© Good Travel Guide, November 2021 by Nika Šinigoj
If you have ever heard about Slovenia, skiing, spectacular caves and abundant green forests will pop up in your mind. Slovenia is located in Central Europe and well-known for its rich culture, customs, language and the marvelous landscapes and so forth. 60% of Slovenia is covered by forest. Over a third of the country is protected for nature conservation. This is why Slovenia sustainable tourism is flourishing.
Some of the most beautiful places are still rather unknown. They offer unspoiled nature and ancient traditions, including how to make food and drinks, such as special beers and wines.
Furthermore, in 2016, Slovenia was recognised by Green Destinations as the worlds first green country destination. This is the result of hard work by the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB).
Our trip continues in the Eastern part of Slovenia. In the first part of our guide we finished the trip in Ljubljana, the capital city of Ljubljana, from where you can travel anywhere in Slovenia very easily, as public transport routes with train and bus are very well structured.
PART 1: EXPLORE EASTERN SLOVENIA
Day 8: Črnomelj (1 day trip)
How to get there?
- Train: 100 km
- Duration: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Estimate cost: 7-10€
Start from Ljubljana -> Črnomelj (1 day trip) -> back to Ljubljana
Unfortunately, there are no direct public transport connections from this destination (Črnomelj) to our next destination (Celje) on the itinerary. However, it wouldn’t be a holistic experience of Slovenia if you didn’t visit the South, as it presents its own unique landscape and a community of incredibly hospitable people, who won’t hesitate to invite you to their cellar for a glass of homemade wine. Therefore, we suggest taking a day trip from Ljubljana to the heart of the area of White Carniola, Črnomelj.
The town was given its name Črnomelj (“Blackmill”) after a miller who tried to scam a good fairy, disguised as an old lady, by milling her brown flour instead of white, for which he was punished. Besides its name Črnomelj and the region of White Carniola, is known for its unique traditional dishes. While you are in Črnomelj you have to try the Belokranjska pogača (flatbread) for breakfast, Belokranjske žlikrofe (White Carniola dumplings) for lunch, and Belokranjska povitica (White Carniola rolled cake) for dessert.
For those of you who enjoy a glass of wine with your meal, this is the perfect location to go on a wine tasting tour around town. The White Carniola Wine Region is considered a true Slovenian wine oasis, because of its limestone soil, the protection from the cold northern winds, and the openness towards the south that provide great conditions for the growing of grapevines. These conditions enable the growth of a variety of excellent wines: Blue Frankish, Yellow Muscat, Portuguese Red, and Portuguese Blue.
Besides delicious food, there are also plenty of great opportunities to burn off those calories in Črnomelj. You can go hiking on Mount Mirna, or Sodevci Wall to experience an unforgettable view of the beautiful Bela Krajina and snap some breathtaking pictures for your Instagram profile.
For those of you who like more thrilling experiences, the clean and warm Kolpa River does not offer only summer swimming and languid lazing on the green banks with tended beaches. From spring to fall, you can also take a kayak, canoe, or SUP down the river. You can also spice up your day with exciting rafting. The ride on a rubber boat will show the other, wild, nature of the river’s seemingly calm waters.
Day 9: Celje
- Train: 80 km
- Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Approximate cost: 7-8€
Start from Ljubljana -> Celje
Today we will start our adventure towards the Eastern side of Slovenia. Despite the country’s small size, the landscape changes quite quickly when you start driving, and the diversity is unique in each corner of Slovenia. We are starting our trip on the eastern side in Celje, the regional center of the traditional Slovenian region of Styria where the power of green energy can be felt at every step. It is one of the rare towns in Europe that have a Town Forest covering an area of no less than 94 hectares. Walk to the Savinja River embankment and the famous Rafter Statue and cross the Rafters’ Bridge.
You will instantly find yourself in the City Park and in the shade offered by the tall trees of the Celje City Forest. Where Counts of Celje once used to travel from the Old Castle to the city, today there are seven adventure and leisure trails as well as one educational/experiential trail.
Beneath the forest tree canopies, you can find the city’s hidden treasure, the country’s largest treehouse. Made entirely of local wood, it is wonderfully integrated into its wooded surroundings. Open for both individuals and groups daily and during workshops, concerts, poetry nights taking place in the house and nearby.
In the old town center of Celje, you can find the remains of an old Roman road, medieval towers, exceptional architectural heritage, and modern squares with diverse and unique restaurants and businesses. Fill your day with some cultural activities and visit the Celje Regional Museum which has been collecting, protecting, and representing the cultural heritage of Celje for over 130 years, offered in two central city exhibition venues (Prince’s Mansion and the Old Landgrave’s House). You can view the Counts of Celje Exhibition catching the spirit of the time of this noble family and their magnificent architecture including the two knights’ halls; the Celeia exhibition experiencing the ancient Roman face of the city.
If you look up while walking in the town center you cannot miss the breathtaking sight of the Castle of Celje, standing mighty on the top of an isolated hill. The mighty castle of Counts of Celje with its fortified walls has been reigning over the town for centuries and it is one of the most important medieval castles in Slovenia. The castle is reachable by foot as well, or you can decide to rent a bike and ride the 3 kilometers to the top.
Day 10: Maribor
- Train: 55 km
- Duration: 45 minutes
- Approximate cost: 6-9€
Start from Celje -> Maribor
We continue our trip to the second-largest city in Slovenia, Maribor. Maribor is nestled between sunny hills dotted with vineyards and the lush Pohorje Mountains, with the Drava River flowing through the city.
After enjoying the beautiful Bohinjska Bistrica, we take a train from Bohinjska Bistrica to Most na Soči, a small town located on a rocky crest above the confluence of Soča and Idrijca rivers. Tell me, does it remind you of a small village in a fairy tale? Got some time roaming around the town, it’s worth a visit.
Let’s take a bus from train station Most na Soči to Tolmin.
Once you arrive, we will head to Tolmin Gorge which is a starting point to Triglav National Park, is a combination of an easy walk (about 1 hour), beautiful scenery, ice cold water, and nice views. (the entry price is maximum €10,00 and vary months). If your soul is no longer at peace, immerse yourself in nature.
After sight-seeing, we will move from Tolmin to Bovec by bus
Bovec is a town in the Littoral region in northwestern Slovenia, close to the border with Italy. Don’t you ever think it’s a small boring town, it is considered as an outdoor paradise with various activities that you and your beloved can take part in.
Day 11: Ptuj (day trip)
- Bus: 77 km
- Duration: 1h45
- Approximate cost: 8€
As Ptuj is located on the far NorthEastern side of Slovenia, close to the Hungarian border, all public transport has to travel through Maribor on the way back towards central Slovenia. Therefore, we suggest visiting Ptuj on a day trip from Maribor, as it fosters a very unique flat landscape that is very different from any other part of Slovenia.
If you and your beloved have some free time then don’t skip the stone railed bridge in Solkan also known as Solkan Bridge which is one of the most famous bridges in Slovenia. The bridge was repaired multiple times as it witnessed the upside down of history during World War I and II. The bridge is over the unbelievable marble green of Soča River making the scene more romantic, don’t you think?
Are you still interested in hiking? Then we would love to take you on a tour to some of the best views in The Otlica Natural Window, don’t worry if you get lost, the 8 km well-marked trails were already there, waiting for you to set off along the trails. It has a lot of benches for you at the break points so no worries if you lose your breath on the hiking trails and enjoy the surrounding scenery such as Ajdovščina and the upper Vipava Valley.
Once you get to the peak of the path, you will reward yourself with extraordinary views of Otlica Window and the summit of Čaven, you’ll understand the concept of Otlica Window’s name.
Day 12: Radlje ob Dravi and Slovenj Gradec
- Bus: 64 km
- Duration: 1h30
- Approximate cost: 6€ – 17€
Nova Gorica -> Postojna
Our journey hasn’t been over yet so keep moving on, guys. We will take BUS from Nova Gorica -> Postojna. Postojna is a small town in the traditional region of Inner Carniola, in southwestern Slovenia. Despite being a small town, it was blessed with abundant nature and full of mysterious stories and legends such as the Baby Dragon or Erasmus of predjama. If you are looking for inspirational ideas for artistic creativity then don’t miss this little town.
Moreover, this little town attracts a lot of tourist’s attention since it has Postojna Cave, the most visited tourist cave in Europe and the most biologically diverse in the world. I do not exaggerate at all, more than 38 million visitors from all over the world have seen Postojna Cave. You will begin your visit at the departure platform of the unique cave railway. A 5-kilometre subterranean trail is available for tourist visits and the accessibility for immobility people.
One more funny fact is that you may see the Baby Dragon and any species you haven’t seen in your life and its stories.
Day 14: Ljubljana and Ljubljana Airport
- Train: 63 km
- Duration: 1h15
- Approximate cost: 5€ – 13€
*Note: Highly recommend purchasing the Koper Card – the key that opens the city gates and allows you to easily explore the city centre of Koper. Moreover, Checkout the 365 Days of Sunny Events to join Koper regional events
*Highly recommend the original dish in Koper: Fritaja with Wild Asparagus on Olive Oil, Refošk wine
We have been hiking for the past few days so we will take it easy this time by immersing ourselves deeply in a historical and charming town named Koper also known as a city of hundreds of suns. Every step you take, you will be surprised by Slovenia’s natural and cultural gems. Are you interested in what you need to see in Koper?
Visiting a small village nearby where a Roman church named Church of the Holy Trinity which is the famous for the Dance of Death or Danse Macabre (a fresco that shows 11 skeletons leading the same number of people forward to a freshly dug grave), this church is also renown for a barrel vault and high bell tower decorated with Gothic paintings from 1490 in Hrastovlje.
Or you can sightsee at the Socerb Castle, built in the 13th century, the only bigger fort building at the Karst edge above the Slovenian coast. Not only the castle itself, there is a Karst cave called Holy Cave below the castle, which is connected to the courtyard of the castle.
Is there anything you don’t want to overlook? What about an antique palace? The Praetorian Palace closes the southern side of the central town square – the Tito Square. The palace was built in the 13th century, while it received its current appearance in the middle of the 15th century. The building’s appearance is dominated by the late Gothic-Renaissance and Venetian Gothic style. It’s considered as the top attraction in Koper, one of the destinations awarded by Slovenia Green Destination.
As we mentioned above, Koper is a city of traditional cuisine and wine so we shall visit some sustainable gastronomies in Koper and get the taste of traditional Slovenia food. I bet it causes your mouth to drool with a sip of wine and a bite of Fritalje with wild asparagus.