Slovenia is one of those countries that everyone who has been to, raves about. Where is this country?
Well, for those of you who are geographically challenged, pull up a map of Europe and take a look. It’s really at the crossroads of western and central Europe. Bordered by Italy to the West, Austria to the North, Hungary to the East and Croatia to the South (and East), Slovenia is one of those former Yugoslavia countries. It’s quite small – about the size of many of our metropolitan areas. So, you could easily see it in a day.
But, you won’t want to. For a pint-sized country it has loads to do!
Mountains dominate. The Julian Alps are stunning. But, there’s a tiny bit of coastline here too – just enough to take advantage of. And there are gorgeous green plains. Add to that some really cool caves, crystal-clear lakes and a capital city that is gorgeous and slow-paced and you have a recipe for the perfect country in Europe. I’ll be honest, this country has been on my “I wanna go there now” list for the past few years.
I’ve enlisted some help with Slovenia in one Michaela Manning. Michaela is a UK travel blogger who currently splits her time between London and her home town of Newark-on-Trent. “Any annual leave is currently spent exploring Europe and then any other spare time is spent blogging about it! My blog is proof that even those that are time poor and have tight budgets, don’t need to compromise on travel!”
Michaela has been to Slovenia, spending most of her time in the capital, Ljubljana. So, I’m going to let her tell you more about Slovenia.
Ljubljana doesn’t have that bustling city atmosphere as it’s traded the super skyscrapers and 24 hour rush for gorgeous leafy park retreats and romantic canal side views. Travelers can expect to fall head over heels for the charming cobbled streets and pretty architecture, without being distracted by the hordes of other city trippers, which makes this location all the more attractive. In Ljubljana you can embrace the tranquil nature of this beautiful city and enjoy it at a pace that will permit you ample time to drink it all in.
This compact city, however, is certainly not short of food offerings. Ljubljana is a food fanatics paradise with a huge range of superb restaurants to choose from. Settling down for a quiet drink and a tasty meal complete with views over the canal comes easy. As the city is absent from the crowds you might find in Florence or Paris or Prague, you can take your time to amble between the cafes and feel free to graze in between. You won’t be disappointed!
Some of my favorites include prekmurska gibanica which is a traditional dessert with layers of poppy seeds, walnuts, cottage cheese and apple. Kranjska klobasa (a Carniolan sausage) or Štruklji (a rolled dough with a range of sweet or savory fillings), are another two delicious Slovenian treats I discovered during my time here. With Slovenia sandwiched in-between two fabulous foodie countries, Italy and Croatia, you’ll also come across many more incredible meat or fish dishes as well as some great gelato and pizza places.
Ljubljana is best explored by foot or by bike. But what if you’re after something a little more different? For the ‘unconventional’ tourists among us you can opt to take a slightly more adventurous approach to your sightseeing. Why not discover Ljubljana from the river and try stand up paddle boarding. Still a super relaxing activity and a lot easier than it appears, you can see this gorgeous city from the water.
Bang on trend, Ljubljana also has jumped on the band wagon and opened up a super cute cat café. It’s perfect for those who want a cat to cuddle with your espresso. These cafes are springing up pretty much all over the place, but it’s good to see that this branch in Ljubljana is kind to the cats. They let all their customers know how to treat their coffee companions to make sure the cats are kept purring.
Park Tivoli is a centrally located green space and very easy to get to. If your trip is blessed with good weather, it would be a great idea to prepare a picnic, hire a bike and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the grounds on two wheels. This park is by far the largest open space in the city, but Ljubljana is dotted with a good handful of other smaller squares and gardens. These are ideal places for people watching and day dreaming as the world goes by.
If you’re planning to head to Ljubljana as a solo traveller or as part of a family, rest assured that this city will have you completely at ease. This pint-sized city is really simple to navigate. The locals are incredibly welcoming and speak fantastic English. Whether you are discovering the town by day, or heading out for a night-cap, you’ll find the streets super safe.
Outside of Ljubljana
If you fancy heading out of town Postojna and Škocjan caves are both simple rides south from Ljubljana. Both are equally impressive. Postojna has tens of kilometres of fantastic underground caverns. Škocjan has the largest underground canyon in the world and is a registered UNESCO site. Piran is pretty coastal town south of the caves that you might want to visit. It sits at the tip of a narrow peninsula. It’s gorgeous!
Seeking more adventure? The areas around Lake Bled offer up some more adrenaline-pumping water based activities to get properly stuck into. Canyoning, rafting and kayaking are ultra-popular. You can sign up for all these adventure tours at the tourism office in Ljubljana.
If you come to Ljubljana and miss a trip to Lake Bled, you’ve done something quite wrong. Lake Bled is a spectacular sight to the north of Ljubljana. It’s one of those rare places that looks better in real-life than in the brochure. This day trip can be an active one. You can hike around the perimeter of the lake, hire a row-boat or go swimming in the emerald waters. If you’re feeling up for an epic climb, take a walk up to the castle for show-stopping panoramas or treat yourself to a generous slice of original bled cake from Hotel Park Restavracija Rikli.
Additional trips can be taken to Vintgar Gorge for a wander down a stunning canyon or you can venture further into Triglav National Park.
Michaela has me sold on visiting Slovenia. As I said, it’s been on my list and I have some acquaintances that have spent some time here. Everyone loves this little country.
But, wait, there’s more to Slovenia
I’m going to expand on a place that Michaela mentions. This is Triglav National Park – Slovenia’s only national park. This is the home to the Julian Alps. You know me – I’m a mountain gal so I can’t complete this post without talking about this area a bit more.
The highest peak, Triglav, rises to 2864m. There are roughly 400 peaks in Slovenia that are 2000m or higher. Triglav National Park has most of the them. So, this is the place to be if you like the mountains.
But, there’s also beautiful valleys, thick forests and glacial lakes. In fact, Slovenia’s largest glacial lake, Lake Bohinj, is located in the park. You’ll also find some stunning waterfalls and river gorges. Sound gorgeous, doesn’t it?
I really could go on about more places to see. Slovenia is truly packed with so much – beautiful natural areas, incredible history, intriguing local traditions, delicious food, warm people.
There is one more interesting fact about this country that I want to mention: Slovenia is a country that has truly embraced green living. First of all, about one-third of the country is protected territory. Secondly, Slovenia ranks fifth as one of the most environmentally friendly countries for 2016. Thirdly, the European Commission awarded Ljubljana with the coveted Green Capital of Europe title for 2016.
Oh, and one more thing…there are some beautiful vineyards in Slovenia with some tasty wines. Mountains and wine. Two of my favorite things!
So, what do you think? Is Slovenia now on your list of places to go?
You can also find Michaela on the following social media platforms:
Interested in traveling to Slovenia or somewhere else in Europe? Lynne is a personal travel planner and can help you plan that trip. Contact her via email or give her a call at 1.303.885.0779.