Pretty Cities & Villages
There are so many towns and villages around here for shopping, sightseeing, museums, cafes and eating out. Each location has a unique feel, maybe Alpine, Italian, Croatian or Mediterranean. Many of these Slovenian locations in particular will have little surprise extras for you to enjoy, such as an unexpected castle, a cave, a waterfall or a wonderful hike.. so go prepared with extra time under your belt! You can visit towns on hills, mountains, lakes, rivers.. the choice goes on and on, but here are just few popular destinations.
We could drop you off at Postojna train station in the morning for the hour long train ride to Ljubljana for shopping choices, riverside cafes & culture or maybe a guided bike tour around Europe's smallest and cutest capital city. There will be plenty of time for an evening meal and back home for a glass of wine. You can also drive to Ljubljana in just 30 mins and there are plenty of parking options. Out on the ring road you can see easily see the buildings in the city centre and you can also stay outside the city at 2 out of town shopping centres with cinemas and a great water park for kids.
The city centre is one of the most relaxed you will ever visit, with a pretty river snaking through the middle and the castle looking down from the hill. There are restaurants, cafes and tea houses all over the place and a well stocked museum district with grand old imperial buildings and a beautiful little opera house.
Trieste on the Italian Adriatic coast is the perfect place to experience the hustle & bustle of an Italian city with street markets, a well preserved Roman ampitheatre and mopeds buzzing around amidst stunning architecture that befits a city created by the Austro Hungarian empire as a major strategic port. You can easily drive here within 40 minutes, but we prefer to park the car in Opcina (25 mins) on top of the huge cliffs above the city and take the antique tram down nto the heart of the city. No parking issues and maximum fun!
The other large pretty cities you can easily visit are all around 2 hours from Lipizzaner Lodge. Zagreb, (Croatia) has a lovely old town and attractions such as an antique car museum with Delboy's Robin Reliant from "Only Fools & Horses"! Udine (1hr 20) we haven't visited yet, but have heard is very beautiful and Treviso ( 2 hours), in Italy are great day's out. Elsewhere in Italy we discovered the amazing walled Venetian city of Palmanova, (60 mins), where you could happily look at all the architecture and walk around the old town in circles, as the city is protected behind a star shaped defensive wall. A bonus for shoppers is the nearby modern Outlet village with bargains galore, particularly fab for clothes.
And of course, the most beautiful island city in the world is just 110 mins drive from Lipizzaner Lodge, yes, Venice is often visited by our guests in a day, by car, train and also plane.. oh yes again, a private VIP flight from a local airport, (15 mins) for 3 people to Venice and back can be had for just €399! Most of our guests visiting Venice would set off early by car and park & ride for a wonderful day out.
You also have a huge choice of Italian and Istrian towns to visit, each with their own charm and character. Not so far from the beautiful city of Udine (70 mins) you can find Venzone (90 mins), a town in the shadow of the Dolomites, (Italian Alps) destroyed by an earthquake but rebuilt stone by stone. There are also fascinating Slovenian villages on the Italain side of the border to visit where you can see Slovenian signs and some locals still speak Slovene!
In Croatian Istria there are stunning hilltop towns like Motovun (75 mins) and in our opinion the even more wonderful Groznjan (65 mins) to visit. Head to the coast and the charming imperial seaside resort of Opatija (65 mins) is a great day out with the choice of walking the wonderful "Lungomare", which is a coastal path built by the Austrian emperor along the coast both directions from Opatija. On the Istrian side of the coast you can choose from a day out in Umag, (60 mins), Porec (85 mins), Pula (105 mins), or Rovinj (95 mins) for example or visit several different places in the same round daytrip.
There is a whole host of fantastic towns and villages we can recommend visiting for the day, or en route to your cave or castle. We recommend people stop off in the stunning hill town of Stanjel (38 mins) when visiting the local Teran wine region to see the incredible views and wander around the fantastic old town. You can see an amazing medieval fresco of the "Dance of Death" painted on the walls of a stunning church in Hrastovlje (30 mins) and then maybe go visit an olive farm, a vineyard or pop down to the coast. (Read more in our "churches" section). Another lovely little hilltop town is Dobrovo (55 mins) to be visited on the way to the hidden "Cramp gorge" and yet another stunning Slovenian wine region in the Gorica hills, (Goriska Brda).
In Idrija (50 mins) you can put on a miner's helmet and go down the world's second largest ever mercury mine, then maybe visit the lace and rare stone museum situated in yet another fantastic Slovenian castle and maybe later see Europe's largest wooden water wheel. We really recommend Idria as the surprise package of your week. Skofia Loka (60 mins) is Slovenia's second oldest city and wonderful for a half day out to see it's castle and the antique medieval buildings around the old town as part of a longer trip.
The village of Kanal, (55 mins) is the perfect stopover for coffee or ice cream to view the bridge over the stunning Soca river, (see our rivers page). There is a lovely walk through the tiny old town down to the shore of the river here for a really great view and the chance to dip your toes in the clear water. And Kanal is the gateway to the Soca valley with the beautiful little Alpine towns of Tolmin, (80 mins) Kobarid (90 mins) and Bovec (110 mins).. each hiding their own secret gorges, waterfalls and spectacular Alpine hikes as well as fab places to eat.
Directly at our closest point to the Soca river is the shared city of Nova Gorica. (40 mins), the "New" part is in Slovenia and you will never be entirely sure when you have gone into the "Old" part which was taken by Italy, but you can be sure tht the last French king was buried here and can be found in a little monastery on a hill and there is also a wonder castle to visit, with really great views and a wonderful collection of musical instruments.
We also hotly tip Vipava (25 mins), otherwise known as "Slovenia's Venice", with 7 rivers flowing into this little gem on the other side of the local Nanos mountain. The water is so clear you can see the fish swimming down into this vineyard covered valley region. You get the best Italian ice cream here and there are 2 fabulous restaurants already visited by many of our guests. There is a ruined castle on top of a hill to walk to and the mystery of two 4,500 year Egyptian sarcophagi hidden away in the local cemetery!
The picturesque villages of "Wednesday" Podšreda and "Thursday" Podcetrtek, (2 hours), on the Croatian border, contain castles, a chocolate museum & natural thermal spas and you can even do a wine tour here as part of a great day out. Pivka, (15 mins), is surrounded by 17 mysterious disappearing lakes and Metlika, (1 hour 45) is surrounded by forests of silver birches and yet another different wine region to explore.