Slovenia Is One of Smallest and Lesser Known Destinations in Europe
Home to just two million people and no bigger than Wales, Slovenia makes for a pleasant holiday if only because it’s so little heard of that visitors have few expectations. But, once there, they will discover it has much to offer at lower prices, to boot, and in a unique style of its own. Indeed, this tiny state, sandwiched between Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia, is a miniature version of Europe itself with castles, lakes, mountains, a coastline, historic sights, stunning architecture and a cosmopolitan, urban lifestyle with sophisticated bars and restaurants. And you get to enjoy all this in comfort, without having to jostle with hordes of tourists, even in summer.
Slovenia owes its peace and quiet to its relatively fuss-free independence from the former Yugoslav federation in 1991. While Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and Kosovo were embroiled in ethnic wars, Slovenia’s fairly homogeneous population avoided strife, it’s 90 percent Slovene. And it was able to break away from Yugoslavia without much fighting as Belgrade withdrew its troops after 10 days. In the next decade, Slovenia slowly built up its economy. Today it is one of the most prosperous states in Eastern Europe. It joined the European Union in 2004 and adopted the euro as its currency in 2007.
Slovenia surprises from the moment you land and take a coach from the airport to its capital, Ljubljana. It’s an enchanting 30-minute drive through a picturesque traffic-free country road skirting the foothills of the Julian Alps. The rural landscape gradually melts away as the coach approaches the outskirts of Ljubljana. Though bustling, the capital has the feel of a small town, traffic flows freely in the streets, there are no crowds or jarring noises to contend with. In fact, Ljubljana is perfect for walking, especially its Old Town quarter centred on the banks of the Ljubljanica river that runs through the city. Weeping willows lining both banks add to the ambience and provide sufficient shade to make open-air dining at the numerous riverside tables possible, even in the afternoon.