Within striking distance of Novo Mesto, this small and sweet thermal resort is one of Slovenia's oldest spa towns. Located in the karst valley of the Sušica (a tributary of the Krka River), and surrounded by the wooded slopes of Kočevski Rog, it's an excellent place in which to hike, cycle or simply relax.
Maribor’s green lung and central playground, the eastern edge of the Pohorje Massif is known in these parts as the Maribor Pohorje (Mariborsko Pohorje). It's in easy reach of the city and has countless activities on offer – from skiing and hiking, to horse riding and mountain biking.
Ribnica is the oldest and most important settlement of western Dolenjska. It sits in the area known locally as Kočevsko – all woods, underground rivers and brown bears. It is a good springboard for the unspoiled forests of the Kočevski Rog, and worth a stop for anyone interested in local handicraft traditions.
Just a couple of kilometres from Kranjska Gora is one of the road-engineering marvels of the 20th century: a breakneck, Alpine road that connects Kranjska Gora with Bovec, 50km to the southwest. The trip involves no fewer than 50 pulse-quickening hairpin turns and dramatic vistas as you cross the Vršič Pass at 1611m.
Upper Savinja Valley
The beautiful Upper Savinja Valley (Zgornja Savinjska Dolina) is bound by forests, ancient churches, traditional farmhouses and high Alpine peaks. There are activities here to suit every taste and inclination – from hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing to fishing, kayaking and swimming in the Savinja. The valley has been exploited for its timber since the Middle Ages.
The castle at Otočec, on a tiny island in the middle of the Krka River, 7.5km northeast of Novo Mesto, is one of Slovenia’s loveliest and most complete fortresses – and the setting is a delight. The first castle here stood on the right bank of the river, but during the Mongol onslaught in the mid-13th century, a canal was dug on the south side, creating an artificial island.
Radenci is best known for its health-spa resort, parts of which still feel like a down-at-the-heel full-of-itself 19th-century spa town. The spa dominates activities for visitors, but when most Slovenes hear the name they think of Radenska Tri Srca – the ‘Radenci Three Hearts’ mineral water that's bottled here and consumed in every restaurant and cafe in the land.
Picture-perfect Goriška Brda (‘Gorica Hills’) is a tiny wine-producing region that stretches from Solkan west to the Italian border. It's a charmer, reminiscent of Tuscany, full of rolling hills topped with small settlements and churches, its hillsides lined with grapevines and orchards.