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Slovenia Cruises

About Slovenia

Koper, Slovenia

About Slovenia

Although Slovenia is about the size of New Jersey, the diversity of its landscapes is astonishing. From the heights of the Julian Alps to the pristine shores of Lake Bled, from the Tuscan ambiance of Istria to the sophistication and charm of its capital, Ljubljana, this breathtaking corner of Europe paints a sweeping canvas of natural beauty and rich culture.

Located at a major European crossroads—the tip of the Adriatic Sea and the gateway to the Balkans—many civilizations have coveted the region that is today’s Slovenia. The Roman Empire built roads here to connect Italy and the historic region of Pannonia, which continues into modern-day Hungary. Germanic tribes followed until Slavs came in from the east. Other empire-builders followed suit, including the Hapsburgs and Venetians. It wasn’t until Slovenes were under Austro-Hungarian rule that movements toward independence began, emerging first with the establishment in 1918 of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. By 1929, it was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, with Slovenia as its more industrially advanced and economically successful territory.

Yugoslavia did not fare well during World War II. After, the presidency of Josip Tito saw an improved economy despite his iron fist. His death in 1980 was followed by a decade of movements toward democracy, which culminated in the Slovenian Spring and the first democratic elections in 1990.

Slovenia Lifestyle and Culture

The mostly mountainous country of Slovenia carries echoes of Switzerland with its alpine culture, pristine lakes and streams and vast natural resources. Slovenians’ love of their nation’s beauty is illustrated by the untouched forests that blanket more than half the country.

Slovenian cuisine is likewise tied to the earth and a long tradition of farming. But the food on a Slovene’s table is far from simple. Dozens of regional cuisines have evolved from the various cultures that have called the region home, from simple farmhouse and monastic dishes to fanciful preparations fit for a king. One-pot dishes have long been the most common, such as Istrian stew and minestrone. The layer cake known as prekmurska gibanica is a favorite dessert of poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins and ricotta. And every year a beloved side dish is celebrated during the Festival of Roasted Potatoes.

The arts scene keeps many Slovenian traditions alive. Harmony singing with up to nine voices is an important element of folk music. Accordions, fiddles, clarinets, zithers and brass also help locals honor their heritage. The Slovenian Philharmonic is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in Europe. The Slovenian Romantics—writers, poets, painters and others who stirred a sense of nationalism in the 19th century—also remain popular today. Theater, too, has a treasured place in Slovenian society, with street theater, puppetry and the Slovene National Theater taking center stage in the capital of Ljubljana.

Slovenia Sights and Landmarks

For such a small country, Slovenia boasts magnificent beauty and a rich array of fascinating landmarks. The nation’s capital of Ljubljana offers a unique blend of old and new, a delightful pastiche of color and whimsy with a small-town feel. Elegant baroque architecture, the picturesque Ljubljanica River flowing past a quaint Old Town and graceful river-spanning bridges—including the picturesque Triple Bridge with its three crossings—make this city one of Europe’s most charming.

In the region of Istria, the northernmost part of the namesake peninsula that stretches down into Croatia, a taste of Tuscany prevails. Gently rolling hills point to hilltop villages and red-roofed Old Towns hugging the sea. Wine and truffles are among the most cherished treasures produced here.

Stunning natural beauty greets visitors on Lake Bled, one of the most picturesque places in Europe. Against an alpine backdrop, the shimmering lake hosts a single and tiny island crowned with a charming church belfry. The church, a popular pilgrimage site, is reached by pletna, a canopied boat piloted by a standing oarsman. Back on shore, the imposing Bled Castle oversees the picture-perfect scene.

A cavernous subterranean world waits in Postojna. Its namesake cave of karst was carved out by the Pivka River and offers a thrilling exploration of stalagmites and stalactites in the second-longest cave system in the country.