All About Slovenia
Slovenia is something of a Europe in miniature. It sits at the crossroads of Europe’s Slavic and Austro-Hungarian worlds, sloping from the Alps across forested hills and a vast karst plateau riddled with caves (Postojna and Škocjan are the best) to a sliver of Venetian-inflected riviera along the Adriatic coast. The cuisine mixes hearty Austrian traditions with Italian ingredients, Hungarian spices, and Balkan specialties. Though tiny, Slovenia was the economic powerhouse of the former Yugoslavia and always the most Western-oriented of the Balkans—the first to join the E.U. just as it was the first Eastern European country to launch a post–Cold War democratic revolution, quietly, in 1989.
The Attractions of Slovenia
Slovenia’s lively capital of Ljubljana is a felicitous riverside mix of baroque spires and Art Nouveau–detailed Vienna Secession buildings. The relaxed vibe and Renaissance feel of Adriatic resorts Portoroz and its more picturesque neighbor, Piran, reflect the fact that they lie just a few miles down the road from Trieste in Italy. Slovenia is also a land of natural beauty, more than 58% of it covered in forests, and outdoorsy type flock to ski in the Julian and Dinaric Alps, raft the swift Soča River, and hike the countryside around postcard Lake Bled.
When to Go to Slovenia: Slovenia is at its best in spring and fall. Late winter is key for skiing, and summer can be lovely—though Slovenes flock to the beaches in July (leaving cities abandoned), and those seaside crowds swell in August thanks to Italian vacationers.
Events and Holidays in Slovenia:
|"Prešeren Day" is a celebration of Slovenian culture marking the anniversary of the death of the Slovene national poet France Prešeren with cultural events across the country (and widespread closures, as it's a national holiday).
|To close its ski season, Planica hosts the Alpine World Cup events in ski jumping and ski flying.
|One of the most important music festivals in Central Europe, Ljubljana's annual celebration of contemporary music features performers in alternative rock, adventurous jazz, and experimental music from across the globe, as well as rediscovered Slovenian folk music.
|The Idrija Lace Festival celebrates the delicate craft of traditional lacemaking though competitions, exhibitions, workshops, and—of course—market stalls.
|It's one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe and has, since 1960, featured some of the world's biggest names in jazz, attracting music lovers from Slovenia and abroad.
|Eminent, world renowned performers bring a slate of classical music concerts to Piran, the cute coastal village hometown of composer Giuseppe Tartini.
|Slovenia's alpine Bohinj valley marks the late summer homecoming of the cattle with a wine and cheese festival followed by, well, a ball for the cows, who are dressed in colourful wreaths and led in a parade by herdsmen and dairy maids while folk music plays. There's also dancing, horseshoe-throwing, and log-sawing.
|The Maribor Theatre Festival is the oldest and the most prominent theatre festival in Slovenia and has evolved into an international event with foreign guests, producers and performances and consists of several thematic programs with awards given for the best show, stage directing and acting, as well as for musical and other artistic achievements.
|Northeast Slovenia celebrates the autumn harvest—and particularly the "christening" of the new wine—on St. Martin's Day in Maribor with the arrival of the Wine Queen, and Trg Leona Štuklja square is filled with musicians and stalls offering autumnal produce.