Discover Europe's pocket-sized country which delivers a big punch
For anyone betting on something a little different from this season’s travels, the smart money is probably on Slovenia.
If packing for every eventuality is a good guide to how delightfully unpredictable a destination is going to be, bring two bags along on your journey to this little emerald set in the green heart of Europe. Nature has taken particular pride in creating Slovenia. The Soča Valley and the Sava River; the Karst Plateau and the Julian Alps; Lakes Bled and Bohinj. If they are not already household names, they will be by the time you get home.
Scrunched up between Italy to the west, Hungary to the east, Croatia to the south and Austria to the north, there’s nothing flat about this land of two million souls. Slovenia is a compact country – think Bhutan or Scotland - that manages to squeeze in a stunning variety of landscapes without forgetting to leave enough wide open space to inhale its pure air. It might only be the size of Wales, but with its serrated peaks, mountain lakes, and dense forests, it’s more akin to a scaled-down America.
In a land known for caverns larger than aircraft hangars, Camelot-like castles reflected on mirror lakes, and even floating mills, one cannot deny the fairytale aspect of Slovenia. And when you think how the visitor can see in a week what would take a month to see elsewhere, a certain magic spell is cast. Perhaps nowhere else in Europe has nature combined with culture to look so kindly upon such a pocket paradise.
By virtue of Slovenia’s size and topography, the visitor can easily confine their exploring to just Slovenia. Or, for added contrast, it can be combined with one or more of its beautiful regional neighbours for an extended trip. So, where does one even start?
Well, for people who like their Venice little and without crowds nor expense, there’s the Adriatic Riviera. For outdoorsy types, throw in an Alpine national park with views so Tyrolean they could be Austria. With an underworld befitting the one on the surface, Slovenia boasts some of the planet’s largest limestone cave systems. Add hot springs, cascades, pine valleys, and rivers into the mix, and it’s no wonder the country is recognised as a biodiversity hotspot.
To enjoy Slovenia, however, you don’t really have to go yomping through its thick forests after brown bears, or roped to its jagged peaks, although those are great experiences too! For those who like their cities walkable, the elegant streets of the Baroque capital, Ljubljana, offer curiosities. such as why is there a memorial there to the Irish writer, James Joyce? Or a street named after Beethoven? And, for that matter, in the nation of 28,000 vineyards, what exactly is orange wine?
To find out why Slovenia ranked ahead of Switzerland in reaching its UN sustainable development goals, go see for yourself.