Though it may lack the pulling power of its heavyweight neighbours, this charming country is rich in rewards for travellers willing to take a look.
Sandwiched between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, this tiny nation occupies a picturesque pocket of Europe, which is characterised by verdant valleys, glacial lakes and snow-capped mountains. Slovenia has been greatly influenced by the countries surrounding it; the baroque architecture, ancient castles and sophisticated cuisine are evocative of western neighbours, while the quaint rural villages, Slavic language and low prices have a decidedly eastern feel.
But, Slovenia has its own identity. The first of the former Yugoslavian states to join the EU, the country is a progressive, forward-thinking nation. Its people are easy-going and welcoming to outsiders.
Most travellers begin their Slovenian adventure in the capital, Ljubljana, a charming university city whose resident academics give the place a youthful vibe. Carved in two by the Ljubljana River, the city is peppered with cafés, independent shops and a gamut of excellent restaurants. It has a laidback vibe and a calm ambience, unlike most capitals on the continent.
But it’s when you step outside the capital that Slovenia showcases her true charms; the beautiful Adriatic coastal towns; the rolling vineyards of Jeruzalem-Ormož; the picture-perfect lake Bled; the caves of Postojna and Skocjan; and the black ski runs of Kranjska Gora.
Slovenia is a particularly attractive proposition to outdoor enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies, who can try anything from cycling, hiking and paragliding to white-water rafting, caving and mountaineering. Less adventurous visitors can occupy themselves basking on beaches, people-watching in cafés or quaffing some of the country’s excellent wines.