Being surrounded by countries like Italy and Croatia, that are popular amongst tourists, Slovenia is often overlooked. But this small country has very much to offer! You can book a weekend getaway to the capital Ljubljana, or make it a longer trip and also see the coast or the Julian Alps.
I’ve did the latter and on this page I’m sharing my tips with you. I’ll tell you what to do and where to eat whilst in Ljubljana and the rest of Slovenia on this page. Short on time? You can also check my 40 second YouTube video!
Ljubljana is a small city with a very small city center. You can walk to pretty much everything in 20 minutes. That being said, it has a lot to offer. Especially in the summer when the restaurants along the river open their terraces.
There’s a castle up the hill that is great for a visit and nice views of the city. You can take a funicular up, but it’s also a doable walk. After the walk up and down the hill, you can take a boat tour on the Ljubljanica (the river flowing through the city). There are several companies offering 1 hour boat tours up and down the river, no need to book, you can just pay on board. And Ljubljana is a real ice cream destination! If you want to know why and which ice cream places are the best, read my blogpost here!
Don’t worry, there are also many healthy places to eat.
For breakfast or lunch I recommend Barbarella Arcade Bistro. This small veggie restaurant, run by Barbarella, offers delicious sandwiches for a very reasonable price. They have raw, vegan and gluten free options. You can go for the gluten free avocado toast, a healthy smoothie bowl or have a vegan cheese burger for dinner. Barbarella also offers vegan cooking workshops and she has a webshop too.
Another very nice spot for breakfast or lunch is Le Petit Cafe. You can imagine yourself in Paris when you sit down at their terrace on the square for brunch or their first floor restaurant for dinner. I recommend them for brunch though, which they serve until 5pm so you have plenty of opportunities to visit them. They’re famous for their Eggs Lorraine and Eggs Florentine, but they also have a delicious homemade granola with dried fruits and seeds that they serve with yoghurt or soya milk.
TOZD is a great place for a good coffee or a glass of wine with some finger food. They have their own cold brew coffee called Ruster, which you can also buy in a bottle to take home with you. They use as many local products as possible and have great wines that don’t cost too much. TOZD is great for an afternoon snack because they have several tapas platters on their menu. This one is with hummus and vegetables, but they also had options with salmon or meat.
On Fridays ‘Odprta Kuhna‘ (Open Kitchen) is a must. This all-day food market has stalls from restaurants all over Slovenia serving all kinds of food. Some of Slovenia’s finest restaurants offer an affordable dish at Open Kitchen. They’re open all day but it gets really lively in the evening when people order their food from the different stalls and sit down at the big tables with a drink to chat with their friends. Barbarella Arkade, that I’ve mentioned before, has a stand here. And so has Organic Garden, my recommendation at Open Kitchen. I had their Yellow Burger, a really tasty vegan burger made from kidney beans.
My last recommendation in Ljubljana is Abi Falafel. This oriental style cafeteria serves great Arabic food. They have many vegetarian dishes. And also quite a few vegan and gluten free options. Their standard falafel sandwich (pictured above) is vegan, the pita bread is filled with falafel balls, hummus, mixed salad and tahini. Besides the sandwiches they also have several platters where you get a big plated filled with a variety of Arabic specialties. They also have snacks and desserts like baklava.
Since Ljubljana is quite small, you won’t need much time to explore it.
I advise you to rent a car and explore the surroundings. About an hour away from Ljubljana you’ll find the Postojna Caves, it’s very big but also very touristic. The nearby castle however, is absolutely worth a visit.
A bit further to the South West you’ll find the Skocjan caves, less touristy but very impressive.
From there you can drive further down to the coast and visit Piran, a lovely seaside town that might remind you of Venice. Right next to Piran you’ll find Portoroz, but unless you’re into loud beats and heavy drinking, I’d avoid that city. From Piran you can easily visit the Italian city Trieste before you drive back to Ljubljana. Just because it’s cool to be able to say ‘let’s have a pizza dinner in Italy tonight’.
The Julian Alps
The Slovenian Alps are called the Julian Alps and the area is absolutely beautiful.
From Ljubljana you can go there by car or by bus. In about 1 hour you’ll reach Lake Bled. Lake Bled is quite touristic, but rightfully so as the lake is beautiful. You can walk around it and admire the little island with the church on it in the middle.
In a bit of an uninteresting shopping mall you can find hidden gem Public & Vegan Kitchen. This vegan restaurant has delicious vegan food and good service. They have hummus, vegan tartar and chickpea fritters but I absolutely recommend the vegan burgers! You can choose between 4 different patties, pictured is the Summer patty from polenta, eggplant, vegan cheese and sun dried tomatoes. You can also choose weather you go for spelt, corn or buckwheat bread (I did the latter).
Although you might be tempted to stay at Lake Bled, I recommend you visit the nearby Lake Bohinj as well. Not only is this lake at least as beautiful, it’s also right next to the mountains and less touristic!
I staid in Ukanc, a lakeside city and often went for a morning run to see the sunrise over the lake. From Ukanc there are several activities you can do, you can go rafting with PAC sports, you can take the Vogel cable car up to the mountains so you can walk around there, or take the 1 hour hike up to the Savica waterfall. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll always be amazed by the beautiful view!
You can also co on longer hikes, there are several options in the Slovenian Alps. Many of them have beautiful views, wild cows and tiny mountain cottages where you can buy a warm stew or a refreshing beer.
Check my highlights of Slovenia in just 40 seconds: