Slovenia Europe's green heart
How to experience the natural wonders and incredible biodiversity of central Europe’s untapped gem
fall in love with green Slovenia and its huge variety of terrains from rivers and lakes to caves and mountains
Slovenia is an emerald in Europe’s jewellery box, glittering green and turquoise with natural forests, rivers, and famous lakes.
Over 24,000 different animal species call Slovenia home, and many rare plant varieties too - not bad for a country just over 20,000km sq.
Slovenia takes conservation seriously and is dedicated to protecting its natural wonders and beautiful environment, which it proves by taking a leading stance in the EU-wide Natura 2000 plans. Now around 12.6% of Slovenia’s entire territory is officially protected.
And tourists reap the benefit of this dedication. You are invited to fall in love with green Slovenia and its huge variety of terrains from rivers and lakes to caves and mountains - all in a relatively small space.
Nature parks are a key part of Slovenia’s draw for holidaymakers, giving visitors the chance to spend time relaxing amid the natural beauty and diverse wildlife.
Triglav National Park is unmissable on your first trip to Slovenia. Named after the tallest peak in the country, and the mountain at its heart, the park has been protected for almost a century. The Julian mountain range that runs through much of the park offers more intense activities for mountaineers and climbers. But gentle hikes and cycle routes criss-cross the park’s 880km too.
As well as enjoying the fascinating landscape, keep an eye out for beautiful native mountain flowers, the Triglav Hawksbear and Julian Poppy; and for park animals including red deer, eagles, ibex and chamois.
Another beautiful park is Logarska Dolina. Peaceful, with bright green grasslands, and surrounded by a towering cliff, here you can spot Golden Eagles. In the surrounding glacial valleys there are farmsteads that combine farming with tourism, where guests can base themselves while exploring the surrounding countryside.
While you’re in the area, go for an adventurous hike among the peaks, and don’t miss the Rinka waterfall, one of Slovenia’s highest at 90m.
For contrast, head to Sečovlja Salina, the home of the only remaining active saltpans in this part of the Adriatic, where salt is still produced according to traditional methods dating back some 700 years.
This unique environment has created an incredible ecosystem of plant and animal species and the area is an internationally significant migration zone and wintering site for birds.
Splashing in Slovenia - with so many beautiful rivers, lakes, and waterfalls - is a given.
Lake Bled is its most famous tourist attraction - for good reason. The beautiful lake is flanked by snow-capped mountains, with a cute Disney church on Bled Island (accessed by ‘pletna’ - a special Bled boat) and wooded hikes surrounding the waters. For a stunning vista of the whole area, climb up to the iconic viewpoint Ojstrica (and make sure your phone’s charged up to take pictures!).
An alternative to the ever-popular Lake Bled is Lake Bohinj, just 26km to the southwest. Many visitors even claim it’s the more beautiful.
The distinctly emerald green River Soča is one Europe’s prettiest, with waterfalls, pools, canyons and gorges along its route. It is also perfect for adventure seekers, gliding across the waters by canoe or tackling the white water rapids. The Soča trout also attract fishermen from far and wide.
Take to the hills
If you’re into hiking, there are so many options for you in Slovenia. The mountain range next to the picturesque city of Maribor gives you the chance to explore the ancient woodlands of the Pohorje Hills, with beautiful lakes and mighty waterfalls.
As it happens, the tourist wine trail winds over the hillsides of Pohorje too, on its way into the heart of the Jeruzalem-Ormož, in the very north-east of the country. It would be rude not to try some of the local vintages while you’re there!
A true understanding of Slovenia’s incredible geography and ecosystem is impossible without visiting one of its mind-bending caves. The country has more than 11,000 subterranean caves that have their own ecosystem and offer adventures and intrigue for visitors.
Some of the most impressive are the Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO heritage site that includes the largest known underground canyon in the world. The micro-climate within the cave system has given rise to an incredible array of unique geographical conditions.
Closer to Ljubljana is the Postojna Cave, where there is an incredible exhibition tracing speleology - the study of wildlife that has adapted to live underground. It will help you understand the subterranean environment and the peculiar creatures that live there. You also get to explore the cave system in the area by train, which is great fun. Tours have been taken around the cave for more than 200 years.