Where’s Nadia? This Month, STELLAR’s Travel Expert Is Surprised By Slovenia

The tiny country has a lot to offer.

Of all the trips I took in 2018, there was one that really stood out in terms of the response I received on social media. People were surprised to see Slovenia for what it really is, which is a hell of a lot more than just a photo of a pretty girl on a row boat on Lake Bled.

For a country the third of the size of Ireland, it packs a punch. There’s amazing food and drink, stunning scenery, loads of outdoor activity, a cool nightlife scene in the capital and everything else in between.

I based myself in Ljubljana at the Grand Union Hotel, mere steps from the main square where you can also catch a glimpse of the castle. There’s decent shopping here too – pop into Galerija Emporium, a department store in a renovated art nouveau palace, or walk through the side streets for more local buys.

The city’s university draws in students from around the country who contribute to the buzzy bars on week nights, they usually head home for the weekend though, so oddly Friday and Saturday are the quieter days to visit. Pritličje cafe/bar/club is a good one to go to at any hour of the day or night for a coffee/wine/dance and is right in the centre of town.

For a wee bit of culture, try a walking tour and finish up at the 12th century castle, taking the cable car and looking back at the twinkling city lights at night. I went to Slovenia to see more than just Ljubljana though, so I booked a tour with Grega from Hike and Bike (admittedly to do neither of those things).

Based at Bohinj, Lake Bled’s bigger cousin located in stunning Triglav National Park, Grega runs a whole host of outdoorsy trips and tours and knows the area like the back of his hand. He took us by cable car up to Mount Vogel ski resort for a gorge Alpine lunch of meat soup and local Laško beer, for a wintery walk along the river, over to Bled castle and to a wine festival. All in all, an excellent break .

I vowed to return to the spot he showed us for canyoning in the summer, a natural waterpark if you will. The water is bright turquoise and very inviting, but there are schnapps tastings and cheese tours too, if that sounds a bit energetic – all with expert local guides, so you know you’re getting the real deal.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram Stories, you’ll know I’m fond of a nice glass of wine, so I couldn’t leave Slovenia without sampling the local produce. They make delicious (and weepingly affordable compared to home) sparkling and still wines with indigenous varieties but lots of international styles too. I’d better stop or the list will get too long – Slovenia really does have everything you want for a quick getaway.

  • Where to stay: Grand Union Hotel
  • Who is it for: I did a weekend with my mam, it would be equally fab for anyone
  • Getting there: Not direct, as such, but fly to Ljubljana via many other European cities or take a flight to Trieste and then use the GoOpti airport transfer
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