Autumn breaks to Slovenia’s verdant heartlands are now even greener following its addition to the UK’s ‘green list’
From active tours amid its breathtaking mountains, valleys and lakes to gastronomic winelands getaways and cultural city breaks, Slovenia’s world-class tourism rewards the adventurous.
Thanks to its relatively compact size and strong transport infrastructure, it’s also super simple to get around and make the most of your time, with the capital Ljubljana served by affordable direct services from British Airways and easyJet.
Following the country’s recent addition to the UK’s green list for travel, and with Covid rates remaining relatively low, now is the perfect time for Brits to be booking post-lockdown breaks. Still need convincing? Here are seven more reasons to tempt you.
Explore a green and pleasant land
The move to green status on the UK’s travel list is particularly apt for Slovenia whose strong focus on sustainability, coupled with its biodiverse natural landscapes, has not gone unnoticed. Not only has the country been hailed as the first Global Green Destination by the Green Destinations Standard organisation, the World Travel and Tourism Council has assigned it their coveted Green & Safe standard.
It’s an adventure lover’s paradise
From exploring the 10,000km of well-maintained trails to canyoning around Lake Bled, Slovenia’s great outdoors is the perfect setting for active adventures, its sheltered valleys and ski resorts such as Vogel delivering year-round appeal.
Hotspots include Soca Valley, where everything from white water rafting and kayaking to ziplining and paragliding can be had, and Triglav National Park. Don’t miss the towering Julian Alps, an area that’s increasingly accessible thanks to the new 280km Juliana MTB Bike Trail, with the circular Juliana Hiking Trail opening late September.
Pedalling gastronomes, meanwhile, will relish the new Bike Slovenia Green Gourmet Route from Ljubljana to Maribor.
It’s a gastronomic powerhouse
Speaking of food, it’s not for nothing that Slovenia was named European Region of Gastronomy for 2021.
Slovenian cuisine is a heartfelt fusion of flavours, from Italian and Balkan to Austro-Hungarian, the local culinary talent leveraging the bountiful fresh produce in classic local dishes such as bograč soup, stuffed idrijski žlikrofi dumplings and Kranjska klobasa sausages.
The list of Michelin stars currently stands at six, with Vipava Valley among the culinary epicentres, home to luminary chefs such as Uroš Fakuč, at Dam, and Tomaž Kavčič, at Gostilna pri Lojzetu, with a charming ‘wine road’ linking the valley’s 38 wineries.
It has plenty of historical charm
Mediaeval and Roman architecture effortlessly rubs shoulders with styles such as Art Nouveau and Baroque in Slovenia’s picturesque towns. As with the oft-photographed Lake Bled, and its idyllic island castle, such scenes often come framed by raw, natural beauty, and exploring unassuming treasures such as Ptuj, Slovenia’s oldest town, is a treat.
Proudly overlooking the city, Ljubljana Castle is another must-see, while Vipava Valley scores big with attractions such as Goče, an historic stone wine village, and the Franciscan monastery Kostanjevica pri Novi Gorici.
It’s a land of natural wonders
UNESCO recently awarded Slovenia its latest World Heritage status, in recognition of local architect Jože Plečnik’s efforts that transformed Ljubljana into the stately capital we see today.
The global authority also lauds Slovenia’s natural wonders such as Škocjan Caves; the ancient mines of Idrija; and Postojna Cave Park, where the underground labyrinths, explorable by train, vie for attention with the spellbinding Predjama Castle, built out from the mountainside.
Taking the stunning Vršič Pass in Triglav National Park, meanwhile, elevates any Slovenian road trip from epic to legendary status.
And unique experiences
Cultural occasions such as Maribor’s Lent Festival make memorable trips. More entertaining still are the ancient rituals heralding springtime, when Ptuj locals get their mardi gras face on during Kurentovanje, and western villages erupt in wild celebrations of Pust.
More sedate visitor experiences include becoming a Vipava Valley wine grower for the day, learning about local grape varieties such as zelen and klarnica, and don’t forget to look underground. If exploring the Postojna Caves or kayaking through Mount Peca’s flooded, abandoned mines isn’t your thing, the Velenje Underground dining experience takes place 160m below ground, in an old coal mine shaft.
Or you could always try sleeping in a former prison cell at Ljubljana’s Celica Hostel.
It’s home to beautiful places to stay
Ljublana’s more intimate boltholes, ripe for city breaks, range from the old town boutique-y Lesar Hotel Angel and cosy Grand Union Hotel, with its art nouveau stylings, to the modern design leanings of Hotel Nox.
In the countryside, a sustainable surge in glamping sites such as Herbal Glamping Resort, in Ljubno, is broadening visitors’ horizons. Luxurious boltholes such as Vila Planinka, in Zgornje Jezersko, and Bohinj Hotel, in Triglav National Park, also make the most of their pristine surroundings. And families will love Garden Village Bled’s atmospheric treehouses.
Spa stays are a particular speciality. With treatments informed by the therapeutic thermal waters and enervating local ingredients, from wine, beer and salt to glacier water and mineral-rich peat, you’ll return rejuvenated, if not reborn.