4 Reasons Why You Should Visit Slovenia
I’m tempted not to share my Slovenia tips because the country is so surprisingly lovely I want to keep it all to myself. If you’re thinking about planning your summer trip, Slovenia should be high up on your list of places to visit. This teeny country, sandwiched between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, is so small, you can easily drive across it in a day. But you don’t want to do that. Stay a while to discover dreamy landscapes, delicious food, crystal clear lakes, mountains and hip towns and cities you’ve probably never heard of.
Like something out of a Hans Christian Andersen, charming Kamnik is a delightful medieval town, around half an hour’s drive from Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. Take a stroll through the cobbled streets and you’ll find two beautifully preserved castles along with one of the most stunning church interiors we’ve ever seen. Make a beeline for the ice cream shop on the high street to sample massive sundaes and Kremna Rezina, Slovenia’s famous cake. Puff pastry dusted in icing sugar, chantilly and a wobbly custard cream filling is the stuff of dreams. Best eaten with a strong espresso. Head to Terme Snovik spa, the highest-altitude spa in Slovenia for a bit of R&R. There’s an outdoor and indoor swimming pool, treatment rooms, restaurant and chalet-style rooms if you want to stay. We camped at Camp Resnik but Hostel Pod Skalo across the road is lovely and a steal at around £50 a night for a double room. It’s basic but a great place to rest your head and make your way through the local beer and wine list.
Ask most people where Ljubljana is and they probably wouldn’t know. Slovenia’s capital city is hip, easy going and maybe surprisingly, one of Europe’s greenest. Set along the leafy banks of the Ljubljanica River, which flows right through the city, the centre is pedestrianised, which means there’s a real sense of calm as you amble through the city taking in the shops, restaurants and thriving cafe culture. Locals are friendly, the food is good and rumour has it, the night life is pretty lively too. Tozd is a buzzy bar by the river serving a huge range of beers and wines, excellent coffee and tasty snacks. Ljubljana was an unexpected surprise and somewhere I’d love to spend more time in.
3. Velika Planina
Velika Planina is the largest shepherd’s settlement in Europe. That might not sound like your idea of a fun day out, but believe me, it’s stunning. The shepherd dwellings sit on the karst Big Pasture Plateau in the Kamnik Alps and are truly breathtaking and utterly unique. A cable car, chair lift and steep climb to the top of a gigantic (and slightly scary) tree-lined mountain rewards you with stunning views, fresh mountain air and peace and quiet, apart from the soothing sound of cowbells. I spent a day exploring the extensive walking paths and sampling local delicacies from the huts dotted around the plains. Whilst most of the shepherd’s now have satellite TV, cars and (probably) WiFi connection, this place is like a land that time forgot.
4. Lake Bled
The threat of mass tourism and ‘Venice Syndrome’ has arrived on the shores of Lake Bled, possibly one of Europe’s prettiest lakes. This is a shame as when visiting Slovenia, you really should save some time to explore this famed beauty spot. There’s a picture-perfect church sitting on a tiny island in the middle of the lake and a castle perched high above the lake’s shores. Swim in the crystal clear waters and experience lake-side dining at night. But think carefully about where you’re treading and the lengths you’ll go to to get that perfect Instagram snap; the local ecosystem is at risk from irresponsible tourism, so treat it with the respect and care it deserves.
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