Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Everyone's talking about visiting Slovenia

Recently, I keep coming across mentions from people the world over who are considering visiting Slovenia. That's not bad considering that a decade ago barely anyone knew what or where Slovenia was, and a bit over two decades it was tricky to visit anyway, tucked behind the Iron Curtain.
Entering Slovenia
I visited Slovenia during a camping road trip through south-central Europe and the Balkans and I immediately loved it. With amazing mountain scenery greeting me, it didn't take me long to be convinced that this was a country I was going to love. With its close relationship with neighbouring Italy, it fared better during the Cold War years than other Balkan states and other neighbours like Slovakia, so it was quite a breath of fresh air to see a more modernised country and one that was obviously wealthier than the others around it. Many buildings and roads had been recently renovated and repaired and there was something of an entrepreneurial spirit in the air.


Most of my time in Slovenia was spent in the capital, the beautifully-named Ljubljana. I know it sounds like a real cliché to say it's a charming city, but it truly is! Perhaps I was just blessed with sunny blue skies and a good summer mood, but I really felt at home there. There are several interesting bridges crossing the river right in the centre of town - including the Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most) which you can see on the left (with me in full-on travel mode clothing!) and the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) which, as you might guess, is kind of three bridges all in a row together. A general wander around the Old Town area of Ljubljana is definitely a pleasant way to while away a few hours - I stumbled across a great farmers market too (so if you're wondering what's in that paper bag I'm clutching, I'm pretty sure that it was a big bunch of grapes!).

Old Town Ljubljana
Ljubljana also struck me as somewhat quirky and it's in fact home to "Metelkova City", a very sedate and law-abiding version of Copenhagen's Christiania (well, that's how I describe it anyway). Part of Metelkova is a quite unique hostel, the Celica Hostel which used to be a prison, and now each of the cells has been turned into a hostel room, each decorated really differently by various designers and artists. It's such a popular spot, not just to stay but to look at, that they actually offer tours around it once a day. I can't remember any other accommodation I've seen that actually has tourists traipsing around it when they don't even intend to stay there!

Celica Hostel in Metelkova
Finally, I spent some time doing some simple hikes in scenic areas not too far from the capital - day trips I suppose, though Slovenia is small enough that practically anything could be a day trip! I know it's very well-known for skiing so I can imagine that a winter holiday in Slovenia would be lovely too, but for me it's a summer time country with rolling green hills, friendly people and interesting nooks and crannies all over the place.

Hiking half an hour outside Ljubljana

8 comments:

  1. It's great to see Slovenia opening up for tourism. I would love to go there someday as well.

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    1. Highly recommended - make sure you do!

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  2. I have been visiting Slovenia now for 12yrs the first time I visited there were only two other English speaking guests at our hotel! Over the past 12 years I have seen the country grow massively - the people are very proud of what they have achieved in a short space of time they are welcoming friendly and really passionate about showing how beautiful their country is. I think Slovenia should be on everyone's European itinerary :D

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    1. Thanks so much for your input Tom - very valuable to hear from someone who knows Slovenia so well. And I definitely agree Slovenia should be added to everyone's itinerary!

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  3. I am glad you liked this little county of mine. :)
    I think hiking in the Slovenian rolling hills is one of the greatest things Slovenia has to offer.

    If anyone needs a local advice with planning a visit, you can contact me through my blog. I am always happy to help a fellow traveler.

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    1. Thanks Marko - I really do like your country. I had a look through the Slovenian posts on your blog, too, and they convinced me I do need to return to see more of it!

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  4. Slovenia was never behind the Iron Curtain. I think you're thinking of Slovakia.
    The former Yugoslavia had completely open borders since 1967.

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    1. Thanks exiledstardust - although I'm not thinking of Slovakia (I lived there, so I know its history better than Slovenia's) I actually hadn't realised Westerners had been able to easily travel there for so long - I guess because it didn't become a popular place to visit until recently. Thanks for the tip!

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