Slovenian Tourism: Small but full of wonders

Text: Žikica Milošević

Slovenia is tiny, but has it all: from the tiny piece of Pannonian plain on the north, through magnificent Alps in the middle, to the (once again) tiny coastline, dotted with historical towns and cities. Something for everyone.

Stara_Fužina_-_Planina_v_Lazu_1 Bled_under_the_snow

HEAVEN FOR THE NORTHENERS, AT FIRST

Once upon a time, tourist were not the way they are now. Actually, attire was very important at the time, and etiquette. And exactly that was a reason why the nobility and rich people of Vienna and the rest of the Habsburg monarchy chose the northenmost part of the Adriatic Sea and their Littoral possessions to enjoy the summer sun. Tha, and the proximity, enhanced with good railway connections. But, let us go back to the attire. In 1910, the people would prefer Opatija, Venice or Slovenian Littoral over Split, Dubrovnik or Dalmatian Islands simply because it was impossible to wear a tuxedo or a dress at the heat of the South. And the area between Rijeka and Venice soon became known as „Austrian Littoral“, dotted with hotels, pensions and ballrooms. And today’s Slovenian Littoral is right in the middle of it.

Of course, there was another trend in the tourist craze, and this is obsession with health, amplified with newly discovered benefits of mineral waters and baths, and spa centres and baths, abundant in Slovenia, became really important. And, of course, frequently visited. In fact, tourism was on the rise. And the third thing is a new craze for sport skiing, which was propelled into a general habit in the 20th century, with many mountain houses, ski clubs and pensions all around Alps. And all these trend have just accelerated, and they are quite lively now.

SLAVIC, BUT ON THE CROSSROADS

The most famous and influential Slovenian band ever, of course, it is Laibach, made a statement 30 years ago that Slovenia is right between the Slavic and Germanic civilisations. It is true, but, perhaps deliberately, they omitted the Romance civilisation on the south (Istria and Littoral) and Hungarian civilisation (Prekmurje). Having all that in mind, we can say that not only the nature was generous to Slovenia, but also the culture, which is a mixture of all things appreciated: Slavic soul, Germanic precision and meticulousness, Italian ease and hedonism and Hungarian passion.

Slovenia offers tourists a wide variety of landscapes: Alpine in the northwest, Mediterranean in the southwest, Pannonian in the northeast, and Dinaric in the southeast. They roughly correspond to the traditional regions of Slovenia, based on the former four Habsburg crown lands (Carniola, Carinthia, Styria, and the Littoral). Each offers its own natural, geographic, architectural, and cultural features. Slovenia has mountains, meadows, lakes, caves, and the sea, making it an attractive destination in Europe.

The nation’s capital, Ljubljana, has many important Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings, with several important works of the native born architect Jože Plečnik. Other attractions include the Julian Alps with picturesque Lake Bled and the Soča Valley, as well as the nation’s highest peak, Mount Triglav. Perhaps even more famous is Slovenia’s karst named after the Karst Plateau in the Slovenian Littoral. More than 28 million visitors have visited Postojna Cave, while a 15-minute ride from it are Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Several other caves are open to public, including the Vilenica Cave.

Postojna Cave, home to the “human fish” (in fact a salamander), tens of ski-resorts, wine regions (usually white wine) and nice historic cities, are all in the portfolio of Slovenian tourist offer. From Venetian Gothic town of Piran where you can catch a bit of sunshine, to Ptuj or Petovia, the oldest, Roman city in Slovenia (now a tiny but charming town), everything is magical. Celje is one of the leading castle-bearing places, and the traditional buildings and fortresses can be found all around. The rivalry between Ljubljana and Maribor only makes things more interesting. Wine routes, Roman route, ski routes and if nothing, beautiful mountains resembling those in Switzerland, but much more affordable, make it all really appealing.

It is interesting that the destination is really popular among Serbian tourist, since they hold the 5th position in the foreign arrivals, after Italians, Austrians, Germans and Croatians. The Serbians might not choose Slovenia as a sea destination, but they certainly love the skiing and spas. The writer of these lines learned to ski at Vogel, in Slovenia. What more a person can want? A ski resort close to you where the people speak your language, affordable, meticulously clean and organised. With nice people, beer and wine, it is for some maybe a hidden gem of Europe, but for us in former Yugoslavia, it is a destination that simply has it all. And we know it, we have known it and we will know it.

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