Slovenia offers dramatic alpine peaks, lush lowlands, storybook scenery, and a surprising Mediterranean coastline, plus an ancient wine-making tradition.
An astounding variety of stunning landscapes is packed into petite Slovenia, nearly the size of Wales. Its north-west border with Austria and Italy is dominated by magnificent mountain ranges, notably the snow-capped Karavanke and Julian Alps. The limestone Karst highlands in the west hides one of the world’s largest subterranean cave systems. Then there’s the delightfully surprising Adriatic coastline, reminiscent of Italy, where seaside towns with palm-lined promenades bask in a Mediterranean climate. What comes as another surprise is that Slovenia has been quietly making wines for over two millennia.
Our tour of Slovenia & Lake Bled starts in its beautiful capital, Ljubljana, situated on the willow-lined Ljubljanica river that divides the city into the historic Old Town and the New Town. Looming above on a wooded hill is the city’s most recognisable landmark, Ljubljana Castle, offering unrivalled views – you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Prague. We then head north-east to the riverside towns of Ptuj and Maribor located along the Drava. Ptuj lives up to its reputation as the country’s prettiest town, whilst delightful Maribor, the second largest city, has its own 15th-century castle and the world’s oldest living vine.
Next, we visit Slovenia’s superb sliver of coastline and the seaside town of Piran. If you’ve been to Venice, you may experience déjà vu when you glimpse the bell tower of St George’s Cathedral, clearly inspired by the Campanile of San Marco. We briefly cross the Italian border before re-entering Slovenia to the small village of Lipica, where we tour the Lipica Stud Farm and enjoy a performance by the aristocratic Lipizzaner horses.
Finally, we fall under the spell of Slovenia’s most visited attraction, enchanting Lake Bled – a pretty church sits on an islet surrounded by a pristine lake, whilst a medieval castle stands guard in the distance atop a rocky cliff, all against a backdrop of white-topped mountains.
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Jean & Trevor Stockwell
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