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Slovenia - A Land of Countless Attractions

Lipica horses. Photo: UKOM archive

July 2009

Foreigners say that Slovenia is a land of countless attractions, a country that surprises you at every step. This small corner of Europe brings together the picturesque characteristics of the Alpine, Mediterranean, Karst and Pannonian worlds.

Slovenia is an undiscovered green treasury of hidden tourist gems

Hayracks in Studor near Srednja vas, Bohinj. Photo: D. Mladenovič

Slovenia is distinguished by unspoilt nature and a good quality of life. This is what Slovenia offers to tourists: the chance for a different kind of holiday, with a genuine contact with nature at every step. Unspoilt nature – one of Slovenia's most important "draws" – is perfect for leisure activities, recreation and tourism in natural surroundings.. Slovenia is a land of water. The total length of its watercourses, including rivers and streams (permanent and torrential), is 26,600 km. In terms of the total quantity of fluvial water per inhabitant, Slovenia is one of the richest countries in Europe, with a figure almost four times higher than the European average.

Slovenia is also a land of forests

Slovenia - a land of forests. Photo: D. Mladenovič

More than half of its surface area – 1,163,812 hectares – is covered by forest (the only countries in Europe with more forest cover are Finland and Sweden). Almost 11% of the territory is protected, and much of this is forest. Slovenia can also boast an area of original forest – the virgin forests of the Kočevje region. The largest area of protected nature is the Triglav National Park (83,807 hectares)..

The Škocjan Caves, which boast the largest underground canyon in the world, were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1986. The list of wetlands protected by the Ramsar Convention includes the Sečovlje saltpans, proclaimed in 1993, Lake Cerknica, part of the karst basin of the river Ljubljanica, proclaimed in 2006, and the system of underground wetlands in the Škocjan Caves, proclaimed in 1999.

Slovenia is an architecturally rich country

Plečnik's Žale, Ljubljana. Photo: D. Novakovič

Its capital city, Ljubljana, is a unique showcase of the achievements of the eminent European architect Jože Plečnik. In the first half of the 20th century the great architect Jože Plečnik left a powerful personal architectural stamp on modern Ljubljana. The city's appearance was complemented by his pupils, who were also committed to more modern trends in architecture, and by the works of a "new wave" of rising young architects. Ljubljana  is a lively city that constantly surprises. In Ljubljana, the old blends harmoniously with the new and it is as though the entire history of the five millennia that have passed since the first settlement appeared here has prepared it to be a national capital.

Ljubljana has managed to conserve traces of all the periods of its rich history; the legacy of Roman Aemona, the Old Town with its Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau façades, ornate portals, the romantic bridges that adorn the river Ljubljanica, crooked roofs and a park that reaches deep into the embrace of the city. The city owes its present appearance in part to Italian Baroque and in part to the Art Nouveau style of two hundred years later, specifically that of the Vienna Secession, which is reflected in the architecture of many of the buildings built immediately after the earthquake of 1895.

Slovenia is also a country of 200 museums and museum collections. The most important heritage is kept by the National Museum, the Ethnographic Museum and the Natural History Museum. Museums of European importance include the First World War Museum in Kobarid, a former winner of the Council of Europe Museum Prize.

Slovenia is a country that invites exploration and discovery

Predjama Castle. Photo: B. Kladnik

Slovenia's towns and villages owe their appearance to earlier times – with churches, monasteries and castles dating back to the Romanesque period, the first medieval towns, Renaissance manors and town houses, Baroque architecture, neoclassical parks and palaces, Art Nouveau hotels and banks. The large number of renovated façades in Slovenia's towns are evidence of the respect with which the architectural achievements of the past are treated. Slovenia's well-conserved castles often provide homes for museums, art galleries and prestigious events venues. Towns, market towns, villages and isolated farmhouses boast unique architectural features that make them well worth a visit.

Next Exit

Sečovlje salt works. Photo: J. Skok - STB archives

Anyone who really wants to discover Slovenia should combine the sights and scenery offered by the principal routes through the country with experiences off the beaten track. Six routes leading off main roads that offer travellers through Slovenia the chance to see what sets Slovenia apart and discover its traditions, sights and pleasures. Each year the Next Exit project issues brochures presenting the Amber Route, the Wind Route, the Emerald Route, the Golden Horn Route, the Peddler Route and the Sun Route.

Slovenia's Wine Routes, are not only attractive to wine lovers but to all who want to truly experience the pulse of rural life. Elsewhere there are interesting walking trails, which link the birthplaces of important figures from Slovenia's history A unique experience of Slovenian heritage is offered by the Association of Historical Towns and Cities The Path of Venus connects castles and medieval towns in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy and Slovenia. Different kinds of encounters with nature are possible throughout Slovenia thanks to the various nature trails and forest trails, which are usually marked by boards containing descriptions of interesting natural features. Many of these trails run through protected landscape areas, regional parks and forest reserves.  The natural sights of Slovenia can be discovered on one of the "transversals", mainly hiking trails, the longest of which is the Slovenian Mountain Transversal leading over hills and mountains from north-east Slovenia to the coast.

Tourism and catering generate 12% of GDP in Slovenia and create approximately 8% of jobs (52,000). In tourist areas this proportion is significantly higher. Forecast tourism growth for Slovenia up to 2020 is 6% (STB figures). Tourism represents 10% of Slovenia's exports of goods and services, compared to a EU average of 30%.

Close to home, close to the heart

Blizu doma, blizu srca (Close to home, close to the heart). Photo: Vladimir Toš

In the run-up to the tourist season, the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) has launched a promotional campaign called Close to Home, Close to the Heart, which aims to bring the natural beauties of Slovenia closer to domestic tourists, along with a wide spectrum of holiday and short break ideas in Slovenia. Domestic tourists are very important for Slovenian tourism since they account for over 50% of the total number of tourists.

Slovenia for a more active role in the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)

In recent years Slovenia has made great progress in the field of tourism and it is time that it became more active in the international community. The government has recently lent its support to Slovenia's application to chair the UNWTO Commission for Europe and for membership of the UNWTO Executive Council. This is another way in which Slovenia, as a tourist destination, can raise its profile in the world, given that the development of tourism in Slovenia is at a very high level. The priority tasks of economic and other development include: regional development, employment policy, high environmental standards and all the elements of sustainable development. In view of the high level of development of Slovenian tourism and the existing development potential, tourism has the opportunity to become one of the leading sectors of the Slovenian economy in the next few years and in this way make an important contribution to the achievement of Slovenia's development objectives.