Hiking, Boating and Cycling: A Slovenia Family Holiday
Explore Slovenia's untouched natural beauty on this 12-day family adventure that sees you hiking, biking and boating in some of the country's prettiest and most interesting destinations.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Take a ride on a traditional pletna boat around Lake Bled, stopping at Bled Island to explore the iconic castle
- Drive the hairpin bends of the Vršič Pass on your way to the lush Soca Valley
- Hike family-friendly trails in the Julian Alps with an expert guide
- Cross the border into Croatia to cycle the scenic Parenzana route
- Visit the UNESCO-listed town of Kostanjevica na Krki for a dose of family-friendly culture and to indulge in a cheese tasting
- Raft the rapids of the Soca river
- Sample local wines (and juices for the children) from hillside vineyards
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When To Travel
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Day 1: Arrive in Slovenia and Head to the Julian Alps
Your Slovenia family holiday starts today with a direct flight to Ljubljana from London at around lunchtime. The flight takes just two-and-a-quarter-hours.
On arrival, collect your hire car (and car seats - if required), and drive to your first destination: a lovely wood-clad lodge near Lake Bohinj in the shadow of the Julian Alps. The drive will take an hour, so you'll have time to stretch your legs this afternoon before supper at the hotel and an early night after a long day for the children.
Day 2: Boat Ride on Lake Bohinj
There is a day of adventure ahead of you today, and it starts when you meet your private guide.
Part of the beautiful Julian Alps, the area of Bohinj is home to the towering peaks of Triglav National Park (including Slovenia's highest mountain) and the eponymous Lake Bohinj, which you'll be boating on first thing today. Climb aboard your vessel and glide across the water, taking in the amazing scenery around you as you guide teaches you about the history and natural riches of the area.
After sailing, hop in the cable car and begin the 500ft ascent to Mount Vogel, where you'll stop for lunch with epic views.
After filling your boots with some scrumptious (and fussy child-friendly) Slovenian cuisine, you'll have the chance to pull on your walking boots and hike around the area (and even try some climbing routes if your family is seriously adventurous), before you head back down to lake level for a choice of stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and rafting.
Day 3: Boating to Bled Island
After breakfast at your lodge, it's time to jump in the car and make the 30-minute drive east towards the next stop on your Slovenia family holiday - Lake Bled.
One of the most iconic sites in Slovenia thanks to its verdant shores and vibrant turquoise waters, Lake Bled is best explored by boat. You'll have your own pletna (a traditional boat unique to Bled) and oarsman to take you on a tranquil trip around the lake. Your oarsman will paddle you over to Bled Island and drop you off to give you plenty of time to explore. The most recognisable site is the intriguing Church of the Assumption, whose white tower is a distinctive shape on the landscape. Take a walk around the lush greenery to visit other interesting island buildings such as the bell-tower, the chaplain's house and the provost's house, as well as the wishing bell where the children can make their wishes.
Wishes made, your oarsman will whisk you back across the water towards Bled Castle. Offering an insight into the country's history in its museum as well as amazing views of the surrounding Carniola region, the castle comes to life with shows of traditional skills such as archery or printing which the children can watch as you parents sample some of the wines from the castle's cellar.
After a quick lunch it's time to get back in your car to make the quick two-mile trip to Vintgar Gorge. Carving its way through the vertical rocks of the Hom and Bort hills, and dotted with waterfalls, pools and rapids, the gorge is one of the most popular spots for nature lovers. You will be taken on a trail to see the main sites, including the Sum waterfall, Bohinj railway bridge and the man-made dam.
After your fun-filled day, hop back in the car and head back to your lodge in Bohinj.
Day 4: Private Hiking with your Guide in the Triglav National Park
Be sure to fill up at breakfast today as you've got a hike ahead of you.
Your private hiking guide is an expert in the history, culture and terrain of Slovenia and has organised a route that suits family's interests and abilities. You'll be able to learn about your surroundings as you go, stopping off for a picnic lunch at a scenic spot.
Your route can take anything from two to four hours so we have left the rest of the day free for you to spend as you wish. You may want to head back to the hotel to rest tired feet, or we can add on more activities in the area such as cycling.
Day 5: A Scenic Drive to Soca
You have another active day ahead of you today on your family holiday to Slovenia as you make your way to Soca, which sits on the other side of Trigavski National Park.
The drive takes a total of two hours as you have to loop around the perimeter of the park, but you'll have extra time to stop off along the way. We recommend spending some time at the pretty valley village of Kranjska Gora, and nearby Lake Jasna - the ideal spot to stretch your legs and soak up the scenery.
As you continue on your way from the lake towards Soca, you'll drive via the Vršič Pass, one of the most scenic roads in the world with its hairpin turns and dramatic views of the Julian Alps.
Once you arrive in Soca, grab some lunch before you get ready for your activity-filled afternoon. You'll have the choice of canyoning, kayaking or rafting on the Soca River, and you can even add on some time hiking and cycling if you feel like it. The river is famous for its deep emerald colour and brisk rapids, and it always draws in watersports enthusiasts, particularly fans of kayaking and fishing, as well as photographers and people looking to relax in pristine natural surroundings.
If you want to end the day with a spot of culture, we can organise a trip to the Kobarid World War One Museum - a 30-minute drive away - or alternatively you can head straight to your hotel just a few minutes' drive away where you'll be staying tonight.
Day 6: History and Horses in Lipica
There's a two-hour drive ahead of you today, but the scenery as you snake along the border with Italy makes the long journey all the more enjoyable, and the destination is more than worth it.
Your destination is a stud farm that dates back to the 16th century, situated in the village of Lipica. The original home of Lipizzaner horses (of Spanish Riding School in Vienna fame), there is a strong equestrian history and tradition here, which you'll learn about on a carriage ride and a private tour of the stalls.
You'll have ample time to roam and explore the farm - including a lunch break for you to enjoy a picnic - and once you're finished you can drive to Portoroz, a coastal Istrian village around 40 minutes away where you'll be staying for the next three nights.
Day 7: Explore Piran Old Town and Parenzana
You'll have the opportunity to explore both sides of the Slovenian-Croatian border today.
Start your morning in the coastal town of Piran with a private tour. With a strong Mediterranean vibe, Piran is often referred to as Slovenia's prettiest town and the Old Town is a particularly lovely place to explore on foot and get lost in winding, cobbled streets.
After stopping for lunch overlooking the water, you'll cross the border into Istria, Croatia, to take a cycling tour of Parenzana with a private guide. Once a narrow-gauge railway which connected Trieste with Porec from 1902 until 1935, this route is now popular with cyclists who want to get lost in nature and the bridge is a particularly scenic spot to stop and soak up the unspoilt Croatian landscapes.
- Visit Fonda Fish Garden
- Truffle Hunting
Day 8: Postojna Cave
Today you'll be leaving the south-west coast behind and head towards the next stop on your Slovenia family holiday - Otocec.
Along the way you'll visit Postojna Cave for a two-hour guided tour through the web of tunnels and halls which are filled with jagged karst limestine formations. Just 15 minutes away from the cave is Predjama Castle. Perched high up in a vertical cliff, in the idyllic village of Predjama, this castle is popular year-round, surrounded with wildflowers during the spring and summer and becoming a snow-blanketed winter wonderland during the colder months.
From the castle it's a 90-minute drive towards Otocec, where you'll be staying for the next three nights. Check into your luxury lakeside hotel and take the rest of the evening to relax and settle in.
Day 9: Foodie Treats and Culture in Kostanjevica na Krki
After breakfast this morning, you guide will meet you for your 25-minute journey through the lush countryside to the picture perfect UNESCO-listed town of Kostanjevica na Krki, sometimes known as the 'Venice of Dolenjska'.
Situated in the Dolenjska region - also known as Lower Carniola - in the foothills of the Gorjanci Hills, the town is surrounded by lovely countryside. The rolling hills all around have been used to plant vines so you must try some of the local wines while you're here, but there are also some lovely castles, gardens and hilltop churches to visit. This is a definite highlight on your Slovenia family holiday so you'll have plenty of time to explore the town.
While you're here you might want to take a boat trip along the Krka River that runs through the town and even cool off with a refreshing swim; visit the Museum of Hayracks which documents the history of the agriculture of the region; and stop by the Božidar Jakac Gallery which has a vast selection of 20th century statues, paintings, drawings and graphics.
The perfect way to end a day full of culture and nature is with a delicious supper of local specialties. We've organised for you to visit a local farm where you'll get to indulge in a cheese tasting (paired with some local wines for the parents) and get a tour of the farm with the farm's experienced cheesemaker. With tummies full of delicious dairy, head back to your hotel for a well-earned rest before another active day tomorrow.
Day 10: Explore the Villages of Bela Krajina then Go Rafting
Today is the last stop before the capital Ljubljana on your Slovenia family holiday so we've made sure to pack it full of exciting activities.
This beautiful region is full to the brim with pretty villages and market town that date back hundreds of years. Your guide will take you to some of the villages of Bela Krajina to get a taste of local life and learn about the history of the region. You'll be able to taste the wines, juices and traditional dishes of Bela Krajina and learn how they're made on a picnic lunch.
After a leisurely morning, your afternoon promises more adventure. You'll be rafting on the Kolpa River - far more relaxed than the rapids of the Soca River that you experienced earlier in the holiday - and you'll be able to enjoy the views as you go, learning about the diverse flora and fauna that call the riverbanks home. The clear water is also home to numerous fish species, and you can always jump in the water yourself for a refreshing swim before rafting back to the shore and retiring to your hotel for supper and a sleep.
Day 11: Explore Ljubljana
We recommend rising early today to ensure you get a full day in the country's capital, Ljubljana.
It's just a 50-minute drive to the capital and once you're there you can park up your car at your hotel before heading out to explore with a guide on a private guide.
Your guide will elaborate on Ljubljana's history at the crossroads of Europe and show you some of the more secret corners of Slovenia's capital. Visit the Town Hall, learn about the city's architectural evolution up to and including the input from national hero Joze Plecnik, famed for his idiosyncratically Slovenian adaptations of Art Nouveau. He has been called 'Ljubljana's Gaudi' in acknowledgement of his influence on the city's architecture (as Gaudi had on Barcelona), and your guide will show you Plecnik's architectural masterpieces such as the Napoleon monument and the Triple Bridge, always with an eye on keeping the children entertained.
Then take to the water of the Ljubljanica River which loops around the Old Town making this technically another of Slovenia's river islands. The one-hour cruise along the river and offers you another perspective on the city, this time from the comfort of your flat-bottomed wooden boat.
Back on dry land, it's time to tackle the focal point of the entire the city: Ljubljana Castle, perched on a wooded hilltop with spectacular views out over the city and beyond. Take the funicular ride and then wander around the castle with your guide, learning about its interesting history and unusual quirks, such as the 19th century well crane that hoists water as well today as when it was installed. Soak up the superb views back across the city before returning to your hotel and out on the town for one last dinner in the Slovene capital.
Day 12: Head for Home
Sadly your family holiday to Slovenia comes to an end today, so after a leisurely breakfast make your way back to the airport for your afternoon flight home, which takes two-hours-and-15-minutes.
Arran and Charlotte H are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.