19 Dec 23

Why Slovenia is the perfect European getaway!

Amanda Thompson Slovenia

Find out why Slovenia is an unmissable European experience and the place to go for your next girls getaway!

If Lake Bled is the only place that comes to mind when you think of Slovenia, I am here to happily change that! This tiny central European nation that was formerly part of Yugoslavia is accessible, safe, charming and intriguing. Its capital city Ljubljana (from where all our hiking adventures begin) is vibrant and sophisticated. The country is so compact that you can enjoy the sunshine on the Adriatic coast and an hour later be hiking in the Julian Alps! It has all the historical allure of Prague, dazzling alpine scenery to match Switzerland, and cuisine that could give Italy a run for its money – all minus the tourist crowds.

With its own international airport it’s easy to reach from Australia. It’s surprisingly easy for English speakers to travel in. Plus, it was recently voted the safest destination in Europe for female travellers.

It’s for these reasons (and many more) that a growing number of our travellers have chosen Slovenia as their next walking holiday destination.

In fact, there’s been a spike in the number of enquiries and bookings I’ve received from women looking for a special destination to explore and share with their female travel companions. I’ve mapped out itineraries for half a dozen group getaways in Slovenia in 2024, including for a 60th birthday celebration and for a group of friends for their annual trekking trip.

As well as world-class hiking trails, you’ll find top-notch food and wine, health and wellness resorts, and the coolest places to stay, so there are plenty of unique experiences to enjoy and opportunities to celebrate. Check out my top 10 below.

Get your friends together and go!

1. Visit an underground winery

Established in 1847, the Vinag Wine Cellar in Maribor is one of the biggest traditional tunnel wine cellars in Central Europe. Located 18m underground, it holds 5½ million litres of wine (including a riesling made during WWII) in tunnels stretching for 2½km. The walls of the cellar corridors are covered with 200-year-old mould, which provides the best microclimate for the maturing wines. Visitors can visit the tasting rooms and choose from the endless offer. The cellar also doubles as a venue for various events and concerts because of its great acoustics.

2. Explore Piran

The pretty and well-preserved coastal town of Piran is a very special and precious city that has maintained its clustered medieval structure, narrow winding streets, squares and churches. It has a magical blend of wonderful Venetian architecture, rich pastel colours, the Adriatic Sea as a backdrop and Italy on the horizon. Stellar seafood restaurants are strung along the waterfront. Just five steps from the sea is Hotel Piran, which offers rooms with views over the old city centre to one side and breathtaking views of the Adriatic on the other.

3. Dine at Hiša Franko

Hiša Franko (pronounced Hee-sha Franko) has been on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list since 2017. In September 2023, chef Ana Roš was awarded 3 Michelin stars! The restaurant is actually a big house in the countryside, located in Kobarid, a charming little town in the stunning Soča Valley. The area is abundant with trout, deer, goats, forest fruits and wild plants, which they source from a closely knit community of foragers, shepherds, cheese makers, hunters and fishermen and incorporate into their daily menu.

4. Indulge at the Castle Vineyard

Located on a green hill in the middle of the city is the magical Ljubljana Castle. Treat yourself to an incredible culinary experience at the Castle Vineyard. A 6-course dinner under the stars, complemented with carefully selected wines, is available between June and September. The history of the Castle itself is colourful and astonishing so a guided tour is worthwhile. On Friday nights you can enjoy great live music (jazz or jazz-related rhythms and genres) in the unique setting of the Rock Hall and on midsummer nights (July and August) an open-air cinema takes over the courtyard. The most comfortable and picturesque route to Ljubljana Castle is a ride in the funicular railway.

5. Soak in a Slovenian spa

For centuries, people have pampered themselves in hot Slovenian springs, which have become integral to the towns where they exist. Visitors can enjoy pure relaxation and pleasure in the more than 130 spa and wellness centres. There are 15 officially registered natural health resorts and spas across the Pannonian Plain, the Coastal and Karst Region and Alpine Slovenia. Their 5-star wellness treatments and experiences are next level!

6. Sample Slovenia wine

Slovenia wines receive a lot of attention due to their diversity and quality. In mid-June at the annual Ljubljana Wine Route event, Slovenian winemakers and foodies get together at Slovenia’s most prestigious wine event to offer more than 350 wine and culinary samples at the city’s annual wine festival. All wine-growing regions of Slovenia are represented. Sweet and savoury delicacies include truffles, cheeses and oysters.

7. Stay at a sustainable hotel

At the sustainable organic and holistic Hotel St Daniel in magical Štanjel in the Karst you can sleep in peace, recharge your batteries, exercise in a magical environment and enjoy organic, healthy food and drink. Inside the rooms there are pendulums that will re-tune you to the right frequency; a ritual with crystals awaits you in the morning. There are herbal, Finnish and infrared saunas as well as a non-chlorinated swimming pool. Food is sourced only from certified organic producers and the cooking is by intuition (there is no menu).

8. Take a guided food tour

Ljubljana’s Central Market is the biggest farmer’s market ever! During a 2-hour guided tour you will stroll around sampling tasty seasonal produce from local growers. Every Friday from mid-March until the end of October Pogačarjev trg square hosts a unique food market where chefs of Slovenian restaurants prepare various dishes from all over the world.

9. Taste tapas at TaBar

Slovenian-inspired tapas is the name of the game at TaBar. This informal and friendly restaurant in the middle of Ljubljana’s old town is the perfect place to go ‘if you love fine dining but you don’t feel like putting on your shiny shoes’. The cuisine is creative and imaginative, and the wine list is one of the best in the whole country. The staff are all super friendly and love to share their knowledge on Slovenian wine and wineries. This is a great place to get acquainted with orange wine.

10. Truffle hunt in the Istrian hinterland

At a unique residence in the Istrian hinterland you can go on a truffle hunting tour with a real truffle hunter and rent a bike to cycle the Parenzana route through vineyards and olive plantations. The rooms at Gold Istra are beautiful and unique, representing the truffles, wine, olive oil and lavender for which the Istrian hinterland is known.

Please note that these are recommendations of what to see and do in Slovenia. They are not inclusions on our hiking itineraries. For further advice and additional recommendations, please contact our Slovenian specialist Amanda on (03) 5976 3763 or email alps@rawtravel.com

While Slovenia’s popularity and tourist numbers are increasing, the country very deliberately has no room for mass tourism. Slovenia has been committed to sustainable tourism and liveability for Slovenians for years. If you visit, you’ll notice how peaceful, green and clean it is in the city, forest, alpine areas and countryside.

WHAT WE OFFER
Amanda Thompson

Written By

Amanda Thompson

Amanda is RAW Travel's specialist for the European Alps. With a passion for mountain treks and a wealth of industry experience, she's your go-to guru for planning the ultimate adventure. Former PT turned trekking expert, Amanda has the best training tips and insights to ensure your journey through the Alps is nothing short of epic.

sign up to our newsletter

explore the world with Raw