Slovenia’s coastline is pretty tiny: a sliver of land between Croatia and Italy connects the Mediterranean to the rest of the country. But there’s enough water here to keep anyone happy: rivers rush down from the peaks of the Julian Alps and wind around green hills and through cities, while aquamarine lakes are ringed by snow-capped mountains.
Of course, you can gaze on it all from the safety of land, but where’s the fun in that? In this outdoor adventure-loving country, you can sail, swim, kayak or raft – or try your luck on a stand-up paddleboard. It’s a surprisingly easy sport to pick up (most beginners get the hang of it after 20 minutes or so), and the slow pace and ability to pause and check out your surroundings make it a great way to immerse yourself in Slovenia.
Numerous operators can set you up on a tour of anything from two hours to a multi-day epic. Almost all are open to novices, and sessions usually begin with training. Most also factor in time for activities like taking a swim, leaping from board to board and competing in playful challenges. You can go stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) on rivers and lakes all across Slovenia, in the sea, and even through cities, with most opportunities in the west of the country.
Ljubljana is a popular option, partly because it’s the only European capital you can paddleboard all the way through. The Ljubljanica River heads under the city’s famous Triple Bridges, which connect the medieval and new parts of the city, and passes the city’s 15th-century castle and famous Art Nouveau buildings. But while it offers a great cultural tour of the city, if you’d rather just enjoy the sunshine as you drift past willow trees and under bridges, you’ll still be right at home.
Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s undoubted stars, a glorious lake overlooked by cliffs and castles, with an island-set church in its centre. It’s well set up for adventure sports and is phenomenally popular – to the point of feeling busy in mid-summer. But even if you come in July and August, you can escape most of the crowds on a paddleboard. Itineraries typically take in Bled Island, as well as pausing so you can soak in those perfect views.