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A family guide to Slovenia

Slovenia may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of family holidays, but its abundance of castles, exciting outdoor pursuits and beautiful natural features ticks all the boxes. The country is particularly good for older children who will enjoy walking and taking part in activities such as white water rafting or skiing.

Here's our guide to just some of the things that you and your family can get up to in Slovenia.

Ljubljana’s delights

Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana, gets a big thumbs-up from kids for the excellent Tivoli City Park, Ljubljana Zoo and the castle that peers down on the old town.

The most fun way to get up there is via the funicular, which leaves from Krekov trg every 10 minutes and gives views across to The Alps on the way.

If you have older children you might all enjoy the steep walk up from Stari trg through the narrow old town streets. Highlights of the castle include the 90-minute Time Machine tour by costumed guides and the Slovenian history exhibition.

Lake swims and cream cake

Northern Slovenia is where you'll find the scene that adorns postcards across the country. Lake Bled is a brilliant blue colour, only punctuated by a tiny island with a chapel on it. Kids will enjoy taking a traditional wooden pletna boat across to the island where they can climb 99 steps to ring the church bell three times and make a wish. To one side is a tall rock mound atop which perches the medieval castle.

Swimming in the lake is another fun pastime from the swimming areas on the northern and western shores - the lake is Blue Flag certified and a fairly constant 26°C. And before you leave you must try the famous Bled kremsnita - dessert similar to a vanilla slice cream cake.

Active kids adventures

From Bled you can take a cable car up to the mountaintop to take in the scenery - just remember to bring an extra layer. If you're travelling in winter, hire some skis or snowboards and whizz down Straza ski slope that looks over the lake and castle. Sporty's Snow Park is ideal for children to gain their confidence before heading out onto the piste.

Another activity for thrill-seeking kids and adults alike is white water rafting down the ultra-turquoise Soca River. Your kids might recognise the scene from Disney's Chronicles of Narnia, part of which was filmed there. You can try out the sport between April and October, which is suitable for kids over and around 10 years of age.

If it's not for your little ones, the nearby waterfalls and stunning landscapes will be just the ticket. Or take a trip to the Triglav National Park, which houses the Vintgar Gorge, for trails that follow the path of the river gushing below. An easy but exhilarating path, at times it passes over wooden bridges and cuts into the rocks.

Underground trains and cavern castles

The most popular and well set up of Slovenia's many caves, Postojna Caves have an electric train that takes you through part of the 20-kilometre cave network. Riding past wondrous stalactites and stalagmites you'll reach the Concert Hall where displays of the blind aquatic salamander known as the human fish are kept. Kids won't ever have seen anything like this strange creature that dwells in the caves.

You can combine your ticket here with one to Predjama Castle with a free shuttle bus between the two in July and August. This four-storey 13th-century fortress sits on a huge cliff at the mouth of a cave and tells the interesting story of Erazam, a 15th-century highwayman who used it as a hiding place before being hit by a cannonball while on the toilet.

Salty sea air

If your family craves the feeling of the sea lapping at your toes, Slovenia's 45-kilometre stretch of coast along the Adriatic fits the bill nicely. The beaches here are mainly pebbly but many have bathing platforms and swimming points to refresh in.

Portoroz beach is one of the only sandy beaches along the Slovenian Riviera and has waterslides, a restaurant-lined waterfront and watersports equipment for hire. For something more educational you can visit the salt pans on the edge of the Secovlje Salina Nature Park near Portortoz, complete with a Saltmaking Museum.

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