. A Slovenia travel guide: tips from Slovenia's Tourist Board : Budget Travel Adventures

A Slovenia travel guide: tips from Slovenia’s Tourist Board

Ljubljana River Ljubljanica Slovenia Dunja Wedam 2

Ljubljanica River, Ljubljana (Source: www.slovenia.info Photographer: Dunja Wedam)

In Europe, Slovenia is one truly one of the hidden gems and best kept secrets.  As part of the former Yugoslavia, it can get overlooked by its neighbors Croatia and Italy.  Nestled at the base of the Alps, Slovenia has something for everyone – mountains, lakes, a fascinating capital city, a unique history and culture, architecture, art, and even a beach.

For those that don’t know much about the country, this Slovenia travel guide will give visitors some great travel tips for visiting this beautiful area.

Last week, I shared my photos of Lake Bled as well as my thoughts, experiences, a list of activities, and hotel options.  Lake Bled is one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe and just one of many wonderful places to visit in Slovenia.

Sure, I really enjoyed the my visit to Slovenia.  However, does anyone really view me as an expert on what to see and do in Slovenia?  Because I love Slovenia, I am bringing in the experts to give you the insider’s guide to Slovenia.

Kicking things off, my friends at the Slovenia tourist board have graciously given me an interview and an in-depth look at Slovenia tourism, can’t miss sights in Ljubljana, other places to visit besides Lake Bled and Ljubljana, and some interesting facts about Slovenia.

Upcoming posts will focus on green tourism in Slovenia as well as an interview with Slovenian tour guide Marijan Kriskovic.

So sit back, enjoy, and learn more about Slovenia, get some great travel tips, and read why you should visit in this Slovenia travel guide thanks to this interview with the Slovenian Tourist Board.

What are some “can’t miss” sights in Ljubljana?

Slovenian Tourist Board: There are a number of sites that are important for any visit to Ljubljana.  The central points of interest in Ljubljana are Ljubljana Castle, Old Town with City Hall, Town Square, Old Square and Upper Square, the Seminary, Three Bridges and Dragon Bridge, and Tivoli Park.

Ljubljana is also:

  • a harmonic blend of Baroque, Art Nouveau and newer architectural styles;
  • a city reflecting the genius of a single architect, master Jože Plečnik;
  • a lively city with about 10,000 cultural events a year;
  • a city crowned by a medieval castle, protected by a mighty dragon and crossed by the river of seven names;
  • a city of ‘Wine and Vine’, offering a range of culinary experiences – from national to international or ethnic cuisines, from slow food to fast food – the choice is yours;
  • a city that loves and respects the green – parks and forest areas spread right into the urban center.

For more information what to see and do in Ljubljana, Visit Ljubljana is a great resource for everything about the city.  Check it out and learn more about Ljubljana castle, the Dragon Bridge, and more.

 

Piran Cape Slovenia Ubald Trnkoczy

Piran, Slovenia (Source: www.slovenia.info, Photographer: Ubald Trnkoczy)

What makes Slovenia such a unique place to visit that makes it different from the rest of Eastern Europe and the other former republics of Yugoslavia?

STB: The exceptionally diverse landscapes of Slovenia have some common features that link a specific area into a whole. To help you decide which part of the country to visit, and to let you know what to see and what to do there, we have divided Slovenian landscapes into four groups: the Alpine world, the north-eastern uplands and lowlands, the Karst and the coast. The capital city is where all four groups meet, and is important enough to have been given its own section.

Read more about Slovenian landscapes.

What other destinations should people visit (Skocjan, Piran, Ljubljana, Lake Bled…)?

STB: Slovenia has an amazing wealth of attractions and features. The choice is so wide that sometimes it is hard to decide what to visit. We have narrowed down the choice to the 50 most popular Tourist attractions in Slovenia. Many of them are the kind that you truly have to visit to get the real feel of Slovenia. These range from castles to nature parks to museums and karstic caves.

Check out the full list of the top 50 destinations in Slovenia.

Lake Bled pletna castle Slovenia Matej Vranič

Laked Bled (Source: www.slovenia.info, Photographer: Matej Vranič)

What efforts is Slovenia making in the environment that would appeal to tourists (i.e. Lake Bled is very environment friendly)?

STB: At the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) we are now committed to ensuring that what is green and sustainable permeates every activity of ours in the future. We are committed to the preservation of forests, water, the sea and other natural assets to the greatest possible extent.

Our mission in the area of green tourism is to inform participants in tourism about the importance of climate change and the impact on tourism, and about changes in the market, while encouraging action in the area of adapting to and mitigating climate change.

The key strategic orientations of green tourism undeniably include the active orientation of tourism towards the green economy, providing information and incentives for the tourist economy to develop green models of operation, incentives for destinations to establish models of sustainable development based on standard indicators, and raising awareness among tourists to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and environmentally friendly behaviour of their own.

(Green tourism in Slovenia will be featured in an upcoming post.)

Logarska Valley Slovenia Tomo Jeseničnik

What are some interesting facts about the people and the country that should make people want to visit?

STB:

Green facts

  • that Slovenia is among the most biologically diverse countries in the world? Slovenia accounts for less than 0.004% of the Earth’s surface but is home to more than 1% of all living creatures and 2% of terrestrial creatures. A total of 24,000 animal species.
  • that Slovenia is the third most forested country in Europe? Almost 60% of its territory is covered by forest. In recent decades, the proportion of forest has been increasing, since every year we plant over 1,200,000 trees.
  • that over one third of Slovenia’s territory is protected and included in the Europe-wide Natura 2000 network, which protects biodiversity?
  • that Maribor, Slovenia’s second-largest city, is home to the oldest vine in the world? Although it is over four hundred years old, its Žametna Črnina grapes still produce 25 litres of wine every year.

Special features of Slovenia

  • that the geographical and climatic variety and diversity of Slovenia mean that in a single day you can pick autumn fruits in the morning, bathe in the Adriatic in the afternoon, and go night skiing in the evening?
  • that Lake Cerknica is an intermittent lake? In spring and autumn, when the lake fills with water, its surface area can reach as much as 38 km2, making it the largest lake in Slovenia, while in summer it is significantly smaller, because its water is drained away by numerous swallowholes.
  • that the most famous Slovene carnival figure is the Kurent? The presence of this traditional figure drives away winter and brings good fortune. Kurents can be seen driving away the winter at the main carnival procession in Ptuj.
  • that a traditional Slovene dish for special occasions is a type of cake called potica? This has recently become one of the more recognisable symbols of Slovenia at a wide variety of international political, cultural and sporting events.

Plus…

  • Slovenia has over 7,000 kilometres of mountain hiking trails, along which there are 165 mountain huts and bivouacs?
  • that 216 km² of Slovenia is covered by vineyards?
  • that in Slovenia you can pay to spend the night in a prison cell? The Celica Hostel in Ljubljana is a former military prison with comfortable and imaginatively designed cells for guests.
  • that couples still get married on Bled Island? According to tradition, in order to ensure a long and happy marriage, the groom must carry the bride up the 99 steps leading to the island (Don’t forget to check out my Lake Bled photos, including one of me carrying my wife up those 99 steps – or did I?).

Here’s my own interesting fact – the book Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho is actually based in Ljubljana.

If you loved these interesting facts about Slovenia, check out a lot more facts with this Slovenia version of Did you know….?

If you enjoyed this Slovenia travel guide and tips, stay tuned for more information on green tourism in Slovenia.

For more on Slovenia, find out everything you could want to know about this country with my ultimate travel guide to Slovenia.

A special thank you to Ana Vugrin and the Slovenia Tourist Board for this interview and the information.  Check out the Slovenia Tourist Board official site at I Feel Slovenia and follow them on Twitter at @SloveniaInfo.

Check out these photos of Slovenia courtesy of the Slovenia Tourist Board PR Department (http://www.slovenia.info) as well as a video on Ljubljana.

Letters from Ljubljana

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  1. Stephanie says:

    I spent a week in Slovenia in 2008 and it was such a pleasant surprise of a place! It’s so varied and diverse, but at the same time really, really, beautiful. Hope to return one day!

    • Jeremy says:

      Thanks Stephanie! It is one of my favorite countries in all of Europe. A small part of me hates to share this because it really is undiscovered by many people and I like keeping a place like this a secret for me to enjoy. However, it is so beautiful I couldn’t help but share. Where did you go in Slovenia?

  2. Slovenia’s been on our ‘must visit’ list for a long time since we had to skip it on our trip through Eastern Europe a few years ago. I’m going to bookmark this post for future use. Thanks! :)
    Julia

    • Jeremy says:

      The country is small so even on a trip through Eastern Europe, it can be easy to miss. It doesn’t have many of the big name popular tourist attractions but it is definitely worth the visit!

      • Tanja says:

        i just ran into this page and couldn’t help myself to comment that it is easy to miss Slovenia when going through Eastern Europe. For simple reason, cause you won’t find it there. It lies in a heart of Europe, pretty much central and not east at all. Just as much as Austria or Italy, it’s neighbours.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovenia

        Just felt i should share it.. Make general ignorance on this tiny, unknown country slightly smaller. <3

        • Tanja, geographically you are absolutely correct and I’ve always agreed that it isn’t geographically in eastern Europe. Slovenia is central Europe. However, the reference to Eastern Europe isn’t a geographical reference but a political one referring to the former communist countries in Europe. This is definitely an American reference and I realize it isn’t geographically correct but the reference is used for many tours designating its communist past.

          Referencing Wikipedia as well, here’s the entry on Eastern Europe:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Europe

          “The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are “almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region”…

          Another definition, considered outdated by several authors,[4][5][6][7][8] was created during the Cold War and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc. A similar definition names the formerly communist European states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe.[3]

          Hope that clears up the confusion on the reference.

  3. Wow! I can’t say I have ever really thought of Slovenia of a destination until I met you Jeremy!

    I’ve heard you talk about it with such passion and love and to see these pictures and read this post I can see why.

    Slovenia is definitely now on my list. Thank you for sharing such great info and I have it bookmarked for future travels there.

    • Jeremy says:

      While I have loved my my time in Slovenia, I admit I learned a lot about it through this post as well. It just makes me want to go back even more!

  4. Slovenia looks like a cool destination!! Thanks Jeremy for introducing me to this country. I honestly never thought of going there before reading your blog posts.

  5. Andrea says:

    This is such helpful information, Jeremy! I am so excited to be visiting Slovenia for the first time in August.

  6. I’m sold! Hoping to visit Slovenia next year and can’t wait. Everything looks great. Thanks for sharing this special place.

    • Jeremy says:

      All those trips to Europe and no visit to Slovenia?! Shame on you! :) It really is a great place to visit! I can’t give you a hard time. I’ve been to Europe MANY times and have yet to even visit England!

  7. tom says:

    It great to find someone else who loves Slovenia as much as me and weird to think we were both posting about Slovenia on the same day!

    Most people always say the country was such a surprise to them. Whilst not many peoples first choice I would urge anyone to visit and see this beautiful country

    • Jeremy says:

      Being a small country, I am sure many people just overlook it. Indeed, it is quite a surprise. When I visited Lake Bled, I was amazed at how beautiful it was. The one thing I would have liked to do is spend more time in Ljubljana. I felt like I just skimmed the surface there. I did the caves as well but with so many other places to visit, I think people could spend a long time just visiting Slovenia and not get bored.

  8. Mark Wiens says:

    Awesome, great information here Jeremy. After seeing your photos of Lake Bled and reading this article, I am dreaming about the glorious nature and the hiking possibilities in Slovenia. It looks like the country is really stepping up efforts to preserve nature. No immediate plans to visit, but Slovenia is in the back of my head and I’m hoping to have an opportunity to see the country in the future!

    • Jeremy says:

      Mark, Slovenia is HUGE into preserving their natural beauty. They have a huge PR campaign to keep Slovenia green (I will focus on that in an upcoming post). I admit I learned a lot from this and didn’t realize how beautiful it is. From traveling there, it really is an outdoors place. And Lake Bled is the epitome of that peace, quiet, outdoor beauty that many people can find in Slovenia.

  9. Raymond says:

    I was watching (of all things) “House Hunters International” just last week and they followed a family who bought a vacation home in Slovenia. It looked gorgeous! All the amenities of its neighbours at a fraction of the price…

    • Jeremy says:

      Honestly, House Hunters International is one of my favorite TV shows and about the only thing I watch outside of PBS or ESPN. I saw the one on Slovenia and LOVED it! I believe they were looking to buy a home near Lake Bled. As a matter of fact, I still have that show taped and it actually inspired me to look for homes in Slovenia that were for sale! :)

  10. Darren says:

    Hi guys i have lived in slovenia for the past 2.5 years and was an amazing time in the prekmurjie region with its fine wine and amazing friendly people.we have a nice house there at the moment we are trying to sell so if anyone out there is looking for a property in Lendava Farm house style please email us at darrenmariaslovenia@live.co.uk for info enjoy slovenia for those who are yet to go and for those lucky ones that have been Adio in Laco noc xxx

  11. Darren says:

    its cool jeremy you convert so many people to want to come and try Slovenia it is an awesome place so much to do and the people have made it an awesome place for us to spend 2.5 years our youngest child Callum was born there in Murska Sobota the hospital staff where amazing so helpful. There is just such diversity there one day you can be taking in the rays at the Adriatic coast and the next day feel like your in Canada or somewhere with vast wilderness in the Triglav national park. Really untouched by human hands in some parts and gives a true sense of being somewhere life changing.I have met some of the best friends in my life there in Slovenia solid people with high family morales that seem dead in england in most places…The food is to die for home cooking at its best Bograc a really nice kind of stew cooked traditionally in a pot hung from a tripod over an open fire made from 3 different meats it goes down a treat with some home cooked bread…I’am off tomorrow flying from stanstead to Graz as this is nearer to my house than flying into LJ only 1 hour from Austria…I will be cooking cvapcici and BBQ for the next 5 days wahoooo Dobrodolsi Slovenia xxxx

    • Jeremy Branham says:

      Thanks Darren! Love hearing about your experiences in Slovenia! Really makes me want to go back and explore that much more of the country! I have the same feelings you did about the diversity. Amazing that a country that small has so much to offer! While I didn’t get much time to sample all of the Slovenian cuisine, it sounds delicious!

      By the way, do you have a link or photos of your property for sale?

  12. We were in Slovenia in 2005…

    One little gem we discovered in Ljubljana was the Antique Street Market! Just WOW! If only shipping items home were inexpensive…so many treasures for just a few tolars. If it’s still going on make sure you take time for a quick (leisurely is better) stroll!

    We loved Piran and were thrilled to find the town empty and our stay at the Hotel Piran in a sea front room at 35 euros a night!!!

    Slovenia is a must for any traveler ready to step off the beaten path of the traditional Europe adventure!

    • Jeremy Branham says:

      Completely agree! Hope those prices are still that good in Piran! And street markets in Ljubljana sound like fun! Unfortunately, I didn’t get as much time there as I would have liked.

  13. I spent a week in Piran more than 20 years ago. Lovely place.

  14. dan says:

    The first few days in Slovenia have been fantastic. Driving from Ljubljana airport into the hidden beauty of Bled was so tempting as we couldnt see our destination yet….but knew it was coming

    The cars queueing to get in to the town were a little ominous. However Bled is stunning. we ate well, walked well, swam well, rowed badly! the Island can’t be missed – take a rowboat, it is soo much cheaper than the gondola. its not hard work. honest.

  15. dan says:

    Sorry to double post Jeremy but have enjoyed Bled so much cant quite stop yet.

    Your photos are fantastic!

    If you are in Bled with a car….Leave it at the Hotel/bacpacker/apartment and WALK. the streets are narrow and busy and there is no parking. everything is within walking distance.

    Bled Castle (Bledj Grad) is OK. great views but 8Euros to get in.

    tomorrow is summer toboggan from the top of the other hill facing bled castle. cant wait…..

    • Those are all great things to do in Bled! I walked ALL OVER the place – beautiful! I did the toboggan as well and it was a lot of fun. The only thing I didn’t get to do that I would have liked is hike. You are right about the castle though – not that impressive but it does offer spectacular views.

      As for the lake itself, I never saw anyone swimming. Didn’t realize you could so may have to do that next time as well! Have fun in Bled! How many days are you going to be there? Where else are you headed in Slovenia?

  16. Jules says:

    Lake Bled is great but too commercialised for me. I much prefer the peace and quiet of Lake Bohinj which also has stunning views of the Triglav Mountains as well as waterfalls, cable cars etc. Swimming in the lake is definitely a must do if the weather is good (although I gather that some Russian visitors also swim in the lake in winter…).
    Try Prekmurje in north eatern Slovenia – we liked it so much we bought 2 houses in the Lendava area!!!

    • I definitely understand your feelings about Bled. It is becoming more and more popular but it is still spectacular. Like you, I would encourage people to see other parts of Slovenia and Lake Bohinj sounds beautiful. You definitely have seen a lot of Slovenia – I am jealous. Just for fun, I actually explored some real estate opportunities in Slovenia so it’s great that you have two places there!

      Have fun with your upcoming trip to the Bograc Fest. I would like to learn more about your experience there!

  17. Jules says:

    Spot the Freudian slip in my previous post where I wrote ‘north eatern’ instead of ‘north eastern’. I was thinking about my stomach because we are going to Lendava in Prekmurje for the ‘Bograc Fest’ on 27th Aug. What happens is that there is a big cookery competition in the Glavna Ulica (Main Street)with local teams competing to cook the best Bograc (a Slovenian version of goulash. The bograc is cooked on the street in iron pots suspended from a tripod over fires. The best tasting bograc wins. This year the Slovenian President is going to be there too! Just thinking about eating bograc is making my mouth water…

  18. raquel says:

    Hi,

    We are going to Ljubljana to visit from the 13th of May (arriving at 11.30am) until the 17th of May (back to London in the morning) which it leaves me with 3 whole days and half day on Tuesday.
    On Thursday, I have booked a day trip to visit Slovenia in one day which includes Predjama castle, Postojna cave and Bled.
    I am wondering if it will be wiser to book another day trip to Slovenia coast visiting Piran, Koper and Portoroz as not sure if I will have enough time to visit Ljubljana on half day (tuesday) and Friday the whole day as I want to enjoy the places and not to see things in a rush.
    Any suggestions are more than welcome.

    Thanks and looking forward to visit you country. I am a big fan of Laibach, any record shops to buy more of their fantastic music?

    Thanks

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