Stunning alpine forests, emerald-green rivers and Lipizzan horses galloping around; this is the magical scenery that greets visitors coming off flights to Slovenia. The tiny country – once part of Yugoslavia – enjoys an ideal location nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. And although more and more visitors are slowly discovering this hidden gem, it has yet to be overrun by tourists and remains one of the most inexpensive destinations in Europe.
Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers who book flights to Slovenia will find a wealth of activities awaiting them. In summer, the choices are endless from canoeing and kayaking to white water rafting, while in winter skiing and snowboarding are on offer. Self-proclaimed foodies and wine connoisseurs will also have lots to keep them busy; Slovenia has more than 40,000 wineries in Podravje, Posavje and Primorska and some of the best seafood from the Adriatic can be found in the seaside resort of Piran.
Depending upon your location in Slovenia, you will encounter one of three different climates. The mountains have an Alpine climate, the coast is Mediterranean, and the north-east lowlands have a continental climate. The average temperature is more than 20 degrees in July, and about zero degrees in January.
Although Slovenia attracts visitors year-round, summer is peak season, resulting in higher accommodation (especially in Ljubljana) and flight rates.
Skiers flock to Slovenia in winter from December to March but it can get very cold and gloomy.
The best time to visit is September when the tourist season is slowly dying down and the weather is still pleasant. The least popular time is from October to December.
Driving is the best way to get around the country. Some visitors fly into Trieste, Italy, rent a car at the airport and drive through the border. Otherwise the major car hire companies are located in the Ljubljana airport terminal.
Slovenia does have an extensive and reliable train service – Intercity (“IC”) trains – is the fast option while potniski is the slower one. Tickets can be purchased at the station at the time of departure.
If you’re planning on travelling without a car to remote places then buses are the only way to get around instead of a car.
Getting around the small towns by bicycle is another option and Slovenes themselves prefer this form of transport. One word of caution: avoid the highways which can be dangerous.
(prices quoted are from London)