Over the past couple of years Slovenia has made a great name for itself in the travel industry, attracting around 3 million visitors each year. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s worth mentioning it is more than the entire population of the country!
While most visitors tend to plan their trip around Ljubljana, Lake Bled and Postojna Cave, there are some lesser-known jewels worth visiting on the sunny side of the Alps. If you find yourself limited by time, money or transportation (e.g. you don’t have your own car), the best way to discover this “chicken-shaped” country is by setting up a base in Ljubljana and taking day trips from there.
Here’s a list of our favorite trips from Ljubljana that you can easily make in 12 hours or less!
PARK OF MILITARY HISTORY, PIVKA – THE LARGEST MUSEUM COMPLEX IN SLOVENIA
With the help of the EU and the municipality of Pivka, an enthusiastic group of people started renovating abandoned military barracks in 2005 and turned them into a modern interactive museum. Along with two pavilions full of tanks, planes and artillery weapons from WWII and the Cold War era, the park’s newest exhibition is called “The Road to Independence” and portraits the process of gaining independence for Slovenia. Even if you’re not a big military history fan, you’ll be amazed by the collection of artifacts on display and the stories behind them. Don’t forget to take a step inside the park’s showstopper – the 76-tons heavy Yugoslav submarine.
Tip: The best way to experience the park is by a guided tour, where the knowledgeable guides provide an intriguing narrative to help you fully understand the story of Slovenian military history. Book your tour here.
– Car: 1h
– Train: 1h10m (19 per day)
KAMNIK – MEDIEVAL TOWN AT THE ALPS’ DOORSTEP
A typical medieval town of Kamnik offers jaw-dropping views of the mighty Kamnik–Savinja Alps. Pedestrian-friendly town center has a variety of boutique shops, cozy cafés and bars serving local drinks. For the best panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains, take a one-hour return path to the Old Castle (Stari grad) hill. If you’re up for a day of hiking, Kamnik makes for a perfect starting point to explore one of the three Alps that Slovenia has to offer.
– Car: 30m
– Bus: 50m (every 15 minutes)
– Train: 40m (15 per day)
VELENJE – THE CRADLE OF COAL INDUSTRY
The industrial town of Velenje is best known by its coal industry. The oldest part of the coal mine is open for guided tours and takes you around the underground world of digging for the black gold. The mine is still active, so if you come across miners working in the tunnels remember to wish them good luck – it’s a tradition. On the other side of town you’ll find a medieval castle with panoramic views of Velenje and surroundings.
– Car: 1h
– Bus: 1h10m (10 per day)
LANDSCAPE PARK STRUNJAN – THE GREENEST PIECE OF SLOVENIAN COAST
Although a mere 46km in length, Slovenian coastline boasts beautiful beaches, parks, orchards, salt pans and old towns that are well worth a visit. Make a day out of exploring Landscape Park Strunjan, which also encompasses the longest part of natural sea shore in Slovenia, and enjoy tranquility with unparalleled views and diverse Mediterranean flora and fauna. The bay of Strunjan receives more than 2.300 sunny hours per year and is also known to have special natural characteristics that are beneficial to the body and soul.
Tip: Take the circular hiking path from the Landscape Park Strunjan Center near the salt pans and don’t miss the beautiful beach in Moon Bay.
– Car: 1h15m
– Bus: 2h20m + 20m
– Train: 2h30m + 20m by bus
IDRIJA – UNESCO PROTECTED MERCURY MINING HERITAGE
A short scenic drive west of Slovenian capital leads to a valley surrounded by hills and covered in lush green forests. There lies a small mining town called Idrija, home of the second largest mercury mine in the world. Mercury, or better known as quicksilver, is the only liquid metal known to mankind and was commonly used in glass thermometers all over the world. Idrija’s mercury mine, which was successfully added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012, has been inactive for several years now. In order to preserve its cultural heritage, the mine was restored into an interactive museum with daily guided tours through the underground tunnels. Dress warmly and enjoy the adventure!
Tip: Not far from the museum lies the Wild Lake (Divje jezero), with depth of which nobody is certain of. Go check it out!
– Car: 1h
– Bus: 1h15m (15 per day)
SOČA VALLEY – KINGDOM OF THE EMERALD RIVER
Known for the best adrenaline activities in Slovenia along with being part of the movie set of Chronicles of Narnia, Soča Valley makes for a great travel destination on its own, but can also be squeezed into a full-day trip around west Slovenia. The gem of the region, quite literally, is the emerald Soča River that winds its way among mountain peaks and villages made of stone. Being the stage for many battles during the WWI, Soča Valley attracts large number of tourists with its complex history and numerous war remains. Among them, Javorca Church, build by the soldiers during the war, is a sight not to be missed.
Getting there (to Tolmin):
– Car: 1h45m
– Bus: 2h45m (4 per day)
– Train: 2h30m (7 per day)
POKLJUKA – WHERE RECREATION AND RELAXATION COME TOGETHER
The tranquility and vastness of Pokljuka plateau, along with its altitude, fresh air and countless pine trees, makes it a perfect getaway for anyone looking for a place to relax. You can easily spend hours walking through berry bushes looking for mushrooms, hiking to one of many peaks nearby, or cycling a part of 80km long intertwining forest paths. Combine Pokljuka with a visit to the crown jewel of Slovenian tourism, Lake Bled, and you’ll have a perfect day trip from Ljubljana.
– Car: 1h10m