Slovenia is one of Europe’s best kept secrets, offering all of the charms of its neighbouring countries but at a fraction of the cost. Sandwiched between Italy and Croatia, it is filled with natural beauty, medieval towns and stunning alpine views.
Food and drink is serious business here too with a rich heritage of olive oil, fruit and wine production. Traditional Mediterranean food and local seasonal meals dominate a developing gastronomic scene in the country.
So if you’re looking to stay in luxury for less then this Central European country could be for you. Here are some of the unique experiences Slovenia has to offer.
Taste wine from one of the oldest producers in Europe
Slovenia has been producing wine since the fifth century BC - far longer than France, Spain or Germany. It is said that there is a wine cellar for every 70 people in the country but most of the world has never tried the country’s tipple because it exports just a tiny percentage of what it produces.
That makes a trip to Slovenia the perfect opportunity to get a rare taste of these ancient vintages including the country’s orange wine. This unique offering is made when white wine is left to ferment with the grape skins and seeds still attached.
The prolonged contact between grape skins and juice turns a range of hues from a striking orange to a warmer, amber colour.
The region of Brda is home to some of the most famous vineyards in the country and you can take a day tour, including tasting, for as little as €35 per person. Find out more about what is on offer and how to book here.
Visit historic thermal spas
Since Roman times, Slovenia has been known for its thermal spas. The warm, mineral-rich waters were the go-to health retreat for members of royal courts across Europe. It is one of the greenest countries in the world and many wellness destinations offer the best of this natural wealth.
Terme Dobrna has more than 600 years of tradition and is the oldest working thermal spa in Slovenia. Today it is a health resort that offers both the chance to bathe in its thermal waters and more modern medical treatments.
A weekend getaway at the Hotel Vita Dobrna with breakfast or half board and access to thermal pools starts from €130 per person.
Stay in a 13th century gothic castle
Hotel Grad Otočec is a 13th century gothic masterpiece set on an islet in the middle of the shallow Krka river, halfway between Zagreb and Ljubljana. This fairytale destination is the perfect location for a romantic getaway surrounded by stunning natural views.
The furniture was all ordered specifically for the hotel and crafted by local artisans to be sympathetic to the castle’s history. But the ancient inspiration doesn’t mean it is without all of the modern amenities you’d expect from a hotel of this calibre. It blends original features with luxuries like underfloor heating, contemporary bathrooms and a golf course.
For a stay of this standard, Hotel Grad Otočec offers great value for money with double rooms from €280 a night including breakfast.
Experience untapped natural beauty
It may not be a traditional form of luxury but Slovenia has access to a wealth of protected green spaces.
Triglav National Park is its largest protected area encompassing the majority of the eastern part of the Julian Alps. The park takes its name from the country’s highest mountain which, with a peak of more than 2,800 metres, provides a dramatic backdrop.
The best part of choosing this experience when you visit Slovenia? Though guided adventures and cycle tours are available at reasonable prices, walking through the natural landscape itself is completely free.
As the third most forested country in Europe, much of the landscape is covered with trees. If you are looking for a soothing stay among the leaves, Garden Village Bled is located in the foothills of the Julian Alps. It offers a range of unique accommodation from treehouses made of Slovenian wood to luxurious glamping and tents starting at €100 per night.