain ranges. The level of English here is also really good compared to a lot of neighboring countries and it's cheap! 2 euros for a coffee? Yes please.
Slovenia is a tiny country of just over 2 million people, but don't let its small size fool you. It still packs a punch and you will be astounded by the natural beauty squeezed into this little area of land.
This is a guide on how to see the very best places in Slovenia all in 72 hours, we done a road trip to all these destinations and the drives were just as beautiful as the places themselves.
roadtrip day 1 - ljubljana
If your going to start anywhere in Slovenia, it has to be the capital Ljubljana.
When we done our Slovenia road trip, we had been living in central Europe for almost one year which meant we had seen lots of European cities. After a while you can become a little accustomed to them, most have their own history and story to tell, with a main square, cobbled streets and some impressive architecture.
One of the reasons we chose to road trip Slovenia was because we were "cityed-out" and we had heard how green Slovenia was. We decided to stay in Ljubljana out of ease more than anything else, as it was a good place to base ourselves to visit the nearby lakes and mountain ranges which we couldn't wait to explore. Therefore, we hadn't given too much thought about Ljubljana itself or what to expect of this little capital.
This city caught me completely off guard and I am utterly in love with it. It's not overcrowded like so many European cities, it has a beautiful river which runs through it with terraces laced along either side. Ljubljana is very small with a population of only around 250,000 so you can easily wander through the city in one day. From Ljubljana you can then make your way to Lake Bled which is only about a 40 minute drive.
best things to do in ljubljana
We wrote a full guide to Ljubljana which you can read for further information, but there are a few things you definitely shouldn't miss in the city!
Take a Graffiti Tour - Ljubljana is covered in colourful street art so taking a graffiti tour really makes sense if you want to understand the stories behind the pictures.
Visit the castle - Perched at the top of a hill, this castle is the best place to go for panoramic views of the city.
Paddle Board: That's right, you can paddle board along the river in the city to see Ljubljana from a different perspective!
where to stay in ljubjana
When we were in Ljubljana then we stayed at Hotel Park, Ljubljana's first green hotel.
We loved what this hotel was trying to achieve and that it cared about the environment and it's own carbon footprint. We would encourage any visitors to Ljubljana to stay here. For prices and availability you can check here.
roadtrip day 2 - lake bled
Lake Bled is now one of Slovenia's main attractions, although practically unheard of to most travellers only a few years ago, Lake Bled is now growing in popularity year on year. Stories of it's beauty have spread across Europe and it's not difficult to understand why so many people want to see the lake for themselves.
It's clear, blue waters are warm in the summer months which makes it perfect for swimming in. The walk around it's perimeter is about 6km, although you will be constantly stopping to snap photos of the picturesque lake from every angle. You can also hike up to the castle which perches 100m over the lake at the edge of a steep cliff. In the centre of Lake Bled there is an island with a church and museum, you can rent a rowing boat for 10 euros an hour to explore the lake and island more closely.
best things to do at lake bled
Walk around the lake: The lake is the perfect place to stroll around and enjoy the views.
Rent a rowing boat: You can rent our a rowing boat, although be prepared for long queues in summer. With the boat you can row round the lake and even stop off at the little island in the middle.
Walk up to the castle: There is a castle perched over lake bled which you can hike up to you, although you need to pay to get in, it means you get see Lake Bled from above.
where to stay at lake bled
These are our recommended places to stay around Lake Bled for every budget, and they all come with a view!
Top End -Grand Hotel Toplice
Mid-Range - Villa Istra
Budget - Villa Mint & Lavender
roadtrip day 3 - lake bohinj & piran
After spending the night at Lake Bled, it makes sense to drive a short 26km to see Lake Bohinj, then you can wade into the argument of which lake is the most beautiful.
Lake Bled is unique in it's impressiveness, with it's own island and towering castle, however there is something charmingly serene about Lake Bohinj. Away from the crowds and tourists, this lake is much more peaceful and great for outdoor activities such as kayaking and cycling. If you have more time then I would highly recommend hiking Mt Vogel, whose starting point is next to the Lake.
After a quick walk and swim in the lake its time to head onto Piran, a pretty little town right on the coast.
Piran is a little picturesque, seaside town on the Slovenian coast, a stone throw away from Italy. Most people fall in love with Piran at first sight, with its venetian style buildings contrasting against the turquoise Mediterranean. You absolutely cannot leave without sampling the fresh seafood on offer in the various restaurants which are laced along its coast. Fresh, local produce is so important to the people of Piran that a McDonalds opened and closed within a year due to lack of business.
This alone makes me adore this little town! Here, you can wander around the colourful coast, past all the fishing boats and cafes and further into town along the winding, maze like streets.
where to stay in piran
There are a couple of great hotels in Piran, which is the perfect place to end your road trip of Slovenia. Here are a couple of places we would recommend.
Hotel Fiesa - With sea views and friendly staff, you can't go wrong with a night at Hotel Fiesa.
Hotel Piran - Still with sea views but a little cheaper than Hotel Fiesa, Hotel Piran has a gorgeous outdoor area, perfect for sipping on a cocktail whilst watching the sunset.
Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj and Piran are the best places in Slovenia for first timers. They all give you a sense of what the country is about, and a sneak peak at just how beautiful it is. Each place gives you a different perspective of what this country can offer, and we can't wait to return to Slovenia to explore more.