Slovenia's most beautiful natural attractions

Tamara Hinson

Record-breaking numbers of tourists are heading to Slovenia. It's emerging as a destination at the forefront of sustainability, which is why its high time to showcase Slovenia's (all natural) best bits…

Soča Valley

A popular rafting, kayaking and canoeing spot (thanks to the emerald green river which slices through the valley), Soča is Slovenia's most popular adventure sports destination.

Hikers and cyclists also come here to explore the Walk of Peace, a long distance trail and memorial which stretches from the mountains to the Adriatic sea.

The story behind its name? The Soča river runs north-south along what was once the border of Austria and Italy. It became a 370-mile front when Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary in 1915. Today, there's plenty for history buffs, including military museums and abandoned forts.

 

Julian Alps

Come to this rambling, forest-filled mountain range to hike through alpine meadows in the summer (preferably while singing something from The Sound of Music) and to enjoy some of Europe's best skiing opportunities in winter.

Dominated by craggy Mount Triglav (Slovenia's highest peak), this region is also where you'll find Lake Bled—the only one in the country with its very own island. Hop on a traditional pletna boat to reach it, then visit the Assumption of Mary Church, where you can ring its bell.

Legend states that if you do so, all your wishes will come true…

 

Piran

Although Piran is actually a town, it makes the cut due to its position on one of Slovenia's prettiest stretches of Adriatic coastline.

Feeling hungry? Head to one of the harbourside restaurants to feast on some of the freshest fish you'll ever taste. Afterward, check out the old town—it's one of the best-preserved in Europe, and it's famous for its striking Venetian Gothic buildings.

There's a reason for the resemblance to Venice. Between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries, Piran was part of the Republic of Venice and became part of Italy for the second time between 1918 and 1947.

 

Goriška Brda

If you're planning on visiting this hilly wine region we recommend writing the name down beforehand—you won't be the only visitor who struggles to pronounce it.

You'll find a beautiful rural paradise filled with olive, fig and cherry trees, along with quaint villages like Šmaratno, surrounded by thick walls dotted with watchtowers.

The oldest buildings here were constructed by the Romans and some of the country's best wines are produced in the nearby village of Medana, where several vineyards welcome tours.

 

Triglav National Park

2018 will mark 240 years since four Slovenian climbers made the first successful ascent of Mount Triglav, which give its name to the park, and which appears on the country's national flag.

Highlights of this huge park, which covers four per cent of Slovenia, includes Lake Bohinj, the Savica waterfall, the Tolmin Gorge (famous for its hot springs) and the Trenta Valley, the starting point for the Soča River.

Hikers come from all over the world to explore the park's trails, and there are routes for all abilities.

 

Lake Bled

Although we've referred to Lake Bled before, it's certainly worthy of its own entry. An enormous, emerald green body of water with a castle-topped island in its centre, the lake is one of Slovenia's most photographed spots.

It's also at the heart of various legends. Our favourite one? That it was created by fairies, who grew frustrated at local shepherds for allowing their sheep to eat the soft grass the fairies loved to dance on. In anger, they flooded the valley, leaving an island in its centre where they could continue to dance.

 

Postojna Cave

This huge cave, in south-western Slovenia, is believed to be over two million years old, and since it opened to the public 200 years ago, over 37 million people have visited it, so watch out for those pesky selfie sticks.

It's also home to one of the world's rarest (and admittedly weirdest) species including an eyeless aquatic salamander known locally as olms.

The creatures, which can live up to 100 years and grow up to one foot in length, are the world's largest cave-dwelling animals.

 

Mount Peca underground tunnels

If you're a keen mountain biker or kayaker looking for your next adrenaline hit, why not head underground?

Our one disclaimer—this isn't technically a natural attraction (it's a former lead mine) but it's too good not to include.

The 500-mile-long network of tunnels can be explored on foot or on bikes, and there's even an underground train.

The huge number of underground lakes also makes it one of Slovenia's most spectacular kayaking spots, and concerts are held in several of the caverns. Perhaps one to avoid if you suffer from claustrophobia.

 

Lake Bohinj

A word of warning—all lakes will look rather boring from this point on. Lake Bohinj, which is Slovenia's largest permanent body of water, is surrounded by forests and over 1,000 plant species.

Visit in May and you'll be there for the annual Wildflower Festival. Walk around its perimetre (allow around four hours), explore the pretty lakeside town of Ribčev Laz or enjoy a different perspective by soaring to the top of Mount Vogel in the cable car which departs from the lake's western end.

 

Portorož

Portorož is a laidback seaside town on the country's south-western coast, but it's the area's beautiful coastal wetland areas which earn its place on this list.

The Sečovlje salt pans aren't just Slovenia's largest wetland area, but home to a huge range of birdlife—over 272 species.

The area is best explored by foot or on bike, and an essential stop off is the Museum of Salt-making, where you can learn about Portorož's connections with salt production.

 

Škocjan Caves

This super-sized, UNESCO-listed cave system in south-western Slovenia is home to the largest cavern in Europe, as well as an underground river and an underground canal.

The best selfie spot? The underground Cerkvenik suspension bridge, which hangs 50 metres above the river.

Highlights include the area known as Paradise, filled with thousands of stalagmites and stalactites, and the beautiful Tominč Cave, where remains of a prehistoric village were found.