Five Reasons To Visit Slovenia
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Five Reasons To Visit Slovenia

Slovenia is one of the hottest up-and-coming destinations in Europe right now, praised for its sustainable tourism and diverse topography. The Central European country is approximately the size of New Jersey, with a population of just over 2 million people, yet managed to attract a record-breaking 5.9 million tourists in 2018, with an 11% growth in international arrivals.

Although Slovenia was part of communist Yugoslavia, gaining independence in 1991, it's much wealthier and more developed than its Balkan neighbors, in many ways more similar to neighboring Austria and Italy. “We work hard like Germans, but we like to eat and drink like Italians,” local guide Vesna Jona says.

Here are just a few reasons to visit Slovenia now, before all of your friends. The country's conscious efforts to promote regional tourism (https://skift.com/2019/09/04/eastern-europes-tricky-balance-on-avoiding-overtourism/) and encourage slow travel make it the kind of authentic, alluring adventure that Americans are seeking today.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

“You're not a true Slovenian if you don't at some point in your life climb Triglav,” Jona says. The highest mountain in Slovenia is nearly 10,000 feet high and part of the Julian Alps. Its Slavic pagan name means “three heads” and refers to the gods of the sky, mountain and earth. Allow yourself two days to summit and you can also hike between mountain huts across Triglav National Park. Paragliding is another popular activity, or for a more peaceful experience, take a leisurely boat ride on Lake Bohinj. Those looking for a more intense adrenaline rush should head to Soča Valley for excellent rafting, kayaking, canyoning, hydrospeeding, rock climbing and mountain biking.

Horseback riding is popular too, and Slovenia is home to the world's oldest continuously operating stud farm. Lipica Stud Farm (https://www.lipica.org/en/) has been breeding noble white Lipizzan horses for 440 years. Here, you can watch a horse show, learn classical dressage, become a horse whisperer (https://www.lipica.org/en/what-to-do/activities/2002) or go for a trail ride. There are many ranches and equestrian centres across the country for riders of all abilities.

CASTLES

There are several hundred castles across Slovenia, in styles ranging from Gothic to Baroque, and many have been repurposed into beautiful open-air museums, serving as a great way to learn about the country's history while clambering about. From downtown Ljubljana, take Slovenia's only funicular up to Ljubljana Castle (https://www.ljubljanskigrad.si/en/visit-us/). Originally built as a medieval fortress, the castle was rebuilt and renovated many times over the centuries, mostly recently in the 1990s. There are guided tours with roleplaying characters, an escape room, jazz club and restaurant. During summer months they even show movies under the stars. Bled Castle (http://www.bled.si/en/what-to-see/cultural-sights/the-bled-castle) is the most visited castle in the country, with gorgeous panoramic views of Lake Bled and Predjama Castle (https://www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/predjama-castle/) (my personal favorite) is the biggest cave castle in the world, steadfastly chiseled into the cliffside.

CAVES

There are more than 10,000 caves in Slovenia, thanks to the country's vast Karst landscape that creates underground worlds like something you might find in Lord of the Rings.

Postojna Cave (https://www.postojnska-jama.eu) is the most visited, and you begin the tour with a tram journey that's much more exciting than any amusement park ride. Postojna is the only cave with a tram, which takes you deep into the earth to explore the cave system so vast that it includes a concert hall and dance hall. More than a hundred species of tiny cave animals live here, the biggest and most famous being the olm or proteus, also known as a human fish or baby dragon. The salamander-like animal eats tiny crustaceans and insects from the subterranean River Pivka and has incredible regenerative powers.

Škocjan Caves Regional Park (https://www.park-skocjanske-jame.si/en/, a UNESCO protected site with underground waterfalls, is also worth visiting. There's Križna Cave (https://krizna-jama.si/en/) too – another lesser known beauty that's so fragile only a thousand visitors are allowed in each year. January and February are the best time of year to go, as the water levels are highest for the boat tour.

REMARKABLE FINE DINING

Chef Ana Roš of Hiša Franko (https://www.hisafranko.com) is hands down the most famous Slovenian chef, after appearing on the second season of Chef's Table on Netflix and maintaining a strong ranking as the only Slovenian restaurant on the The World's 50 Best Restaurants list (https://www.theworlds50best.com/The-List-2019/31-40/Hisa-Franko.html). The scenic drive to her humble countryside restaurant in Kobarid sets the scene for a sublime meal with a unique juxtaposition of rarified food and warm service. Pumpkin soup, a Slovenian staple, is reimagined as a delicate consommé with a touch of Adriatic sea urchin. Slovenian natural wine pairings accompany local trout and roebuck. The spelt sourdough bread is, I daresay, the best bread in the country, served with cultured butter sprinkled with bee pollen. To conclude, there's Kobariški štrukelj, the sweet Kobarid dumpling that all housewives prepare. But Roš takes it to the next level with a side of smoked pork crème brûlée, an intoxicating blend of sweet and savory that lingers on the tongue. Like many top international kitchens, the staff resembles a United Nations meeting, bringing new perspectives to traditional Slovenian cuisine. Roš' current head chef, Leonardo Fonseca Celis, hails from Colombia and he oversees day-to-day operations when Roš is traveling.

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Attached Files

Five-Reasons-To-Visit-Slovenia.rtf
Five-Reasons-To-Visit-Slovenia.rtf
Slovenia-Lake-Bled-credit-Jošt-Gantar.jpg
Slovenia-Lake-Bled-credit-Jošt-Gantar.jpg
Lake-Bled-1899264_1280.jpg
Lake-Bled-1899264_1280.jpg
Slovenian honey products credit Jost Gantar.jpg
Slovenian honey products credit Jost Gantar.jpg
Slovenia Triglav Hiking credit Eeva Makinen.jpg
Slovenia Triglav Hiking credit Eeva Makinen.jpg
Slovenia Lake Bled credit Jošt Gantar.jpg
Slovenia Lake Bled credit Jošt Gantar.jpg
Slovenia Lake Bled credit Jacob Riglin.jpg
Slovenia Lake Bled credit Jacob Riglin.jpg
Predjama Castle credit Bostjan Burger.jpg
Predjama Castle credit Bostjan Burger.jpg
Postojna Cave Great Mountain credit Iztok Medja.jpg
Postojna Cave Great Mountain credit Iztok Medja.jpg
Postojna Cave credit Iztok Medja.jpg
Postojna Cave credit Iztok Medja.jpg
Lipazan horses credit Nea Culpa.jpg
Lipazan horses credit Nea Culpa.jpg
Janez Bratovz credit Nea Culpa.jpg
Janez Bratovz credit Nea Culpa.jpg
Hisa Franko credit Tomo Jesenicnik.jpg
Hisa Franko credit Tomo Jesenicnik.jpg
F008082-goriska_brda_smartno_tomo_jesenicnik_4_orig_jpg-photo-m.jpg
F008082-goriska_brda_smartno_tomo_jesenicnik_4_orig_jpg-photo-m.jpg