Each town brings its own personality to the tale. Glorious Bled, with its bustling centre, hilltop castle and island church. Authentic Bohinj, a medley of 24 villages along the shores of a turquoise lake. And lively Kranjska Gora, a cosmopolitan bubble on the edge of the Triglav National Park. The beating heart is the capital, Ljubljana, which draws you in with its proud history and youthful spirit.
The scenery is the star, seemingly designed to embody every aspect of nature – peaks, hills, forests and lakes, which have inspired Slovenia to become one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world.
The best way to explore this bounty is often the simplest – your own two feet. Walking trails criss-cross the countryside, with gentle walks close to the towns and more challenging hikes up in the Julian Alps.
In Bled, start with the easy 6km loop around the lake. From Kranjska Gora, stroll to Jasna, a man-made lake watched over by the legendary buck, Zlatorog. Or really stretch your legs with a 3-hour hike to the Triple Border – the point where Slovenia, Austria and Italy meet.
Venture underground to roam the Swiss cheese-like Karst landscape, which is dotted with 11,000 caves. The caverns, bridges and waterfalls of the Postojna and Škocjan caves are some of the most remarkable in the world.
Wherever you go, that fairy-tale touch lingers. Bled Castle sits on the peak overlooking the lake, its thousand-year-old walls now home to a restaurant that serves contemporary Slovene fare paired with enchanting views.
Predjama Castle is buried in a cliff face, its halls said to be haunted by the ghost of Erazem Luegger, Slovenia’s own Robin Hood. And in Lipica, the oldest stud farm in the world, you can watch the noble Lipizzaner horses perform.
Fun-loving families and adventure seekers should take to the water. Bohinj is the hub of watersports, from paddleboarding and kayaking to white water rafting. Or let someone else do the work and enjoy a trip round Lake Bled in a traditional, non-motorised pletna boat.
The Slovene’s love of nature extends to their cuisine too. Local, organic produce is championed – try tangy mohant cheese, indigenous Soča trout and Carniolan sausage, which is made with a protected recipe. Follow that up with desserts like kremšnita, the famous Bled cream cake made with puff pastry and custard. Honey is prevalent too – the native Carniolan honey bee is a national treasure, and the country is home to 10,000 beekeepers.
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Author: Courtney Barella
Published: February 22, 2019
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