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Best Places to Visit in Slovenia

Best-Places-to-Visit-in-Slovenia

One of the smallest countries in Europe, Slovenia is best known for the vast forests which cover half the nation and the Art Nouveau grace of its laidback capital city Ljudljana – but for the adventurous visitor, Slovenia offers many others attractions for those who dare to go somewhere different.

 

The Romance & Beauty of Old Europe in Slovenia

Adriatic-Coast-Slovenia

In a modern, high-tech, connected world, it sometimes seems as though all the magic and romance of Old Europe has faded away.

In place of chivalry and courtly romance, we now have video games and twenty-four hour cable television, and where majestic palaces and ancient forests once stood, there are now thousand-acre council estates and highways. Nowadays, for visitors looking to experience the vaunted romance and mystery of the Continent have to look further and further away from the popular tourist spots – and you can hardly do better than to visit the tiny nation of Slovenia, on Europe’s oft-overlooked Adriatic Coast.

Republic-of-Slovenia

The Republic of Slovenia, to give it the official title, is a tiny country sandwiched between Croatia, Hungary and Austria. It’s so little known, most people wouldn’t be able to find it on a map, let alone name the capital city (Ljubljana, by the way). It is the combination of its size, isolation and fiercely independent inhabitants which have kept the nation largely free of troubles with its Baltic neighbours, as well as helping it preserve a country that is almost impossibly lovely.

 

This is a land which is still more than half-covered with ancient forests of oaks and pine, where deer, boars and rabbits still run free. In the springtime, the towering Alps of the eastern country are blanketed with mountain blooms and newborn Lipizzaner foals frolic in their low valley fields, while in the east, fresh sea breezes from the Adriatic sweep over the terraced wine-yards. There are relatively few big towns and cities in Slovenia, with its tiny population of barely 2 million souls, but what habitations there are tend to be the kind of picturesque stone-walled and red tiled buildings which were once the norm throughout this part of Europe. It is, in short, a real-life Ruritanian dream, with a landscape that would make Turner bite his brush in two.

Bled-Slovenia

In a country filled with gorgeous landscapes, some of the most romantic sights can be found in the town of Bled, in the northwest corner of Slovenia. Cradled in a valley beneath the snow-capped Julian mountains and set at the edge of the Triglav National Park on the shores of Lake Bled, the town is dominated by a brooding castle perched on a rocky cliff overlooking the lake. Out on the dark blue waters is the only island in Slovenia, on which sits a charming white-washed church, its tower visible from almost any point on the lake shore. The view of the island in its deep blue lake, with the mountains rearing up in the background, is one of the classic sights of Slovenia.

 

There are other reasons to visit Slovenia as well. There are the people, with a colourful culture that blends traditions Slavic and Mediterranean with some uniquely Slovenian customs, and are well known for their warmth and hospitality. There are the folk festivals and events, when the entire population of a town might turn up in traditional costumes, in a scene straight out of a medieval woodcut. And there are wonderful, one-of-a-kind sights like the lofty Triglav Peak, the heart of Triglav National Park, the highest mountain in the country and once worshipped by Pagans as a god.  But most of all, there is the sheer beauty of a land that has remained marvelously unspoilt by progress, without sacrificing the conveniences and benefits of modern life.

Triglav-Peak-Slovenia

There aren’t many places left today that still offer the combination of mystery and sheer beauty that was once the most compelling draw of a visit to old Europe. Slovenia is one of the few countries where the spirit of the Europe of old hasn’t yet been drowned out by ring-tones and MTV. But for those looking to experience that vision of old Europe, it might be wise to hurry – many romance-hungry visitors are fast catching on to the country’s appeal and making it their destination of choice; and once it becomes just another popular vacation spot, who knows how long the mystery and romance will last?

Bled: Things To See & Do

Bled-to-do-Slovenia

Bled Castle

The biggest tourist attraction in the country, this lovely Baroque-style compound not only has the traditional castle accoutrements, but also a museum covering the castle’s history and archeological finds from Bled’s distant past. A particularly nice way to see it is to take a horse-drawn carriage ride (‘fijikarji’) around the castle.

 


Bled Island

One of the must-do activities in Bled is to take a ‘pletna’ boat ride across lake Bled to the island, which is famed for an ancient temple dedicated to the Slavic Goddess of Love, Ziva. The boats are moored at the Health Park, below Park Hotel, at Mlino and at the rowing centre.

 


Vintgar

This 2 km gorge near Bled is a series of waterfalls, rapids and lazy bends leading up to a spectacular 16 metre waterfall.

Ljudljana: Things To See & Do

Ljubljana-Slovenia

Preseren Square

The main square in the city, the many cafes scattered around it are popular for people watching. The Franciscan Monastery Church of Annunciation on one side; across from it are the charming three bridges to the Old Quarter. In the centre of the square is a statue to France Preseren, Slovenia’s greatest poet.

 


Dragon Bridge

One of the most famous bridges over the River Ljubljana, the green dragon pedestals along its length are one of the city’s most famous icons. Though too dirty to swim in, the River itself is popular for cruises.

 


Tivoli Park

A charming park in the centre of the city, this is a popular recreational space, especially for families.

 


Ljubljana Cathedral

Recognizable by its green dome and twin towers, this is the largest church in the city. Its glorious decorations and intimate, welcoming atmosphere makes it a particular joy to visit.

 


Postojna Caves

An hour’s drive to the west, these caves are a popular day trip from the city, particularly for those who’ve never been caving. There are guided tours available and most of the tour is conducted on a little mining train. Bring warm clothes.

 

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