Nova Gorica is a modern university city adjoining the Italian border. It's the largest city in the area and has interesting recent history, but it lacks natural beauty or historic charm. Its tourist 'appeal' lies in the casinos that draw Italians from across the border who can’t gamble at home.
The truncated province of Koroška is essentially just three valleys bounded by the Pohorje Massif on the east; the last of the Karavanke peaks, Mt Peca, on the west; and the hills of Kobansko to the north. The Drava Valley runs east to west and includes the towns of Dravograd, Muta and Vuzenica.
Rogaška Slatina is Slovenia’s oldest and largest spa town, a veritable ‘cure factory’ with a half-dozen posh hotels offering treatments and therapies. It’s an attractive place set among scattered forests in the foothills of the Macelj range. Hiking and cycling in the area is particularly good.
Slovenj Gradec isn't the ‘capital’ of Koroška – that distinction goes to the industrial centre of Ravne na Koroškem to the northwest – but it is certainly the province’s cultural and recreational heart. A large number of museums, galleries and historical churches line its main square, while the sporting opportunities in the Pohorje Massif to the east are many.
Most people make their way to this village , on a little bump of land extending into Croatia, to relax at the Terme Olimia thermal spa. Looming overhead are the remains of a castle originally built in the 11th century and an important fortification during the wars with the Hungarians 300 years later.
Slovenia’s northernmost city, Murska Sobota sits on a plain flatter than a palačinka, the pancake filled with jam or nuts and topped with chocolate that is so popular here. The city itself has little to recommend it except for its odd architectural mix of neoclassical, Secessionist and ‘socialist baroque’ buildings.
The capital of Bela Krajina and its largest town, Črnomelj (pronounced cher-no-ml) is on a promontory in a loop where the Lahinja and Dobličica Rivers meet. This relaxed town is the ‘folk heart’ of Bela Krajina, and its popular Jurjevanje festival attracts hundreds of dancers and singers from the region. There's not a lot to see, but it's a gateway to scenic surrounds.