Slovenia is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe and there are so many beautiful cities to visit. You’ve probably read why quite a few posts about why you must visit Lake Bled, however the best Slovenian cities to visit for me were the ones where we could sit back with a glass of Slovenian wine—and enjoy the beauty of our surroundings. Thanks to some other bloggers and amazing readers, I’m publishing the 10 most beautiful cities that you’ve probably never heard of to inspire you to visit Slovenia! (My amazing readers gave me FIVE more in Eastern Slovenia, so keep reading for a few more reader-suggested gems!) This includes some cute Slovenian cities surrounded by vineyards, overlooking mountains, and nestled next to the sea. Keep reading for the best places to visit in Slovenia if you hate the crowds (or just love beautiful villages in europe!)
Edit: It turns out that this list is focused on Western Slovenia. I’ve have updated the post with 5 cities in Eastern Slovenia to make it more fair. This list is intended for foreigners visiting Slovenia, not Slovenians. Many people visiting Slovenia only know about Bled, Bohinj, and Ljubljana, so although some of these are known to Slovenians, they are lesser known to a wider audience.
Šmartno is still a secret, but is easily one of the most beautiful places in Slovenia that you can visit. This tiny fortified hilltop town overlooking the Italian border, in the Gorica wine region, is full of beautiful alleyways to wander down, cozy cafes to get 1 euro wine at, and atmospheric doors. Despite its beauty, we were one of the few tourists in this tiny village. If you’re looking for a cute Slovenian city that feels magical, this is it.
Some of houses date back to the 1300s and it is possible to visit a typical “Brda” house if you can find the nice looking art gallery that doubles as a cultural museum. In the museum, they show an interesting film from communist times depicting life in Brda as well as explain elements of a traditional house from the region. (The houses have been passed down over the generations and most are not open to the public.) The wine itself is the reason to visit Šmartno as the wine in this region is just as good (although much less expensive) than the wine you’ll find on the other side of the border (visible from the town). Be sure to stop into an atmospheric cafe to try both the red and the white varieties. Although the cities further from the Italian border are more famous, Šmartno is something you won’t regret adding to your Slovenian must see list.
This lovely city is the perfect jumping off point for adventure travel in Western Slovenia. It is an easy drive to Triglav National Park for a day of hiking, a nice mountain biking adventure in the area, and only 15 minutes from Tolmin Gorges (a gorgeous nearby park with gorges carved out by the Soca river with incredible views). Kobarid is very reasonable to stay in and calm. It’s pretty small, but there’s quite a few beautiful blocks with cute houses!
At night, its main street comes alive and if you look hard enough, there’s a cafe with a view of the church that serves up Slovenian craft beer. Try the beer from Reservoir Dogs if it’s in stock!
We spent one week staying on the outskirts of Mojstrana, and already have tentative plans to go back next summer! This tiny town in Slovenia is nestled right up against Triglav National Park, making it the perfect place to access stunning trails.
The town itself is adorable and quiet, complete with a delicious pizzeria recommended by our Airbnb hosts. The real charm, though, is the access to the surrounding nature: it’s impossible not to fall in love with the dramatic peaks, nearby waterfalls, or colorful Soca River.
If you’re looking to expand your horizons even more, Mojstrana is roughly an hour’s drive from well-known locations such as Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge. – Kate @ Our Escape Clause
Nearby hike! Photo by Kate.
Medana is an authentic village in the Gorizia Hills (Goriška Brda
), which is one of the most important Slovenian wine-producing regions. Hidden from mass tourism, but very popular among Slovenians as a weekend getaway or as a stop on the way to nearby Italy or Soča region it is most famous for its wonderful setting with stunning views on the countryside.
In the last decades ecotourism has strongly developed and it is possible to buy tasty organic home-grown products and local specialties at most of the wineries and restaurants around here. The main reason for visiting Medana besides long walks through the vineyards and cycling to other villages on surrounding hills is of course enjoying is a quality wine-tasting experience. If you are there in August, make sure not to miss its most famous festival, the Days of poetry and wine. -Kat (Findingmalokoko.com: a Slovenian travel blog
The small city of Koper in Southwest Slovenia is located along the water making it a favourite port of call when on a Mediterranean cruise. Due to its proximity to Italy and Croatia, you’ll see flavours of both these countries in this very walkable town. Don’t miss the complimentary tour of Koper’s 15th-century Praetorian Palace located in the city square. -Mary from The Calculated Traveler!
Ribcev Laz to Lake Bohinj is like what Bled is to Lake Bled, though it is by no means not the only small town in the Bohinj region. Perched on the eastern shore of the largest permanent lake in Slovenia, Ribcev Laz and its picturesque stone bridge and church are popular for tourists. The town might be small, but its excellent location means it’s well connected to other towns in the area and offers an excellent base to explore the area. It is also one of the two places where you can rent water sport equipment to explore Lake Bohinj. To the northwest edge of town, you’ll find vast expense of grass on the lake shore that are perfect for a picnic or relaxed afternoon. You’ll even get to see para-gliders from the east, too! For more on Bohinj, check out Nam’s guide!
At the very north-western part of Slovenia, not far from the triple border to Italy and Austria, you find Kranjska Gora – the country´s most famous ski resort. This little town has a long tradition in tourism and maintains a strong connection to the surrounding nature. Located between the Julian Alps and Karavanke mountains, the town has gone under some major architectural and infrastructural renovations in the past 10 years, but it has still retained most of its genuine alpine charm. There are great skiing slopes and cross-country tracks in the winter, but there are many reasons to visit the area in the summer also. Summertime is all about hiking and concurring the peaks of some breathtaking mountains, cycling all the way to Italy, playing golf and relaxing by nearby picturesque lakes, like lake Jasna, where you can also swim or stand-up paddle. Definitely worth a visit while travelling around Slovenia. For more, read Kat’s post about things to do in Kranjska Gora.
Radovljica, the cutest small town in Slovenia, is often overlooked because of the proximity of Bled and Bohinj lakes. It might not be as popular, but it boasts a wide range of sights and activities, while being calm and quiet at the same time.
Its rather small, but picturesque and colorful city centre is a great place to start your visit by exploring a Gingerbread museum and learn how to make it yourself or try traditional cake gibanica. The city is like an outdoor museum, where every road and building tell another, interesting story. After enjoying the splendid views on the valley underneath, you can decide to explore some of numerous hiking or cycling trails in the region or proceed to nearby Lesce to understand the importance of beekeeping traditions for the area and taste different kinds of honey.
The visit to Radovljica can be indeed very sweet and short, but you will always remember this extraordinary small town. You will miss its tranquillity and beauty will visit some more popular areas in Slovenia. Read more by Maja’s experience in Slovenia on her blog!
I came to Slovenia prepared to love its mountain forests and greenery, but instead it was another part of the country that stole my heart: The coast, and in particular the pretty coastal town of Piran.
With such a small share of coastline compared to all-stars Croatia and Italy on either side, it’s easy to see why coastal Slovenia is often overlooked. While the well heeled and heavy-pocketed head to the nearby town of Portoroz, Piran felt relaxed, easy going, and suitable for a range of budgets. Stone steps lead down past the rocks to allow bathing in the crystal clear Adriatic, and you can climb the old city walls and bell tower for a view that stretches as far as Venice.
Piran is about three hours from Ljubljana by bus, or you can take the train to the city of Koper further up the coast, and take a local bus to Piran from there. I visited in September, when the weather was still warm and the summer holiday crowds had flown. (Read more by Ellie on SoulTravelBlog!)
Driving from Slovenia to Italy meant that I wanted to take the scenic route, so when we passed through this beautiful small town in Western Slovenia, I had to pull over after seeing kids jumping off the rocks close to the river. The famous Soca river runs through this charming and small town that has a rich cultural heritage and great hiking/nature nearby.
If you come here in summer, you’ll see local citizens and a few foreigners (very few!) wading into the very cold Soca river for a quick dip or a dive off the nearby rocks. Watching the local kids can be fun although there’s a festival in summer where people dive off its most famous bridge into the freezing cold water. Even if you’re not one for very cold rivers, don’t miss this beautiful city, which has a handful of cute cafes nestled up in the town square. Its colorful houses and iconic river make it one of the best cities in Slovenia to stop off in when doing a road trip!
I did not receive any submissions about the East for the original 10 cities post, but I want to be fair to the rest of Slovenia. Many readers recommended cities in Eastern Slovenia, which is lesser known to foreign tourists. These were the most recommended at time of editing. I am open to editing these further, so please comment with your favorites if they’re not here!
This city in Eastern Slovenia (close to the Croatian/Austrian border) is recommended as one of the most beautiful cities to visit…and for its wine. Visit for the historic church, the wine, mountain biking, and friendly people! One reader mentioned that the nearby Mura river is beautiful and perfect for crossing on a wooden ferry.
This picturesque town in the southeastern part of Slovenian has a castle in the middle of the river. It sounds like a fairy tale and you can even STAY in the castle
. I’m sold.
Maribor is Slovenia’s second largest city
and I’ve already experienced the friendliness of its residents (many who have personally reached out to offer to show me around upon mentioning that I should visit!). It has many historic buildings, including Europe’s second oldest synagogue and a church built in the 14th century. Combined with its beautiful red houses and its festivals, I want to visit!
This cute town was recommended by quite a few Slovenians–and its castle sold me right away. Metlika is located in the southeastern part of Slovenia and is part of the White Carniola
region, which is famous for its special folk traditions (including pottery/dance/food). There’s some jaw droppingly beautiful springs nearby not to miss.
Ptuj is one of Slovenia’s oldest c
ities and one of the one that keeps coming up in the recommendations! It is a medieval city with beautiful architecture, including castles and historic churches. It also boasts a famous Carnival.
Have you been to Slovenia and to any of these towns? Which one is your favorite!?