Looking for a unique European vacation? Slovenia is definitely for you. European vacations are incredible, from the history-filled cities to the quaint countryside towns to the majestic castles. However, many of these places can often be pricey and filled with tourists. Slovenia, however, is usually not on most traveler’s radar, making it a hidden gem in the continent.
This Balkan country gained independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991 and is bordered by Croatia, Italy, Austria, and Hungary. Tourism is on the rise with a massive increase between 2009 and 2014. If you’re not sure if you should add it to your list or not, here are 5 reasons Slovenia should be on your bucket list.
1. Sheer Beauty
Slovenia may not be big, but it is filled with the most astonishing sights. Check out the Julian Alps to the north of the country. This mountain range is filled with hiking paths for the adventurer in you. Forests, ski paths, and the occasional resort fill the remainder of the range.
Lake Bled is a must-see spot for the blues, greens, and teals of the water nestled in the majestic and looming mountains. Rent a boat from the town and row your way, or take a traditional Slovenian boat called a “pletna,” to Bled Island in the middle of the lake. Atop this tiny island, you’ll find a beautiful old church, a museum, and a cafe. Lake Bled is a perfect romantic getaway- read more about it in our list of the Best Places to Honeymoon.
Be sure not to miss Lake Bohinj, often called the most beautiful lake in Slovenia. The lake’s clearest of blues against the greenest of trees surrounding the water makes it an absolutely stunning landscape. The areas around Lake Bohinj are small, mountainous communities almost frozen in time. If you’re looking for a true escape from the rest of the world, head to Lake Bohinj for even just a day.
2. Ljubljana: A Capital City with Everything to Offer.
The capital city, (pronounced ‘yoob-yana’) mixes both Eastern European and Mediterranean vibes, all while maintaining an environmentally friendly and creative atmosphere. The winding streets of the old city combine baroque style with charmingly painted homes, all under the watchful eye of the Ljubljana castle above, while more modern parts of the city, such as Metelkova Mesto, treat you with neon painted benches, quirky decorations, and street art and murals adorning the walls.
While in Ljubljana, check out the Butcher’s Bridge, similar to the “love-locks” bridge in Paris, but with locks still place, or head to the Open Kitchen Food Market for any and all of the best Slovenian food from local chefs. Get lost in the stacks of books and history at the Seminary Palace and Library, or play tricks on your mind in the Museum of Illusions, which includes an anti-gravity room and a vortex tunnel. Alternatively, if you want to learn about Slovenian culture and history, check out the National Museum of Contemporary History.
Ljubljana is a definite go to city. Read more about it here, in our list of The 6 Best Cities for Digital Nomads.
3. Medieval Moments
Europe. Castles. Same thing, right? Slovenia is no exception. Ljubljana Castle sits high above the capital city and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country with exhibits on the country’s history. Bled Castle, high in the mountains above Lake Bled provides stunning views of the mountain landscape, while Predjama Castle sits in front of the Postojna cave, giving it a unique setting, with much to do apart from visiting the castle. Castle Bogensperk is one of the less known, yet equally charming castles in the country, located very close to the city of Ljubljana.
Traveling on a budget? Slovenia is perfect. Many countries in Europe are often very expensive, making it hard for a backpacker or low-budget traveler. Slovenia, however, is a very affordable trip. From things to do to housing, this trip is very economically-friendly. With beers for 3 euros, food from local Slovenian street vendors for 10 euros, and coffee for 6 euros, you’re already saving more than you would in any Western European country.
We’re not just talking about the vibrant greens of the landscapes here. Slovenia is one of the most environmentally friendly countries. The country is moving toward ‘zero waste’ and offers various destinations for ecotourism. The city of Ljubljana was named the European Green Capital of 2016 and is all about proper waste disposal, recycling programs, and sustainability. There are water fountains throughout the city and a free electric taxi and free public bicycle system for residents and visitors to use and limit the amount of car exhaust. In fact, the entire downtown section of the city is reserved as “pedestrian only.”
Read more about European vacations at ATR