At this year’s Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, Slovenia was pronounced, “the Hottest Destination of the Year.” I was born and raised in Slovenia, and from an early age the beauty and friendliness of my home country instilled in me a passion for travel, the outdoors, mountains, the sea, amazing food, and the “simple life.”
One of the most picturesque and friendly countries in the world, Slovenia combines all the reasons tourists flock to Europe in a small, relaxing, affordable, and under-crowded package. Slovenia might be tiny in size, but it has very large aspirations for its luxury “boutique” tourism industry.
Just a two-hour drive from the Venice airport, it is only an hour by plane from Rome, Munich, Frankfurt, and Dubrovnik. Slovenia is conveniently situated at the top of the Adriatic Sea and is the perfect jumping off point for and extended vacation experiences in Italy, Austria, Hungary, and the beautiful coastline of Croatia. I recently returned home for a short vacation getaway, and quick visit with family and friends. I have been going home for years, but this trip was destined to be different, as the newest hottest destination, I decided to chronical some awesome and personal favorite “must-do’s” for anyone thinking about traveling to, “My Slovenia.”
I arrived home to the city where I grew up,Ljubljana. It is the capital and cultural center of Slovenia. This is the perfect starting point for touring the country; everything to see and do is within two hours of Ljubljana. It is an ancient city full of history, culture, and art – its laid-back café scene, classic art-nouveau architecture, and fine dining make it a perfect place to relax, get over your jet-lag, and start soaking in the unique culture of Slovenia. Ljubljana has quite a few high-end hotels at the doorstep of its historical center. I spend a morning walking the “old town” and visiting the famous open-air market for farm-fresh shopping and snacking necessities; it is also a good place to pick up some “Slovenia-unique” souvenirs.
Ouside the market, I take the funicular up to the Ljubljana Castle for lunch at Restaurant Strelec to enjoy amazing food and a spectacular view over the city. I prefer walking down from the castle, as taking the ancient stairs and narrow alleys is a great way to burn off a few calories. Ljubljana is an amazing place to explore on foot and the shopping experience is less crowded, less expensive, and just as good as any European capital. Ljubljana is also loaded with a myriad of options from fine-art galleries, craft-beer selections, unique outdoor dining options, and incredible music and concerts. Later in the evening, a meet-up with friends for dinner at AS Aperitivo and a few drinks to follow as we café-hop along the Ljubljana River. It is a perfect way to relax, unwind, people-watch the night away, and possibly make some new friends in the process! If it is summer, and Friday night, stop by the open market in the evening for the “Outdoor Kitchen.” It runs from May-September and is an fresh-air “Taste of Ljubljana” – the best food in all of Ljubljana in one compact little package!