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During my trip in November I had a chance to explore Slovenia a little bit, with our brief stops in Ljubljana and our overnight stay in Piran on the Adriatic coast. Slovenia is a tiny beautiful country with a population of less than 2 million people.

The main cities of Slovenia are Ljubljana, the capital, and Maribor, which is located among wine growing hills just south to the Austrian border. Ljubljana is an architectural gem, a city of Renaissance, Baroque, and especially Art Nouveau facades that boasts the greatest exhibition of the architecture of the master Joze Plecnik.

Slovenia was settled by Slavic tribes around the 6th century, brought under Germanic rule in 748 and became part of the Austro-Hungarian empire in the early 14th century until 1918. As a matter of fact, a lot of the architecture in the cities is built in the Austrian style.

After World War II Slovenia joined the Socialist Federal Repulic of Yugoslavia and in the spring of 1990, Slovenia become the first Yugoslav republic to hold free elections and shed 45 years of communist rule. After a brief 10 day standoff with the federal army in 1991, Slovenia gained independence as a separate country and was formally recognized by the European Union in 1992. Since May of 2004, Slovenia is a member state of the European Union and today it is one of the most successful of the former Yugoslav republics.
Its geography is quite diverse. Much of the country is mountainous, with the highest mountains located in the Julian Alps in the north-west part of the country. Mount Triglav (2864 m) is the highest mountain and a favourite destination for hikers. Bled is a fashionable resort town, set on a beautiful emerald-green lake that has an island with a church in the centre, overlooked by a dramatic castle.

The main Alpine chain continues along the Austrian border and another mountain range stretches south into Croatia. Due to its mountains and rivers, Slovenia has become a favorite destination for adventure travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. Skiing is also very popular in Slovenia. In addition, Slovenia also has many thermal spas and health resorts.

The main rivers in Slovenia are the Drava, Sava and Soca River. The Soca River in particular is associated with a very tragic chapter of history: it was part of the infamous Isonzo front during WWI which claimed the lives of an estimated one million people and was immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in his novel A Farewell to Arms.

Between Ljubljana and Koper on the Adriatic coast is a limestone plateau that contains the most extensive network of karst caverns. The Postojna Caves are famous worldwide for their interesting stalagmite and stalactite formations. The Skocjan Caves, which are on UNESCO's list of natural and cultural world heritage sites, boast the 1400-meter long and 150-meter deep underground canyon of the Reka River.

The Slovenian portion of the Adriatic coastline is very small. It only has four villages: Koper, Strunjan, Izola and Piran. Every kilometer of the Slovene coast is a new surprise. There is a natural reserve with the unique, eighty-meter Strunjan cliff, the highest flysch wall on the Adriatic coast. The coastal area is called Capodistria and in the 15th and 16th century this area was part of the Venetian Republic. The architecture in this area shows a definite Venetian influence and the coastal villages are very picturesque. The most famous beach resort is Portoroz which is composed of a strip of high-rise hotels, restaurants and bars as well as a casino.

Tourist information for Slovenia can be found at the following websites:

Slovenia: http://www.slovenia-tourism.si/
Slovenia: http://www.ntz-nta.si/?id=3222
Ljubljana: www.ljubljana-tourism.si/index.cgi?set_lang=us
Maribor: http://www.maribor-tourism.si/ang/danes.asp
Bled: http://www.bled.si/index2.sxp?lang=2





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