From Lakes to Caves: Best Day Trips From Ljubljana

Boats at sunset in Lake Bled – How to Make the Most of Slovenia in a Weekend – A World to Travel

Looking for an unforgettable day trip from Ljubljana? There are countless adventures just a touch away from the Slovenian capital.

While the city showcases its own undeniable charms with its medieval Old Town and historic bridges, Ljubljana also serves as a brilliant base to explore the vast diversity of Slovenia, thanks to its convenient transport links to all parts of the country. 

I always rave about Slovenia as the ‘underrated gem’ in Europe. And despite the fact you can drive from north to south in as little as three hours, there are so many unique and wondrous things to see in between. 

From its pristine lakes to caves that have formed over millions of years, the attractions and experiences Slovenia has to offer are just too good to miss.

With Ljubljana right in the country’s heart, it is an ideal starting point to begin your Slovenian journey. That being said, where can you go from the capital? 

Continue reading for the best day trips from Ljubljana. 

Best day trips from Ljubljana 

1. Lake Bled

What can be said about Lake Bled that hasn’t been said 100 times over? It’s a truly beautiful and worthwhile day trip from Ljubljana. 

Cornered by the Julian Alps, Lake Bled’s pristine waters and surroundings offer many fun day activities to do while you’re there. 

To begin your day in Lake Bled, I highly recommend taking a Pletna Boat to Bled Island. 

There are around four Pletna Boat stations around the lake from which to choose. I recommend the Mlino Port as there is a lovely restaurant right next to it called Hotel Starl, which is great for brunch. The Pletna Boat ride currently costs €18 for a return. 

Once you’re on the island, you’ll need to walk up 99 steps to the center. 

Once up there, you’ll come across the Church of the Assumption, the island’s historic church – renowned for its legend. 

They say whoever rings the bell inside the church three times and makes a wish has their wish come true. It cost €6 to enter. 

On your return, be sure to walk around the entire lake! You’ll find many scenic photo opportunities at every turn, including the iconic photo at the observation deck, “The Heart of Bled”, which frames the lake with a giant heart. 

Along your trail, there are eateries that sell the famous local specialty Bled Cake. Don’t miss out! It’s almost a sin not to try this sweet cream cake while you’re here.

Recommendation: To enjoy the delight with a beautiful panoramic view of the lake, head to Bled Castle, perched above the lake, and enjoy it inside the castle’s restaurant. 

How to get there: From Ljubljana, you have multiple transportation options to get to Lake Bled.

To get to Lake Bled by train, catch the train from Ljubljana to Jesenice. Then, get a train to Bled Jezero – the closest stop to Lake Bled. From here, it is a 10-minute walk down. The overall journey length is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

For the best route, I recommend taking the bus. To get there, take a bus from Ljubljana to Bled Bus Station, which takes roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

Top tip: Use this bus timetable service to find the latest bus schedules from Ljubljana. 

2. Lake Bohinj 

Lake Bohinj is a pristine lake surrounded by the Julian Alps and located in the ever-beautiful hiking paradise Triglav National Park. It is often overlooked by tourists, who escape to Slovenia’s golden child, Lake Bled. 

During your day in Lake Bohinj, you’ll find many fun-filled activities, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and, of course, ever-rewarding hikes.

As Bohinj is the largest lake in Slovenia, hikes will never be too hard to find around the lake. If you want to hike around the lake, it will take around roughly 3-5 hours. 

However, if you want that postcard-worthy view of Bohinj, head up to the Peč Viewpoint from Stara Fužina, reaching an altitude of 640m from an easy 40-minute round trip. 

Alongside the lake’s pristine waters and rewarding hikes is its main attraction, the “Church of St John Baptist,” one of Slovenia’s finest Romanesque buildings, which sits just on the outskirts of the lake.

It cost €3.50, but you’ll be treated to an amazing view of the lake from its bell tower. 

While there are plenty of amazing outdoor activities at Lake Bohinj, there are spots around the lake where you can simply put a towel down, indulge in the atmosphere and decompress with a little siesta. 

How to get there: Public transport from Ljubljana to Lake Bohinj is incredibly scarce. The only reliable public transportation option is by bus.

To get there by bus, travel from Ljubljana Station to Vogel križišče/ crossroads, which is a 5-minute walk from the lake. This route takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. Boat tours are nearby at the edge of the lake to help you travel across if needed.

Recommended route: There are tours that explore both Lake Bled and Bohinj, with hotel drop, which is a great option for a stress-free trip. 

3. Postojna Caves & Predjama Castle

One of the best things to do in Slovenia is to visit Postojna Caves & Predjama Castle from Ljubljana on a day trip. 

While one is an incredible series of rock formations formed over millions of years, another is an example of medieval brilliance set in a cave’s mouth.

As both attractions are just a short distance apart, it makes perfect sense to combine the two for a day trip from Ljubljana.

Postojna Caves

To enter the caves, you’ll need to book a guided tour. You can do this online or in person at the ticket office – just ensure you arrive at least 15 minutes before your time slot! 

Top tip: Be sure to wear warm clothing when you’re inside. It is freezing inside, with temperatures reaching as low as 10ºC.

To begin your tour, you’ll ride on an electric mine train to enter the caves. During your ride, you’ll pass through 3.7km of the caves, viewing many stalactites and stalagmites on your way.  

Your tour begins as soon as you hop off the train. Your guide will show you around 1.3km of the cave through a 1-1.5 hour tour, showcasing all the different rock formations inside the cave.

Predjama Castle

Yes! This castle is set in the mouth of a cave, hanging on a mere cliff edge.  

The castle’s exterior looks small, but actually, on the inside, it feels far from it, almost like a Tardis. On your arrival, you’ll be handed audio guides to help guide you around stations in the castle.

While you walk around, you’ll learn a lot about the royalty that ruled the town and the castle, visiting luxurious rooms like The Castle Great Hall and The Armoury.

Also, you’ll learn about Slovenia’s very own Robin Hood, Erasmus of Lueg, who was a famous ruler in the 15th century who embodied the English legend. 

Inside the castle is a secret tunnel he used to escape invaders during sieges, and you’ll get to see it at the back of the castle.

Ljubljana to Postojna Caves:

From Ljubljana, you have multiple transportation options to get to Postojna Caves.

By car, it takes 40 minutes to drive on the A1 freeway. Or by train, it takes 1 hour and 10 minutes, and then a 28-minute walk from the station to the cave.

I recommend taking a bus on your route. It takes 1 hour to get from the Ljubljana bus station to the bus depot and then a 20-minute walk to the caves. 

How to get to Predjama Castle: 

There is no public transport directly to Predjama Castle from Ljubljana, so you must head to Postojna Caves first. From here, the only option is to get a taxi to the castle.

However, from May to September, there is a transfer bus that can take you from Postojna Caves to Predjama Castle and vice versa. It costs €1 for a return.

4. Skocjan Caves

Another one of Slovenia’s finest rock formations is Skocjan Caves, which was listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1886. 

The cave system is over 6 km long and formed over millions of years in the limestone bedrock. Its open underground caves, stalagmites, stalactites, and otherworldly features have since gained its reputation for being Tolkien-like.

During your tour, you’ll venture through 2.5km of the interior of the cave through its main highlights, venturing into the Silent Cave and, my favorite,  Murmuring Cave – one of the largest underground caves in the world.

In my opinion, the highlight of the tour is the Cerkvenik Bridge, a bridge high above the Reka River. 

This bears a somewhat uncanny resemblance to the Bridge of Khazad-dum in The Fellowship of the Ring – something that filled my fantasy fix.

How to get there: Public transport from Ljubljana to Skocjan Caves is incredibly awkward. The best option is by train, but it will require some walking in the process. 

To get there by train, go from Ljubljana station to Divača, which takes 1 hour and 47 minutes. It is then a 48-minute walk from the station. 

From Divaca station, there is a bus that can take you closer to the Skocjan Caves; however, this only runs every 4 hours. I recommend either taking a taxi to the caves or walking. 

5. Piran 

Piran is one of the most beautiful towns in Slovenia and an absolute must-visit from Ljubljana

The history of this majestic town dates back to Roman times, and over the centuries, it has had major influences from various historic powers, including the Venetian empire, which is seen through its Venetian-style architecture. 

To begin your day there, I recommend exploring the Old Town. The Old Town’s central hubspot is Tartini Square, full of Piran’s finest establishments and monuments.

Tartin Square is where the town’s Venetian architecture is on full display. When you’re there, be sure to sit down and look at the views.

Zizola is a great place in the square for a quick stop for coffee or a snack to soak in the atmosphere and look out to the port. 

For the best view of the town, you have two choices. Either head up St George’s Church bell tower or head farther out of town and along the Walls of Piran for an incredible panorama of Piran. 

Both attractions are very much worth visiting. The Walls of Piran is only €3 – For that view, you’ve got yourself a bargain! 

How to get there: The only feasible method of getting from Ljubljana to Piran is by bus. Take the bus from Ljubljana station to Piran, which takes 1 hour and 50 minutes. 

The only downside to this option is the flexibility around return journeys, as the last time slot is around 7 p.m., so it is very risky. 

Alternatively, there are many day tours from Ljubljana to Piran with experienced guides, so you can have a stress-free trip without worrying about making it back to Ljubljana. 

6. Maribor 

Maribor is the wine capital of Slovenia and is often overshadowed by the lush green landscapes and pristine lakes in other areas of the country. 

But don’t let this put you off; this incredible city has its undeniable charms!

To start your day in Maribor, head to its main square, Grajski Trg. This is the city’s central hotspot, aligned with quaint establishments and where you’ll find Maribor Castle. 

Originally a medieval fortress built in the 15th century, Maribor Castle has now been transformed into a history museum, showcasing the city’s historic artifacts and where you’ll find out more about the city’s turbulent history. 

What makes Maribor unique is its compactness. Although it is Slovenia’s second biggest city, many of its attractions are all reachable by foot.

From Grajski Trg, it is just an 8-minute walk to Glavni Trg, and then, only a minute’s walk away, is Lent, the oldest part of the city, lined with cafes, restaurants, and famous monuments.

If you plan to stop off at a cafe or restaurant, be sure to try the local wine. Maribor is famous for its wine production, especially white wine. It’s too good to miss! 

Fun fact: Maribor has the oldest vine in the world and still produces grapes to this day. 

7. Vintgar Gorge

Vintgar Gorge is a feast for the eyes! Carved by the Radona Valley, this scenic spot is a chance to explore one of the most beautiful places in Triglav National Park.

During your visit, you’ll walk along a wooden walkway that takes you past cascading waterfalls, water rapids, and plenty of gasping moments as you meander around the river. 

Be sure to take your time! The full course can take as little as 1-2 hours to finish, but after the eagerness to draw to your camera and refreshment stops at the beginning and end, you can easily find yourself spending half a day here. 

To extend your day, there is an ever-rewarding hike at the end of the trail, where you can head to Sum Waterfall, the largest waterfall in Slovenia. This is an epic grand finale to a brilliant day out from Ljubljana. 

Note: Vintgar Gorge is closed during the winter. 

How to get there: The recommended and only suitable route to Vintgar Gorge from Ljubljana is by bus. From Ljubljana, first catch the bus to Bled. 

Then, from here, catch the bus to Spodnje Gorje – the nearest stop to Vintgar Gorge. It is only a 15-minute walk from here to the gorge. 

Vintgar Gorge is often combined with Bled as a 1-2 day trip.

8. Soca Valley

Soca Valley is Slovenia’s water activity haven, with a river stretch spanning over 138 km and meandering through the western part of the country. 

This part of the country is booming with outdoor enthusiasts who come to do activities like whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking. 

For hikers who love good views, well, you are in luck! There are many hikes around Soca Valley, all of which offer great views. 

I recommend the Soča Trail hike, which is a 25km trail that takes 5-7 hours to complete and ends in the town of Bovec. 

You won’t need to complete the entire trail to see much of Soca Valley’s prettiness. Even short strolls offer views of its turquoise waters and charming little footbridges that are brilliant for photography! 

And, if you fancy a stop off from your adventurous activity, Soca Valley has over five nearby towns, including my favorite, Kanal, with its charming bridge – reminiscent of Mostar Bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Note: If you fancy extending your day trip from Ljubljana, there are many guest houses inside the towns.

How to get there: Using public transport to get from Ljubljana to Soca Valley is very tricky. By bus, it takes over 2.5 hours, and by train, it takes over 3 hours. 

Renting a car is recommended and takes around 2 hours. If you don’t mind flexibility, there are brilliant day tours from Ljubljana that include all your transport.

9. Ptuj 

Ptuj is the country’s oldest city, located in the northeastern part of Slovenia with history dating back to the Stone Age.

To start your day in Ptuj from Ljubljana, head to its most notable attraction, Ptuj Castle.

The castle is the Old Town’s crowning jewel, having experienced many transitions, but is today known as the Ptuj-Ormož Regional Museum. 

Inside, you’ll find a huge collection of musical instruments, luxurious art, and medieval armor that are precious to the town’s history.

One notable find is the exhibition that showcases all the Shrovetide carnival masks from the Kurentovanje Festival. 

Fun fact: Kurentovanje Festival has been voted as one of the top 10 festivals in the entire world

These masks are used during February when the festival is held, but they are left here all year round for people to view some of its unique collections.

Be sure to also make use of the castle’s high position atop the town. Those picturesque views await! Grab your camera and take some postcard-worthy photos. 

For the rest of your day, explore Ptuj’s streets. The Drava River is a very picturesque part of Ptuj to walk near. I recommend coming here for an early morning or afternoon stroll. 

Along the river is also the Mihelič Gallery, which is free to enter and has a lovely art collection. 

Much of Ptuj can be explored in hours, but it’s worth taking your time to explore Slovenia’s oldest city. 

How to get there: There are various transportation options from Ljubljana to Ptuj. The train is the best option for public transport, taking over 2 hours and 13 minutes. Buses are a little more difficult, with an estimated journey of 3 hours. 

Cars are the fastest option, with a journey time of 1 hour and 30 minutes.

10. Koper

Koper is a coastal city on the border of Slovenia and Italy, making it the ultimate place to continue your Adriatic adventures.

With its close ties to the Venetian Empire, much of its architecture is still intact and well-preserved, touched with Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic features.

To start your day in Koper in the best way, explore the architecture in Tito Square. Here, you can find attractions like Praetorian Palace, a fine Venetian Gothic building that originally served as the residence for the ruler of Koper. 

Today, it is the Old Town’s city hall, and you can take a guided tour of its rooms. 

The next attraction to explore after visiting the palace is Koper Cathedral. Inside, there are plenty of art and historical treasures designed by Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio. 

Beside it, you’ll find the bell tower, offering the best view of Old Town. Climb the 204 steps of the bell tower and check out those gorgeous views!

Once you’ve finished in the square, take a stroll around the medieval streets. Much of Koper’s highlights can be explored on foot, with little bits of history hidden deep inside the Old Town.

How to get there: Getting from Ljubljana to Koper isn’t an easy feat compared to other major cities in Slovenia. 

The bus is the quickest and easiest option. It takes over 1 hour and 47 minutes to go by bus and 2 hours and 20 minutes to go by train. However, these options can be few and far between. 

Some bus journeys to Koper from Ljubljana run more often on a daily basis through services like Flixbus or more local services like Nomago.  

11. Kranj

Last but not least, Kranj is Slovenia’s third-largest city and is well worth a visit from Ljubljana. It is actually one of the closest cities to the capital, with only 29.6 km separating them.

Start your day in Kranj at the Old Town, a medieval gem and one of the most charming in Slovenia.

Here, you’ll find many beautifully preserved buildings and important monuments. Much of Kranj, in fact, can be easily explored on foot, going from one museum to another in no time.

Begin at Khislstein Castle. This Renaissance-Baroque building houses the Gorenjska Museum exhibition, which showcases the history of Kranj through artifacts, art, and much more.

If you’re a massive art fan or need a snack,  the Layer House is your go-to place. Surrounded by tables and chairs in a cozy setting is an art exhibition that allows you to explore some of Kranj’s brilliant contemporary art right from your table.

And finally, just outside the Old Town along the Kokra River is the picturesque Kokra River Canyon. The gorge is a stunning part of the city and well worth a stroll for a serene setting and to get closer to nature. Don’t miss it on your day trip here!

How to get there: Kranj is easily accessible from Ljubljana, which is separated by only 29.6km. Traveling by car takes only 25 minutes, and public transport is convenient. 

Trains and buses from Ljubljana to Kranj run frequently and take around 30-35 minutes.

Final thoughts

Well, there you have it! 11 unforgettable trips from Ljubljana to create memories that will last a lifetime. 

Much of Slovenia can be explored in a week or two, and with a location as perfect as Ljubljana to begin your journey, you’re guaranteed to have an easier, less stressful trip around the country. 

And when you’re done exploring, the Slovenian capital will be there to welcome you back to enjoy its delights all over again.