Slovenia: discovering the hidden gem of Central Europe

In recent years, Slovenia, in the heart of Central Europe, has become fashionable among travelers who are more fond of active tourism.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
26 May 2023 Friday 22:54
21 Reads
Slovenia: discovering the hidden gem of Central Europe

In recent years, Slovenia, in the heart of Central Europe, has become fashionable among travelers who are more fond of active tourism. This small country, often overlooked in traditional tourist itineraries, has managed to preserve its essence and has become one of the fashionable European destinations.

The attractions are numerous. The image of the beautiful Lake Bled is the protagonist of countless covers and reports, its cycling champions have conquered the most prestigious competitions training in the beautiful and demanding Julian Alps, and the picturesque Ljubljana, a capital full of charm that has appeared in numerous rankings such as one of the most attractive urban destinations in the world.

To find out more about this fascinating land, we caught up with Saša Šme, a Civitatis guide in Slovenia, who shares her knowledge of hidden treasures and her enthusiasm for showing visitors the true essence of this country. With her, we will explore the highlights and secret gems that make Slovenia an unforgettable destination.

Tell us a little about yourself, your professional career, how you became a tour guide...

I am born and raised in Slovenia. I stumbled upon tourism quite by chance, many years ago. When I was a student at the university, I was looking for a summer job and I came across an ad in the newspaper for one of the biggest Slovenian tour operators. I got my national license to be a guide and have been working in tourism ever since, and I love it.

What makes Slovenia different from other Central European destinations?

Mainly the natural diversity of the country. Being able to enjoy in a single day a short hike through the mountains, for example, followed by a swim in one of our glacial lakes, lunch in the capital and, to conclude the day, a wine tasting in the hills of Goriška Brda . Stress-free travel and the helpful nature of the locals, even if something doesn't go as planned.

Your capital, Ljubljana, looks like something out of a fairy tale. What are the places that we could not miss on a visit to the city?

The places not to be missed in Ljubljana are mainly concentrated in the old town. Ljubljana Castle, the Central Market, the Triple Bridge, Prešeren Square, the Church of St. Nicholas, the Plečnik House, deserve all our attention… Also, it is highly recommended to take a boat trip on the Ljubljana River


Another of the best known places in Slovenia is Lake Bled. What can you recommend about him? What should we do to enjoy your visit?

The most important thing when visiting Bled is to have time. The most authentic view and atmosphere can be experienced by walking the promenade around the lake, stopping and admiring the different areas. Bled Castle offers some of the most impressive views of the lake, the small island and the surrounding mountains. Nor is it possible to miss a ride in a pletna (traditional boat) to the island, since it is the only existing island in Slovenia.

Recently, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has chosen Bohinj as one of the best towns in the world for tourism. What could you tell us about this place?

Bohinj is hidden in the valley, just a 20-minute drive from Bled. It is ideal for those who love to hike, boat, swim, bike and take long walks. There are no big hotels or other infrastructure available, so it is a place for nature lovers. Definitely one of the most serene places in the country.

Slovenia is a great nature destination. What is the most recommended thing we should know?

Almost 38% of our territory is within the Natura 2000 Network. From the mountains and ski resorts in the north, to the hills and fields of the countryside in the south, the lakes and rivers scattered throughout the country and, of course, , the coastal parts to enjoy a swim in the Adriatic Sea…. All of this is accessible without having to spend a lot of time commuting and traveling. In addition to what I have already mentioned, I would recommend visiting the Triglav National Park, taking the Juliana Trail for those who love hiking, and cycling through the Soča Valley.

For culture lovers, what places are there to visit in Slovenia? What museums, what works of art, what monuments, towns?

Slovenia is full of historical monuments, the result of our position at the crossroads of different cultures. Some places are so important that they are protected by UNESCO, such as the mercury mines of Idrija, the koliščarji - prehistoric stilt houses - of Ljubljana and the oldest wheel in the world, and the works of the architect Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana, who pioneered in the creation of urban design centered on the inhabitants.

At lunchtime, where could we taste your gastronomy?

In Slovenia we have 24 gastronomic regions, and we are proud of the flavours, quality and freshness of the ingredients in our recipes… Every Friday, if the weather is good, it is organized in Ljubljana, on Pogačar square, next to the Central Market, at the open air, a festival called Odprta Kuhna (open kitchen), where visitors can taste the variety of Slovenian dishes and wines, without forgetting the typical desserts, such as kremšnita.

And when looking for accommodation, where should we do it, in what areas?

Depending on the interests of each one, you can find all kinds of accommodation (campsites, apartments, family hotels, larger hotels, etc.) I would recommend looking a bit outside the main centers, where you can always feel a more local experience. Places like Bohinj, Koper, Ptuj, Postojna or Goriška Brda are highly recommended.

Finally, what practical advice should we take into account?

Slovenia is very easy to get around, either by rental car or by public transport. We are a small country where you can see a lot in a matter of a couple of days. But above all, Slovenia is a country of extraordinary nature, good food and warm people.