I’ve heard it before. As soon I tell people that I’m going to Slovenia or hiking in Slovenia there’s a bit of a pause. Where exactly is Slovenia? Is it safe? Can you get around and travel easily?
Let’s quickly put all that to rest. Slovenia is one of the most accessible, enjoyable, and safest of European countries. It’s a member of the EU and its currency is the Euro, just like its neighbors in Italy and Austria. But it’s a tiny county—smaller than Vermont—so it’s easy to miss when you’re looking at a map and making European travel plans. You’ll love immersing yourself in Slovenia’s rich history and charming culture.
If you’re an active traveler, love to hike, and enjoy the outdoors, here are ten reasons to tilt the scales in favor of hiking in Slovenia as you make your hiking and travel plans for next year.
- Slovenia is in the Alps. Slovenia is a mountainous European Alpine country. Two subranges of the Alps are in Slovenia, the Julian Alps, and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. Alpine Slovenia has the cultural identity of other Alpine regions with traditional Alpine farming and cheesemaking, and a similar geology with limestone peaks, glacial lakes and the Alps’ south-easternmost glacier, the Skuta Glacier.
- Slovenia is prosperous country. Of the 13 new nations that have joined the European Union since 2004, Slovenia is the only one rich enough to join as a net donor, with a higher per-capita income than the average. It was the first to join the euro currency zone, adopting the euro in 2007. As you travel from Italy or Austria into Slovenia, there’s no need to change currency or even stop at the border.
- Slovenia is of great value. Slovenia is a bargain compared to nearby Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. It’s generally cheaper than Croatia, but more expensive than most countries in Eastern Europe. Accommodations, groceries, and most restaurant meals are less expensive than in the US.
- Slovenia has quality accommodations. Slovenia has quickly defined itself as a 5-star destination and a high-quality travel experience. You can expect a 3, 4, or 5-star hotel in Slovenia to offer the same features and standard of service as similarly-rated hotels in western Europe.
- Slovenian cuisine is worth the trip. Slovenia is at the crossroads of Europe, so Slovenian cuisine melds the best of Italian, Austrian, Adriatic, Hungarian, and Balkan culinary traditions. And yes, the water is safe to drink.
- Slovenia is small and accessible. Slovenia is half the size of Switzerland, and most international visitors spend their stay in just the western portion of the country. Getting from one place to another is easy on Slovenia’s system of modern highways, or by public transportation.
- English is widely spoken in Slovenia. There are just two million Slovenian speakers in the world, so they can’t expect many visitors to arrive with fluent Slovenian language skills. The most widely-spoken second language is English. We found more English spoken in Slovenia than in France, Switzerland, or Austria.
- Slovenia is densely forested. Slovenia is the most densely forested of all the Alpine countries in Europe. So unlike hikes in many other Alpine countries where you start your hike above the timberline, a hike in Slovenia often begins and ends in the shade of a thick forest cover of conifer and deciduous trees.
- Slovenia has wonderful mountain huts. Mountain huts and rifugios differ somewhat from huts in other parts of the alps. Almost all have electricity and a hot water shower. Rather than one large bunkroom, then tend to have many smaller rooms to accommodate 2, 4, or 6 guests. There’s no need to bring a sleep sheet, since they provide a clean, disposable, tissue-paper type sleep sheet to every guest on arrival.
- Slovenia is full of must-see sites. You’ll certainly want to stay at Lake Bled and include a visit to Bled Castle and the island church. Nearby Lake Bohinj is less touristy, but just as beautiful. Slovenia’s greatest natural wonder, and what is believed to be the world’s largest cave system, is Škocjan Caves, but Postojna Caves is the more popular visitor attraction with a subterranean railway to access the most spectacular of its 12-mile system of chambers and tunnels. Let’s hope your travels in Slovenia include a visit to Bovec and the Soča River Valley—a haven for adventure sports and whitewater enthusiast. For hikers, the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park will be your focal point. In the Julian Alps you can explore, discover, and experience pristine nature far from the tourist throng.
Slovenia is an undiscovered gem—unexpectedly charming and remarkably diverse. If this is the kind of experience you’re after, make plans to join us next summer on our Best of Slovenia and the Julian Alps trip.