Lies on the northern end of the Adriatic Sea in South Central Europe, Slovenia is best discovered on the small streets where magical pearls of nature, cultural attractions as well as welcoming farms and cosy hotels await the visitor. A pint-sized country with just two million people, Slovenia, despite its size, is a country to be reckoned with. Formally part of Yugoslavia, it sought its independence as soon as it could—in 1991—after Yugoslavia broke away from the Soviet Union. Almost half the country is made up of mountains and plateaus, the highest point being Mount Triglav at 10,000 feet. The people mainly speak Slovene, although Hungarian and Italian are also spoken.
Since its independence, Slovenia has been called Europe in Miniature, encapsulating the best of the continent in a small space: soaring snow-peaked mountains, long white sandy beaches, rolling vineyards, sweeping plains screaming with sunflowers, baroque palaces, ancient castles, Gothic and chic art nouveau architecture. Its climate is no less eclectic with its warming Mediterranean air stretching to its chilling alpine winds in the foothills. A remarkable half of the country is forest, making it one of the world's greenest countries. It's the people themselves, however, that make the country so great. Highly educated and cultured, they are generous, warm, open-minded, multi-lingual and welcoming to foreigners.
The capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana, although tiny, is richly steeped in culture, activities galore, amazing sites and plenty of excitement. The first things visitors notice is the sparkling castle up on the hill overlooking the dazzling city, while below, the green and wide Ljubljanica River curves its way through the city sweeping through parks of all sizes. Bicycle and walking paths are easy to find, as are cafes in the winding cobbled streets, especially in Old Town where musicians play on street corners and buskers entertain the crowds with antics. Since it's a university town, with some 56,000 students, the city tends to have a typically alternative politically and socially active aura, especially in youthful Metelkova.
While in the capital, be sure to check out the National Gallery of Slovenia, showcasing such 17th century work as the National Romantic painters of Marko Pernhart, Pavel Kunl and Anton Karinger. You'll also find medieval frescos, as well as impressionist painters Juriji Subic and Rihard Jakopic, along with the country's most famous female artist Ivana Kobilca.
If you get a chance to travel through the countryside, Lake Bohinj of Slovenia is a turquoise green sparkling glacial lake with an excellent view of Mount Triglav. Both the lake and mountain are in Triglav National Park, which offers opportunities for kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and climbing Mount Triglav. Just make sure you bring along climbing equipment!
In addition to the classic beach holiday on the 25 mls long Adriatic coast, farm holidays in Slovenia are becoming ever more popular, especially with families with children; many options being available. The cave systems with dripstone and subterranean rivers in the mattock landscape halfway between the Adriatic coast and the capital of Ljubljana are especially spectacular. Visitors are not only able to discover the different faces of the country but also the signposted themed streets, for example, the Emerald route is fun for more adventurous types, the wind street will appeal to nature lovers, whilst the Amber route has much to offer history enthusiasts. Between Kranjska Gora and Ljubljana on the mountain lakes, Gold horn route runs past gorges, meadows and secluded locations where the smiths are working. Small mountain farms with beautiful gardens as well as pretty guesthouses are scattered around on the way and will bewitch visitors. The old town of Skofja Loka, Slovenia was buried under rubble and ash following an earthquake in 1511 - the houses built afterwards now form the most complete medieval town centre in Slovenia.