How to plan the perfect road trip in Slovenia
Slovenia is a charming tiny country where you will be constantly mesmerized by its natural wonders. Chances are that you have not yet put this European gem on your bucket list but I strongly suggest you go now, before it becomes more and more popular. That being said, you can imagine that a small country offering so many good things and stuck between two major European tourists hubs such as Italy and Croatia will become a prime destination in a few years. Therefore, I will show you in this article how to plan your Slovenia trip to the perfection and make your Slovenia by car trip a complete success.
Below, I will address some tips on how to plan the perfect Road trip in Slovenia and how to make this a 10-day itinerary in Slovenia. Together, we will discover foodie, cultural and nature stops!
Useful tips before starting
Getting to Slovenia
Air transportation to Slovenia is not very convenient and you might have to do several stops before reaching your destination. However, the country is located in south-central Europe bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast and Croatia to the south. Being extremely close to these other air hubs might be a good reason to start your road trip in one of these neighbouring countries. We decided to land in Venice, rent a car there and drive to Slovenia. The border is only 1 hour 30 minutes away from the Italian airport.
You might be asking if it is easy to drive in Slovenia, well the answer is yes! The roads are in extremely good conditions and very pleasant to drive. The most popular attractions in the country are clustered in the western half of the country, making the trajectory span between 1 to 3 hours.
Heads up, some of the stops are in the alps so knowing how to drive in the sinuous mountains roads might make your road trip easier.
If you are renting your car outside of Slovenia, you need to buy a Vignette. The Slovenian toll sticker allows you to drive without getting a fine (they are expensive!). The vignette can be bought for different length such as weekly, monthly and yearly. The price is around 15 euros for a week. The stickers can be bought at any gas station in the country or in some stations near the border. Here is a complete list of vendors. All you need to do is to stick the vignette on the windshield.
The ultimate10-day itinerary road trip in Slovenia
Brda, the Wine country - 2 days
If you landed in Italy like we did, you can start your Slovenia Road trip in the wine country. Slovenia is slowing craving a spot as one of the finest wine maker in Europe. Being a wine lover, we had to make a stop in the Brda Gorsika region, the biggest wine region in the country.
The region is located at the Italian border and is characterized by sparse small villages, perched on top of rolling hills and miles and miles of vineyards. The panoramic roads connecting the vineyards and the villages are absolutely stunning. The typical wines in the region are Rebola and Friulano, white and orange wines. The towns of Šmartno and Dobrovo are the most picturesque ones and the ones with the most wineries.
For a complete guide of the wine country check my in depth article about the region. In this article, I detail where to drink, dine and sleep, and of course I list the best wineries!
The other wine region in Slovenia is Vipava valley which can be done as a day trip from Ljubljana.
Psst: be sure to check your country’s import alcohol limit so you can bring home some wine!
Soca Valley - 2 days
The Julian Alps were awarded one of the 10 regions to visit by the Lonely Planet in 2018; should I say more?
The Soča valley and the Julian Alps are probably the most beautiful nature destination in Slovenia. The region is characterized by the Soča river that has emerald and blue hues that will make you fall in love with it at first sight.
We used the town of Kobarid as a base for our travels in this region. From there, you can do many day trips like going to the beautiful Tolmin Gorges where you can hike and admire the river to its fullest. Not far from there, you will see the famous Slap Kozjak waterfall. This waterfall streams from a hidden rock formation which makes the green colours of the river stand out even more; breathtaking!
While road tripping, going through Vršič Pass is simply a must! This is one if the most scenic drives in Slovenia. The country’s largest nature reserve, Triglav National Park, is also nearby so be sure to leave enough time to visit this mountainous park.
One of the main highlight on this region is the town of Kobarid with its pastel colours and the snow capped mountains in the background. The town is close to the Italian border and is home of the famous restaurant, Hiša Franko. This restaurant was one of the reasons we went to Slovenia after we watched the mouth-watering Netflix award-winning show Chef’s Table. Chef Ana Roš was named world's best female chef by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants academy. She offers six- or 11-course tasting menus that change every month, featuring foraged local ingredients. Her husband is a sommelier which makes the perfect pairing with the food. This is truly one of the best restaurant we have ever tried! If you are looking for a more affordable option, I will suggest to eat at the Hvala Hotel or at the town pizzeria.
Lake Bled - 1 day
From Kobarid, we took the sinuous mountain road of the Julian Alps to reach Lake Bled. This town feels like fairy-tale with it iconic blue water and the alps in the background are simply stunning. Bled is also the perfect day trip from Ljubljana. For a complete guide of what to do in Bled in one day, be sure to check my other article!
From here, you can also visit Lake Bohinj, the other must-see lake and Vintgar Gorge. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit neither of them.
Ljubljana - 2 days
While nature is a big portion of this road trip through Slovenia, a visit to the capital cannot be missed. Ljubljana is the biggest city in the country but it remains a small city compared to other European capitals. The charming capital holds numerous activities and delicious restaurants. This youthful and vibrant city is perfect to visit in 2 days, and it is specially pleasant to walk with all the car-free zones. For a complete list of what to do, where to eat or where to sleep in the Slovenian capital, I will suggest to read my complete itinerary.
While you are there, why not have dinner at the castle with a stunning view of the city (read more about it here)? Or why not do a food tour to taste all the culinary secrets that the city holds?
The Slovenian capital is located in the center of the country and it is the perfect base to do many day trips, like Predjama Castle. Most of the other towns or attractions are between 1 or 2 hours away.
Velika Planina - 1 day
Only 20min from Ljubljana, Velika Planina and Kamnik are one of the hidden gems of the country. These 2 nature getaways have alpine trails and gorges like no other. You can read more about these 2 nature destinations here.
Piran - 2 days
Slovenia has a tiny coastline of only 46.6 km. The Istrian peninsula, with towns like Piran, and Portorož, is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean culture and has a different vibe and feel than the rest of the country.
Piran is a seaside medieval town that feels like the laid-back distant cousin of Venice. In fact, Piran was heavily influenced by the Venetian Republic. This influence is mostly visible by the architecture, the bell tower and the Tartini Square being the main visual queues. Piran also seems to be more an Italian town than a Slovenian town.
The city is extremely walkable so stroll around the intricate colourful streets in the old town. Another major attraction of Piran is the beach. I have to warn you that it is not a beautiful sandy beach, as the beach is made of big pebbles and rocks that are not very friendly to your feet. After sunbathing, walk around the beach promenade and indulge into seafood and some drinks (the prices are very cheap!). Don’t forget to catch the sunset by the promenade, it is a real spectacle.
In Piran, we stayed in the artsy and hip hotel, Art Hotel Tartini. Click here for a complete review of the boutique hotel.
This 10-day road trip itinerary through Slovenia is one for the most beautiful and enjoyable trips we have done! For once, we successfully balanced being on the road without being tired with all the moving and unplugging completely from work.
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