Elsewhere in Slovenia: Beyond Ljubljana and Bled

Celje Riverfront, Slovenia

I have to admit that I’m quite smitten with the compact country of Slovenia. It’s a country that sits at the crossroads of Western and Eastern Europe with all the benefits that location provides. What I mean is that it has the conveniences found when travelling in Western Europe, while still being a bit of an unknown quantity like much of Eastern Europe. That Slovenia also has some fascinating and inspiring history, spread across a rugged landscape means it really has a lot to offer those who choose to visit it.

My problem is that too often visitors to Slovenia narrow their focus to just Ljubljana and Lake Bled. Now don’t get me wrong, Ljubljana makes for a charming and petite capital city. Lake Bled may just be one of the most magical places in Europe, as I’ve suggested previously. But these aren’t the only intriguing destinations found in this lovely country. So I’ve decided to share a handful of other spots that I think travellers should consider when planning a trip to Slovenia. This is by no means a complete list, but one I believe that flaunts many of the facets belonging to the nation of Slovenia.

 

Škofja Loka

Skofja Loka, Slovenia

When it comes to old towns in Slovenia, I think Škofja Loka has to have one of the most enchanting. Despite only lying about 20km away from Ljubljana, Škofja Loka doesn’t seem to receive many visitors. This small town on the Selska Sora river boasts a charming medieval old town, including the picturesque Capuchin Bridge that dates from the 14th century. Throughout the old town are houses painted with vibrant colours and in summer, plenty of blooming flower boxes in windows. Above the old town is the impressive Škofja Loka Castle, with some nice views out over the city and plenty of interesting exhibits. Reading about the local resistance against the Germans in WWII was especially enlightening.

 

Piran

Piran, Slovenia

Although its overshadowed by the coastlines of its neighbours Italy and Croatia, Slovenia does have several charming coastal towns. Probably the most interesting and attractive town on Slovenia’s brief coast is Piran. The town of Piran rests on a sharp peninsula with an endearing old town and port. While it won’t take you very long to explore the town and its small maze of streets, the easy pace of Piran means you won’t mind taking it slow. Piran is a popular spot for locals in summer to sunbathe and swim in the calm Adriatic Sea. A visit to Piran isn’t complete without stopping for a meal at its many waterfront seafood restaurants supplied with fresh local produce.

 

Ptuj

Ptuj, Slovenia

Those seeking out a cultural and historical destination really should give Ptuj a look. This city in the country’s northeast is one of Slovenia’s longest settled spots. Ptuj grew to prominence under the Romans and did quite well for itself over the centuries, particularly the 14th century. It did suffer under repeated Ottoman invasions and the World Wars, but thankfully still has many historic places intact. Of great interest to tourists is the city’s walkable old town and particularly Ptuj Castle. The castle is part of the Ptuj Regional Museum and explores the region’s history, culture and music. It also has an engaging exhibit on local and foreign cultural masks and costumes, including the Kurenti, a sort of demonic furry beast. These masks and costumes are still used during the city’s annual carnival festival, Kurentovanje.

 

Maribor

Maribor, Slovenia

For the second largest city in Slovenia, Maribor is probably not what people expect. In fact it’s quite the contrast to the nation’s capital. Ljubljana may not be a big city, but Maribor is really quite small. It also lacks the considerable old town found in Ljubljana, instead favouring a more modern city. That’s not to say it doesn’t have any historic sights, but most are found in the old Jewish neighbourhood of Lent found by the banks of the Drava river. In Lent you’ll come across some medieval towers, but also the city’s most famed attraction: The World’s Oldest Vine. Housed in an equally historic house, Maribor’s Old Vine is over 400 years old and there is a festival surrounding the annual harvest of the vine. For lovers of wine, Maribor is a wise choice for exploring the region’s offerings.

 

Velenje

Velenje, Slovenia

The small city of Velenje may seem like an unlikely place for tourists to venture. The city sits in the country’s hilly north, roughly halfway between Ljubljana and Maribor. For most of its life, Velenje was a minor town before becoming an industrial centre in the 20th century. Although it is now the fifth largest city in Slovenia, it is lacking a bit in tourist attractions. That is except for Velenje Castle and the museum it hosts. Velenje Museum is a surprisingly expansive one but also incredibly idiosyncratic. As would be expected, it covers local history from ancient to modern with recreations of an old local tavern and Yugoslavian council meeting. But the museum also has some truly unusual exhibits, from the rooms full of African tribal masks to the locally excavated Mastodon tusks. With such a broad array of subject matter, you’re bound to find something of interest.

 

Škocjan Caves

Skocjan Caves, Slovenia

Slovenia happens to be the home to some immense caves dotted throughout the country’s west, with one of the best spots being Škocjan Caves. A visit to these vast subterranean chambers will honestly astound you, especially when you take a look at the original “paths” used by the first explorers of the cave network. Wandering through, I immediately made the comparison to the mines in Lord of the Rings. The guided tours there take several hours, leading you deep under the surface to admire not only stalagmites and stalactites but also the rivers and ecosystem. But to me at least, it was all about the sheer size of these karst caves. As someone with claustrophobia, I found the caves quite comfortable to visit, even if I couldn’t distract myself by taking photos.

 

Celje

Celje, Slovenia

Celje really puts how small the nation of Slovenia is into perspective. The country’s third biggest city is really quite compact, which does make exploring Celje pretty easy. Celje’s town centre has an interesting mix of old and new, with some interesting historic buildings to be found like the ivy covered Old Manor House.  That Celje lies at the joining of several valleys and is surrounded by some impressive hills only adds to its cosy feel. The hills play an important role for local life, teeming with hikers in summer and skiers in winter. They also host the masterfully restored ruins of Celje Upper Castle, once the ruling seat of the Counts of Celje. The castle is quite nice to explore as you get some stellar views from the ramparts and towers.

 


Have you visited Slovenia before and visited any of these places? Is there somewhere I’ve missed? Please share in the comments below.

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Elsewhere in Slovenia: Beyond Ljubljana and Bled, via @travelsewhere

 


This post is part of The Weekly Postcard over at Two Traveling Texans and Weekend Travel Inspiration at Albom Adventures. Please head on over for more great posts.
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48 Comment

  1. Oana says:

    Amazing post! I never travelled to Slovenia but reading your posts about it made me considering this destination for next year. Thank you for sharing this with us. Keep up like this!! 😉

  2. Wow! I just love the old buildings, so much history! I’ve got to say my favourite photo was the one of Ptuj, and the place is now on my list, thanks! I really love the look of those huge caves, I have pinned so I don’t forget all the places I want to see.

  3. Lauren Barratt says:

    Slovenia is a beautiful place! So many beautiful towns and hidden gems which people don’t even realise your blog just highlights this! Great read

  4. Kreete says:

    Love your suggestions! I was planning a trip there myself last year, but ended up not having enough time for a visit. One of my best friends is from Slovenia too, so I am dying to go and visit his home. I’ll be pinning this for the future, great job as always!

  5. Thank you for sharing a great list of places to go in Slovenia. We have been to Ljubljana and Piran in the past and loved it! We might need to explore the rest of your list next time we come to Slovenia 🙂 Keep up the great work and thanks again for sharing a useful article again 🙂
    Patrick and Cécile from http://www.travel4lifeblog.com

  6. Oh, wow. Thanks for writing about all these places in Slovenia. We haven’t made it there yet, but I definitely hadn’t heard about any of these before reading your post. I think Maribor would be on the top of our list (because wine!), but all your photos are absolutely stunning and have convinced us that we need to travel all over Slovenia to get the best feel for it. 🙂

    1. David says:

      Thanks for reading Anna, glad you enjoyed this look at Slovenia. I hope the nerds get to visit there one day (and try the wine!)

  7. Love your view on the other cities of Solvenia. The small towns look so picturesque with their bridges and castles. Your photos are amazing and captured the beauty of the cities. I’m not sure about carnival in Ptuj…sounds a bit scarry. Wow a 400 yr old wine vine, amazing. Liked your comparison to Lord of the Ring to the caves at Škocjan. Great article, Thanks for sharing!

  8. I really like Slovenia and spent a nice couple of days there, but I am pretty sure you can guess where I went! I have seen and heard many amazing things about other parts of the country and would love to explore it some more. Rafting on the Soca River is one of the things I would really like to do but there are many others and your post gives me some great ideas! I was actually randomly looking up Slovenia’s borders the other day and came across Piran!

    1. David says:

      That’s fair enough Alexei. I’m keen to see the Soca River too, in fact that whole Alpine region. Piran is really worth visiting.

  9. Great and interesting post! I really love Slovenia. This country is such a Europe in miniature …

  10. I have only been to Lake Bled and Ljubljana as we had a whistlestop trip. Will pin this for future reference- great to know where else to visit!

    1. David says:

      That’s fair enough Tracy, if you only have a short amount of time I totally understand visiting those two.

  11. Upeksha says:

    I’ve been researching Slovenia for a while, so very glad to have stumble upon it. I’ve pinned it for later. #wkendtravelinspiration

  12. Anisa says:

    I learn so much from reading your posts. I had no idea about all these places. The coastal towns and the caves look especially appealing to me. Thanks so much for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    1. David says:

      Haha thanks Anisa, always happy to share these places with you.

  13. I really love seeing these beautiful, new and unknown places, to me anyway. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. David says:

      Glad to hear Arnie, thanks for reading.

  14. I was so inspired by Ljubljana that I am keen to see much more of Slovenia and each of the places you listed are areas I’ve been researching for including in a future trip to Europe. You are making my research so easy, thank you.

    1. David says:

      Glad you enjoyed Ljubljana Lyn. I hope you enjoy your next visit to Slovenia and let me know if you visit any of these.

  15. What charming towns you have featured here! Škofja Loka is very picturesque, as is Maribor and that lovely photo of the clouds reflected on the river … plus it has the world’s oldest vine and a festival to celebate, who knew?? (Lisa – fancy meeting here one year!!). I am a huge fan of caves as well, I don’t know why .. I just am so this appealed to me. Thanks for sharing these hidden treasures!

    1. David says:

      There’s a lot to like about Slovenia, glad you enjoyed reading Angie!

  16. Thanks for some great ideas for my next trip to Slovenia, one of my favorite countries. We’ve been to Škojan Caves and Piran but Škofja Loka looks to be well worth a visit. #wkendtravelinspiration

    1. David says:

      Glad you enjoyed reading Jim and good to hear you’ve seen Skocjan Caves and Piran.

  17. Lisa says:

    Love the other areas that you have explored there. You find and see wonderful things when you get off the beaten path. I would love to wander into those caves. Wine tasting and hiking, start of a fabulous adventure. Thanks for sharing more of your Slovenia travels!

  18. Garth says:

    Slovenia looks very beautiful, you’ve been to so many lovely towns, v jealous! Personally I like the look of Škofja Loka. Thanks for sharing!

    1. David says:

      Cheers Garth, it really is a beautiful place. Hope you consider heading here when you get a chance.

  19. Barry says:

    Great write up David. I love the small little towns and village of Slovenia. You’ve listed some good ones here and you’re right it’s just not all about the capital Ljubljana. When I visited a couple of months ago, I was staying near Metlika, on the Slovenia/Croatian border. It was very rural but was so relaxing. Slovenia is one of my favourite destinations.

    1. David says:

      Thanks Barry, I know you’re a fan of Slovenia and would love to see that part of the country.

  20. Anda says:

    I’ve heard Ljubljana was beautiful, David, but your picture prove it’s outstandingly beautiful. I’ve never Slovenia is so close to where I grew up and still I never made it there. Hopefully one of these days….

    1. David says:

      Thanks Anda, I hope you get to visit Slovenia one day.

  21. Ahila says:

    Lovely post. Have added Ptuj to the list of places to visit, when I do eventually visit Slovenia.

    1. David says:

      Glad to hear Ahila, do let me know if you do get to visit Ptuj.

  22. Tiffany says:

    Love this travel through Slovenia! I have yet to go, but oh it looks so nice. I love your pics with the red roof and those blue skies! 🙂 #flyawayfriday

    1. David says:

      Thanks Tiffany, glad you enjoyed the photos. Hope you get to visit one day.

  23. Ruth says:

    It is great that you wrote a post like this. I know we travelers tend to visit the mainstream sights and forget that a country is more than certain cities or popular places. I try as much as possible to research and visit places that are not that well known or frequented. In Slovenia, I will like to visit Triglav National Park and the Soca River. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. David says:

      Thanks for reading Ruth, my goal wherever I go is to try and find different spots, so I can share them like this. I’m keen to visit Triglav and the Soca River too, that’s one part of the country I’ve yet to see.

  24. great choices! I did Maribor and Škocjanske cave from this list:)#theweeklypostcard

    1. David says:

      Oh cool Tanja, glad you’ve visited some of these. Thanks for stopping by.

  25. Vlad says:

    Wow, they all look so beautiful! I’m dying to visit Slovenia, I’ll definitely add some of these destinations on my list. Hope I can go soon 😀 #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. David says:

      Great to hear Vlad, I hope you get to visit there soon 🙂

  26. What great towns you’ve featured here! How much time do you think you need to spend per city? I would love to visit this area some time! It seems like the kind of place that could transport you back in time!

    1. David says:

      Thanks Jenn, most of these could be covered in either a half or full day. I would spend more time in Piran though, it’s so peaceful.

  27. Very much on my list. We met some wonderful people from Slovenia, who told us that the country is simply amazing

    1. David says:

      They weren’t wrong Paula, there’s a lot to like about Slovenia.

  28. Zophia says:

    It’s quite enchanting and beautiful, scenic and peaceful. Very informative post on Slovenia, a place one can be tranquil and calm, love those colourful houses and greenery around it, the clouds and sea, sits very elegant and classic style, so that’s why enchating.

    1. David says:

      Glad you enjoy reading Zophia, it really is beautiful and quite diverse too.

  29. I’ve never met anyone else who has been to the Skocjan cave system before! We are big caving fans and we want to spend more time in Slovenia in the future. Awesome post 🙂

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