Returning home from a near two weeks of traveling in Slovenia, it’s hard to put into words just how special this country is. I was smitten to be there — it had been on my bucket list for years. In fact, I found a “travel bucket list” in a journal from almost four years ago, and Slovenia was number three on the list. It took me a while to go get there, admittedly, too long. I had seen photos of slow travel through the countryside, read stories of adventure in the mountains, and for ages, marveled at the iconic church on the island in the middle of a lake.
What I experienced in Slovenia exceeded my expectations. What I discovered was a country so excited to share their story and at the same time recognized the importance of protecting what makes their country so special. What I found was breathtaking nature, from towering mountains to crystal-clear waters of a river that flows with life. And amidst it all, a friendly welcome from Slovenians who were eager to share all of their story, both past, present, and future, to those willing to listen.
At the heart of it, what I walked away with was a refreshing experience. A fulfilling adventure and a new appreciation for what “Europe travel” could be. So when I flip through the pages of my journal from a few years ago, I’m not crossing this one off my list. Slovenia is somewhere that I’m eager to return to and discover more of, and that’s what I loved most about this trip there.
7 Reasons Why Slovenia Should Be Your Next European Destination
1. The capital city is lively.
My first introduction to Slovenia was Ljubljana. Though it may take you a day or two to pronounce (hint the j’s are silent), this city is something else. It’s walkable and easily explored in a few days, you can get a sense of why it’s one of the most livable cities in Europe. From incredible museums to architecture by famed Jože Plečnik, there’s a rich art scene. The river Ljubljanica winds through the town and just above, the towering castle makes sure you always know where you are in the city. Oh and let’s not forget about the incredible food and coffee scene here.
2. Nature is only a short drive away.
I think coming from the States, I’ve associated with getting outdoors as a long drive and a big effort. Well in Slovenia, it can be as short as 30 to 45 minutes. When you land in Ljubljana, you can literally see the mountains. The ability to access nature like this is something truly unique. You’ll find that Slovenians are active themselves — weekends are spent at lakehouses, hiking and cycling through nature. This for me was something that really stood out as a key part of why Slovenia is special. That ability to be immersed in nature in less than an hour.
3. Slovenian wine is one of the best-kept secrets.
Slovenian wine — I would have brought an extra suitcase to bring a whole case home had I known. It’s incredible and the region of Brda has the perfect Mediterranean climate that meets the Alpine climate. This clashing of two climates means it’s hard for the wine to grow, so the wine that does grow (and there’s a lot of it), is really outstanding. From tasting rooms to small venues across the rollings hills of Slovenian’s picturesque wine region of Brda is somewhere you’ll want to go for a few days. Think of it like Tuscany (looks a little like it), where there are local wine producers, olive groves, and some laidback wineries to enjoy it all.
4. There is a passion for sustainable and “green” tourism.
One of the more refreshing discoveries in Slovenia was the focus on sustainable and environmentally-focused tourism. Named Europe’s green capital in 2016, Ljubljana won this award for its sustainable practices and effort of maintaining green space for its residents.
One highlight of sustainable tourism was at the Jasna Chalet Resort where there’s limited single-use products, renewable energy and water sources, and programs in place to protect the surrounding environment. It was really exciting to see how important this is to Slovenia’s tourism industry.
5. The mountains here are breathtaking.
From the Julian Alps to the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the mountains here are no joke. Besides being incredibly breathtaking and easy to access, it provides the perfect setting for those wanting to chase adrenaline. Overnight hikes to great skiing, Slovenia’s mountain ranges are an ideal playground for those who love to be outdoors.
6. It boasts an exciting culinary scene.
There’s a focus on local ingredients, like the marble trout from the Soča River to foraged porcini mushrooms from the countryside. You find these kinds of ingredients in a lot of their dishes and let me say, their dishes are made with passion. From baked goods like Štruklji to Carniolan sausage, Slovenia’s food scene is dynamic. You’ll find incredible restaurants in the city of Ljubljana to the gem of Hiša Franko in the countryside (the restaurant featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table).
7. It’s a paradise that’s not overrun with tourism.
I think this was the most refreshing part of visiting Slovenia —it wasn’t overrun by tourism or tourists. Especially in the offseason, there were moments where not a single other person passed us on the roads in the mountains. I feel that it’s a rarity these days in travel and something important to protect. One of the best ways to do this is to travel offseason. Come to Slovenia from late September to November and April to May, these are wonderful times of the year there.
[This trip was made possible with support from the Slovenian Tourist Board. A huge thank you for helping make this trip happen.]