Despite its modest size, Slovenia has an incredible amount to offer in terms of natural wonder and urban destinations. Indeed, just like its mountains, rolling hills, and scenic valleys, Slovenian towns and cities are immensely beautiful. They boast mesmerizing architecture, cute surroundings, and always come with plenty of things to do and see.
To make your choice of which cities to visit in Slovenia easier, we’ve selected the very best among them.
It’s not a giant metropolis, but that’s exactly what makes Slovenia’s charming capital so appealing. You can get a great feel for the place just by strolling, cycling or taking a boat ride down the Ljubljanica River through the centre. Set in a picturesque location (like most Slovene cities), Ljubljana combines a laidback Balkan spirit with a modern Western vibe. The riverside is lined with cafes and its historic squares are surrounded by restaurants for every taste. Its Old Town, dating back to medieval times, boasts a mixture of incredible architecture, as do other parts of the city with designs made by the famous architect Jože Plečnik, while a castle keeps a watchful eye from a hill above.
There’s always plenty going on in Ljubljana, like an open market where you can try different delicacies, a number of interesting events, museums and galleries to visit, escape rooms to escape from, outdoor activities to try, an alternative culture hub called Metelkova, where various artforms can be enjoyed, etc. Accommodations are excellent and conveniently located, as is Ljubljana itself, which makes it easy to travel to anywhere in Slovenia via motorways and other regional road connections. In short, visiting Ljubljana is obligatory when holidaying in Slovenia.
A quick hour’s drive from Ljubljana, up towards the mountains, is Slovenia’s iconic Lake Bled with the gorgeous town of the same name. Bled’s postcard views are accompanied by the alpine lake’s island with a gothic church that can be reached with the pletna boat, a 1000-year-old castle on a cliff, stunning villas, hotels, and spas with natural healing springs, all of which have a longstanding touristic tradition. The town of Bled can be explored on foot, bike, or horse and carriage. Its top-notch restaurants serve excellent food, including the local kremšnita cake specialty.
Besides a lovely day-trip destination with next-door natural gems like the Vintgar Gorge, stunning hills and caving ops, Bled can be enjoyed on longer stays, as it’s located right on the edge of Slovenia’s Triglav National Park where a fantastic number of outdoor activities and scenic spots lie in store. Bled should definitely be placed high on your list of cities to visit in Slovenia.
Befitting the country’s size, the Slovenian Adriatic coast is not long, but it is exceptionally attractive and offers an array of pastimes. We could not talk about the Mediterranean part of Slovenia without recommending one of its highlights – the town of Piran. Imagine a miniature version of Venice that you can explore in a single day. The architecture and cultural vibe are very similar, as Piran has deep historic ties to the Venetian Republic of old.
Piran is an excellent town to visit in Slovenia, because of its nice museums, scrumptious seafood, gelato desserts, incredible sea views (from the seafront or from a cliff above the town), and it goes without saying that swimming during warmer months is awesome. The great thing about Piran is also that it’s located near other seaside towns, like Koper, Izola, Portorož, and you can easily venture into the Karst region or hop over to Italy’s Trieste, or even catch a ride by boat to Piran’s famous counterpart – Venice.
The Alpine resort of Kranjska Gora is the next top town to visit in Slovenia. It’s located in the very heart of the Julian Alps and offers a handsome assortment of both winter and summer activities. Hiking, mountain climbing, cycling, swimming (in Lake Jasna), skiing, cross-country skiing, sledding, and much more can be enjoyed in or around Kranjska Gora. It’s truly a touristy destination everyone can enjoy and thousands do each year.
Brimming with hotels (some right on the ski slopes) and campsites, Kranjska Gora is perfect for a longer holiday or a short visit. It’s close vicinity to Italy and Austria makes it suitable for taking trips to other super picturesque spots in the Alps. That said, this town has such a fun atmosphere, you might not want to leave. The latter also includes cool sports events like international skiing and ski jumping competitions. If you’re looking for an active or leisurely break in the mountains, Kranjska Gora has you covered!
Off to the other side of Slovenia now, northeast to be exact, where stands the capital of the Styria region – Maribor. The country’s second largest city is another must among the best cities to visit in Slovenia. It’s quite different from Ljubljana, with local life centred mainly around a multitude of historic squares, bridges, churches and other cultural highlights. In recent decades, Maribor has developed into a modern European city in every sense of the word.
The city of Maribor is surrounded by vineyards and even has the oldest vine in the world on display in Lent, the oldest part of Maribor by the mighty Drava River, which is (not so) coincidentally also the name of one of the biggest festivals in Slovenia. Besides museums and various other sightseeing attractions, you can also visit the huge underground wine cellar, Vinag. In winter months, Maribor is excellent for skiing enthusiasts, as it has an amazing ski resort in the Pohorje hills virtually on its doorstep.
Ptuj is officially the oldest town in Slovenia, with roots reaching far in history to Roman times. This colourful compact place is located on the Drava River and is a lovely day-trip destination. Ptuj has a gorgeous 12th century castle on a hill that houses excellent exhibitions. Its riverside restaurants are very inviting, especially when the weather is nice. Whatever the forecast, the old town has the most fascinating wine cellar in its centre called Kobal, where you can taste the best wines of the region and beyond.
For splendid cultural events, we highly recommend you also visit Muzikafe. It’s a famous cultural go-to spot, bang in the centre of Ptuj. Ptuj is also famous for hosting an annual folklore carnival in spring. It’s an old Slavic pagan rite of fertility, famous for the kurenti masks. Music, dancing and general making of merry in the streets of Ptuj is an unforgettable experience that takes you deep into Slovenian tradition.
Located very close to Ljubljana (easy transfer by bus, train or car) and first mentioned in the 11th century, Kamnik was an important trading post and is one of the oldest and best towns to visit in Slovenia. From the Middle Ages onward, Kamnik had its own industry and a number of aristocratic families lived among its residents, as well as other prominent Slovenes. Kamnik is in the foothills of the Kamnik-savinja Alps, which makes it a superb springboard for exploring this scenic area, including the famous shepherd’s plateau of Velika Planina.
Beautiful views, the quaint town of Kamnik is home to impressive castle ruins shrouded in legends. Kamnik has that old-time feel with a modern twist and has seen major development in terms of urban planning in recent years. Its streets are often transformed into scenes of wonderful cultural events and the surrounding natural environment is splendid for hikes or cycling trips. Steeped in history and local goings-on, Kamnik is a very unique town most worth exploring!
The next best town to visit in Slovenia is Kobarid. Not only because it’s the historic crossroads located in the ridiculously scenic Soča Valley and close to the Kozjak Waterfall, Kobarid is also home to award winning restaurants, like Ana Roš’s Hiša Franko & poor man’s Hiša Polonka. Famous for the 1917 Battle of Caporetto, documented by Ernest Hemingway in his novel A Farewell to Arms, this town place has been inhabited since prehistoric times and archaeological remains of 5th-century Roman buildings have also been discovered.
Kobarid’s unique location also offers a wide selection of recreational activities, such as rafting, kayaking, fly-fishing, mountain biking, paragliding, and hiking. Moreover, the town’s main tourist attraction is the WWI Museum, which presents the heritage of the Isonzo Front, with demonstrations of life during the Great War. Know that if you visit Kobarid, you are in for a proper alpine treat that combines culture, rich food, excellent accommodations, and an enviable list of activities and day-trips around some of Slovenia’s most breath-taking regions.
Welcome to the adrenaline capital of Slovenia! Bovec is situated in an awe-inspiring basin on the upper Soča River, under Mount Kanin in the Julian Alps, close to the border with Italy. and the beyond scenic Trenta Valley. This exciting sports hub is popular for kayaking, rafting, hiking, ziplining, paragliding, rock climbing, and has a wide network of cycling trails. Neighbouring Mt. Kanin has the highest ski slopes in Slovenia (above 2000 m), providing visitors with exceptional runs during the winter season.
Bovec’s history, rich history dates back to Roman time, and during WWI, the area was the scene of bloody battles of the Isonzo Front, fought between Austro-Hungarian forces and the Italian Army, while in WWII, Bovec was occupied by the Nazis and was strategically very important. Besides sporty and cultural highlights, Bovec also promises great gastronomic delights, superb accommodations with picture-perfect views, and doubles as a great basecamp for exploring the wider area of the Triglav National Park.
So ends our (shortened) list of the best cities to visit in Slovenia, but it should be noted, dear reader, this subalpine pearl of a country has hundreds of fascinating towns and villages that are most worth exploring. The good news is there is no correct order, simply a matter of preference and time. Now go discover!
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