Slovenia might not be very high on travelers’ dream destination lists, but that is only because it is yet to be discovered. It has everything for a person who is seeking an offbeat experience. There are caves, rivers, caves with rivers, rivers in amazing colors, mountains, mountains with dense green forests, and wait for it- a super happening capital. There is food, history, and a language to indulge all the other senses. Slovenia is gifted with fascinating views and jaw-dropping, and wallpaper-worthy landscapes. That is why this place is an easy choice for anyone who love to have an exciting time in Europe. Families across Europe hit the road for a wonderful joyride to enjoy nature, the summer sun, the castles, the caves, the vineyard, and the woods. The list of family-friendly things to do and places to visit in this country is almost limitless. From various indoor and outdoor activities, to hiking and biking, to mountain trekking, to river paddling and kayaking, Slovenia has it all.
Where is Slovenia Located
The first question to answer before you head to Slovenia is where is Slovenia located? It is almost a land-locked country, sharing borders with Austria, Italy, and Croatia. It has a coastline along the Adriatic Sea near Italy. But there is enough blue in the country because of the criss-crossing rivers- 59 of them to be precise! Compared to other European countries, Slovenia is relatively small. It is located in Eastern Europe, and just a few hours drive away from Austria and Hungry. Despite being small, Slovenia is a popular and family-friendly destination for travelers, especially during summer and spring. This country definitely does not run out of places, adventures, and exciting activities for traveling families who want to experience the Slovenian hospitality.
Facts about Slovenia
Currency of Slovenia– Euros are accepted everywhere in Slovenia.
Language of Slovenia– Slovenian is the official language, and “zdravo” is how you can say Hello in Slovenian. But don’t fret, people know how to speak in English pretty much everywhere.
Drinking water– Water from taps is potable in Slovenia.
Symbol of Ljubljana– The Dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana. You can find it near the Dragon bridge in the city center and on top of the Ljubljana castle.
Student friendly town– There are special discounts for students in many restaurants.
Beer– Union beer.
Cheap Cycles for renting– The rental for bicycles is 2 Euros ($2.22) for 2 hours. They are easily available at Slovenia Tourism Centers in Ljubljana.
Best Things To Do in Slovenia
1. See Natural Wonders
Trek the trail to see Caves, Rivers, Mountain Ranges, Gorges, Waterfalls, and all in between.
- Kolpa River – Take your kids who are 4 years and older camping at Camp Kopla situated by the famous Kolpa River. If you visit during the spring, summer or fall, it gets really warm which makes it the best time to visit Slovenia to enjoy swimming, rafting, biking, hiking, or even walking along the banks. Your little ones can also explore the Adrenalin Park Podzememelji located nearby that offers fun, challenging, and exciting treetop activities.
- Lake Bled–This place is just so unreal, dramatic, and picture-perfect. Lake Bled is a great place to take the family for a nature adventure. The family will enjoy swimming, boating, padding, and walking. While boating, the family can also enjoy the view of the Castle Bled that is sitting at the top of the hill near the lake. The lake is surrounded by the Julian Alps, which gives the place a more fascinating feel.
- Soča Valley and Soča River–The Soča Valley is blessed with waterfalls, camping grounds, and gorges. It is such an ideal place for an adrenaline rush. It is where the Soča River also flows and your little ones can enjoy the outdoor activities this place offers. During spring and summer, kids age five and above are allowed to ride on the river raft for a fun adventure. If your teens are with you on your trip, canoeing is something they can try doing as well. Soča River is definitely perfect for family vacations.
- Kozjak Waterfall–With the number of visitors that flock to this place, Kozjak Waterfall is undeniably one of Slovenia’s most visited and most picturesque waterfalls. Kozjak is located near the Soča River, and there are several ways to get to the photogenic waterfall. The best way, however, is by following the walking trail from Kobarid. On your way, your family and kids will definitely enjoy the scenic view of the surrounding mountains and forests. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by the waterfall’s gorgeous emerald green pool.
- Vintgar Gorge–Slovenia is not only famous for its waterfalls and caves; it is also known for its gorges, and one that definitely stands out is the Vintgar Gorge. This place is located near Bled, so you can expect some amazing views and a cool environment! If you’re wondering what to do when you’re here, a perfect spring or summer leisurely walk on the wooden walkway on the side of the river is an ideal activity.
- Postojna Cave–This mighty cave is Europe’s most visited cave. It is famous for its underground railway that makes it easier for tourists to admire the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites that adorn the 12.4-mile-long (20-kilometer) cave. Since the establishment of the train trails in the late 1800s, the cave has been a popular tourist destination for kids and adults who love science and adventure. Aside from the train ride, also visit the lovely formations that surround this paradise.
- Križna Cave–Unlike Postojna Cave, Križna Cave treats visitors to a real cave adventure. The absence of concrete structures and electricity will capture the heart of cave-lovers, because they can explore the cave’s interior the usual way it should be explored–on foot. During your visit, your tour guide will provide you with caving gear such as boots and lamps to make your experience safe. Be ready to get wet as you take a short boat ride inside the cave. The entire caving experience will take hours, but it will all be worth it – Križna is said to be the most beautiful cave in the entire European continent.
2. Visit Castles
Make your fairytale fantasy a reality at these beautiful castles.
- Ljubljana Castle – Built in the 1500s, Ljubljana Castle is a unique Slovenian landmark filled with stories and rich historical past. Situated at the top of the hill and offering a great view of the downtown, the castle can be reached in several ways. If you are up for some adventure, hiking is a good choice. If you want to relax, however, opt to ride the funicular to the castle. Ljubljana Castle is one of Slovenia’s main attraction and has several highlights including gift shops where you can buy souvenirs and a Time Machine, which is an interactive activity that will take the entire family back to history. Kids love it!
- Castle Bled–Because kids love the idea of fairytales and castles, a visit to Castle Bled is a must. Perched above a lake on a hill, this castle offers visitors breathtaking views of the lake and the countryside. There is no reason why you should not visit this place on your Slovenian escapade.
- Predjama–One of the oldest castles in Slovenia, Prejama Castle was purposely built in the year 1274 at the side of a rock to prevent enemies from conquering the place. Over the years, this place has been ruined and rebuilt. Just like other castles, this one has also undergone several renovations. Predjama has stood the test of time and today, it is one of the most visited castles in Slovenia. As you drive to the hill where this Guinness-holder castle is erected, take time to marvel at the majestic surroundings of the castle.
- Celje old castle–This castle ruin is another must-see sight for you when visiting Slovenia, specifically Celje. The castle is considered and known to be the largest medieval fortress in the country. It is surrounded by myths and legends which visitors enjoy hearing from tourist guides and locals. Kids and kids-at-heart have so much to see in this place that every visit is exciting.
3. Visit Waterparks and Museums
Take the kids to these places to learn about history and culture.
- Atlantis Water City–Known as Slovenia’s best water park, Atlantis Water City offers visitors several swimming pools to cool off from the summer heat. It has 16 pools that make it one of the biggest indoor water park in Europe. With watery activities, thematic modules, and a campground, this place makes it to the list of best places to visit with the family.
- Slovenian Alpine Museum–This museum, also known as the Slovenian Mountaineering Museum, is a mountaineering museum in Mojstrana. The place offers several exhibits where kids can learn about the amazing mountain world of Slovenia. There are also hiking activities that your family can embark on.
- Technical Museum of Slovenia–TMS or Technical Museum of Slovenia is an interesting museum. It is located at the estate of Bistra Castle, formerly a Carthusian monastery. This museum is known for its extensive collections and presentations about wood processing, hunting, forestry, fishing, textile, transportation, baking, milling, and agriculture among others. The interesting exhibits will eat most of your time, so make sure to come early. Here, the kids will have plenty of time to burn time and energy while learning about the various interesting industries.
Quick Highlights of Slovenia
Ljubljana– Pronounced as “Lubyana.” This is the capital city of Slovenia. It has buzzing marketplaces with people playing music and sometimes even dancing in the city center. There are many cafes alongside the Ljubljanica River that flows through this city. Food is great here, and multiple cuisines are available. Must try items are “Rota Soup” which is a cabbage and bean based sour soup, and Strukliji rolled cakes. There is a huge park called Tivoli Park where you can relax. There is an amazing nightlife with bars and organized pub crawls for adults. If your kids are old enough, you can ride around the city on bicycles – plenty of fun!
Lake Bled– It is a beautiful lake with an island in the center of it. It is a 15 minute hike to Bled castle on a hilltop, and a 10 Euro ($11.12) admission fee to catch a view of the lake. The lake can feel overcrowded and overrated.
Skocjan Caves– It is in Divaca area and is accessible from Ljubljana by train and bus. This is a massive cave system and has the river Reka flowing through it. The sight of the river gushing through will give you goosebumps. Recommended!
Postojna Caves– A more touristy brother of Skocjan, this is also a massive cave system. It has a mini-train to show you around. It is easily accessible from Ljubljana. We would personally recommend Skocjan over Postojna because of the river flowing there.
Predjama Castle– Very close to Postojna Caves is this castle built at the mouth of a cave. While it is a beautiful sight and must visit if you are going to Postojna anyway, but there is nothing much to see inside.
Vintgar Gorge– Just 4 kilometers (2.48 miles) away from Bled is this trek in the Triglav National Park. It has a beautiful gorge carved by the Radovna River. The green waters, rapids, and waterfalls are beautiful. Highly recommended.
Soca Valley– This is a hidden treasure, Slovenia’s best kept secret, available only to those who care to venture out of the tourists’ safe havens. The river Socaor Isonzo flows from the Julian Alps through the western region of Slovenia. The drive to Tolmin town is spectacular with lush green mountains.
Expert Tip For Traveling To Slovenia
On your way from Ljubljana to Tolmin, you can use the 102 Highway which runs along River Idrijca. This river is beautiful and green. On the way back, you can take the 103 highway which runs alongside river Soca. Soca River has a beautiful emerald green color like a “bluish-green creamy color,” and is the only river in the world which retains its color throughout its length. This is mostly due to the limestone in the region. You can make a pit stop at the Bovec Lake, which is never crowded, as well as visit the little town beside it. Bove Lake is beautiful, and looks like an emerald mirror. There are also many adventures sports options at Tolmin to enjoy besides the drive itself. You can easily find these routes on the map of Slovenia or navigate using Google Maps. This is a must-go trip!