A visit to Karst region in Slovenia has so many things to do and see, that even a two day trip is not enough to enjoy them all.
13 best things to do and see in Karst, Slovenia
Walk around the mystical Skocjan Caves
Karst is full of natural wonders, but one of the most typical and among the best things to do in Karst is a visit to its underground caves, which you will find plenty there. Most people decide to visit Postojna cave, but if you manage around 3 kilometers long walk and are looking for something to wow you, you should never ever missed a visit to Skocjan caves. The standard guided tour, which takes you to the underground canyon of the river Reka will blow you away. I kept wondering why any movie like Lord of the rings or Harry Potter was not yet filmed there. Unfortunately, it is not allowed to take photos in the cave, but if you still need to be convinced, maybe the fact that the Skocjan caves have been listed as an Unesco sight ever since 1986, and that the caves have one of the largest underground canyons in the world, will do the trick. Truly spectacular!
Admire the Lipizzaner in Lipica
If you enjoy horses or are traveling to Slovenia with kids, Lipica stud farm is one of the things to do in Karst. Lipica stud farm has already 440 years long tradition of breeding Lipizzaners – the elegant white horses, known and valued worldwide. The Lipica stud farm has been lately focusing on different kind of family friendly experiences and booking the carriage ride around the romantic tree-lined alleys is for sure one of the best experiences there, but there are many more to choose from, including for the romantic souls. Visited Lipica with a three-year-old boy, finding a playground between the parking lot and the entrance to the stud farm, was an extra bonus. There are around 400 Lipizzaners in Lipica stud farm, including around 30 foals each year, which are even more special to see as they are black at first and when being older, turning into the white beauties.
Learn more about the nature in Karst Living Museum
Karst region has so many natural wonders and unique phenomena, typical for Karst region. The whole area of the Karst Living Museum, which was recognized also as the best thematic trail in Slovenia in 2017, spreads over 700 hectares, so make sure to have enough time to explore at least part of it. You can walk or cycle around the Karst Living Museum, but because of the rough terrain, make sure to have or rent a mountain bike. A good spot to start with cycling is Lipica.
Learn about the local life and visit homesteads
For us, Slovenians, one of the best things to do in Karst is stopping at its homesteads due to good food and relax vibe. Homesteads are especially great for families with kids, where they can run around freely, without needing them to calm down. We made a stop at the Škerlj homestead in Tomaj. I have been there twice and I am always impressed how well they manage to level the quality up, but still keeping themselves modest, friendly and welcoming. Enjoy its dinner, all made with their own products, including pasta, meat, veggies, wine. If you will stay there for the night, you will not be disappointed over breakfast either – you will be again served with food, grown and made at their own farm (prosciutto, salami, bread, jam, honey, fruit, etc.). The owners will also be happy to show you around the place, taking you to the wine cellar and to five centuries old room, where now the dried meat products are being ripen.
Get to know Slovenian history at Cerje Memorial
The Cerje memorial is such a nice spot, it would be a shame to miss the views from its 360° viewing point. The memorial is a new attraction, in which you will learn more about Slovenian history and its people, especially about the First World War. Walking around its paths, there are many remainders from that period.
Book unique experience “In the boots of first war soldiers”
Everyone wanting to upgrade the Cerje Memorial visit, should book one of the best experiences in Karst – a guided tour, which first takes you to the Cerje Memorial and later on, the first world war soldier will take you around the paths of peace, explaining you about the 1st WW. The tour ends with a visit to the underground Pečinka cave, where the Austro-Hungarian soldiers had their shelter. The complete cave was cleaned and prepared for visitors by volunteers and is really like traveling back in time. When you think the surprises are over, there is still icing on the cake at the end, when you get a real soldier meal to close down the experience.
Wander around Štanjel
Štanjel is one of the oldest settlements in Karst and is also known as one of the most beautiful Karst villages. Due to the harsh living conditions (small houses, no running water and sewage until 2014), most of the inhabitants moved away and the houses started to fall apart. Luckily things started to improve, especially after 2014. Now 45 people live here again and many of them are involved in some kind of tourist activity – from accommodations, workshops, to gourmet shops and tastings, where you can learn more about local products. The village is slowly being renovated and is perfect to get lost in with your camera.
Explore little known villages
Štanjel might be one of the most visited towns in Karst, but if you are not in a hurry, make sure to stop in some less known places too – to just name a few: Dutovlje, Pliskovica, Tomaj, Komen, Volčji Grad, Lokve (a village with the oldest Karst prosciutto producer in Slovenia).
Don’t forget Brkini
Brkini are a special region and lots of people visit it together with Karst. But honestly, Brkini offers so many things to do, you can easily spent few days there too. Brkini is a hilly region, very popular among cyclists and hikers. The region is rich with fruits and many local festivals shows you the importance of them. Rodik is also well known for its restaurants. We stopped at a small village Rodik, not only known due to some of the best restaurants in Slovenia (Gostilna Mahorčič), but also for its history, including the mythical stories (the village even has a devil’s chair). We had delicious lunch at the beautiful homestead Pri Friščevih. They also offer rooms.
Cheers with Teran wine at Osmica
It can hardly get any better than visiting Karst during Osmica. Osmica is a long local tradition ever since 1784, when wine producers could sell their wine without any taxes for eight days and that is where the name comes from. Osmica means number eight in Slovenian language. Even nowadays winemakers can organize Osmica twice a year and apart from wine (local and autochthonous wine for Karst region is Teran), sell their own home-made products like dried meat products, bread, cheese, cakes, stews out of home veggies and meat). Osmicas are always marked with the sign and ivy.
Indulge yourself with the local culinary
If you are on any kind of a diet, you should not visit Karst. The reason is simple – Karst is such a great culinary destination you should never avoid trying everything you find on the table. Visiting a good homestead is a true joy for your taste buds. Many farmers produce everything by themselves from scratch, so you cannot go any fresher and local.
Spend a day cycling or hiking
Karst region is perfect for cycling. It has many “forgotten” roads without any traffic and for different types of cyclist. There are also many hiking paths for you to choose from – easy walking paths around villages or some more demanding hiking trails like Vremščica, Trstelj, Jirmanec.
Make new friends and memories
Last but not least, destination is made by its people, their stories, and their friendliness. And that is one of the main reasons why we enjoy exploring Karst so much.
I might be a bit biased when talking / writing about Karst. Simon and I even though of moving there for a while, but so far Karst has just been one of our favorite Slovenian region to explore. If you plan to travel to Slovenia, looking for unique, diverse and absolutely amazing region, make sure to spend at least few days in Karst.
Video – Best things to do in Karst
A visit to Karst region was done as an invite from their tourist office and even though we explored the region before (mostly focusing on little known places), it was nice to spend a weekend there pointing out some of the best tourist attractions and things to do in Karst.