7 things and places not to miss in Slovenia
Slovenia. Most of my friends did not know where it was and why on earth I would choose to go there. Truth was, I was on a trip headed towards Ultra Europe 2015 held in Split, Croatia and Slovenia was just a pre destination prior to what I was considering the highlight of my entire vacation. Little did I know that this beautiful spectacular country caught us totally off guard and we ended up falling in love with it, as much as we did with Croatia! Perhaps even more so!
Here’s the top 7 experiences not to miss when (and I mean when, not if) you go there:
Obviously the capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana (lyoo-blyah-nah) would be one of the first things you would explore when you land. This city is small but clean and the main town area is so pretty! It was scorching hot when I landed in July, albeit being summer- people were strolling around, gulping down gelatos and having their conversations in tiny cafes whilst there was plenty of music from baskers filling the air. The instant things, which hit me, were the clean streets, security and the friendliness of the people.
We stayed at an Airbnb just off the town area, which required about 15 minutes walk through the streets. Our host was extremely friendly and generous. I would definitely recommend staying at Airbnbs in Slovenia if you are worried about accommodation, the people are excellent hosts.
Tip: Take the gondola up the castle for a panaromic view of the whole city.
- Hiking in Slovenian Alps
Real exciting was a day tour we took with Slotrips (http://www.slovenia-trips.com/), to explore the Slovenian Alps and Soca Valley. I would definitely recommend this company as the best to get in touch with the pristine nature and real Slovenia. Our guide, Domen, was awesome as he took us to several waterfalls and even to local hotspots which tourists would not know about.
62% of land in Slovenia is nature, which would explain why the nation’s top sports are hiking and mountaineering. The locals would hunt for secret tidal pools and waterfalls to jump in and that would make up most of their summer; fantastic in my opinion. Fancy any lake you wish to swim in and do so!
- Triglav National Park
A trip to Slovenia is not complete if you haven’t been to the tallest mountain at 2864 metres, Mt Triglav. It is said amongst the locals that – “No one is a true Slovenian unless he/she has climbed to the summit of Mt Triglav”. Apparently, this was true because every local we talked to after that has either a) climbed to the summit n thus proudly proclaimed a true Slovenian or b) abashedly laughs and said he is not a true Slovenian because he has not reached the tip of Mt Triglav.
Being a small and truly underrated destination for mountaineering and hiking, the trails were not commonly packed in the summer. Plenty of locals were trekking, some major backpackers, happy campers, and even groups of school children. Everywhere you went on whichever trail, the love for hiking is evident on the faces of the Slovenians. It was tremendously pleasant to see people really taking care of their national environment and loving the outdoors.
Tip: If you are an adventurous hiker, definitely spend on a few days camping outdoors in the wilderness of the Julian Alps.
- Cliff Jumping
This is the absolute best thing to do in Slovenia whilst in the summer! Cliff jumping. There are literally numerous places to this, the Soca River being one of them. This was also the highlight of the day trip we did with Slotrips, where we braced a 8m jump into 10degrees water in a gorge in Soca Valley.
8m may not seem like much, especially for people who constantly jump off cliffs or rocks during European summers, but for me a city girl, it was the most terrifying and amazing experience that I had.
It was a day after walking tons of miles on trails in the Triglav National Park, chasing waterfalls and sweating madly in the summer heat. The waters were crazy cold and I kept falling over the slippery rocks, but the experience was unimaginable.
We all survived the jump! It was a big opener to cliff jumping for me, would definitely do it at any opportunity I find now!
- Vintgar Gorge
This gorge is 1.6km and it winds through the rocks and hills, contained with the Radnova River. This place is pretty touristy, and its hard to see why. I didn’t particularly liked the crowds but when you turn every corner and see emerald colours like this, its impossible not to fall in love with this natural feature.
Its not nearly a hike, as it is a walk through manmade wooden path winding round the hillside. Make sure you walk all the way towards the end, where you can actually see a huge waterfall and locals jumping off smaller rocks into the water (of course), making you cringe in envy.
- Talk to the locals
A huge reason why Slovenia holds a special place in our hearts now was because of the people. They speak perfect English, perfect grammar, they love to share about their country and their love for the outdoors. I loved the fact that they held the upmost respect for Mt Triglav and pride for their clean undisturbed sceneries. The locals are open-minded, they do not mind tourists and they seem to just be in their own world.
It is certainly one European country where I have not experienced any hustling and bustle of a city, no jostlings or any of that sort. Slovenia is like a fairtytale small European town you would find in Disney movie, surrounded by giants Hungary, Croatia and Austria. Its no wonder why many people overlook it in their rush to get to Italy or cross the sea over to Croatia.
- Lake Bohinj
Our next day after exploring Julian Alps, we headed to Lake Bohinj. This area was sort of completely different from Soca River, in the fact that it reminds one of New Zealand or Scotland instead. The lake itself was surrounded by majestic mountains, in contrast to the packed trees and cliffs environment of the Soca Valley. Unfortunately it was raining heavily when we arrived so we did not manage to get into the waters. I would definitely recommend to rent a kayak and head out though!