On the map of Europe, Slovenia fits neatly between Austria, Italy, Croatia and Hungary – and indeed, this delightful little country is a fascinating mix of cultural influences against the backdrop of diverse natural landscapes. In Slovenia, the sophistication of Central Europe meets the raw charm of the Balkans. Slavic, Germanic, Latin and Hungarian legacies shake hands along the banks of the Sava River. And the dazzling Julian Alps rise to 2,864 metres, not too far from the country’s tiny but scenic Adriatic shoreline. In short, Slovenia is a cultural heaven as well as a natural paradise!
Starting in the European green capital, passing through an endless cave system, washing up at the Mediterranean coast and ending high above the clouds in one of the Alps’ top national parks, kashkaval tourist presents 7 things to do in lovely little Slovenia.
1. A capital to fall in love with: go for a leisurely walk in historic Ljubljana
With its 280,000 inhabitants, Ljubljana is one of Europe’s smallest capital cities – and that’s no bad thing! The city is compact, walkable, bikeable, surrounded by parks and low mountains. A stroll in Ljubljana’s car-free city centre feels like a journey back to Austro-Hungarian times. And a short walk up to the medieval Ljubljana Castle will reward you with the best city panoramas as well as views of the Kamnik–Savinja Alps in the distance.
When you’re done with checking off the main sights like the curious Dragon Bridge, the baffling Triple Bridge next to Prešeren Square and the classical Town Hall with the Robba Fountain, you can enjoy a glass of local wine on the banks of the pristine Ljubljanica River. A bike tour through the scenic Tivoli Park might well end up with… a beer tasting at the Union Brewery pub. And for nightlife enthusiasts, the semi-legal bars and clubs in the Metelkova autonomous cultural centre (or “squat” for short!) provide a refreshing Berlin vibe.
2. Slovenia’s postcard: chill by the shores of Lake Bled
Situated at the foot of the Alps in the country’s northwest, the elegant resort town of Bled lies by the shores of a gorgeous mountain lake. Surrounded by jagged Alpine peaks, thick forests and classy hotels, Lake Bled and its blue-green waters might be Slovenia’s prime tourist destination. Traditional pletna boats take visitors to the quaint little island in the middle of the lake for a pilgrimage to the Church of the Assumption of Mary. And on the other, northeastern side of the lake, the thousand-year-old Bled Castle adorns the cliffs above the town.
For the top vistas of Lake Bled including the castle and the island with the church, your best bet is a brief hike to the Osojnica hill west of the lake. And if you’re too lazy for that or think you’ve deserved a culinary reward for completing the hike, you can always end your day with a slice of Bled’s legendary cremeschnitte cake. The classic place for this is the splendid Park Café, where it has been served (with cappuccino and calming lake views on the side) since 1953.