Don't join the DOTS to explore Slovenia!
Before you visit most countries on hols you will probubbly get the map & the guidebooks out to start planning a route around the DOTS.. connecting the cities as your route to travel around and discover a new country..
BUT THE VERY LAST THING YOU SHOULD DO TO EXPLORE GREEN SLOVENIA IS TRY TO JOIN THE DOTS!!!
For a start, Slovenia doesn't really have any cities by your standards anyway.. maybe Ljubblyjana, but even this will probably feel more like a medium size market town for you and get this.. Slovenia is one of those few countries in Europe where more people live in villages than "large" urban settlements!
This amazing fact is just one of the reasons we are so proud to live here and help to show off the best bits to visitors AND also one of the many reasons we call it all Green Slovenia!
Even now, we still meet visitors out & about and get some guests arrive (who tend to be the online bookers) who have planned their holiday here by merely town hopping.. But you need to know that by doing this you are making the mistake of trying to cover the whole country as if you were opening up hardware stores in each major dot.. it will absolutely not get you to the best bits!
So if you are not planning on opening up a new supermarket chain, we humbly suggest that the best way to get around & experience the wonders of Green Slovenia is to AVOID the DOTS.. in this way you will get to see many more of the hundreds of secret Green Spots all over this amazing little pocket rocket of a country that has all the best bits of Europe in one small package.
And Slovenia really is so small in size that you can get around very easily indeed, without the need to set up a new camp every night, packing and unpacking your suitcase in towns that you will certainly not find tipped anywhere on this website to stay in.
Our humble credentials.. We have been lucky enough to have swapped working in cramped city offices and commuting for hours every day to work for 10 fantastic years in the Greenest country in Europe now, helping visitors to explore and discover all those little green nooks and crannies.. so, with respect, we do know a thing or two about what to do here, where to go and how to do it!
We noticed immediately on our first visit here over 15 years ago that Green Slovenia was like a little Switzerland, but also with a Mediterranean coast, so we decided to set up a small hotel in the countryside from where visitors could easily reach ALL the best bits by foot or bike or in short or longer daytrips!
And as we are both Western Europeans AND spent a whole year travelling around the world in 2004/5 we think we have a pretty good idea about what you guys would want to do and see here, if you only knew.. cos we are pretty much the same as you!
So that is part of our motivation for telling you all about the amazing green places to explore here in Green Slovenia and the scary thing is that we discover more secret places every year AND have an amazing travelling army of new and returning Lodge guests each year, who are whizzing around enjoying themselves and giving us feedback, ideas and extra travel tips!!
We are not a tourist agency or government organisation either, we are not desperate for EU funds or looking ourselves to make money out of our website at all.. so we do not need to use a scattergun approach to just mention stuff or places that we do not think worthy of your valuable hollibubble time..
We want you to have the best European holiday you have ever had and we think that is more than possible in Green Slovenia, so if a place ain't any good, we will not recommend it!
So we just tell it as it is and try to help visitors to Green Slovenia get the most out your limited time here.. Let's face it, you have probably already committed the most common made mistake for visiting Slovenia and that is to schedule way too little time here!
So our first advice has always been to at least double or treble the time you had first allocated to explore here and now this blog will try to help you avoid the next biggest mistake made.. DO NOT TOUR SLOVENIA BY JUST JOINING THE DOTS!
Greeen Slovenia has it all, waterfalls, gorges, rivers, 4 different Alps, hundreds of disappearing lakes and some rather stunning other lakes in the third most forested country in Europe.. so you do not need to waste time checking into and out of the towns, just cos you might do this in other countries when you visit them!
Visit some of the towns of course, there are lots of sensational things to do and see in some of them.. for example, the Castle sunset at Celje, the Mercury mine in Idrija, the antique old towns of Ptuj, Kamnik & Skofja Loka and the 7 sources of the Vipava river in Vipava to name just a few.. but that does NOT mean you need to stay IN a town!
There are many other reasons you might not have thought about visiting a town here too! Maybe if you want to see a fantastic example of how socialist towns were built after WW2 then go visit Velenje , which is also great for chocolate and has an impressive coal mine tour. You can also see how a new town was created here after WW2 in Gorica which sits at the foot of the uberstunning Soca river..
BUT it really is not necessary to plan your route around these dots on the map.. the real Magic of Green Slovenia is waiting for you outside the towns.
Yes, it really is too good to be true, Slovenia is so diddly tiddly small that it is incredibly easy to make a base camp and explore the best Green bits from there and this is exactly what we noticed 15 years ago and exactly why we put the Lodge where we are now!
Our local "dot" town of Postojna is another one of those logistical hotspots on the map, where unknowing visitors, even the Pope, rock up for just a day and visit the most unique castle in the world & the most visited tourist cave in Europe..
There is NO WAY we chose to be 10 mins west of Postojna in Green paradise JUST to be close to two of the most visited places in Slovenia.. no way at all.. (that was just an extra lucky bonus)!
We wanted to be 10 mins from a town with 6 supermarkets, banks and train & bus stations for guests who did not want to use a car.
But we also wanted to be 20 mins from Lipica, the home of the Lipizzaner horse. We wanted our guests to be easily able to hit the stunning Slovenian, Italian or Istrian Croatian Mediterranean Coast, the Soca river, the best secret Caves, the Vipava valley and 3 other unique Slovenian wine regions.. pretty much all the best "green dots" we think you should be planning on visiting!
And all this between the mountains and the coast, just an hour from lake Bled!
We have absolutely put our money where our mouth is when it comes to this advice by creating our own "Join the Dots" Secret Treasure Map to help you plan your Slovenian adventures.. our "green dots" are the hundreds of secret green places we have found for visitors to Green Slovenia to discover and we hope you will be brave enough to sacrifice your overnight concrete tower block hotel and have a go visiting a few of these!!
And for our final trick, we will now explain the logic that you might not even have the time to visit the biggest dot of them all.. Ljubbljyjana!!
"What is this witchcraft?" we hear you say.. Yep, if we had 3 weeks to explore Green Slovenia, then with all that we know about the amazing green bits, we might not have time to visit Ljubljana at all.. maybe popping in for an evening meal by the riverside on the way back from one of the many green daytrip delights.
Everyone is different of course and this is our standard advice for European visitors, cos, let's face it, most Europeans have at least one pretty old city at home.. But you almost certainly do not have as many amazing green places so close to one another like we do in Slovenia.
For NON Europeans, we could stretch to maybe tipping a day out on the train to Ljubljana so you could "get the feel" of a stunningly beautiful European city on your European adventures!
And of course, there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with Ljubljana, it is one of the most stunning small capital cities in Europe.. how lucky indeed is Slovenia..
It's just there is so much else out there to see and do here that we might be giving you the wrong advice by tipping a day out in the big smoke compared to a day by a river exploring waterfalls or discovering the magic of a disappearing lake or hiking up a mountain!
Do you see what we are getting at now?!
You might still be saying, "ok thanks, but no thanks for the advice, we still want to follow the multiple guidebooks written by those experts who have spent 3 days touring Slovenia and so we will absolutely still be staying at the biggest Dot on the map"..
Well, we won't argue with that.. Let's face it, you will almost certainly have a really fantastic holiday in any case.
You would also be absolutely correct to say "well, how on earth could we miss out Ljubljana with the river, the cafes, the restaurants, the museums and the castle".. we would say, OK, have a great time, but as you have read this far, then maybe just have a final wee read below about some much better suggestions for your valuable time..
The river.. make sure you do not miss out on the most beautiful river in Europe, the SOCA, it is nowhere near the City Dots you might have plotted, but an easy daytrip from the Lodge AND there are lots & lots of other amazing RIVERS here to tell you about that you have probably never heard of too..
The cafes.. make sure you do not miss out on some of the other amazing SECRET CAFES we have found all around the place, some too, are in Ljubljana..
The restaurants.. Slovenia has some of the most fantastic eating options in the whole of Europe with home grown food available in restaurants run by passionate locals, where you can look out of the window and actually see where your food and wine came from..
You cannot do this in Paris or London.. or even Ljubljana.. Make sure you do not miss out on the amazing cluster of 6 uberfantastic Slovenian restaurants within a few km of each other, just around the corner from the Lodge in the stunning Vipava valley
In our humble opinion, this valley is the best place in all Green Slovenia to enjoy a meal and this is saying something!
The museums.. If you do not visit the uberamazing Secret WW2 Partisan Hospital museum near Cerkno, then you have really missed something special. It is one of the best laid out natural museums with massive historical context in Europe.
And what about the museum that explains and helps you relive how Slovenia gained independence from Yugoslavia in Pivka or another of the best museums in Europe at Kobarid on the Soca river, which so perfectly explains the horror and human story of THE most devastaing mountain battles of all time, the WW1 Izonso Front, in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Well what about the castle, are you nuts, everyone gravitates there.. we will very confidently say if you have spent time at Ljubljana castle and not visited one of the 20 other castles we put well ahead of Ljub in our own top 20, then you have missed another huge opportunity here..
Obviously Predjama castle is an unmissable MUST SEE and not even included in these 20, as it is in a class of it's own.. But you really need to know that there are a lot more interesting CASTLES than Ljubljana here and all over the place in Green paradise too..
So we wish you a wonderful holiday in Green Slovenia. Wherever you go and however you do it, it will surely be fabulous.
Australian guests in particular, are so used to looking at a huge map with massive distances between say, just Sydney and Melbourne and are so used to plotting their route city by city, but at least now we have given you all some more options and our little treasure map might help you plan your trip around some of those other magical secret green dots in the most beautiful little country in Europe!