In case its not already obvious, I've really, really enjoyed my ten days here in Slovenia. Relative to the number of days I've spent here, I think I've created more Slovenian blog posts than for anywhere else. As such, I felt compelled to write this short post as to why you should consider Slovenia as your next short-break holiday destination. This post will summarise some of the experiences I've blogged about so far but also it will contain some more useful, practical information in the hope that you really do consider coming out here.
First though, just a couple of lines about this wonderful country:
Some of you may already know that Slovenia was the first state to have exited the former Yugoslav Republic back in 1991. And they did so relatively smoothly, unlike Bosnia for example. These days as an independent country and member of NATO and the EU, they adopted the euro as their currency those many years ago and have since then sustained a healthy economy. So much so that they are currently the second richest Slavic country behind the Czech Republic. Not bad for a country most of you have heard next to nothing about and probably couldn't place its location on the map! (I know I couldn't this time last year).
Economically speaking, most of you will now be familiar with the current strength of the pound to the euro. I recall seeing these same articles back in mid March and couldn't believe my luck as Europe would be my stamping ground for the foreseeable. The conversion rate was the best it had been in SEVEN years! I saw this advertised the other day and it reminded me of how pleased I was (and am) to have come to Europe. That's financially speaking of course, my experiences to-date have justified this decision ten times over.
So 'bang for your buck' is of course another reason why you should consider Slovenia as a holiday destination this year.
So here are some things to do and places to visit if you're considering coming to Slovenia:
A lot of locals don't actually fly out of their capital city when departing for foreign soil. Instead they drive to places like Trieste or Venice (Italy) as often the prices are cheaper so it would be prudent to put a little research in to see if this is best for you too. As hiring a car is something I definitely recommend, this might work out well if you do have to fly into Italy first as it only takes an hour or so to reach Ljubljana and you could pick the car up straight from the airport. (A little longer from Venice Marco Polo).
Stay here between 3 and 5 days depending on whether you are using the city as a base location. Wander the city for a whole day stopping to rest (and to people watch) in one of the many chilled-out areas for a coffee or a smoothie. You should consider the option to hire an inexpensive cruise down the Ljubljanica river or go explore the castle - or do both. Top your day off at a restaurant or even consider fast-food in the form of a Falafel pitta sandwich. These were so nice I had two of them during my time here at a bargain price of £2.80 per instance.
There are certainly perks to coming in July though, but expect temperatures of around the low 30s which could be a good or bad thing depending on your tolerance to the Sun! In the week I've been here I've seen a cycling event take place (a lot of the city was cordoned off for it), and an annual food festival which looked and smelt glorious but sadly didn't come for free unlike this truly wonderful experience. Last but by no means least, the castle transforms to an open-air movie theatre!
So to summarise, and as far as capital cities go, I think I'm going to have to get off the fence on this one and say that this has been the most enjoyable (and therefore my favourite) capital city I've ever been to. I thought Zagreb was relaxed, which it still is, but not to this scale and there are considerably less people here but with an abundance of beautiful scenery. (Slovenia only has a little over two million residents spread through-out the entire country).
If Captain Kirk from the USS Enterprise had teleported you to Ljubljana, you would not believe you were in a capital city.
Stay over in Lake Bled for at least one night but why not go for two. This will give you enough time to properly unwind and not feel rushed that you have to get back to your base the same day. There is so much to do here that two days will pass quickly so enjoy it! You can visit the castle on the hill, reach (and explore) the island in the middle of the lake, you can sun-bathe, swim the lake, walk the lake, hire a boat, hire a canoe, eat, drink, cycle. What more do you want!?
Hire a car:
This has to be a must for those with a valid drivers license and less fear of driving on the other side of the road. You will see so much more of the country than you would or could otherwise. My Spanish room-mate and I navigated several hundred kilometres in a hire car with just a map as our navigational aid but be assured, signs are clearly advertised everywhere and particularly so the national park region. Considering we did most of the western region of Slovenia having used less than half a tank of diesel, you can really lay the miles down and it won't be too costly.
Visit the caves:
This isn't something I was able to do for reasons explained in a previous blog post but if you're on holiday here and can afford this tourist attraction, they are said to be stunning and amongst the best preserved caves in the world - as my room-mate Australian Mark would testify too.
Catch a train:
So if you don't want to hire a car for whatever your reasons, you can still get around Slovenia in relative ease using the public transport system. I caught both a bus and a train and both were really pleasant. You can catch a train to Maribor in a little over two hours and during that journey, you'll be treated to views of classic Slovenian scenery.
Speaking of Maribor, this is a lovely little city if you want to see more of Slovenia. More information found HERE
Triglav National Park:
As per THIS blog post, touring a lot of the countryside is achievable in one day but if you have time, stay somewhere in the mountains for a night and continue your drive and adventure the next day too. If you stay for a day or two, you should definitely choose one of several popular hikes - assuming the weather isn't too extreme. Remember, this is Slovenia's only national park and it isn't one to miss!
So as you can see, there is more than enough to do here in Slovenia to keep yourself occupied for a few days, a week - or longer. It's also a place that will offer you rest and relaxation if you have taxed yourself from any of the activities above.
So people, what are you waiting for!? :-)