Slovenia. It’s not a country you hear a lot about, is it? Tucked neatly between Italy and Croatia, it leads a pretty quiet life, often overlooked in favour of its more popular neighbours.
I’m telling you now, don’t overlook it. Seriously. Just don’t.
(Update: I’ve now curated 10 great articles as part of a short guide to Slovenia)
I’ll admit that I knew very little about Slovenia before I went, bar that there are cheap flights from Luton, its capital is Ljubljana, and there is a tiny bit of coastline that I was determined to hunt down and lie on.
In reality, there is so much more to Slovenia than these fairly abysmal points (not that Ljubljana, the beach, or cheap flights are abysmal by any standards, but it’s abysmal that this is all I knew about it and I’m sure I’m not the only one who was in the dark).
Lake Bled is a hugely popular place and I knew it was in Slovenia, but I also knew that I was staying too far away to make a potential visit. So, I had to look around for other ways to entertain myself. I guess it’s a good thing to go in without any preconceptions and literally having no idea what to expect. I highly recommend it! But why, I hear you ask, did I love Slovenia so much?
The friendly faces
I’ve always found that people in that region of the world are particularly welcoming, but I was completely blown away by the hospitality and friendliness of the locals everywhere we went in Slovenia.
I didn’t have a single bad experience.
They were all good; like the guy who offered to pay our bill, the taxi driver who offered to drive us around for the day at no extra cost, the gentlemen who owned the house we were staying in announcing that “he believes in the young people”, and the lady who invited us into her home for food and drinks when we were lost.
People are so honest there, too, and you never feel like you’re getting ‘mugged off’ in anyway. In fact, I said thank you too early in one shop and the guy started panicking because he hadn’t given me enough change. “Not hvala yet”, he said, “because otherwise I will have bad karma for not giving you the right change.”
Safety is a certainty
Like I’ve never met people as friendly as those in Slovenia, I’ve also never felt as safe as I did when I was there. With a population of only 2 million, it’s no wonder that the crime rate is so ridiculously low – and it’s noticeable, too. We were laughed at (in a nice way) when we asked to put our bags somewhere safe in a bar. Apparently, there was no need because “who is going to steal it?!”.
Our house was up a steep, steep hill, off-road, so it was a pretty long and dark walk back at night. Usually, I would be on guard, paying attention to my surroundings, but I felt I could relax more there because there was absolutely nothing to be wary of (I’m sure there are some isolated cases and, of course, I’m just speaking for myself here. You should always keep a little bit of your wits about you when in an unfamiliar place).
The scenery is spectacular
Like I said, I didn’t make it to Lake Bled (or any lake for that matter) so it’s easy to think that I missed out on a large part of Slovenia’s beauty. Luckily for me, the whole country is an absolute babe. I visited Predjama Castle – you know, that castle that’s famously stuck in the side of a mountain, and the Postojna caves which, although underground, are absolutely incredible (and the biggest cave system in the world that you can explore). Even the cities and towns were picturesque, with quirky architectural offerings and lush greenery.
The storms were cracking
I must admit, I didn’t know much about Slovenia’s climate before I went, but I assumed it would be fairly warm in May like its neighbouring countries. What I didn’t realise was how many storms there would be. Literally every day. But, thankfully, they weren’t the miserable kind of storms you might expect to see in England, they were actually epic events. The clouds were heavy, black, and rolling, the thunder was booming and cracking, and the lightning was exceptionally forked and bright. Even the rain – which was that ridiculously sheet-like rain that soaks you in seconds – was refreshing. Slovenia is a very hilly country, and lies right where the warm air from the Mediterranean meets the cold air from Northern Europe, so you can expect some exciting weather.
There was so much more I loved about Slovenia, but these are the main reasons. From the amazingly friendly people to the views, scenery, and weather, Slovenia really is an incredible place that I highly recommend you visit if you haven’t already.