Slovenia

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General Information (currency, climate, population, religion, history, etc.)

Slovenia is a country of the emerald green woods and lovely valleys, picturesque Alpine landscape, and adorable lake Bled. In 2016, it was named the planet’s most sustainable country, as it reached 96 out of 100 sustainability indicators.

Its quaint capital Ljubljana was declared Europe’s Greenest Capital in 2016, the winner of the Sustainable Tourism Award in 2018, and proclaimed European Capital of Smart Tourism competition in 2019.

In 2017, the city received the prestigious WTM Responsible Tourism Award for its efforts in sustainable tourism.

Slovenia is a desirable travel destination, with picture-perfect country sides, charming cities bustling with authentic culture, and delicious food and wine.

Country general information

Geographic Position

Slovenia is located in the Southeastern part of Europe and shares its border with Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Italy. The Alps dominate the northern part of the country. The highest point of the country is Triglav at 9, 396 feet.

The central and southern regions are rich with green forests and characterized by steep hills and beautiful valleys.

The term Karst originated in southwestern Slovenia’s Karst Plateau (Slovene: Kras), a limestone region of underground rivers, gorges, and caves, between Ljubljana and the Mediterranean.

The state stretches over 20,273 kilometers. The coastline is only 46.6 kilometers long.

Geographic Features

Slovenia consists of the mountainous terrain, which makes about 40% of the area. The Alps extend across the northern part of the country.

The country’s highest point is Triglav, which rests in the Alps, and peaks at 9,396 ft (2,864 m).

Its dense river network and plenty of underground water make Slovenia one of the most water-rich countries in Europe.

Located within the Julian Alps are two glacial lakes (Bohinj and Bled), and Major rivers are the Drava and Sava. Two stunning glacial lakes (Bohinj and Bled) located withing the Julian Alps are a favorite Slovenian tourist attraction.

Slovenia is the third most forested country in Europe. Over half of its territory cover beautiful dense forest.

The Capital

Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital, the largest city with about 290 000 inhabitants and the country’s cultural, economic, political, and educational hub.

The city sits the bank of the Ljubljanica River, beneath the Old Town of Ljubljana, perched on a picturesque hill. The Prešernov Trg is the center of the city, recognizable by three iconic sights: the pink facade of the Franciscan Church, the monument to the poet France Prešeren, and the Triple Bridge.

The capital of Slovenia is one of the most hospitable cities in Europe. Its youthful vibrancy, artistic creativity, and lively cultural scene, a beautiful river that flows through a city center, and abundant greenery make it a super-livable and enjoyable city.


Demographics

According to 2019 studies, the population of Slovenia stands a little over 2.08 million with a population density of 101 people per square kilometer. Most of the population lives in the central Slovenian region, which includes its capital city Ljubljana. Roughly 83% of the population comprises of Slovenes, followed by Serbs (2%), Croats (2%), Bosnians (1%).

The official language is Slovene, spoken by over 92% of the population. The other words used across the country are Hungarian and Italian since the country shares a long border with Hungary and Italy.

Climate and Weather in Slovenia

Slovenia mostly experiences a continental climate, with cold winters and warm summers. In the coastal areas, there is a pleasant submediterranean climate. The average temperatures are -2° in January and 21° in July.

Plenty of snow in beautiful mountains throughout the winter makes it a great and well-known ski-destination.

History

The earliest signs of human settlement in present-day Slovenia were found in Hell Cave. Slovenia is home to the oldest musical instrument in the world, dating from Neanderthal times and the world’s oldest securely dated wooden wheel and axle.

In the Iron Age, Slovenia was inhabited by Celtic and Illyrian tribes. In the1st century BC, when the Romans conquered the region establishing the provinces of Pannonia and Noricum. Western areas were directly under Roman Italia.
Romans established cities Emona (Ljubljana), Celeia and Poetovio, and few smaller settlements.

As Slovenia was a central passage from the Pannonian Plain to the Italian Peninsula, the region suffered invasions of many barbarian armies. Eventually, Romans abandoned the country at the end of the 4th century.

In the 5th century, the region was part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom and was contested between the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire, and the Lombards.

The Slavic ancestors of current Slovenians settled in the East Alpine region at the end of the 6th century. In 745, most of the area of current-day Slovenia was put under the Bavarian rule. Together with the Dutchy of Bavaria, it was incorporated into the Carolingian Empire.

During the 14th century, most of the Slovene Lands passed under Habsburg rule. The first mentions of a Slovene ethnic identity, transcending regional boundaries, date from the 16th century. During the protestant era, the first book in Slovenian language was written, which laid a foundation for the development of a modern-age Slovenian.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the western Slovene regions were the battlefield of the wars between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Venetian Republic. At the same time, many areas were devastated by the Ottoman–Habsburg wars.

The Slovenian nobility had an essential role in the fight against the Ottoman Empire. The Carniolan noblemen’s army thus defeated the Ottomans in the Battle of Sisak of 1593, marking the end of the immediate Ottoman threat to the Slovene Lands, although sporadic Ottoman incursions continued well into the 17th century.

In modern history, during the early months of 1918, a new kingdom merged the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs, thus creating a region that was named the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. After World War 2, Kingdom became the Socialistic Federative Republic of Yugoslavia.

In June 1990, 88% of Slovenians voted to be an independent country. The Republic of Slovenia, as we know it today, was formed in 1991.

Currency and Payment Options

The currency in Slovenia is the Euro, which roughly translates to $1.10. All major foreign currencies can be freely purchased and sold in exchange offices throughout the country.

Many banks have ATMs, enabling you to withdraw money easily.

Both credit and debit cards are widely accepted in cities, while in the rural area, sometimes it is better to have some cash.

Visa, Visa Electron, Master, and Maestro are commonly accepted cards.

Electricity

In Slovenia, the power plugs and sockets are of type F. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.


Water

Across Slovenia, tap water is safe to consume, but you should always double-check it with the locals.

Airport sand connections with EU and USA

Slovenia has three international airports, in Ljubljana, Maribor, and Portoroz.

Ljubljana airport (IATA code LJU) is located 26 kilometers from the city.

Companies that operate from this airport include Aeroflot, Air France, Air Serbia, easyJet, Swiss International Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, and some seasonal airlines are Arkia, British Airways, Finnair, and Sun D’Or.

Ljubljana is well connected to international destinations such as Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Amsterdam, Zurich, Berlin, but there is no direct connectivity to the USA.

Almost 99% of the flights to and from Slovenia operate from this airport, so if you are traveling to Slovenia, chances are you will be landing at Ljubljana airport.

Must see sights

Ljubljana

Although Slovenian capital city is much smaller than other European cities, its unique charm makes it worth a visit.

The major attraction of this city is The Old Town, perched on a hill above the city center and the Tromostovje, the triple bridge that spans over the Ljubljanica River.

Beneath the Old Town of Ljubljana, the city is bursting with history and cultural heritage – inspiring museums and galleries full of fine arts, the building of famous Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik and an occasional blast-to-the-past burst of retro-Yugoslav urban planning.

Postojna

Postojna is a small town located in Southwest Slovenia known for its extensive cave systems.

Postojna Cave is the biggest cave in Europe and the most beautiful cave in the world. Its subterranean world was carved by the Pivka River and the sipping of water during million years. Stalagmites, stalactites, and curtains create a beautiful interior so large it could fit a cathedral.

For more than 100 years, a train is driving visitors through magnificent rooms of the beautiful cave. The train ride, meandering around stalagmites, stalactites, and curtains, offers the best experience of the amazingly big and beautiful cage. One of the rooms, Concert Hall, is so big that it can hold 10 000 people. Concert Hall and Dance Hall are a place where concerts, theatre performances, screening, and receptions are regularly organized.

The cave is home to the endemic olm (proteus anguinus), the largest troglodytic amphibian in the world. Visitors can see them in a pool, which makes Postojna cage one of the rare places in the world where people still can see this fascinating animal. They can live for 100 years and not eat for almost 12 years.

Piran
Located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, quaint and scenic Piran is one of the loveliest Adriatic towns, with the best-preserved historical towns in the Mediterranean. It will win your heart with its sophisticated Venetian Gothic architecture.

Its highlights are the pastel-toned, marble-paved Tartinijev trg, St George’s Cathedral, mid-15th-century Gothic Venetian House, the Maritime Museum, and the exquisite restaurants and cafe bars. And lovely beaches, of course.

Ptuj is the town of the beautiful cobblestone streets lined with charming historic houses, ornate monasteries, and a grand whitewashed castle.

With captivating historical heritage and an abundance of exciting trips and things to do, Ptuj is a top-rated Slovenian destination.


Celje is one of the oldest cities in Slovenia. The tiny town is rich with ancient architecture, museums, and a beautiful castle perched on a nearby hill. Beautiful banks of Savinja river are the ideal setting for a relaxed stroll.

Koper is one of the oldest coastal towns in the country. Once it was crucial Venetian port – charming medieval old town showcases its glorious history.

The town today is a busy port, shopping destination and a beach city with a large recreational area.

Maribor, a town located close to the Austrian border, is known for its wineries and the oldest vine in the world – Stara trta. Older than 400 years, Stara trta is considered one of the most valuable treasures of the country. Besides great wine, Maribor is a town with a lot of sights and places to explore.

Gourmet scene (must try and about it)

The Slovenian cuisine is a blend of influences from the Balkans, Italy and Middle Europe. Its best meals are inspired by the sausages from Austrian cuisine, Italian pasta and pizzas, Hungarian Goulash and Balkan’s apple pies, and Burek.

Kranjska Kolbasa or Carniolan Sausage is the most famous Slovenian food, originating from the Gorenjska region from where it spread across Slovenia. Authentic Kranjska Kobasa should contain at least 80% grounded pork cuts and 20% bacon. It is seasoned with salt, black pepper, and garlic, pasteurized, and hot-smoked.

Kranjska Klobasa is served with sauerkraut and mustard.

Kraški Pršut or karst Prosciutto is a non-smoked, dry-cured ham. The ideal climate condition in the Karst region contributes to its sophisticated, recognizable flavor.

The meat is salted twice, using coarse salt from the Slovenian coast. It ages at a temperature of approximately 12-16°C. T

Finally, prosciutto is pressed into its distinctive shape and prepared for maturing. The maturing process depends on the size of the ham can take between 12-16 months.

Sliced into thin strips, Kraški Pršut is usually served as a cold appetizer, alongside cheese, olives and homemade bread.


Štruklji is a dish made from rolled dough filled with a variety of savory or sweet ingredients. The most popular fillings are cottage cheese, walnuts, apples, poppy seeds, and tarragon.

Štruklji can be baked or cooked.

Ajdovi žganci is the national dish of Slovenia. This simple dish, made of buckwheat flour, goes well with sour milk, mushroom soup, cabbage, or chicken stew.

Jota (Yota) is a stew, one-course dish, cooked by Slovenian women in mountain regions. It consists of sauerkraut, potatoes, beans, smoked meat, and aromatic spices, like garlic, laurel leaf, salt, and pepper.

Močnik is porridge from lower Carniola regions, made from various types of flour cooked in milk, cream, or sour cream. The most popular recipe includes milk, buckwheat, and corn.

Meatloaves are quite popular in Slovenia. The local version is called the Štefani Pečenka. Besides ground meat, it contains hard-boiled eggs. The dish is usually served for Easter and other holidays.

Potica, a typical Slovenian dessert, is made of rolled dough and different fillings. There are more than 80 fillings available, including tarragon, walnuts, cracknels, and poppy seeds.

Prekmurska Gibanica is a layer cake containing walnuts, poppy seeds, cottage cheese, and apples. In March 2010, the EU gave Prekmurska gibanica Protected Geographical Status within Europe.

Slovenia has over 10,000 beekeepers, so delicious honey is widely available everywhere.

Wine

Slovenia’s viticultural history predates Roman influences. Its origins can be traced back to the early Celtic and Illyrian times, sometime between the 5th and 4th centuries BC.

Today, more than 28,000 wineries in Slovenia produces between 80 and 90 million liters annually. About 75% of the country’s production is white wine. Only 6.1 million liters a year is exported—mostly to the United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and lately, the Czech Republic.

Most of the country’s wine is qualified as the premium (vrhunsko) wine.

Slovenian Orange wine

Orange wine is the world’s oldest wine style. Its unique color is now the fourth color on wine lists all around the globe besides whites, reds, and rosés.

Over the past decade, Orange wine became increasingly popular all over Slovenia, EU, and the US.

In orange style wines, maceration and fermentation on the skins last for days or even months. That contributes to the development of deep orange, amber, or even rust shades of the Orange wine. Orange wine is increasingly popular since it is tasteful, made organically, and it also became the fourth recognized wine color, alongside white, red, and rose.

The Best wineries in Slovenia

Ptuj’s Winery is the oldest wine cellar in Slovenia, with an 800-years long history. A winery has been awarded five times in a row as the Best National Producer. It received numerous international awards for its exceptional wine quality.

Santomas Winery produces some of the best-rated wines in the world, notably The Grande Cuvee 2006, and Grande Cuvee 2009.

Šimcic Marjan winery grows its grapes biodynamically. Some of their most famous wines are the Sauvignon Blanc Opoka 2013, Leonardo 2009, and the critically acclaimed Rebula Opoka 2011.

National parks to visit

The country has 44 protected areas that cover almost 11.5% of Slovenia. There is one national park, three regional parks, and forty landscape parks.

The only national park in the country is Triglav National Park, named after Slovenia’s highest point (9396.325 ft), the Triglav Mountain. The park is located in the northwestern part of the country, in the Julian Alps, near Austria and Italy. Triglav National Park is one of the largest national reserves in Europe – with its territory of 840 sq km. It covers over 4% of Slovenian territory.

The captivating mountain landscape is rich with gorges, stunning lakes, canyons, waterfalls, beautiful forests, and charming meadows.

The park is blessed with an abundance of waterfalls, but the one that is must-see is the Savica waterfall. The Sava River feeds stunning waterfall, surrounded by lush greenery all around

Mount Triglav, the highest point in the park, is famous as a fantastic hiking and climbing destination. It overlooks the mesmerizing national park and surrounding areas.

Logarska Dolina Country Park is one of the most beautiful places in Slovenia. The glacial valley beneath the Kamnik-Savinja Alps is simply adorable. It offers a relaxing setting for hiking, long walks, or biking. Rinka Waterfall (Slap Rinka) is the park’s main attraction.

Getting around (public transportation, rent a car, good to know)

By Rail
The Slovenian rail network was built in the 19th century and is pretty comprehensive. Since the country is small, most train journeys are short and pleasant.

Most of the train routes in the country run through Ljubljana as the city serves as a focal point of most of the trips. The type of trains varies according to the destinations. The ones traveling within the country are usually high-speed intercity trains that offer air conditioning and buffet cars. EuroCity trains connect important destinations in Slovenia and Europe.

By Car
Slovenia is a great place for road trips – the country is small, and the road network is pretty good too. The majority of the popular destinations are located on the western side of the country, and you can reach most of these destinations with a 90-minute drive from centrally located accommodation.

By Bus
With an extensive network, the bus system in Slovenia is modern and quite comfortable. Almost all major towns and a few smaller ones too can be reached by bus.

By Boat
Although Slovenia has a tiny coastline, it does have four ports, which means you can explore the area by boat. Private tour operators offer attractive boat tours and cruises in the Adriatic Sea.

Car Rentals
Using public transport systems can sometimes be slow and cumbersome – if you are in a hurry, you can hire a car from all major cities in Slovenia. There are plenty of car rental services. The Ljubljana international airport has offices of car rental services. You can pick up a car as soon as you land in Slovenia.

By Bicycle
Slovenia is an excellent place for biking. The roads are safe; cities are bike-friendly, and landscapes are beautiful and scenic. You can rent a hybrid bicycle to explore the country or book a cycling tour with a fixed itinerary.

UNESCO sites

Slovenia is home to 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Škocjan Caves is a karst cave system at least 6 kilometers long. They reach a depth of 200 m. Along the way to the bottom, there are numerous waterfalls and one of the largest known underground chambers. Around the Škocjan Caves is a Karst Biosphere Reserve.

Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps are a series of stilt house settlements around the Alps that were built around 5000 to 500 BC on the edges of waterfronts like lakes and rivers. Out of 111 such sites in Europe, two are located in Slovenia.

Exceptionally well-preserved settlements offered deep insight into life in prehistoric times during the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Alpine Europe.

The Heritage of Mercury: Almaden and Idrija are a joint UNESCO World Heritage Site in Almaden (Spain) and Idrija (Slovenia).
In Almadén, mercury has been extracted since Antiquity. In Idrija, it was first found in 1490.
The sites bear testimony to the intercontinental trade in mercury, which generated important exchanges between Europe and America over the centuries. The two sites represent the two largest mercury mines in the world. Both were operational until recent times.

And the latest addition to the UNESCO list is the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe. Those forests once covered over 40% of Europe, spreading from a small area to over 12 countries in the continent. Since the end of the last Ice Age, the beech started spreading from the Alps, Carpathians, Dinarides, Mediterranean, and the Pyrenees in a process that is still going on. In Slovenia, the forests of Krokar and Sneznik-Zdrocle are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list as part of the beech forests.

Safety

Slovenia is entirely safe to travel. The violent crime rate is very low, and tourists are safe here. The taxis are clean and secure as well, and the drivers are amiable and will go out of their way to help you out.

Who is it for

For people who enjoy outdoor activities, Slovenia offers an incredibly beautiful setting for hiking, climbing, biking, rafting, skiing, kayaking, and plenty more. With scenic landscape, picturesque towns, and a high level of sustainability in tourism, Slovenia is extraordinarily pleasant and relaxing destination. Families and people who enjoy gourmet experiences will also find lots of reasons to visit this beautiful country.