Tiny, overlooked Slovenia is one of Europe's most unexpectedly charming destinations. At the intersection of the Slavic, German, and Italian worlds, Slovenia is an exciting mix of the best of each culture. Though it's just a quick trip away from the tourist throngs in Croatia, Venice, Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna, Slovenia has stayed off the tourist track — making it a handy detour for in-the-know travelers. Be warned: Everyone I've met who's visited Slovenia wishes they'd allotted more time for this endearing, underrated land.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Lake Bled Photogenic lake resort huddled in the foothills of the Julian Alps that's famous for its church-topped island, cliff-hanging castle, shoreline path, tasty desserts, and appealing side-trips (less-developed Lake Bohinj, spectacular Vintgar Gorge, and unaccountably fascinating museums about beekeeping and ironworking).
▲▲ Ljubljana Slovenia's vibrant yet relaxing capital, with a fun-to-browse riverside market, appealing architecture, willow-shaded promenade, and artfully presented museums.
▲▲ Julian Alps Snowy peaks easily conquered by a twisty, intensely scenic mountain road over the Vršič Pass, ending in the tranquil Soča River Valley — filled with mellow towns and tourist farms, whitewater rafting near Bovec, and the exceptional WWI museum in Kobarid.
▲ Logarska Dolina and the Northern Valleys Remote mountain valleys boasting grand vistas, traditional farming lifestyles, and fewer crowds.
▲ The Karst Windblown limestone plateau with world-class caves (Škocjan and Postojna), the Lipizzaner Stallion stud farm at Lipica, and the dramatically situated Predjama Castle.
▲ Piran Slovenia's adorable Adriatic resort town — a lesser-known gem.
▲ Ptuj Charming-if-sleepy historic town topped by a castle and known for its extravagant carnival celebrations.
Maribor Slovenia's understated "second city."