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Slovenia is a jewel of no small rarity: a European destination that hasn’t been done to death. And what a gem it is: with a coastline on the glittering Adriatic Sea and a countryside hemmed in all around by the snow-capped Julian Alps, this is a country long on natural beauty. Culture-wise, Slovenia puts one in mind of the very best of its geographic neighbors: the sophistication of Italy, the rustic charm of Hungary, the fairytale beauty of Austria. Little wonder that it ranks consistently among Europe’s unsung treasures.

The sheer wealth of things to do here will keep you dazzled. Near proximity to the mountains ensures that the winter sports (skiing, mountain climbing) are exceptional, with miles of wooded, scenic wilderness doing the same for hiking. Adventure sports are huge here! In addition, Slovenia’s diminutive size and proximity to other popular European destinations means that hopping borders is never more than an easy train ride away! You’ll sightsee in and around castles straight out of storybooks, sip local wines, and wander gorgeous historic churches. Whether your taste runs to laid-back city pursuits or wild backcountry thrills, there is SO much waiting for you here! Tour the picturesque lakeside paradise of Bled, the compact city center of Ljubljana, and the underground world of Skocjan Caves, and everything around and in between.

Top Slovenia Sights

Ljubljana

Lovingly called “pint-sized,” Ljubljana is among the smallest European capitals—and the least-populated as well. Eminently walkable and packed with charm, it is easily one of the continent’s great “off the beaten path” delights. Featuring cobblestone streets, winding alleys, and gorgeous 19th century edifices reminiscent of the Hapsburgs, it’s a great place to simply take a long stroll and drink up the loveliness all around you. Make like a local and rent a bike for tooling around town! Countless galleries, cafes, and boutiques are a testament to thriving culture, and there’s a burgeoning arts scene as well. Check out the Triple Bridge over the Ljubljanica River, as well as Ljubljana Castle (located in the historic Old Town) for sweeping, gorgeous views of the city at nighttime.

Bled

Situated on the shores of Lake Bled, the outstanding scenery here makes it a leading getaway spot for both locals and visitors. The waters surrounding the island are the shining pure green of an emerald, and countless little caves and waterfalls put one in mind of an enchanted land from a storybook. Gorgeous, thousand-year-old Bled Castle is by far the can’t-miss attraction in the area. Situated on a dramatic cliff overlooking the water, with gorgeous terraces jutting out over the rocky coast, it’s beyond beautiful. The Church of the Assumption is located on Bled Island, a short boat ride away—ring the wishing bell inside the chapel and, as legend holds, your heart’s deepest wish will come true.

Skocjan Caves

The UNESCO-recognized Skocjan Caves are located in Divaca, in Slovenia’s renowned Coast and Karst region. Of the many limestone caves in this area, the Skocjan Caves are the most famed. The world’s largest underground canyon is located here, along with a unique karst ecosystem. An underground river winds through some massive subterranean caverns, including Martel’s Chamber—the largest in Europe and one of the biggest in the world. Hiking is very noteworthy here, with brilliant views and natural surprises along every trail. This is also another great area for bike exploration! Notably, from Divaca, Italy is only half an hour away by train. If you are planning a multinational tour, this is a great entrance/exit point between the two countries.

Triglav National Park

Outdoorsy types will get thrills aplenty from Triglav National Park, which covers most of Slovenia’s section of the Julian Alps. Climb, sled, ski… one can do it all here. Amazing encounters with wildlife are another great reason to visit. A number of endangered species call the park home, among them the chamois. Scale Mount Triglav (with or without the help of a guide, depending on your level of fitness and daring), or take the easy route to the summit—a cable car ride straight up!

Maribor

Located close to the Austrian border, Slovenia’s second-largest city was designated a European Center of Culture for 2012. Sturdy stone buildings and acres of woods attest to the snowy, cold winters experienced here. Maribor is the heart of Slovenia’s winemaking country, and any number of small restaurants and bars proudly tout the local vintages! The world’s oldest grape-producing vine is here. At four hundred years old, its annual harvest is cause for a citywide celebration! Wine from these grapes is produced in tiny bottles given only as gifts to visiting

Quick Facts

Capital: Ljubljana
Primary Airports: Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU), Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport (MBX)
Government: Parliamentary Republic
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Population: 1,993,000 (2013 est.)
Language: Slovenian
Electricity: 230V/50Hz (European plug)
Time Zone: UTC +1
Slovenia

Slovenia Travel Reviews


Slovenia: Jewel of the Eastern European Crown

Scott Broderick

Our family travelled to Slovenia by train from Austria. Train travel was an excellent choice as the trains of Europe are efficient and pristine, and this type of travel allowed our 9 month old daughter some flexibility and movement. The train left a station just South of Bad Hofgastein and arrived in the capital of Slovenia in only a few hours time. We chose to stay in Ljubljana due to the reputation it has earned as being a laid back city where your money will travel far. The city proper provides an interesting mix of modern urban design contained within a traditional medieval landscape.

Ljubljana is known for bridges and the most famous are within walking distance of one another. The Dragon Bridge is impressive with intimidating dragons peering down at the crossers as the dragon is the symbol of the city. It can be found in doorways and crests throughout the entire downtown. The Triple Bridge consists of three separate bridges that intersect. On some of the other bridges, newly married couples have taken to placing locks on the bridge bars to symbolize their lasting love and we were treated to this romantic spectacle during our visit. Another fascinating place is the city within the city called Metalkova. This former military camp has been taken over by a mix of squatters, hippies and anarchists who run makeshift clubs and put on concerts. The entire area is covered in sculpture and mosaic art and nearly every bit of surface is decorated in some fashion. Ljubljana is a great weekend destination for nearly any type of traveler.

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Destinations Visited: Slovenia

An Unplanned Trip to Slovenia

Anonymous

As part of a trip to Austria in 2004, my parents and I took an unplanned detour to Slovenia to see what we could learn about my great-grandparents who emigrated from a small town near Crnomelj in the early 19th hundreds. We had no plan, only a map and a goal.

We stopped at Lake Bled and enjoyed a meal on the covered porch of a restaurant that had magnificent views of Lake Bled and the church that dominates the small island at its center. We spent a few hours in this beautiful town, wandering its many levels and window shopping.

Next, we drove through the stark and imposing capital city of Ljubljana before reaching the vineyards and farms of southern Slovania. The town we sought is so small that it is on almost no map, but the people there were friendly and generous. We enjoyed a wonderful meal at a local guesthouse before retiring to the rooms built over the long garage behind the main building. The accommodations were basic, but the views of the surrounding vineyards and farmland were a great compensation. The next morning we visited the church and other areas to allow my father to conduct his research.

I enjoyed our brief trip and people we met along the way.

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Destinations Visited: Slovenia

Lake Bled: Slovenia’s Heaven on Earth

Brett S.

James and I flew from Stanstead Airport in the U.K. to Lubjana in Slovenia. We took a minibus to Lake Bled, where we stayed in a hostel just a short walk up from the Lake. We had come to enjoy the scenery: From the ground and from the air. James and I will try anything once, and the chance to experience the thrill of tandem skydiving could not be passed up. It was amazing! Other activities abound: Hiking, cycling, rafting, swimming, kayaking and scenic drives.

Lake Bled, situated in Triglav National Park, is an area of such outstanding natural beauty that we were left with the impression of it being a little piece of Heaven on earth. The rivers, lakes and waterfalls are crystal clear, and the exquisite little chapel on the island in the middle of Lake Bled just added to the feeling of divinity. Lake Bled is simply sublime!

Our guide told us that Triglav is loosely translated into English as the “Three Hats” -- that is: The three mountain peaks of Slovenia. We visited Kranjska Gora near the base of Triglav, and the reflection of the greenery on the water was stunning. Vrisic, the second highest peak in Slovenia, is a commanding presence. We took a day trip through Triglav, which ended with a fantastic sunset reflected on Lake Bohinj in the town of Bojinska.

The food was nothing special, mostly meats and potatoes, but we did enjoy a lovely pizza on our last night.

If you visit Slovenia/Lake Bled, do not leave home without your camera. The experience will be memorable, and you will want to hold on to them forever.

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Destinations Visited: Slovenia

Big Surprises in Slovenia

Lucky AF Officer

I have to admit, I did not know much about Slovenia before we decided to drive from Germany to Lake Bled to start a week long vacation. We arrived in a pouring rain storm, and we were pleasantly surprised at the kindness that our host showed us in spite of our late arrival. The next morning, I got up early and took a run around the lake. The views of the Julian Alps in the background made this the perfect setting for a springtime run. While the rain did not abate, it was fun to take a boat out to Bled Island and explore the quaint little church that is out there. My wife's favorite attraction was Castello di Bled. The attraction is nestled on a cliff, and the views of the city below are spectacular.

The next morning, we hit the road going south on our way to Italy. En route, we decided that we wanted to visit Škocjan Caves. These caves were amazing! Set in the bosom of the Karst mountains, the caves were a hidden gem. Walking over the narrow bridge that is 100 feet above Reka River was an experience that I will never forget. The canyon in the cave is something that is truly spectacular, and it is probably one of the main reasons why UNESCO named this a World Heritage Site. Overall, our family's trip to Slovenia was 5 stars. From start to finish, we were blown away by the country's beauty and charm.

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Destinations Visited: Slovenia

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