Rick Steves

Visit Slovenia: 5 Unexpectedly Delightful Destinations

Even in today's well-traveled world, Europe has managed to keep some of its hidden charms. And Slovenia, tucked away where Germanic, Mediterranean, and Slavic worlds meet, is one of Europe's most fascinating, yet least visited corners.

Rick Steves takes a cultural voyage through this charming, former Yugoslavian country, starting at its lively capital then heading toward the Julian Alps and to the Slovenian coast. Here's a look at the top destinations featured in the episode.

Get more ideas from the full episode here. You can also tune in for more of Steves' Euro adventure tips weeknights at 7:30 p.m.

1. Ljubljana

Located midway between Venice and Vienna, Slovenia's largest city and cultural capital is the perfect place to kick off your trip. Start at the Triple Bridge, which connects the city's historic banks to the modern part of the city. The best way to take in the sites here is to simply stroll the riverfront, check out the Art Nouveau and Art Deco influences in the buildings, visit the market, and then relax at a riverside café.

If you're a fan of architectural history, you can also visit the home of the city's most influential architect Jo?e Ple?nik. Take a guided tour through his house and see some of his equipment, models, and plans on display.

2. Lake Bled

Moving out of the city, Steves takes us to see some of Slovenia's natural alpine wonders at Lake Bled. In addition to peaceful, glassy waters, this area boasts gorgeous views and villas. It's a popular getaway destination for locals, and offers a tranquil mountain resort experience. Lake Bled's major focal point is its charming little island, and romantic local boats, called "Pletnas" provide a pleasant way to reach it. Once you're there, you can tour the island's adorable Church of the Assumption.

3. Julian Alps

Continuing to explore the Slovenian countryside, a drive through the Julian Alps is perfect for nature lovers. You'll pass valleys, mountain villages, and see Mount Triglav mark the skyline. This is a popular spot for travelers who love hiking and seeing nature. This area offers a unique alpine landscape.

4. The Karst Region

Head south for a different kind of landscape. In the Karst region, you'll find rolling hills of grape farms, small towns, and an impressive network of caverns and underground rivers. An absolute must-do is a tour through the ?kocjan Caves. There, you'll follow your guide through about two miles of caverns, where you'll spelunk through hundreds of dripping stalactites formations, hear the crashing underground river and much more. This looks really impressive.

This area is also home to one of Europe's most scenic castles -- the Predjama Castle. Built in the 16th century mainly for hunting, there's not much to see inside. But it does offer a nice backdrop for a scenic drink. And the spectacular views alone make it worth the drive out there.

5. Piran

Head to the Adriatic coastal town of Piran for some coastal relaxation. For breathtaking views of the coastline, hike to the cathedral and walk up its Venetian-style bell tower. The town's beautiful and traffic-free harbor front offers an inviting place to stroll, sunbath, and enjoy fresh seafood as you bring your Slovenian adventure to a close.

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