This small country is a big attraction. Extending over 20,273 square kilometres and situated in Central Europe between Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia has become a tourism magnet that can easily be reached using all forms of transport. Within only few hours drive the holiday-makers in Slovenia can enjoy the majestic peaks of the Alps, relax in modern thermal spas, admire the lively towns of Ljubljana and Maribor, swim in the Adriatic Sea and spend a wonderful time on the sun-soaked beaches. Beside that there are other highlights, such as the cave systems of Postojna and Skocjan, unique across the world, and a cuisine that unites many influences from different European countries in best possible way.
Extensive information can be found on http://www.slovenia.info but here are a few of current highlights:
The Julian Alps – On the Sunny Side of the Mountains
With the Julian Alps in the North, Slovenia can call one of the most beautiful parts of the European mountains its own. Between Kranjska Gora, Bled, Bohinj and Bovec nature enthusiasts and active athletes will find a unique paradise for walking, biking, mountain biking, kayaking and fishing. The 84,000 hectares of the Triglav national park is outstanding with its untouched plant and animal world, with its majestic peaks and thundering waterfalls. It is one of the oldest protected areas in Europe and is ideally suited for hikers because of its excellent labelled paths. The crystal-clear lakes of Bled and Bohinj and the wild emerald water of the Soca River also lure the water enthusiasts. The history of tourism in Bled, one of the most renowned holiday destinations in Slovenia, dates back to the 19th century.
Splendid hotels, marvellous villas and the all dominating castle shape the picture of the lake and its surroundings, with its typical church island in the middle. Besides a very large choice of sporting facilities, such as walking, mountain biking, tennis or golf, the place also offers to its guests top cultural events all year round.
Ski Centres for Everyone
The winter sports facilities have become the focus of attention more and more. The Slovenian ski centres in the Alps and in the Pohorje mountains stand out due to their high snow safety, fair prices and family suitability. Kranjska Gora is Slovenia´s most famous ski centre – currently ready for the annual world cup racing on March 3rd and 4th, 2007. It has 30 kilometres of light ski-runs of medium difficulty – mostly family friendly – and 18 ski lifts. Besides the modern hotels and studio apartments there is also a large number of private rooms and farms where winter guests can experience the Slovenian hospitality first-hand. Ski-runs of light to medium difficulty are also waiting for skiers in Bohinj at the Vogel ski centre, at 1,800 meters above sea-level.
A family-friendly skiing area with 21 ski lifts also awaits its guests on the other side of the Alps, in Pohorje, near Maribor. This is a densely wooded ski area at 1,350 meters above sea-level that also has a good international reputation and every year the world cup women’s racing takes place here. 50 kilometres of ski-runs in an area of 220 hectares are prepared for skiers each day. A skiing school, a skiing school for nursery children, a rental company for ski equipment and a five kilometres long ski-run with floodlights for night time skiing are at the guests´ disposal. The hotels in the town and in the skiing area offer first-class comfort, some of them having thermal spas for wellness after the ski-runs. And finally, at the southern slope of Pohorje Mountain, there is Rogla, an insider’s tip for families and skiing enthusiasts.
The Slovenian Riviera on the Adriatic Coast
The Slovenian share of the Adriatic coast is 46 kilometres long, between the Italian and Croatian borders. As the nearest sea to Central Europe it can be reached easily, particularly thanks to the new motorway system. The standard of the hotels, the gastronomy, entertainment, the variety of events and the tourism infrastructure are among the best in the Adriatic area and can stand any comparison with other European top holiday destinations. If you are looking for chic ambiance, entertainment and typical beach flair on your holiday, you should come to Portoroz. This bathing and spa resort, which has everything that demanding guests looking for entertainment could whish for, was already popular in the time of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. There is a typical beach life on the fine sandy beaches of the neat bathing resorts during the day. One strolls along the promenade, enjoys a cappuccino in a beach café and watches the colourful hustle and bustle. Numerous boutiques and sale stands invite you for shopping.
In the evening, however, Portoroz shows its special charm. Everything is possible. The thrills in the casino, a romantic dinner in a restaurant or dancing at a disco. Numerous leading 4 and 5 star hotels with pleasant ambiance and all imaginable possibilities of leisure are situated in prime locations along the coast. The place can also boast a thermal spring with a Thallasso centre and numerous other facilities for wellness. It is quieter in the smaller places and bays of the Slovenian coast. Romantics and those interested in culture will prefer the small medieval fishing towns of Piran, Izola and Koper. Silence is the great advantage of the bay of Strunjan. In the midst of rich Mediterranean vegetation, with pleasant smelling pines and cedars, it has a particularly mild and salubrious climate because of the ancient salt pans. With its modern therapy centre by the sea, Strunjan is not just a good choice for bathing holidays but also for health cures and wellness.
A particularly interesting place to visit is the salt pans of Socovlje, situated at the coast south of Portoroz. Designated a national park since 2003, the fields for salt production that have existed since the 14th century, present themselves as a unique nature reserve, containing over 200 different sea and migratory birds and rare plants.
At traditional public festivals between April and August the importance of this treasure is substantially celebrated by the population.
Magic Worlds Under the Earth – Postojna and Skocjan
World-class attractions are hidden under the earth in the area stretching up from the coast. Postojna has enjoyed an international reputation for more than 800 years. More than 30 million tourists from all parts of the world have visited this approximately 20 kilometres long cave system, 5.2 kilometres of which are now developed for tourists with 3.5 kilometres of it even comfortably passable on an electric train. The concert hall, with a capacity for 10,000 guests, where concerts and other events regularly take place between the stalagmites and stalactites is extraordinarily impressive, even for visitors who come again and again. The Skocjan caves are another highlight of the karst landscape. The uniqueness of this cave system prompted UNESCO to include it in the list of world natural inheritance sites.
The paths for visitors are built into the steep walls which are about 100 metre high in some places. Underground rivers spanned by bridges roar through mysterious canyons. Outside the caves in the Skocjanske Caves Park a variety of historical museums and unusual flora await the interested visitors. Near Lipica there is another attraction of world renown. The horse stud farm, founded in 1580 by the Habsburgs, has loose nothing of its elegance and grace in these modern times. In a typical karst landscape of pleasant smelling woods filled with oaks, limes and grove beeches, horse enthusiasts can take courses for either beginners or advanced riders. Those who are less active can enjoy the riding demonstrations and familiarise themselves with the long tradition of the stud farm.
Modern Spas for a Wellness Holiday
Slovenia can boast 87 thermal springs on its territory and 15 very well equipped thermal springs for health cures and spas are spread over the whole country, offering health-oriented tourists both classical health cures and modern wellness spas. Luxurious hotels, therapy centres and more than 38,000 square metres of water offer a variety of possibilities for guests all the year round. From a classical health cure to a relaxing holiday, everything is possible. Different forms of alternative medicine from traditional Chinese medicine to Ayurveda are currently very popular. Depending on the tourist´s personal preference and taste, Slovenia can offer both spas with an international reputation and rich tradition or relatively unknown new thermal centres. There are special spas for families and also just to relax for a quiet holiday. The spas in Rogaska, Radenci or Dolenjske toplice have a long tradition and they offer innovative health programmes in relaxing and natural surroundings. With about 12,000 square metres of water the spa Catez belongs among the biggest spas in Europe and offers entertainment and fun especially for families with children.
The sauna park is also one of the biggest of its type in Europe, with a variety of saunas from salt or crystal saunas with negative ions through to the Aquaviva sauna with colour and sound effects. The Olimia thermal spa, with two new water slides and a varied animation programme, also offers fun and relaxation for children and adults. Top luxury in the hotel business is available at the Moravske Toplice spa since the opening of the new hotel Livada. The hotel has 122 luxurious rooms with 221 beds and 95 additional couches, 28 of those being junior and 4 senior suites, equipped with period furniture. LcD television sets and Internet connection. Besides a classical bath, all the rooms also have a thermal bath with black water – the healing water of the Moravske Toplice spa. With the opening of the new beauty and relaxation centre – the Thermalium – two years ago, the Moravske Toplice spa offers its guests a total area of 3500 square metres of various programmes according to most modern European standards. The unique “black” thermal mineral water is really extraordinary, supporting classical and alternative therapies for the treatment of rheumatism, diseases of the respiratory tract and skin diseases as well as rehabilitation after injuries and operations on the mobility apparatus. Finally, Portoroz and Strunjan achieve the combination of wellness and health holiday with the holiday by the sea.
Ljubljana, Slovenia´s Charming Capital
Ljubljana is Slovenia´s metropolis, but at the same time it is an easily comprehensible town worth living in, with numerous cultural attractions, shopping and the flair of a lively restaurant and entertainment scene. The interest of foreign tourists in Ljubljana is increasing constantly, as growth rates of more than 10 percent compared with the previous year illustrate. The perfectly preserved Art Nouveau ensembles and baroque buildings give a special flair to the centre of the city. Slovenia´s famous architect Joze Plecnik has left his stamp on numerous buildings for the future generations. With a more than 50-year long tradition the “Ljubljana summer festival” is the greatest cultural event of its kind in Slovenia. For seven weeks in July and August, the Slovenian capital is filled with opera, dance, symphony concerts, chamber music, jazz and folk. There are also numerous stage performances and exhibitions by artists from Slovenia and abroad. As a shopping paradise, Ljubljana has many new boutiques and shops in the lovely shopping streets of the old town as well as modern shopping centres to cater for all tastes. Those who need refreshment after shopping will be happy with the great variety of trendy cafes and restaurants and their pleasant ambience. Then, for those who want to be seen in the new, stylish clothes they just have bought, the nightlife is extremely diverse and exciting, making a trip to Ljubljana truly rewarding.
Culinary Discoveries for Connoisseurs
Slovenia has a lot to offer the gourmets. Slovenian cuisine has taken over the best of the Slavonic, Austrian, Hungarian and Italian cooking pots, producing many interesting delicacies. Excellent wines can be enjoyed in many first class restaurants, the number of which is growing every day. The quality of accommodation and gastronomic facilities is also growing constantly, in order to satisfy the high expectations of the gourmet tourists, who become more and more critical. Slovenia has been regarded as an insider’s tip among the trend setters and culinary connoisseurs. The real highlight for them might be to enjoy the sour cream of Styrian soup or the ricet, the barley soup. Gnocchi, goulash variations or numerous types of strudel remind us of the common history with the neighbours in the West and the North. When enjoying the air-dried karst ham, prsut, olives and the noble red Teran wine, even the most experienced gourmets will begin to clamour. The wine routes that spread over the whole country are especially rewarding for culinary discoveries. The Brda, Vipava or the Karst wine routes will make you feel the Mediterranean atmosphere and the Jeruzalem and the Ormoz wine routes are also well known outside the Slovenian borders. And those who are very curious should investigate the cooking pots and cellars of the still little known wine routes in Bela Krajina or between Novo Mesto and Krsko.
The Euro – The New Means of Payment since 1 January 2007 – And the EU Presidency in 2008
Holidaying in Slovenia has now become even easier since the euro became the legal currency after 1 January 2007. As the first of the newly joined countries, Slovenia could satisfy all the conditions regarding the economic and political stability for the introduction of the European single currency. It eliminated the annoying money change for tourists and with that and the prices are also easily to compare for consumers on holiday. Nobody should fear that the introduction of the single currency could lead to a solid price push. Comparisons with Slovenia´s direct neighbouring countries on the Adriatic Sea illustrate the great restraint in prices for hotels and other services.
On the 1 January 2008 Slovenia will take over the presidency of the European Union for the first time and therefore will be in the limelight of world politics. For six months numerous meetings of leading European politicians will take place across the country, which will lure many guests and representatives of the media to the country.
More on Slovenia on its official travel portal http://www.slovenia.info