One of Europe’s newest and smallest countries since its independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Slovenia is an enviable oasis of beautiful coastlines, dense forests and stunning mountains. Wedged between the Alps and the Mediterranean, serene and tranquil Slovenia is rapidly gaining a reputation as a tiny but significant jewel in Europe’s tourist crown.
Why You Should Go
What’s Cool: Wandering around the delightful back-streets of Ljubljana, chilling by the sea in Portoroz, taking a train into the awe-inspiring cave of Postojna, guzzling seafood in one of Piran’s fantastic restaurants, skiing and trekking in the Alps and sinking a few of the delicious local beers anywhere.
What’s Not: Being presented with your fourth plate of stodge of the day, slow and often irregular public transport, cold winters in the eastern plateaus and valleys, having to transfer in Ljubljana regardless of your final destination, flashers in Tivoli Park and the local version of a hamburger
When to Go
Slovenia has a very agreeable climate, and is generally beautifully warm and sunny from May to September. Winter gets pretty cold, but pack a warm coat and you’ll be fine. The ski season lasts from November until May. On the coast, the climate is typically Mediterranean, with scorching days throughout the summer.
Getting There & Away
Flights from all over Europe now fly to Ljubljana Brnik International Airport, 25kms north of the capital. You can also happily enter Slovenia by train or road from any of its neighbouring countries. There are no internal flights in Slovenia, but the train and bus networks are pretty good. The trains can take pretty odd-looking routes but you get there in the end. Bus services pretty much grind to a halt at the weekend, so don’t plan that big trip for Sunday afternoon.
Health & Safety
Slovenia is one of the safest countries in the world. Drinkable tap water, high hygiene standards and an affluent and friendly population make it a completely stress-free zone. As long as you don’t flash your wad of cash in someone’s face or make a complete spectacle of yourself, you should be fine.
Food & Hospitality
Slovenian food is very meaty to say the least. Vegetarians are not well catered for here. Expect lots of broth, stew, sausage and potato to feature at most meals. Having said that, the salads can be great and the seafood is fabulous in the coastal areas. Many people under 50 in Slovenia can speak English, French or Italian, so it’s pretty easy to get by and people are eager to help if you make a basic attempt at Slovenian. Service is usually very good wherever you go and a 10 per cent tip is expected at most places these days.
Two weeks in Slovenia should be plenty of time to see a good number of the country’s main attractions.
Spend a few days soaking up the atmosphere and history of the fabulously bijou Slovenian capital, Ljubljana.
Watch a few days fly by canoeing and rafting in the Julian Alps.
Put your feet up and laze away the remainder of your time by the sea in picturesque (but touristy) Portoroz.
Extra time Take a train into the amazing cave of Postojna, one of Europe’s greatest sights of natural beauty.
Enjoy a swim in the Adriatic amid stunning Venetian architecture and tons of delicious seafood restaurants in Piran.
Ljubljana: delightfully relaxed and bursting with art galleries, beautiful buildings, welcoming bars and lovely weather, Ljubljana is the place to be. It was also reputedly founded by Jason and the Argonauts. Do you need another reason to go?
Piran: this tiny Venetian town by the Adriatic is home to a delicious combination of seaside tranquillity and great seafood.
Julian Alps: satisfy the howl of the adrenaline-junkie within by spending a few days on one of the multitude of adventure trips that take you kayaking, canoeing or trekking. Lake Bled and Bohinj are two pretty lakeside resorts that are heavenly.
Cave of Postojna: this visually stunning place has to be seen to be believed.
Maribor: bask in the serenity of the streets and squares of Slovenia’s second city and cultural capital.
Cultural sightseeing: Ljubljana and Maribor are full of magnificent buildings, museums and galleries.
Skiing: Slovenia is home to some of the best skiing in Europe, and the season lasts well into the spring.
Adventure: kayak, canoe or trek to your heart’s content in the Julian Alps.
Relaxing: the days just disappear in the tranquillity of the coastal region. Take a dip in the sea or just while away the days enjoying the wonderful seafood.
Caving: take the train through the breathtaking stalagmites and stalactites of the Postojna Cave.
Festivals & Events
Slovenians love a good knees-up, usually revolving around eating, drinking and folk-dancing. Cows are sometimes invited too.
February: Kurentovanje, the most popular Mardi Gras celebration in Slovenia, is held every February for the 10 days running up to Shrove Tuesday.
June: Maribor’s Lent Festival celebrates Slovenian folklore, music and culture.
July/August: Ljubljana Summer Festival is Slovenia’s biggest cultural event, revolving around music, theater and dance.
September: Cows’ Ball in Bohinj marks the return of the cows to the valleys from their high pastures. Everyone has a typically Slovenian good time.