O nly slightly larger than the State of New Jersey, most people can’t find Slovenia on a map. But that is changing quickly as tourists pour into this tiny, charming country tucked between Italy and Croatia in a tiny corner of the upper Adriatic.
Slovenia is very fortunate that it’s beautiful architecture, much of it Art Nouveau, was spared since it avoided many of the more notable conflicts that overtook its siblings to the east as the former Yugoslavia fractured. Its capital, Ljubljana, is a beautiful old city that many travelers fall in love with.
For its size it’s incredibly diverse: picturesque cities, baroque palaces, historic castles, snow-capped mountains, plains blanketed with flowers and a mere sliver of coastline along the Adriatic. To the west, near the border with Italy, is the stud farm of the famous graceful, white Lipizzaners, the regal horses of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
Slovenia is a place that’s easy to get to, given its proximity to Italy and Austria to the north, and comfortable to travel in since the Slovenians themselves are welcoming, multilingual hosts. It’s a place to add to any “must travel to” list
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Ljubljana, One of Europe’s Most Charming Cities
I arrived in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, late on a Monday evening, very tired after a 12-hour trip. From Assisi, Italy I had to take a train to Florence, then another to Venice, where I then took a bus to Villoch, Austria, to catch my train to Ljubljana. The only other option, one that I didn’t want to take, was a night train that gets you here after 1:00am.
I had booked a hotel not far from the station, since I didn’t want to traipse about a strange city in the middle of the night. But despite how tired I had been, the next morning I found the trip was well worth it. I woke up in one of the most charming and beautiful cities in Europe, complete with a castle on a hill right in the middle of town….
Charmed by Ljubljana, a Second Time
Ljubljana is an amazingly beautiful and clean city. Even when you cross over the river from the old town into the “newer” part of the city you still find carless streets and walking thoroughfares, filled with people shopping, walking or sitting outdoor cafés.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Ljubljana. It’s peaceful, clean and mesmerizing. And its architecture, which ranges from Baroque to Art Nouveau and modern, is really fascinating. On my second day there I decided to wander about the “new” town on the left bank of the river, and was surprised to find it just as fascinating as the old town on the right bank….
With the Lipizzaners — An Incredible Four Hours in Slovenia
If you travel a lot, every so often you’re bound to find something so unusual and heartwarming it becomes an incredible experience and memory. I know from experience: I’ve had a phobia about horses since childhood, but I’ve just had an astonishing experience with them.
I don’t recall how I learned of the Lipizzaner Stud Farm. It’s in Lipica, Slovenia, a small town originally part of the Hapsburg Empire, and the royal stud farm was built there in 1578 to develop a new breed, the Lipizzaner, which would later be the star of Vienna’s famed Spanish Riding School….