Slovenia

With its breathtaking scenery of lush forests, caves, waterfalls, picture-book castles, and mountain backdrops, Slovenia is the perfect destination for any traveler. Although it is the smallest country in Eastern Europe, Slovenia is profitably located between eastern and western Europe and controls some of Europe’s major transit routes. It shares borders with Italy, Hungary, Croatia and Austria.

While its former-Yugoslav counterparts, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, were entangled in bitter fighting with Serbia, Slovenia succeeded in declaring its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 after defeating the Serb-dominated Yugoslav’s People’s Army in a war that lasted only ten days. On 1 May 2004, Slovenia entered the European Union along with nine other states with 90 percent of Slovenes voting in favour of joining. At the time it was the only candidate country from the former Yugoslavia.

The capital Ljubljana is a city filled with baroque architecture, overflowing with art galleries and museums, with a thirteenth century castle overlooking the city. Travel southwest towards theAdriatic Coast where the Secovlje saltpans are located – a botanical Mecca scattered along the coast line with 45 endangered plant species, 200 species of bird, and a natural fish farm.

When to Go

The busiest and most crowded time to visit Slovenia is July and August, when most Europeans are on vacation. Temperatures are at their highest during this time averaging at around 85ºF (29ºC). During May to October the weather is pleasant and dry, making this a good time of year to visit. Winters are cold and snowy with an average temperature of 18ºF (0ºC). Ljubljana hosts the International Summer Festival between July and September, exhibiting the finest opera, theatre and classical music the country has to offer.

People

Slovenia has a population of two million people living within its 12,500 square miles, 70 percent of whom are Roman Catholic. Together the four largest cities, Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje, andKranj, hold only a quarter of the country’s population. Around 80 percent of people are Slovenian with Croats and Serbs contributing to the majority of the rest of population.

Language

Slovenian is comparable to Croatian and Serbian and is a southern Slavic language. Written in the Latin alphabet, it is a difficult language to learn with its many cases and genders. Most people do speak Croatian and Serbian as well, and sometimes German and Italian. English is quite predominantly spoken amongst young people.

Travel

Getting around Slovenia is not always easy. The bus system is often the best option when it comes to public transport. It is possible to buy tickets from the driver when boarding or you can purchase tickets one day in advance to ensure a seat, which is recommended if planning a Friday afternoon trip when travel is at its busiest.

Slovenske Zeleznice (Slovene Railways) run on just 745 miles of track and offer some of the loveliest scenery for those wanting to take in the lush landscape Slovenia has to offer. Although the train service connects many parts of Slovenia, it is better utilised for long distances as the bus service is often faster for short distance trips. The rail service is linked to all major European cities.

Cash

The currency in Slovenia is the Euro. For up to date currency information, check the Currency Converter.

There are only a small number of hostels in Slovenia, however those on offer are of good quality with prices that are comparable to those of other European countries. Over the summer period it is advised to book in advance, when beds are in very high demand. Camping grounds are abundant and are a popular choice for many travelers, particularly in the summer months. Most camping grounds are small but are generally organised for activity and fun. Sports and leisure facilities are often included, and if not, are usually close by and most have playgrounds for those travelling with children.

Hotels are not overly pricey, however prices are on the increase and expect to be even higher once the Euro in fully in place. Those who can afford to indulge in higher-priced hotels will be delighted with the health programs many of them have on offer, such as steam baths, massage, Finnish saunas, and bowling.

Food

Heavy and wholesome dishes such as njoki (potato dumplings), klobasi (sausage), and golaz(goulash) are traditional Slovenian cuisine. Influenced by its bordering Hungary, Dunajski zrezek, or Wiener schnitzel as it is more commonly known as, is often seen on menus. For holiday events, Slovenian breads are made stuffed with meat, vegetables, or for lovers of all things sweet, sugary fillings. Struklji are cheese dumplings and are a favourite. On Slovenia’s short coastline fish is also predominant on Slovenian menus along with other sea food.

Dress

There are no dress restrictions in Slovenia, however, even during the summer months it is wise to carry a light jacket, particularly during the evenings or when visiting the mountains where the air can be fresh.

Visas

Citizens of European Union countries, along with Canada, the United States, Israel, and Australia do not need a visa for stays of less than 90 days.

By Natasha Vuckovic

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