Slovenia is a small country that packs huge punch… Everything you come to Europe for…history, food, castles, beach, wine and outdoor activities…in one easy to navigate nation. It only became a stand-alone country in 1991…before that it was part of more states than you want to know… Roman, Austria-Hungarian, Venice, Byzantium and Yugoslavia to name a few. More than 500 bears live in the forests (which cover 61% of the land), 90,000 people keep bees and there are more than 10,000 caves. Slovenia regularly wins awards for being environmentally friendly. Yet also ranks as having amongst the most smokers…am I the only one who finds this contradictory? Anti-smoker though I am, I still loved every second I spent in Slovenia. Here are a few of my must do’s.
- Try and get lost in Ljubljana… I dare you. I found it impossible. The capital city is small (300,000 people) with stunning Baroque and medieval streets that are a delight to wander. The shopping is fab, the people friendly and the ‘scene’ vibrant. Take the funicular to the castle for the best views.
- Have cream cake at Lake Bled…puff pastry with cream and custard, properly made, it should come in a 7 x 7 x 7 cm square. Though many places sell it, go to the Park Hotel for the original and great views. Then hop on a traditional Pletna boat over to Bled Island and climb the stairs to the Church of the Assumption. Look out for wedding parties…legend has it that if the groom carries the bride up all the stairs the union will be a long and happy one…if he doesn’t…all bets are off.
- Have a picnic at the Lipica Stud Farm…this is the original breeding place of the famous Lipizzaner horses. You can wander all around the large estate, go for a buggy ride or take riding lessons. These light grey (not white) horses were the favorites of the Hapsburg Emperors who valued them for their strength and agility. They were a status symbol for the wealthy as well as a strategic military aid.
- Take a wooden boat to Piran…a glass of bubbles as you sail to this old Venetian town is a welcome escape from summer heat and the real world. Go ashore and wander through the narrow streets between medieval buildings as you work your way up to the mountain top church with its breath-taking views.
- Drink local wine… its very good! Slovenia has one vineyard/winery for every 75 people. No surprise, Slovenians are amongst to top drinkers in the world. Make sure to try to Movio Puro sparkling wine which must be uncorked upside down and under water.
- Spa at the Kempinski Portoroz Hotel…one of the largest and best in Slovenia, I had a pedicure that left me floating…3 weeks later the polish still looks like new. The hotel also has a wonderful private beach club and a stunning dining room from the days when the who’s who of Austrian Nobility flocked to this seaside resort.
- Go canoeing on the Kolpa… just drift along or try more challenging rapids, either way the scenery is gorgeous and the water warm. We stopped halfway for a dip and some sparkling local wine…one of the most glorious afternoons of my life!
- Stay at Otocec Castle…the countries only castle completely surrounded by water it was home to the de Werde noblemen in the 13th It was both a stronghold and home to the Knights of Otocec and later Noble families. It is now a small luxury hotel with a Michelin rated restaurant.
- Visit the Skocjan Caves…Inhabited in prehistoric times they are one of the largest underground canyons in the world. Particularly beautiful they were declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1986. Private tours can be arranged.
- E-bike through the countryside…or take a regular bike if you are more fit than me. This is a wonderful way to see the real Slovenia of farmland, churches and forests. I only had time for a short ride. Can’t wait to go back for a multi-day trip.
My tour of Slovenia was organized with the help of Wells Luxury Travel’s partner on the ground Luxury Slovenia… Between their connections and ours we ensure every trip our clients take is unique & pure magic!