Slovenia may get confused with its not so far neighbour; Slovakia but it is miles away in culture and in distance. Having not known anything about the little country sandwiched between Austria, Croatia, Italy and Hungary, I was intrigued about the place they call ‘the heart of Europe.’
With an area of nearly 8,000 square miles, Slovenia is a delight to the eyes and is one of the prettiest countries in Europe. Because of its population of only two million people it never feels crowded and with mountains, rivers and 46km of coastline to choose from, there is always an area to explore.
The capital Ljubljana may be difficult to pronounce but its ease and charm shines through its Baroque style architecture with alpine parks and forests on its outskirts. Meaning ‘the beloved city’ Ljubljana is big on culture and you’ll often find musicians and people dancing in the main square or locals reciting poetry. Restaurants line the Ljubljana river which separate the old town from the new and taking a walking tour gives a great insight into the history of the city.
The bohemian area of Metelkova Street is a graffiti artist’s dream and stands out from the rest of the capital with decorated walls and shoes hanging from above. You can even stay the night in this area in an old converted jail.
Not far from the capital is the stunning Lake Bled, the most tranquil spot I have ever come across. Bled Island sits spectacularly in the middle and you can hire a rowing boat to explore it or just sit and take in the view of the Church of the Assumption which stands tall in the midst of the lake.
Why I love Slovenia
No where is far here and travelling around the country is so easy and incredibly scenic past lush landscapes and rolling hills. If you only have a week to spare, you can easily visit more than one area of the country. Visit Ptuja, the oldest town of Slovenia, experience the traditional Slovenian Karst village or explore the Kingdom of Seven Lakes at Triglav National Park.
Slovenia is not just for summer either, there are plenty of winter sports you can do here too and I predict it’s the place to go in 2014.
This heart of Europe is a treasured gem definitely worth exploring…
My favourite Moments
1. Listening to a musician in the main square and watching the locals dancing away.
2. Standing on one of the bridges in Ljubljana hearing a brass brand then realising it was coming from the boat below.
3. Sitting on a bench at Lake Bled next to an old man, both staring out at Bled Island in the morning mist in silence.
Travelling Solo in Slovenia
Slovenia is so easy to travel around. Because the country is so small, nowhere is further than a couple of hours and there's a really good bus network (with Wifi). It's really safe to walk around the capital at night and go to restaurants and bars by yourself. Join the Ljubljana free walking tour on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11am if you want to meet company or stay in a hostel like me!
Tip – There's a great fresh juice place near the start of the tour in the main square too.
Accommodation in Slovenia
I stayed at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana which if you're looking for something different is THE place to stay. Sleeping in a prison for me was a once in a lifetime experience (hopefully anyway!)
In Lake Bled, I stayed at The Ace of Spades; a really modern hostel with black and white decor and a huge kitchen. There's a supermarket across the road and it's just a 5 minute stroll to the stunning lake.
Travelling to Slovenia
From Sarajevo I took the train to Zagreb in Croatia and stayed one night at the Chillout Hostel (which is wicked!) From Zagreb the train took 2.5 stopping for border control who board the train. The train journey is a really pretty one and cost approx £22 one way.