Not so long ago Slovenia used to be a hidden gem, known only to a few travelers. Now the country regularly appears on various ”must visit” and “top destination” lists in travel magazines, newspapers, travelogues, and popular guides. Slovenia has unique attractions: the capital Ljubljana with its UNESCO protected architecture by Jože Plečnik, breathtaking caves - the Slovenian region Karst (Kras) gave name to the karst phenomena, Lipizzaner horses originate from Lipica, a small village in western Slovenia, and the picturesque Lake Bled is one of Europe’s most iconic scenes.
Yet the country’s main attraction is its unmatched variety. Slovenia is the only country in the world offering experiences in exploring the lifestyles of the Mediterranean, the Alps, the Pannonian Plain in a small geographical area in the very heart of Europe. The unique variety of landscapes and climates results in a vast range of tourism offerings ranging from more traditional holidays on Mediterranean beaches, to highly specialized experiences aimed at narrow niches.
Slovenia is small and extremely varied. It has well-developed tourism, yet to a large degree remains off the beaten track. It offers boutique experiences, yet it is still affordable. It is one of the world’s safest countries and close to major European cities like Venice, Vienna, Munich, and Budapest.
Slovenia is listed among:
It was also highly commended by Forbes, New York Times, BBC, National Geographic, The Times, and The Guardian among others.
Alpine peaks and ski terrains, Mediterranean beaches, the Pannonian Plain with its thermal waters and vast woods, rich karst phenomena, cozy Central European towns, warm vineyards – all this is packed in a small area reachable within an hour from the capital Ljubljana, a tourist attraction in its own right. Slovenia doesn’t offer variety only in its landscapes and climates: the country has for centuries been a crossroads between cultures and languages. The three-border area between Slovenia, Austria, and Italy is the only single meeting point of the three largest European language families, German, Romance, and Slavic. This exposure to various cultural influences made Slovenians in general tolerant, hospitable, and often multilingual.
With almost 60 percent of the territory covered by woods, Slovenia is the third most wooded country in Europe. Nature in Slovenia is to a large degree still unspoiled, with many areas enjoying environmental protection Over one-third of the country is included in the European Nature 2000 network of special protection and conservation areas. The latest edition of Yale’s Environmental Performance index (2020) puts Slovenia in 18th place - just ahead of New Zealand.
To emphasize sustainable forms of tourism in such an environment seems to be a natural choice, no pun intended. The national tourist organization developed a special tool to offer specific guidelines and to evaluate the sustainability efforts - the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism which includes 56 destinations.
On a global scale, Slovenia was the first nation to fulfill the International Green Destination criteria with resorts on the list of the 100 Top Global Green Destinations.
Slovenia is still to a large degree untouched by mass tourism. Its rich variety and heritage offer excellent opportunities for demanding guests seeking active holidays, top outdoor, culinary, sports, and cultural experiences, or simply rest and relaxation. Developing green-oriented sustainable forms of high-end tourism is Slovenia’s key strategic orientation.
Slovenia is easily reachable by road, boat, train, or plane. It has an excellent network of motorways, a modern international airport - with alternatives in the close neighborhood (Trieste, Venice, Graz, and Zagreb), and a passenger terminal in the port of Koper. The infrastructure, in general, is well developed, mirroring the high standard of living. The tourism infrastructure includes both “classical” accommodations, in form of hotels, inns, and camping grounds, as well as alternatives, like a rapidly growing number of glamping facilities and a network of tourist farms. New hotels are in construction – yet there are still enough opportunities for greenfield investment in accommodations as well as in renovations.
Slovenia is an ideal location for healthy and active holidays. For those seeking specific health benefits, Slovenia offers spas with thermal and mineral waters. Not only that: many facilities use a wide choice of different natural healing substances like honey and other bee products, minerals, or salt pans mud. In apitherapy, Slovenia is arguably the world leader. For visitors seeking specific medical benefits, Slovenia offers excellent specialized services like physiotherapy, for example.
Health is closely related to an active lifestyle. Slovenia is home to first-class athletes like basketball superstar Luka Dončič, the world’s best cyclist Tadej Pogačar, top climbers, and ski jumpers. Unsurprisingly the country has a well-developed network of sports facilities. Its varied landscape offers great opportunities for hiking, mountaineering, cycling, paragliding, kayaking - or almost any form of active holiday you can imagine. These facilities offer excellent potential for the training of athletes and are used by many national teams to prepare for major events.
Another “secret ingredient” of a healthy destination is its cuisine. Slovenia has recently emerged as a top global culinary destination* with award-winning chefs and restaurants, not to mention superb local wines. The quality of Slovenian cuisine is intricately linked with the quality of locally and often ecologically produced ingredients. Slovenia was the European Region of Gastronomy in 2021.
The unique variety of landscapes and climates results also in a vast range of tourism offerings and experiences. The main tourism products include sea holidays, mountains, tourist farms, health and well-being tourism, culinary tourism, cultural events and venues, sports holidays, but also casinos or congress tourism. Narrow special interests are not neglected. Tourists interested in history can visit one of Slovenia’s medieval castles or archeological sites: the world’s oldest musical instrument and oldest wheel were discovered in Slovenia. These tourists can combine historical discoveries with hiking and follow The Peace Trail, connecting the restored remains of the Great War frontline around the picturesque valley of the Soča river (Isonzo Front). Those interested in nature can enjoy bird watching in one of the country’s natural reserves, explore caves and other karst phenomena – like the “disappearing” lakes – or photograph bears and other wildlife on specialized spotting tours. The picturesque landscape and rich heritage have already been discovered by location scouts as an excellent filming venue. In short, Slovenia offers a wide variety of choices – perhaps one of the widest in such a small area in global terms.