Snow-capped peaks, turquoise-green rivers, and an Adriatic coastline inspired by Venice. Throughout Slovenia, a culinary and cultural sophistication hides behind a rural, rustic charm.
Slovenia offers pristine landscape in the middle of Europe, with soaring vistas of Alpine peaks, hills and dales straight out of a 19th-century landscape painting, and sparkling lakes and rivers that appear to be underlit by emeralds. Slovenians are well-attuned to natural beauty, and the inclination is nearly always to protect and preserve it. Where man intrudes, it’s often to good effect, such as at Lake Bled, where a tiny baroque chapel atop Bled Island and a dramatic cliffside castle complete a harmonious whole. You may well return from your holiday thinking Slovenia is the prettiest country you've ever seen.
Slovenia is an outdoor destination. Of course, there are great museums and historic churches here too, but the locals seem to favour active holidays, and you’ll be invited – even expected – to join in. The most popular pursuits remain mountain walks and hikes, though increasingly Slovenians are discovering cycling (especially in the capital, Ljubljana). Fast rivers like the Soča cry out to be rafted and there are ample chances to try out more esoteric activities like horseback riding, ballooning, caving and diving. If all this sounds a bit much, you can always decamp to the coast and sunbathe on the Adriatic.
Food & Drink
Slovenian cooking borrows a little from each of its neighbours – Italy, Austria, Hungary and the Balkans – synthesizing and reinventing dishes that emerge both familiar and unique. The ‘Slovenian’ touch, as it were, might well be a local obsession for using only fresh and (where possible) locally sourced ingredients. The result is a terrific foodie destination, where you’ll sample dishes in unusual combinations featuring items like buckwheat groats or mashed beans you may not be familiar with. Slovenian wine, both white or red, is an unheralded strength, and regional varietals pair well with local specialities.
The people are the 'X' factor in any visit to a foreign land, and rest assured you’ll find plenty of friendly faces here. Wherever you go, you’ll get an enthusiastic, helpful, welcoming and (often) English-speaking response. Numbering only around 2 million people, Slovenians perform well above their weight class in international sport, science, academics and even philosophy. In the days of old Yugoslavia, Slovenia was regarded as the most open of the country’s republics, and it’s not any different today. Slovenians are proud of their country and happy to show it off.
Ljubljana: a small but beautiful capital
Ljubljana, Slovenia's biggest city (say lyoob-lya-nah – the j’s are mostly silent), also happens to be one of Europe's greenest and most liveable capitals...
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Slovenia's capital and largest city also happens to be one of Europe's greenest and most liveable capitals. Car traffic is restricted in the centre, leaving the leafy banks of the emerald-green Ljubljanica River, which flows through the city's heart, free for pedestrians and cyclists.
Ask Lonely Planet: where can I have a high-energy holiday?
Looking for a trip that will get your pulse racing? This week, the experts from Lonely Planet Traveller magazine show reader Stephanie Hafner where to go for an active holiday. 1...