Central Europe might lack glitz, but when it comes to scenery and value for money, you’d be hard pressed to find better.
Slovenia is fast emerging as a must for savvy travellers. Tucked away in the heart of Europe, this tiny country hides a treasure trove of beauty and culture.
Considering it’s three times smaller than Ireland, it’s incredible how much diverse scenery can be found here – from imposing mountains to glacial lakes, mysterious caves and rolling hills.
Then there are the unique towns and cities begging to be explored, with a friendly welcome from the locals guaranteed wherever you roam and delicious locally-produced food and drink to be sampled.
Lake Bled is the most photographed location in Slovenia and once you’ve seen it up close you’ll understand why. The emerald lake, surrounded by mountains with a tiny island at its centre, may well have spawned the phrase picture-postcard views.
Limestone particles give the lake its vivid colour, and tinge the waters of the Soca and Ljubljanica rivers.
Head further into the Triglav National Park, spread across the peaks and valleys of the Julian Alps, to find an endless bounty of rugged trees, blooming wildflowers and jagged gorges.
And dive deeper into the earth to explore the fantastical Postojna or Skocjan caves, carved out of the Karst region’s Swiss cheese-like rock.
The influence of neighbouring Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary has crept across the border over the centuries, resulting in a vibrant swirl of cultures that’s evident throughout Slovenian villages, towns and cities.
Iconic Bled, authentic Bohinj and lively Kranjska Gora invite you to explore traditional architecture, frescoed churches and local museums – with plenty of pavement cafes and shops to stop at along the way.
Legends live on here too – from Predjama Castle, once owned by Slovenia’s version of Robin Hood, to the peak of Mount Triglav, home to the mythical buck, Zlatorog.
Ljubljana is a bustling cosmopolitan hub with a traditional soul, where chatter fills the cobbled streets, dragons guard the bridges, and a proud castle keeps watch from above.
Plot your own path starting with a friendly farm stay in the hamlet of Kupljenik – just an hour’s drive from Ljubljana airport and a ten-minute drive from Lake Bled.
Ride the Julian Alps via a new self-guided cycling tour along a route dotted with three and four-star hotels, taking in Lake Bled and finishing up in Radovljica.
Or head to an eco farm in the heart of rural Slovenia, where the focus is on wellness and fresh produce.
Turkish baths and jacuzzis will help you unwind and make the most of the peace and tranquility.
TUI offers seven-night packages flying to Salzburg and staying in Kranjska, Bled, or Bohinj from e562 per person sharing. Visit www.tuiholidays.ie, call 1850 453545 or visit a TUI store or travel agent for more details.