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