Slovenia: a Small Country that Makes a Big Impression
It's hard to imagine any other country besides Slovenia which can cram such a variety of natural landscapes into such a small package. From the Adriatic coast to the majestic Julian Alps, the sweeping Sava River to the craggy Karst, rolling farmlands to misty forests, Slovenia truly has something to please every eye. Lodged in the borderlands between Italy and Austria, it is a historic nation with a unique heritage and yet still has a thriving modern pulse in its major cities.
The national capital, Ljubljana, is an ideal place to begin. Easy to access and a great base for exploring, its winding lanes and atmospheric architecture, ranging from the mediaeval through Renaissance and Baroque right up to modernity, house a bustling culture of arts, festivals and nightlife. Pre-book a hire car to ensure you have the opportunity to explore further afield, as most of the country is accessible in an hour or two.
Slovenia enjoys a mild climate, with over 2,000 hours of sunshine annually, yet the mountainous terrain is ideal for skiing and other winter sports. On the Adriatic coast the ancient town of Piran juts out into the sea on its own peninsula. Heading north instead, the waters of Lake Bled nestle in the foothills of the Alps, punctuated by the iconic, church-crowned island at its centre. Bled is also known for its hot springs, and on the route there from Ljubljana you can take in the stunning Postojna cave – Slovenia's top attraction – and visit Predjama castle clinging to its unlikely mountainside perch.
Further south, the Reka River, which rises across the border in Croatia, cuts a route through the Karst landscape including the famous Škocjan caves and some impressive gorges lined with breathtaking walkways. Finally, why not head east to Maribor to see the world's oldest vine – and enjoy some products of local viticulture exploring the region's wine roads?