SLOVENIA - TRAVEL AND TOURISM

What is Slovenia famous for abroad?

1. Karst – Caves

The most famous cave area in the world is found in Slovenia, a country of over 7,500 karst caves. The term Karst is derived from the Slovenian region of Kras (Karst is the German for Kras), and is used internationally to describe distinctive landforms that develop on rock types readily dissolved in water. With over two-thirds of the country consisting of limestone, the Karst region covers 44% of Slovenia and provides karst phenomena such as disappearing lakes, swallow holes, karst springs and dry sinkholes.

2. Karst Settlements

Stanjel – "the jewel of the Karst region", is a picturesque settlement in the northern part of the Karst region, with narrow streets ending in small squares and stone houses situated on terraces upon a hill. Early Romans turned the top of the hill into a fort, and in the Middle Ages the village expanded over the hill and was fortified with walls to keep out the Turks; however, the most dominant features of the village are the Castle and the Church of Saint Daniel.

3. Capital City of Ljubljana

Slovenia has many medieval towns, including the capital, Ljubljana, which offers the friendliness of a small town with the advantages found in a larger metropolis of 275,000. The remains of five millennia of history wait to be explored, such as the Roman town of Emona, the Old Town with its medieval castle and the vast Tivoli Park stretching into the center of the city.

4. Land of Lakes

Close to the Alps and blessed by nature, Lake Bled and the surrounding countryside are located on the sunny side of the Alps lending it an ideal, sub-Alpine climate protected from northern winds. Lake Bled comes complete with a cliff-perched castle. The railway leads from Lake Bled to Lake Bohinj and through the tunnel to Soca River, Europe’s premier whitewater run. Hemingway set A Farewell to Arms in nearby Kobarid.

5. Mountains

The Julian Alps are the most southerly extension of the great Alpine range, and these jagged limestone peaks hold some of Europe’s best scenery and trails for hiking. At the center of the range is Mount Triglav (which means three heads and is also the name of an old Slavic god), the highest in Slovenia, and nestled amongst these great mountains are the glacial lakes of Bohinj and Bled. Hiking enthusiasts will be delighted to know that Slovenia possesses 7,000 km (4,200 miles) of marked hiking trails and 165 mountain cabins.

6. Waterfalls

Slovenia is a land with over 300 permanent waterfalls. Bostjan Burger, a Slovenian tourism expert, recommends Pohorje, in the Central Alps.

Waterfall

Waterfall - source

7. Paradise for Castle Lovers

Slovenia is a land of numerous small castles, which the aristocracy often used as holiday residences or hunting lodges. There are a good many solidly preserved churches and old town cores where, in line with the Central European environment, Gothic and Baroque architecture predominate.

Castle

Castle - source

8. Vino in the Vipava Valley

In the western part of Slovenia, the Vipava Valley is the most famous wine region in Slovenia and this fertile and vine-rich valley has always attracted settlers. Historians believe the valley was inhabited as early as before Christ and enjoyed its heyday during the period of the Roman Empire, evidenced by numerous archaeological sites from that era.

Vipava Valley

Vipava Valley - source

9. Skiing – the National Sport

Sport has been part of the Slovenian heritage for a long time. It was first mentioned in a 1689 document describing fishing, hunting, shooting, skiing, mountain climbing and cave exploration. It’s no surprise then that half of all Slovenians are actively involved in sports.

10. Who Doesn’t Love a Festival?

There are as many as ten international festivals held just in the capital, including the Ljubljana Summer Festival, the Ljubljana Graphics Biennial, the Ljubljana Jazz Festival, the LIFFE Film Festival and the Druga Godba Festival of Alternative Music and medieval themed festivals are held throughout the country.

11. Wellness Centres

More than 15 natural thermal and climatic health resorts guarantee first-class relaxation for the body and soul, as well as treatment for various health problems. Because Slovenia lies at the crossroads of the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Pannonian Plain, and the Dinaric Mountain Range, through the centuries, the individual Slovenian regions have developed various forms of economic activity, ways of life and cultural creativity. Among the greatest treasures of these regions are the diversity of dialects of the Slovenian language, different lifestyles, gastronomic traditions, popular entertainment and other aspects of the everyday life of the local people.

This diversity is best presented through the traditional regions of the country: Gorenjska (Upper Carniola), Dolenjska (Lower Carniola), Notranjska (Inner Carniola), Primorska (Littoral Region), Štajerska (Styria), Koroška (Carinthia) and Prekmurje (Over-Mura Region). Even though these areas do not match the current administrative and geographical layout of the country, and the establishment of new regions is still under way, the names of these regions, based on national history, are universally accepted.

Gorenjska

Gorenjska

The north-western part of Slovenia is Alpine and is known as Gorenjska. For centuries, it has been the most developed Slovenian region, with the longest tradition in tourism. It boasts several towns with beautiful historic centres, such as Škofja Loka, Radovljica, Kranj, Kamnik and Tržič.

Kropa and Kamna gorica are centres of iron forging, nail-making and blacksmithing, while the ironworks at Jesenice, the region’s largest, date from more recent times.The town of Jesenice is also the cradle of Slovenian ice-hockey. Gorenjska is also synonymous with winter sports. Numerous ski resorts and the world-famous ski-jumping hills at Planica are all essential elements of the region’s winter image. Bled, Bohinj and Kranjska Gora have for many years been among the most popular Slovenian tourist destinations.

The town of Kranj, the industrial and business hub of Gorenjska, is the seat of many successful companies.

Ljubljana

Ljubljana

The capital, Ljubljana, is the largest city, as well as the political, administrative, economic, educational and cultural centre of Slovenia. Ljubljana’s history goes back several thousand years. Archaeological findings from the Bronze Age are proof that as early as 2,000 BCE fishermen and hunters lived in pile-dwellings on the lake which once covered the Ljubljana basin.

Prior to Roman colonisation, Roman legionaries erected fortresses alongside the River Ljubljanica which subsequently grew into the walled Roman settlement of Julia Emona. The city, with its castle originating in the 12th century and its old city centre, also boasts a rich medieval heritage, as well as numerous Renaissance, Baroque and Secessionist buildings.

In the 20th century the works of the architect Jože Plečnik gave the city a new character. He designed the Three Bridges which span the river, Tivoli Park, Žale Cemetery, the market place, the sports stadium and many other buildings, the most famous being the National and University Library. There are numerous museums, galleries, theatres and other cultural establishments in Ljubljana.

www.slovenia.si

Natural Parks of Slovenia

Somewhere deep within us there are stories about pure nature, clear streams, endless green forests and birds singing lively songs. Some of us remember these stories from our childhood, while others are preserved in the memories of our grandmothers, and we very rarely have the opportunity to experience them in real life. Natural parks are areas where we can still experience the bounty of primal nature with all of our senses. These parks are the pride of Slovenia.

Protected parks all over the world have been created to protect the diversity of flora and fauna and natural habitats. The first nature reserves in Europe were established in Sweden in 1910, and Slovenia followed as early as 1924 when it established a protected area around the Triglav Lakes, becoming the fifth country in Europe to have a nature reserve.

The Triglav National Park

The Triglav National Park

Triglav National Park has national significance for Slovenes and at the same time it forms part of our country’s identity within the context of the international community. Natural parks form a special category in environment preservation and as such, they must meet the strict European and international preservation criteria in order to be placed on the international map.

Two years ago the Triglav National Park celebrated its 80th anniversary and received the European Diploma of Protected Areas issued by the Council of Europe. The park is host to many kinds of activities and attracts many visitors.

www.tnp.si

Regional Parks

Regional Parks

Unlike with national parks, the state can independently set the conditions and criteria for regional and landscape parks and decide on their degree of protection. The law defines regional parks as well-preserved natural environments, which can also include large populated areas (this is not the case in the national park). Slovenia has two regional parks which attract visitors with their uniqueness and natural wealth. You can read more about the Škocjan Caves Regional Park and Kozjanski Park.

www.park-skocjanske-jame.si.

www.gov.si/kp.

Landscape Parks

In the past, landscape parks were distinguished from regional parks by size, but now the category is no longer limited by size, and mainly relates to the landscape itself. A landscape park is an area with intrinsic natural value where the influence of people shaping, maintaining and caring for the environment is very evident. The establishment of a particular area as a landscape park is proposed by the environment ministry, or by local authorities, on the recommendation of an expert committee, or even the initiative of private individuals or NGO’s.

www.kpss.soline.si

www.park-goricko.org

Ski Resorts

Ski Resorts

Arguably, in the past few years, ski resorts have slowly but steadily become one of the most recognisable features of Slovenian tourism. A generous amount of snowfall is Mother Nature’s reward to the managers of Slovenia’s ski resorts for their efforts and investments in the development of ski lifts. Most ski resorts offer après ski, which meets the demands of modern clients who find it important, besides well-maintained ski runs and reliable service, to be able to fully enjoy themselves in the chalets on the slopes immediately after skiing.

If we were to ask a random Slovenian passing by in the street to name a national sport, the answer would be, without hesitation, skiing. Skiing and everything related to it boast a venerable tradition in this country, and for many years – or winters, to be precise – Slovenian skiers have delighted their fans with excellent results.

You can find more information on Slovenia Ski info and Association Ropeways of Slovenia (In Slovene only).

Thermal Spas

It is a misconception that visiting a spa is only for treating different ailments, because you can go to one at any time, in any season of the year, at any stage of your life. It allows you to rest, and recover your strength, to recuperate after injury and ailments, or simply to have fun.

Many spas in Slovenia offer a wide and diverse choice of services, including a range of more or less exotic massage treatments. The numerous health spas that have developed across Slovenia are the core of spa tourism in Slovenia, and at the same time they are actively involved in the Slovenian health-care system. They enjoy special status in this respect, complementing hospital treatment and the health-care industry with the healing properties of natural elements.