06 Mar 23
10 reasons to make Slovenia your next hiking destination
With hiking pleasures among jagged mountains, turquoise rivers, lush forests and wine regions, Slovenia is definitely one for the bucket list. You will hardly find more beautiful spots where you are so close to civilisation and at the same time in the wilderness. This pint-sized country is one of the safest and friendliest in the world. It is arguably the most idyllic place on Earth. Here’s why we love it and think you will too!
1. Easy access from Australia
Slovenia is nestled between Austria, Hungary and Croatia. You can fly from Australia to Ljubljana (pronounced Lyoo-bli-ana) – the Slovenian capital has its own international airport serving destinations in the local region as well as further afield. Once you’ve arrived, there is plenty to do in this gorgeous little city. Its pedestrianised centre is home to a future-facing sustainable food scene, an urban beekeeping trail and streets that vie for the title of cleanest in Europe. Getting between all of the interesting parts of Ljubljana is absolutely doable on foot. For onward travel, Ljubljana is just a few hours away from Venice by bus.
2. Magical Lake Bled
Slovenia’s iconic and dramatic Lake Bled is a pristine and surprisingly warm turquoise lake at the foot of the Julian Alps. It’s not only the stunning natural beauty of the surroundings that make Lake Bled magical (the rugged Karavanke Mountains dominate the background) – myths and legends abound. The island and the 1000-year-old castle in the middle of the lake can be reached by traditional wooden boats known as pletnas, which date back to the 12th century. The boats are hand-built, hand-painted and lovingly maintained. The traditional luscious Slovenian cream cake kremna rezina is a regional speciality of Lake Bled. It has been granted ‘protected designation of origin status’ which means it’s only available from the patisseries in Lake Bled.
Slovenian gastronomy is among the finest in the world. The combination of four different worlds – the Alpine, Karst, Mediterranean and Pannonian regions – is reflected in the variety of dishes and flavours. With a garden-to-table philosophy, chefs are foraging, fishing, old-school pickling and drying, hunting and preserving, relying on locally grown ingredients and genuine creativity. The majority of Slovenia’s restaurants making the Michelin list aren’t in Ljubljana, but instead dot the valleys and lakes of this small Alpine country. Slovenia is a trailblazer in terms of eco responsible gastronomy, with six green-starred Michelin restaurants.
4. Slovenian Riviera
Slovenia’s pint-sized coast (46km) on the Adriatic Sea remains blissfully uncrowded compared to places like Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. You’ll get a pristine beach, scenic hike and extraordinary cathedral all to yourself. Of all its seaside towns, picturesque Piran (well known for its long pier and Venetian architecture) is the loveliest and where you’ll find the best beach in Slovenia – Moon Bay (Mesečev zaliv).
5. Soča River
The 138km Soča River is beautiful beyond imagination. It flows from the Trenta Valley in the Julian Alps to the Adriatic Sea in Italy. With its distinct emerald green colour, it is considered one of the most stunningly beautiful rivers in Europe. Enjoy the natural beauty of the gorges, cascading waterfalls, canyons and pools with a stunning mountainous landscape above.
6. Sweet-smelling meadows
In spring, the Slovenian landscape comes alive. Spectacular carpets of wildflowers cover the fields and meadows: white daffodils, violet saffron crocuses, dark blue gentiana clusii and pink cyclamen.
7. Fifty shades of green
Dense forests cover almost 60% of the Slovenian ground, placing every city more or less amidst the woods and a few steps from a protected area. Almost every fourth Slovenian owns a forest! With more than 22,000 animal and plant species, it is one of the most biodiverse countries in Europe. Tasty forest treats include mushrooms, wild garlic and strawberries.
8. Mysterious caves
Slovenia’s superabundant underground world puts the country at the top of every cave explorer’s list. Inside the Kanin Mountain in the Soca Valley, the Vertigo cave (Vrtoglavica) has the deepest vertical underground pitch in the world (643m). The Škocjan caves invite more casual cave visitors with one of the largest known underground canyons in the world, listed on UNESCO’s natural and cultural world heritage sites.
9. World-class wines
Slovenia is one of the best winemaking countries in the world. Vines have been thriving here since Roman times. Slovenia’s three wine growing regions are located in the very heart of the European wine-growing belt, so whether you prefer white or red, lushly aromatic, strong, full-bodied or light, dry or sweet – you’ll discover it here. Orange wine is a big thing in Slovenia. One of the world’s oldest wine styles, rarely heard of and usually misunderstood, orange wine is made of white grape varieties and left in contact with grape skins over a certain period of time.
In Slovenia, beekeeping is a way of life. Their love of bees is inseparably connected to the conservation of the environment and is passed from one generation to another here. One out of every 200 people keep and tend to bee colonies. Honey features in many Slovenian dishes and many Slovenes use apitherapy (honey bee products) to treat illnesses and chronic injuries. During lockdown, the government deemed beekeepers essential workers, permitting them to travel freely to tend to their hives!
BEST TIME TO GO
April to October
WHAT WE OFFER
Our itineraries offer spectacular Alpine and mountain scenery without having to hike at altitude. Choose from an 8-day guided or 10-day self-guided itinerary. Both start in the delightful city of Ljubljana before heading into the heart of the Julian Alps to hike some of the highlights of the Alpe-Adria Trail. The turquoise-coloured lakes, lush valleys, colourful meadows, tranquil forests and striking mountain peaks offer a peaceful, awe-inspiring journey. The self-guided itinerary offers further exploration of the Juliana Trail, finishing at iconic Lake Bled. The guided itinerary takes you through the wine region to the Adriatic Coast and the romantic seaside town of Piran.
Vineyards, Karst & Coast
If you are seeking a less challenging option, our 7-day self-guided itinerary takes you from Ljubljana through wine country and the Karst Plateau, towards the Adriatic Coast. This itinerary kicks off with a steep hike up Mount Nanos for spectacular views over the Vipava Valley, but the following days are less strenuous with undulating terrain rather than steep ascents and descents. You will visit the impressive Škocjan Cave system before arriving in the alluring coastal town of Piran. Here, be charmed by the red-roofed Venetian- style architecture that overlooks the sparkling Adriatic Sea.
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All photos © Slovenian Tourist Board