Slovenia – Welcome to ‘The New Europe’

Author Bio: Rob Melau, decided to study tourism management to combine his professional career with his passion for travel. He lived in England and France for a while and is already on the lookout for the next adventure somewhere in Asia or South America. Enjoys writing, sports and any type of outdoor activity.

 

I had already passed through Slovenia once before en route to Croatia but didn’t have enough time on my hands to stick around. Considering the transit whizzed by in a flash I figured I would only need a couple of days to explore this minuscule country … but far from it! Even though Slovenia is a mere three hours across by car (from the coast to Maribor in the northeast) it’s an astonishingly diverse place that resembles a fusion of features typical of its neighbours Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary. And speaking of my destination Slovenia’s location … Slovenes are very welcoming, jovial and open-minded and take particular pride in their Central European heritage. Unless you feel like antagonizing the people you bump into during your travels…you should refrain from referring to Slovenia as a Balkan or Eastern European state!

Slovenia barrels

Credit M. Petrej

To me Slovenia proved to be a getaway for the senses and not just a random place designed for ticking off sights following a ‘seen this, done that’ mantra … this approach would do the country and its people a great deal of injustice! For the most part Slovenia is a country to experience and not to go traipsing around touristic attractions. Slovenia’s charm, vibrancy and beauty more than compensate for its small size and allow you to delve into a quintessentially European world that showcases its own unique features.

At first glance, Slovenia appears to be stuck in the shadow of its more prominent neighbours but I found it to stack up pretty well against Italy, Croatia and all the other well-trodden tourist trails across Europe. Let’s take landlocked Austria as a comparative example … Slovenia boasts stunning snow-capped mountain ranges and lakes, folklore, impressive castles and architecture, the famous Lipizzan horses (yes they’re actually from Slovenia!), increasingly popular wines and probably just as many types of strudel as its northern neighbour. Add to that a stretch of coastline dotted with quaint villages as well as a largely unspoilt natural environment and you’re in for a real treat.

A good starting point for any Slovenia adventure is obviously the capital Ljubljana. It’s an energetic town with a Mediterranean flair that lacks the unnerving flurry of activity that can be encountered in most European touristic hotspots. This is not to insinuate it’s all dull and low-key … on the contrary, Ljubljana particularly caters to young people. No matter where you go, young adults roam the area to cash in on the city’s modern amenities: designer shops, cosy bistros and cafés line the streets while a vibrant nightlife scene lures some of the most renowned DJs into the city’s buzzing clubs! If you’re not a night owl and prefer to experience new destinations at a steady and subdued pace, Ljubljana still provides ample opportunity to keep you entertained … the medieval castle overlooking the city, numerous local markets and architectural wonders that take you back to Habsburg times are just a few examples.

Slovenia festical

Credit: B. Kladnik

Slovenia is also a great haunt for novel culinary experiences. The country has become renowned for a great range of delicate wines and outstanding wine trails that will stir any wine connoisseur’s blood! I can only recommend the Jeruzalem wine trail in the northeast which boasts some of the best wines I’ve ever sampled. One such delight that will surely tickle anyone’s taste buds is the so-called ‘Jeruzalemcan’ wine. Since its grapes are harvested quite late in the season this delicious wine contains more alcohol, so make sure you drink it in moderation … but a few glasses won’t hurt I guess! Generally, yummy wines can be found at pretty much any place where you can eat in Slovenia. Slovenes love their food and wines which is reflected in the country’s legendary hospitality! Local dishes can be somewhat stodgy but are still exotic and ingenious. Among the delicacies you shouldn’t miss out on are wine goulash, numerous types of strudel and meat cooked on piles of hay to give it a unique herbal flavour. In fact, Slovenia restaurants increasingly favour the so-called Slow Food Movement which strives to promote traditional cuisine and places emphasis on high-quality, regional products that are produced in a sustainable way … sounds pretty tempting, doesn’t it?

Credit: M. Vranic

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6 Responses to “Slovenia – Welcome to ‘The New Europe’”

  1. Rachel June 22, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    Great post! I’m heading to Slovenia in about three weeks – this was the perfect post to stumble across :)

    • Erica June 28, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

      @Rachel: Awesome! Glad we could help!

  2. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista June 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Great post on Slovenia. I am hoping to get there next summer and this post has me wishing I was going this year. Everything looks fantastic and I can’t wait.

    • Erica June 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

      @Debbie: Have a blast for me!

  3. Red@business travel companies June 27, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    It seems like a nice place based on your photo above. As soon as I got there, I will go boating and somehow eat their delicacies there,

  4. Si @ thedepartureboard July 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    I loved my visit to Slovenia. As you said very diverse. Venetian fishing ports, ski resorts, beautiful lakes and as for the caves, breathtaking. Ljubljana is a charming capital, what a great country. Thanks for my trip down memory lane.

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