In the heart of Europe there is a beautiful country, situated between the Alps, the Mediterranean sea, the Pannonian plain and the Karst. This country is Slovenia, a real gem with only two million inhabitants. It’s in fact so unique you can hardly select only 10 top destinations.
In Slovenia, there is only one island. It is located in the middle of a glacial alpine lake called Bled, which is one of the most picturesque natural attractions in the country. For centuries, it has attracted people that come there just to admire the landscape and enjoy the view or take advantage of the healing thermal springs.
On the lake, which is surrounded by the Julian Alps, you can for instance rent a traditional “pletna” boat, climb the 99 stone-steps staircase on the island and visit the St. Mary of the Assumptions church. Then ring a bell, make a secret wish to come true, try "potica" (a traditional Slovenian dessert) and jump into clean fresh water.
The most beautiful view of the lake is from the Bled castle, which rises 456 ft. up from the lake's surface. It is one of the oldest castles in that area with a nice restaurant where you should try a traditional pastry called Bled cream cake or kremšnita. When you return to the lakeshore, you should take a ride with a Bled coachman or go a brisk 4 miles long walk around the lake.
The Postojna cave is the most visited underground cave in the world, characterized by an underground system of karst corridors, galleries and halls. The whole system is almost 15 miles long and combines four caves interconnected through the same underground river, Pivka. During a ninety minutes long guided tour, you will be amazed by stalagmites, stalactites, and formations called curtains or draperies.
The magnificent five metre tall white stalagmite is the symbol of Postojna cave and there is also a story of a baby dragon living in the cave. In the vivarium you can actually see the largest predator in the underground world; the olm. Living in the water and being adopted to life in the dark, this unique creature can reach up to 11 inches in length. Furthermore, it can live almost 100 years and survive more than eight years without food.
If you want to experience a real adventure in nature, visit Postojna cave and the world’s biggest cave castle Predjama, located not far away. No matter whether you are alone or with the family and friends, these two gems are a must-see when visiting Slovenia. More info can be found here.
One of the most romantic and authentic place on the Mediterranean coast is another Slovenian pearl: Piran. You will fall in love with this town of gorgeous Venetian-style architecture, surrounded with turquoise sea. Moreover, the food is yummy and the locals are incredibly hospitable.
Piran is an ideal place to just walk along the narrow streets, admire the sunsets, breathe fresh air and explore the old town. During the summer, you can enjoy concerts on Tartini square, which takes its name from the grand violin virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini, born in Piran. Everyone can find something to do from sports activities, visiting galleries and aquarium to relaxing in the Lepa Vida spa in the middle of the Sečovlje salt-pans. You should make a reservation for thalassotherapy far in advance. They say Piran is a town that grew on salt and they still produce salt in the natural traditional way. Visiting Piran is an unforgettable experience that you do not want to miss.
Photo: Flickr/Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
The capital city of Slovenia is the charming Ljubljana, whose name can be translated as "beloved". It has around 300.000 inhabitants and it is located in the middle of the country. Visiting the European Green Capital of 2016 will certainly not leave you indifferent.
The Ljubljanica river, which runs around the old castle hill, little bars and restaurants, bridges, old architecture, hotels, greenery, and the old market that offers a variety of home-made products, will stay in your heart forever. You will find it easy to communicate with people, since most Slovenians speak English fluently.
While you’re in Ljubljana, don't forget to take time to try some fine Slovenian wines and traditional cuisine in the old historical town. Take a tour to numerous churches, museums, get to know all about the national history and find out more about Jože Plečnik, the famous 20th century architect. Are you ready for some interesting adventures in and around Ljubljana? Here are a few sites you should visit:
Save some exquisite travel memories from Ljubljana. People there know how to enjoy the little things.
If you like enjoying the tranquility in nature, walking on pastures, riding a carriage through avenues of trees and admiring white horses, Lipica is the right place to visit. Yes, white Lipizzaner horses are from Slovenia and their original stud farms have been in Lipica in the Karst since 1580. As a matter of fact, the Lipica Stud Farm is the cradle of all Lipizzan horses in the world.
The pedigree is so important that in Slovenia there are, on each horse stall, displayed charts with different figures, dates and names like Maestoso, Allegro and Napolitano. A visit to the stud farm or the Museum of Carriages are really nice experiences, not to mention watching the training of the horses in a covered riding ground accompanied by music. You will never forget the Lipizzaner show and how difficult the figures are that the horses have to learn.
Since the oldest European stud farm in Lipica that has been breeding the same horses without interruption, it is considered a Slovenian cultural and historical monument. Therefore, you should definitely put it to your to do list. And during your visit to Lipica, you should go to charming villages and visit some nice restaurants around there, try a typical red wine called “Teran“, the best known from the region, and the Karst dry-cured ham, know as Kraški pršut.
Fun fact: Did you know that the Lipizzaner horses are born dark and gradually lighten with age, not achieving the “white” coat for which they are known until around 6–10 years of age?
The only national park in Slovenia is named after Slovenia's highest mountain, Triglav (almost 9400 ft.). It is the largest protected area in the country, and has a special nature conservation regime. Triglav National Park is situated in the Julian Alps of north-western Slovenia, where to three Slovenian rivers originate: Sava Dolinka, Sava Bohinjka and Soča.
The first two merge close to Radovljica in Gorenjska region to the river Sava, the longest river in the country. Soča, one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe, starts its path in Trenta valley, runs through canyons, gorges and amazing waterfalls. The deep emerald color of the river Soča and its crystal clearness is breathtaking.
From the 1st of April, when the winter closings are over, its banks are full of fly-fishermen duelling with the famous Soča trout. During the summer, the Soča river becomes the place with the highest potential for adrenalin sports like kayaking, canoeing, canyoning, bungee jumping, swimming, rafting or hiking.
Fun fact: Did you know that in 2007, several scenes for the Disney film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian were shot on the Soča rapids?
Throughout Slovenia there are many regions, rich in different types of mineral and thermal water. The reason for such an abundance lies in its geological diversity of tectonic structure. There are 17 natural health and spa resorts in Slovenia and 78 known sources of mineral and thermal waters. Most of them are located in the Pannonian part of the country but you can find them in the other parts as well: in the Alps, the Adriatic sea and the Karst.
Water is life and depending of what you need or what you want, you can choose between health therapies, preventional medical treatments, pampering and relaxing programmes or just enjoy pools and water fun activities.
In Slovenia, there are two famous springs of drinking waters, rich with minerals and natural carbon dioxide bubbles: Donat Mg and Radenska. Donat Mg was discovered in 1908 in the health resort park in Rogaška Slatina, on the eastern part of Slovenia near the Croatian border. The second one is Radenska from Radenci, headed even more towards east, in the vicinity of Austrian and Hungarian border. Development of mineral water Radenska started in 1869, when the owner of the land filled the first bottles of the water.
Logar Valley, “Logarska dolina“, is one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in Europe. You will not find it by accident, unless you are very lucky. It lies in the northern part of Slovenia in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, south of the border of Austria and Slovenia. Logar valley is, with its natural historic and cultural value, the reason why it is worth find it and enjoy it.
The Logar valley is, among the other beauties, well known for its many waterfalls. The most famous is 295 ft. high Rinka fall. If you like adrenalin sports, you may, during the winter, climb the frozen waterfalls, experience cross-country or downhill skiing, sledding and ski touring.
In the summertime when the temperatures in the cities are too high for active holidays, the unspoilt nature of the landscape park of Logar valley is a great option. You can hike, bike, climb, visit local high-mountain farms and try delicious specialities such as: the upper Savinja stomach sausage “savinjski želodec“, dried pear dough pockets called žlinkrofi, buckwheat “žganci“, sour milk, homemade bread and cheeses, “potica“, butter, honey and much more.
And if you are eager for more adventures, you can also visit the other two valleys in the region: Robanov kot and Matkov kot.
The oldest vine in the world grows in Maribor. It is the second largest Slovenian city and it's located at the food of the wooded Pohorje mountain range in the northeast of the country. In the old city, named Lent, you can see almost half a millennium old vine plant that survived times of Turkish attacks and several infestations which destroyed many vineyards in the past, and of course both the first and the second world wars. Due to the confirmed age of the “Žametovka” or “Modra Kavčina” vine, it won a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest noble vine sort in the world still bearing grapes. The yearly harvest of up to 121 pounds of grapes is made into wine and poured into small bottles, designed by a famous artist Oskar Kogoj.
Maribor lies by the Drava river and is a part of one of the largest wine-growing regions of Slovenia, Styria “Štajerska“, famous for its white wines. There are numerous wine cellars and wineries around where you can try different wines and tasty local specialities. It is so nice to get to know different old customs and traditions in this part of the country.
If you're staying in Ljubljana, I recommend this fantastic day tour from the capital: Maribor and Ptuj Full Day Wine Tour
Slovenia, as a green destination, is becoming ideal place for enjoying unspoilt nature. Glamping is increasingly popular lately, offering more comfort and luxury in the embrace of the natural environment as we were used in camping.
Both, the materials and energy, needed for making all the capacities, like accomodation, restaurants, pools, have been taken from immediate proximity: wood, stone, sand, water... everything is completely pure and natural.
When you glamp, you can expect fresh air, beautiful scenery, local produces, fresh herbs from the garden, crystal clear water and happy people around you.
A Slovenian brand called the World of glamping is the first in the world to focus on current conditions in glamping tourism, both in Slovenia and internationally. The first glamping property in Slovenia, Wood villas, was built in 2010, right next to Lake Bled. Today there are more than 60 operators around the country, offering this type of accomodation and some are so luxurious that you’ll struggle to find a difference between them and a high ranking hotel.
The best travel recommendations come from locals. Check out these Wanderguides from Slovenia by locals sharing their travel tips and hidden gems.