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Cultivating a relaxed, pleasurable lifestyle in its cities and rural areas alike, Slovenia lives up to its nickname as the “Switzerland of the Balkans.” Its capital Ljubljana is an oasis of peace, harmoniously blending medieval architecture with the works of Joze Plecnik, an influential architect of the 1930s. This is a city made for strolling. Under the weeping willows along the Ljubljanica River, the outdoor cafés do a flourishing business. The burbling of fountains creates a romantic atmosphere on the narrow streets. In the central market in Vodnik Square, shoppers zigzag among stands offering countless varieties of cabbage and tomatoes —
- including the prized beefsteak tomato, hand-picked by market gardeners from the Trnovo district, where many of the city’s vegetables are grown. Indeed, in Slovenia nature is never far away. Visible in clear weather throughout the country, Mount Triglav is the highest point in the Julian Alps, standing in the middle of a nature park replete with marvels: from Lake Bohinj to the Tolmin Gorges, there’s a scenic excursion at every turn.
Downstream, the rivers pass by apple orchards and villages adorned with Catholic chapels. In the lovely, colorful town of Idrija, traditions are kept alive, like the age-old art of lacemaking, now taught in school to girls and boys alike for two hours every week.
In the evening, it’s time to savor zlikrofi, a hearty local specialty: small dumplings served with a lamb or rabbit sauce. In southern Slovenia, the atmosphere takes on a more Latin flavor. The medieval port of Piran, with its cheerful Venetian-style colors, stretches along a peninsula into the Mediterranean. The salt flats of Secovlje, patrolled by white herons, spread out in a spectacular geometric panorama. Here in Istria, another source of delight is the refosk grape, a cousin of the Friulian refosco used to make dry wines and liqueurs. In fact, the Slovenian national anthem is entitled Zdravljica — “I make a toast,” urging the citizens to raise a glass “to [their] sweet land.” Composed by the great poet France Preseren, it captures in verse the essence of the Slovene soul: a mixture of warmth, generosity and pride.
Hotel and restaurant on a river. In a haven of peace where the spirit of the past blends marvellously with the rhythm of modern life, Otočec Castle offers an atmosphere that has retained its character and authenticity. This unique castle is on an island right in the middle of Krka River. This magical setting invites relaxation in the heart of Slovenian nature and cultural history: a gentle morning walk accompanied by birdsong, an unforgettable game of golf at one of the best European golf courses or a gourmet candle-lit dinner and a delicious glass of wine in front of the crackling wood fire. Everything here, right down to the attentive staff keen to fulfil every wish, contributes to well-being. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a village. In the locality of Idrija, known for its lacemakers, stands an 800 year old village, Spodnja Idrija. The Kendov Dvorec Manor House, which dates back to 1377, can be found between the alpine peaks and the Kras plateaux, where amazing landscapes are etched into the limestone rock. Its ancient interiors give this typically traditional Slovenian residence a unique style, with carved wood and decorative lace. The warm smell of bread and Potica, a traditional dish, wafts through the house. The orchard is full of centuries-old apple trees, and the delightful Idrijca river runs through the village, which is home to the Marija na Skalci chapel, a famous place of pilgrimage. ... Learn moreless