We went on a road trip to Slovenia with our then 5 months old and we had a blast. Funnily enough I did not really have Slovenia on my travel radar before we went. I had been to ALL is neighbouring countries (Austria, Italy, Croatia and Hungary), but somehow missed the hidden gem that Slovenia is. Slovenia’s tourism slogan is I FEEL sLOVEenia and we truly did fall in love with this country, it is landscapes and food. Let me share with you the 12 reasons why we consider Slovenia the ultimate European family travel destination that you and your family must visit.
# 1 IT IS VERY ROADTRIP FRIENDLY
The country is small (the size of Wales) and therefore you are never on the road for long. We crossed the entire country from the coastal town of Izola to Maribor within less than 4 hours! (incl stops). Not only are the distances short, the roads are very well maintained and signage is clear.
# 2 IT HAS THE WORLD’S YUMMIEST ICECREAM
It is a destination for ice cream lovers! There is something called a World Ice Cream Index (I kid you not) and after collecting over 25000 votes to find the best ice cream in the world, Lolita a Ljubljana based ice cream store won World’s Best Icecream in 2015. In 2017 Sava Hotels & Resorts at Lake Bled won the title, while Lolita got 10th place and another Slovenia based ice cream parlour got the 6th spot. I have to say there REALLY IS something about the ice cream in Slovenia…it was on our menu each day on our 15 day roadtrip.
#3 IT INVENTED BLED CREAM CAKE
Another local treat that made me forget about my mantra ” a moment on the lips is a lifetime on the lips” is Bled cream cake. Bled cream cake is sold all over Slovenia and there are loads of variations of it. The one that you get at the restaurant where it was invented at Lake Bled was the best one we came across. It is the right level of sweet, without being overbearing and a dessert my hubs and I can agree on. Also the city of Bled with it’s castle and famous lake are a MUST see. We had a nice relaxing walk around the lake ( very stroller friendly!) which took us about 2,5 hours. Bled is a very toddler friendly destination.
In general Slovenian food ( a mix between Hungarian, Italian and Austrian cuisine) is very good and also their local craft beer scene and wines don’t get enough international recognition.
# 4 NATURE IS VARIED AND ACCESSIBLE ALSO wITH KIDS
On our trip we saw the salt planes at the coast, the beautiful peninsular of Piran, the vineyards bordering Hungary, the Triglav mountain pass road, the Julian Alps, Vintgar Gorge and so much more. Everywhere we went, we found well marked trails for all levels, unspoilt nature, lakes with crystal clear water and often enough we were in some of the most beautiful , serene spots all by ourselves. We visited at the end of August; the weather was gorgeous and it was low-sesaon, so we never had to queue up for any attractions. Most places were accesible with our all-terrain City Jogger Elite stroller and if not we got out our beloved Ergobaby.
# 5 IT IS NOT OVERRUN BY TOURISTS (YET!)
All it is neighbouring countries are tourist hot spots! Americans dream of visiting Austria to dance through the mountains in Salzburg a la Sound of Music , Game of Thrones fans are flocking to King’s Landing aka Dubrovnik in Croatia . The Italian town of Trieste is home to the magnificent Miramare Castle which featured in James Bond movies. Venice is only a short drive away too, yet most tourists pass through Slovenia on their way to other places…huge mistake, they are missing out big time.
# 6 THE JULIAN ALPS MOUNTAIN RANGE IS PICTURE PERFECT
We spent time in the beautiful village of Kranjska Gora , which gave us easy access to the Julian Alps. My hubs is born and raised in Colorado and seeing mountains and breathing crisp mountain air ( we currently live in The Netherlands where the highest peak is a whooping 322 metres/1,058 ft) put an extra spring in his step. We drove the Vršič Pass road with an elevation of 1,611 metres (5,285 ft) and stopped at the Russian Chapel, which was a nice daytrip with beautiful panorama views.
⇒ We have a post on our Top 4 things to do in Kranjska Gora
#7 IT HAS A WELL ORGANIZED FARM STAY PROGRAM
There are more than 850 tourist farms in Slovenia, most can be booked vis booking.com. We stayed at two ( see itinerary below for details) it is a beautiful way to have a kid friendly low key holiday. As the Association of Tourist Farms of Slovenia state on their site: “Slovenia`s tourist farms will fulfill the expectations of old and young alike. Adults will find the corners of peace and relaxation. Children will find a limitless playground; adults will get to know the local people and sit chatting with them in the evenings, while the farm children will introduce their peers from the city to the mysteries of farm life and delight them with the farm animals.”
# 8 SLOVENIA IS AFFORDABLE AND KID FRIENDLY
The capital city of Ljubiljana is very green, walkable, bike friendly, kid friendly and a perfect weekend getaway location! We also found the prices for food and accommodation very reasonable compared to European top locations like Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Copenhagen & co. We never encountered a restaurant where our little one was not welcomed with open arms and high chairs and changing facilties were easily found.
# 9 EVERYONE SPEAKS ANOTHER LANGUAGE
Due to its history and location everyone we met spoke several languages. The main foreign languages spoken are Italian, German and English. This made it very easy to get around and there is even an English language radio station (Radio Slovenia International) with hourly news and traffic updates in German and English.
#10 IT IS EASY TO INTEGRATE IT INTO ALMOST ANY EUROPEAN ROADTRIP ITINERARY
The central European location makes it easy to integrate it into almost any European itinerary. You can reach many beautiful European cities from Ljubljana within less than 4 hours driving. There is also an extensive bus and train network.
Hungary (Budapest 460km) / Italy (Venice 240 km and Trieste 100km) / Croatia (Zagreb 140km or Pula 200km. Dubrovnik is a bit further with 656km) / Austria (Salzburg 260km ,Graz 190km and Vienna 380km).
Tip: When you drive from Croatia to Slovenia, there are several border crossings. Please be aware that some of the small border crossings on country roads are only for EU nationals, all other nationalities have to cross via the main border at the highway. Read more about it here.
#11 SLOVENIA HAS WORLDCUP MOUNTAINBIKE TRAILS AND ADRENALINE EVOKING ADVENTUREs AWAITING IT’s VISITORS
On this trip my hus treated himself to some downhill fun at two bike parks Pohorje and Kranjska Gora. Both places had a good infrastructure , were easy to get to with plenty of parking , several food outlets and areas to play with the little one. In general even if you are not into downhill mountainbiking, there are plenty of other things to do. Wildwater rafting, hiking, climbing or get the adrenaline pumping at the world’s steepest zip line descent in the world ( book online, we missed out as it was fully booked!)
# 12 SLOVENIA IS LIKE SEVERAL COUNTRIES IN ONE
To sum it all up we concluded at the end of our trip that the best way to describe Slovenia is to say that it is several countries in one.It has a beautiful albeit short Mediterranean coastline, lush green picturesque valley’s and snow-capped Alps, serene wine regions, alpine lakes with crystal clear water, walkable bike-friendly cities and it is a short flight from most European top destinations. It has a small international airport that is easy to navigate and a cuisine that has options for diverse taste buds . And don’t forget Slovenia has the best ice cream on this planet!
Our 15 DAY Itinerary
Travelling with a wee one, we always choose a homebase from which we explore the area. We try to avoid having to move daily. Below is an overview of what we did and where we stayed:
|Day 1: Arrived in Ljubljana – Picked up Sixt rental car at the airport and drove down to the coastal town of Izola ( 2-3 hours)
Day 2:Beach day/explored the beautiful sleepy harbour town of Izola and
Day 3: Daytrip to Piran & Salt plains of Secovlje (within 1 hour from Izola)
Day 4: Trieste Italy for a daytrip ( 30 min from Izola)
|MARIBOR||FARM STAY FIRBAS|
|Day 5: Drove from Izola to our farm stay close to Maribor ( 4 hours) stopover in Celje and at Predjama Castle. We had to skip the Skocjan caves, but would recommend visiting them on the way to Maribor, as we heard that they are very unique.
Day 6: Explored Maribor and Pohorje
Day 7: Daytrip to Ptuj and wine region ( all within 1- 2 hours range of Maribor)
|LJUBLJANA||AirBnB ( in the city centre with garage, very child friendly)|
|Day 8: Left Maribor for Ljubljana ( 2 hours)
Day 9: Exploring the Slovenian capital
Day 10: Went to the zoo and Tivoli park and local art museum
Day 11: Sightseeing and shopping
|KRANJSKA GORA||FARM STAY KOSIR|
|Day 12: Ljubljana to Kranjska Gora ( 2 hours) stopped at the beautiful Vintgar Gorge
Day 13: Explored Kranjska Gora and drove through the Triglav Mountains Park
|BLED||HOTEL PARK ( SAVA RESORTS)|
|Day 14: Left Kranjska Gora to enjoy a full day in amazing Bled ( 30 min)
Day 15: Enjoyed Bled and in the evening flew home ( Bled to Airport of Ljubljana was a 40 min drive)
If you haven’t yet visited Slovenia make sure you visit it soon. If you have been what was your favourite place?
Want to read more of our travel stories, visit our ‘where we have been’ page to see all of the travel adventures we blogged about.
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Feature Image Credit: https://www.slovenia.info/en/business/slovenian-tourist-board/i-feel-slovenia