“S-LOVE-nia”; a small country that just like the spelling in its name
makes you fall hopelessly in love with it at first and in every sight.
It’s a small country cozily tucked amongst Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia but somehow is one of those rare places that has the best of everything and something for every visitor. It’s also one of the few countries in Europe that’s very young – both in terms of creation and age of the local population. It was part of erstwhile Yugoslavia but it got its constitution in 1991 and only became a part of the EU in 2004. Hence it should be on every travelers “cheat” wish-list to Europe – as it offers all experiences that are European (with flavors from all its neighbors) while retaining its own charm and flavors.
And elaborating from above, please find below my 20 reasons why this country should be on your travel wish-list for 2015 –
1. Live your own fairy tale – Visiting Slovenia is like being
transported into your own fairy tale where you see castles nestled
amongst clouds atop green hilltops, rivers flowing along your paths
and verdant green forests as far as the eyes can see. Frozen 2 can
actually be shot here 🙂
2. See the mind-blowing and untouched landscapes – For a small
country it boasts a wide variety of landscapes – it has the snow caped Julian Alpine peaks in the north, Adriatic coast in the south-west, Pannonian Basin in the east and multiple forests, underground caves, gorges, rivers and lakes interspersed in between.
3. Visit castles in caves, on hills and on islands – It is a
land with some quaint castles and unique histories associated with
them. It has a robin hood castle in Piran, a castle atop a hill in
Ljubljana & Bled, and I am sure there are many more unknown ones in its small villages and towns.
4. Hike across the Julian Alps – Slovenia is a hikers paradise.
The Julian Alps here and other small hills and mountain ranges provide some fantastic locations to hike amongst beautiful hills or along blue green lakes.
5. Try some of its many possible adventure sports – It is also
an adventure seekers playground. The diverse landscape around here provides opportunities to try multiple adventure sports from the hills to the waters. You can try rock climbing, paragliding, canyoning, river rafting, kayaking, river tubing, sky diving etc etc.
6. Swim or kayak in pristine blue green lakes – The beautiful
blue green Alpine lakes and rivers here are so clear that you just
have to take a dip in its waters. You can try a hand at kayaking and
7. Walk along an underground river in caves – The Škocjan Caves
are huge underground limestone caves with many unique natural
phenomenon including the underground Reka River. The Reka flows on the surface, along an approximately four-kilometre-long gorge that ends with a magnificent wall under which it disappears underground. You can walk follow this river underground in these caves and walk amidst beautiful limestone creations and on a natural underground bridge.
8. Stay in a 100 year old prison – It also has some unique stay options. In Ljubljana a 100 year old prison has been converted into a modern hostel and you can actually stay in room that were the cells. If that’s not your style, then you can just visit for one of their daily tours of the place.
9. Walk in the Vintgar Gorge – Walk or cycle through Bled to
reach the beautiful Vintgar Gorge where you can walk on wooden
walkways along with a beautiful green river inside a gorge. Along the walk you can see small waterfalls, forests and moving rainbows that keeps going up and down in the jumping waters.
10. Ljubljana is a city with canals and dragons – Ljubljana is
settled on the Ljubljanica river and it runs through the heart of the
city. This creates beautiful canals in many parts of the city that you
can explore through a boat or a kayak. There are also many small
bridges with dragons as guards to cross the river.
11. Pack a basket and enjoy an all day picnic at one its many
gorgeous gardens – Slovenia has some of the most beautiful gardens and on a day with good weather you can just pack a picnic basket with food, games and books, then load it on a cycle and just enjoy under a tree of your choice.
12. Meet some really friendly people – Slovenians are the most
friendly people that we came across and were always ready to help out with anything. In fact we met one Slovenian who had traveled all across India and was the host and guide for an Indian couple around Slovenia (who he had met during his own travels in India).
13. Try the local cuisine with numerous vegetarian options – The
Slovenian cuisine has many influences of its neighbours – strong
Germanic influence near the northern border, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine in the west, and Hungarian influence in the north. Their food had numerous options for vegetarians and have some really unique deserts.
14. Explore Ljubljana for some unique sights – Walking around
Ljubljana is like walking in Alibaba’s cave with each turn showing off some new interesting sights from beautiful street art to shoes hanging all around the city. Though no one knows the reason for these hanging shoes.
15. Shoppers Paradise – Ljubljana is a shoppers paradise with all
kinds of shopping options available – it has the high-end brands and also many small trendy boutiques with some really arty stuff. You can also find many really good Italian clothes and shoes at amazing prices.
16. Easy on the pocket – Slovenia is very affordable compared to
Europe in general. The currency is Euro but the prices for
everything are extremely backpacker friendly.
17. Safety is not a concern – It is an extremely safe country even
for solo women travelers. We walked around all neighborhoods, cities and at all times but never felt any danger.
18. Everyone speaks English – There are no language hassles while
traveling within Slovenia as pretty much everyone speaks English. This is a big advantage when traveling within Europe especially if you are lost and need help with directions etc.
19. Try the local public transportation – Since it’s such a small
country you can cover pretty much everything while keeping Ljubljana as a base. The public transportation is very good – it has very good connectivity and frequency to all major towns and neighboring countries and the buses and trains are in good condition. In fact the local buses have free wifi too.
20. Still off the typical tourist path – Slovenia is still not on
the typical touristy path and hence it’s not over crowded or
commercialized. It has also retained a lot of its original character