Slovenia. If I were to tell you the truth about this Eastern European country, I'd tell you that it took me exactly 0.0 seconds to fall in love with it. That, and it's one of the most underrated countries I've had the pleasure of visiting. Ever.
I adore Slovenia for many reasons, one of them being the spellbinding views and picturesque landscape. Another is the budget-friendly price, which is low compared to European standards. However… the best part of Slovenia is that most people haven't discovered what a hidden gem it is (yet), and that's why you should visit now.
THE FAIRYTALE SCENERY OF SLOVENIA
Visiting Slovenia is like stepping into a fairytale. It's a wonderland of ever-changing scenery and ethereal beauty of the nature.
Lake Bled is one of those serene and fairytale-like locations. And it's also one of my favorite places in Slovenia. The landscape here is so spellbinding that I immediately wanted to stay and write that book I've been talking about for a gazillion years.
It tends to have that effect on you.
There is a church with a looming spire on Bled Island. Lots of people get married here, and according to tradition, it's good luck if the groom carries his bride up all 99 steps.
Traveling to Slovenia? You may be interested in checking out Bosnia & Herzegovina
THE OUTDOORS ACTIVITIES
Aside from the fairytale scenery, Slovenia is the perfect place for outdoors activities. Hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, and paragliding are just some of the many ways to be adventurous.
Slovenians themselves are also quite active, and they especially love their mountains. So much in fact that according to locals you aren't a real Slovenian until you've climbed Mount Triglav, which FYI is obnoxiously challenging. I haven't met a Slovenian – young or old, man or woman – who has not climbed it.
1. HIKE TO WATERFALLS
If you're as much of a waterfall enthusiast as I am, you'll be thrilled to know that Slovenia has more than 300 different waterfalls, one more gorgeous than the other. There are some really pretty ones in Soca Valley and in Bohinj.
2. CLIMB A HILL OR A MOUNTAIN
Another must-do activity is hiking. Slovenia is home to the Julian Alps which is a hiker's wonderland, and you can choose both challenging trails and easier walks along the valleys and foothills.
(tip! tip! tip!) If you're at Lake Bled, climb Ojstrica hill for stunning views over the lake. The hike is steep, but the view is SO rewarding.
Slovenia is also an excellent destination for biking, both on-road and off-road. I did a bit of both and can highly recommend.
THE HISTORY AND CULTURE
War history, legends and folktales are a significant part of Slovenian heritage. You will hear tales about gods and fairies, about sacred mountains and how towns came to be.
History is preserved, too.
I passed an old war monument on my way through the Vrši? Pass in the north. The road though the pass was built by Russian prisoners during World War 1 to supply the front line, but an avalanche swept through the mountains and killed almost everyone on site. The road was renamed Ruska Cesta, the Russian Road, in their memory and is marked by a Russian Orthodox Chapel.
Other cultural monuments are the beautiful churches. Slovenia has thousands of them, and the most beautiful ones are placed on remote hilltops or surrounded by mountains.
THE LOVELY LJUBLJANA
Getting around Slovenia is easy, although it's a bit difficult to pronounce some of the town names, especially Ljubljana (li-ubli-anna). In the cute capital of Ljubljana you'll find gorgeous architecture, creative street art, cosy café culture, an enchanting castle, romance, and lots of dragons.
And, you can spend a night in a former Yugoslavian prison.
Another great reason to visit Slovenia is the wine. The quality is striking, and you can get various sparkling wines, pearly, sweet wines or liquor wines.
Imagine sitting on a rooftop bar, enjoying a glass of well-chilled, fresh & dry wine with a cold appetizer, while watching the sunset in the horizon. It is D to the Licious.
AND LASTLY… THE SUNRISES
I've seen many spectacular sunrises in my life, but none have been as enchanting as those in Slovenia.
The snow-capped mountain tops, the fairytale castles, the enchanting forests and the magical glacier lakes simply makes the perfect settings for a sunrise.
About Miriam Risager:
Miriam is a travel writer and fearless adventurer (sort of). Her passion is sharing the culture and personality of a location with readers, and to help amazing, adventurous people – yep, just like you – experience just how wonderful this world is.
She blogs over at Adventurous Miriam. You can also follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.