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).
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.
Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. Today it has a population around 280,000, but it takes role as a historical crossroads between Germanic, Slavic and Latin cultures. It is considered the center of Slovenia in many ways, as in culture, science, economy, politics, administration and industry. Geographically, it is also in the center of the country, in the Ljubljana Basin.
Much of the historic architecture of this city has been preserved, where people can enjoy the classic Baroque and Art Nouveau styles. The center of Ljubljana is the Ljubljana Castle, whichexists on a hill overlooking everything. The area around the castle has been inhabited since ancient times. Tivoli Park is also a famous landmark of this city, with lots of nice chestnut trees, sculptures and flower gardens. Ljubljana is a very artistic city full of galleries and museums. It hosts over 10,000 cultural events each year as well, which range from jazz to wine to European classical music.
Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia, with a population of around 100,000. It is situated in the northeast of the country, near Austria. It is on the river Drava, near Pohorje Mountain, which has some skiing and hiking facilities and hosts some sports competitions. Other than the mountains, it is also by a valley, plains and wine-growing hill ranges. This city even hosts theoldest grapewine in the world, Stara trta, which is more than 400 years old. There are several Gothic and Renaissance-modeled landmarks throughout Maribor. All of the different districts of the city are well-connected, to it is easy to get around.
Celje is the third largest Slovenian city, with about 50,000 inhabitantants. It is considered the fastest developing city of Slovenia, and is an industrial and trade center. It is the regional center for the Lower Styria area. The city sits under the Upper Celje Castle. It is situated at the confluence of the Savinja, Loznica and Voglajna Rivers. This region is subject to many minor earthquakes. Celje is near Smartinsko Lake, which is a lake located within the forest, as a popular outdoor excursion for locals and tourists. In terms of culture, city is home to a few art galleries and museums.