Here are some quirky and interesting facts which help to make Slovenia so special.
Slovenia is the only country with LOVE in its name. This is particularly apt as most travellers seem to fall in love with Slovenia when they visit. Although it is only small (the size of Wales in the UK), Slovenia is incredibly diverse and packed full of natural wonders. From lush forests, emerald green rivers, picture-postcard lakes, waterfalls, castles, caves, mountains to charming towns, Slovenia offers something for everyone.
Over 60% of Slovenia’s land area is covered in forest. Unlike in many countries, these forests are actually expanding. Green and verdant, over 50% of land in Slovenia is protected, making it the perfect haven for nature lovers. It is home to the Triglav National Park, one of the oldest in Europe, which surrounds Mount Tiglav, Slovenia’s highest peak at 2864m. So if you enjoy pristine nature, in a country where sustainability is a top priority, then Slovenia is a must.
Speaking of nature, there are about 90,000 beekeepers in Slovenia – not bad from a population of 2 million. Slovenes take great pride in their beekeeping history and are particularly proud of their distinct “Carniolan Bee” which is only found here. This bee is a symbol of hard work and diligence and has given rise to the Slovene saying “priden kot čebela” which means “as hardworking as a bee”. Honey is a wonderful treat to try when visiting Slovenia and makes a lovely gift for family and friends back at home.
With such a high density of forests, it is no surprise that Slovenia has one of Europe’s largest brown bear populations, numbering over 500. If you have ever dreamed of watching bears in their natural habitat, this is the place to come!
There are a number of operators in the south of Slovenia: Slovenian Bears offer bear-friendly and human-friendly photo experiences whilst Bears & Wildlife offer the option to spend the night in a simulated bear cave – one for the bucket list! The best time to view bears is between May to September.
Slovenia is full of amazing natural wonders, and home to over 10,000 caves, with more than 100 new ones discovered each year. That’s a lot of caves! Over 20 caves are open to visitors, with a variety of tours depending on your level of adventure. Experience the underground world by train at Postojna, or even kayak or bike through the tunnels of the Mežica Mines.
Postojna cave is the largest and most visited in Slovenia and home to the amazing “human fish” or “baby dragons” which can survive for up ten years without food!
Meanwhile, Škocjan Cave, a Unesco World Heritage site, has one of the largest underground canyons in the world, combining four miles of underground passages, vast chambers and waterfalls. It is a like a fantasy world – think of the “Mines of Moria” in “The Lord of the Rings…
6. The Solkan Bridge
Slovenia is home to the longest stone arch railway bridge in the world. It was built at the beginning of the twentieth century from 4,533 stone blocks. The total length is 219m and the central span is 85m stretching across the Soča river. It is marvellous piece of civil engineering, all the more beautiful with the emerald green river that flows underneath. Travel by train across the bridge or visit by car and enjoy lunch in one of the picnic areas.
7. Ski Jump
Slovenia has the second largest ski jump or ski-flying hill in the world at Planica, near the resort of Kranjska Gora. Planica is the traditional venue for the finals of the Ski Jumping World Cup, with over 60 world records being set here.
If you would like to experience the freedom of an elite ski jumper, then visit Planica Zipline, the steepest zip line descent in the world. It is 566m long and you will reach speeds of 85km/h! That is certainly only for the very brave! It’s open every day in July and August.
8. Wine Makers
Many people are unaware that Slovenia is a superb wine producing country, with one vineyard for every 70 inhabitants. The Mediterranean and Alpine climatic influences allow 48 varieties of grape to flourish within this small country. The rich wine heritage is evident in the town centre of Maribor in the North East of Slovenia, where the world’s oldest grape vine can be found.
Climbing around the Old Vine House, this 400 year old vine is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Due to the age of the vine and the small number of grapes yielded, the wine produced is very rare and expensive. Only 100 miniature bottles are made each year. Slovenia has given bottles as gifts to the Pope and Queen Elizabeth II. We hope they enjoyed them!
Did you know that scenes from the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2007) were filmed in the Soča Valley, in the West of Slovenia? The first film, The Chronicles of Narnia, was filmed in New Zealand and the producers were looking for a similar landscape to shoot the second film. Andrew Adamson, director of the movie, said “The beauty of this place overwhelmed me, as a director and a tourist. It is gorgeous and the Soča river is the perfect place for filming a fairytale.” The stunning emerald green colour of the Soča river, combined with the huge range of outdoor activities on offer, make this part of Slovenia a popular region to visit.
10. The Slovene Language
Spoken by just 2.3 million people, the Slovene language has 46 different dialects and is the only EU official language recognised as having a “dual” form. This is used when referring to precisely 2 people or objects, in addition to the more conventional singular and plural forms.