Slovenia is a relatively small country, but encompasses an astonishing diversity of terrain. Over 50% of the country is covered in forest, a verdant canopy of spruce, beech and larch, as well as the linden, with its heart-shaped leaves, which have become a symbol of the country. Slovenia has become a magnet for those wanting to get back to nature. Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are perfect retreats for those who want to explore the natural landscape on foot or by bike. There are opportunities for rafting, canoeing, rock-climbing, fishing and wild-water swimming. Slovenia is also an enthusiastic skiing nation, and her winter sports facilities are of a very high standard. If you visit during the season, which usually lasts from December through to April, you will never be far from a ski resort. Slovenia’s mountains and National Park are home to a variety of wildlife including brown bears, ibex, wolves and lynx.
Heritage and tradition
Until recently, life in Slovenia revolved mostly around agriculture and the revolving seasons of the countryside. Regional folk traditions still play a significant role in Slovenian life. Each region has its own costume and local festivals. Folk music is enjoyed throughout the country, based on the accordion, pan pipes (trstenka) and the zither. Handicrafts include embroidery, lace-making and decorative painting on furniture and on the distinctive beehive panels, which can be seen throughout the country.
Alpine lakes and peaks
To the north lie the Julian Alps and the Karavanke mountains, with the Triglav National Park, overlooked by the three-pronged peak of Mount Triglav. Perhaps most famous of Slovenia’s tourist attractions is the picturesque Lake Bled, with its fairytale cliff-top castle, picturesque island church and tranquil setting. Nearby, in the heart of the national park is the smaller Lake Bohinj. Both are ideal holiday spots for those who simply want to relax and recharge their batteries.
In the Karst region, subterranean rivers have carved out impressive underground cave complexes, including the country’s most popular natural attraction, the Postojna Caves, which encompass some 12 miles of tunnels, chambers and caverns, with awe-inspiring rock formations including huge stalactites and stalacmites.
In the centre of the country, lies the charming capital city of Ljubljana, which enchants with its majestic architecture and pretty riverfront promenades. The Ljubljanica river flows through the centre of the old town, which is free of traffic. The river is lined with cafes, restaurants and bars, perfect for people-watching, and crossed by captivating pedestrian bridges. The city has a laidback Mediterranean ambience and is a great place to visit all year round. Lake Bled is only 20 minutes’ drive away, so the two destinations of Ljubljana and Lake Bled make a perfect contrasting and complementary two centre holiday. It is easy and rewarding to explore this compact capital on foot, passing ornate churches and magnificent palaces, and wandering through her vast parks. Browsing in Ljubljana’s markets and boutiques is a pleasure.
Slovenia has but a short stretch of Adriatic coastline, only 30 miles long. The charming coastal town of Piran, with its pretty houses, painted in pastel colours, was once part of the Venetian Empire, and owes its ornate buildings to the wealth generated from the salt pans nearby. Neighbouring Portoroz also has an illustrious past, becoming popular for coastal breaks at the turn of the last century, when the Habsburgs built the grand Kempinski Palace, which is now a hotel.