From the peaks of the Alps to the sand-stone of the Dalmatian coast, both Slovenia and Croatia have wonders small and tasty to share
By Neža Lukančič & Benjamin Wolf
Sleep in a Herdsman’s Cottage in Velika Planina
Located on the southern ridge of the Kamnik–Savinja Alps, the Velika Planina plateau hosts one of the largest shepherd’s settlements in Europe. The cottages allow visitors to experience life from a different era with modern amenities. Taste a typical herdsmen’s breakfast (milk or buckwheat) in the morning and start your day in the mountains fresh!
Join the wine festivals all across Slovenia
With 14 distinct regions and a wine culture going back more than 2,600 years to the Celts, Slovenia offers a plethora of festivals to enjoy Bacchus’ gifts. In spring and summer, the sprouting of the vines is often celebrated, whereas autumn festivals are dedicated to the harvest, like the big St. Martin’s Day celebration in Maribor.
Live through Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik
The city at the very southern tip of Croatia is the stand-in for King’s Landing in the wildly popular HBO show. For centuries the capital of the maritime Republic of Ragusa (1358-1808), Dubrovnik is blessed with splendid white and sand-colored palaces, churches, towers and houses, earning its old town a place on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites
Indulge in Cevapcici & Slivovitz
Dishes from the region have rightly become a mainstay in many countries across central Europe, including Austria. Eating ćevapčići with the Adriatic Sea as a backdrop and washing it down with a shot of slivovitz invariably awakens deep holiday relaxation.
Track to the blue cave of Bisevo
A secret of Croatian fishermen for centuries, this enchanting blue grotto became accessible to visitors only in 1884. The trip there is an adventure in itself – you take a ferry from Split to the island of Vis, then onward by motorbike and finally by boat to the small isle of Biševo. The reward is a cave with a brilliant blue glow that is rarely seen anywhere.
© Francisco Ghisletti on Unsplash
Lake Bled, Upper Carnolia
A favorite of photographers, this pristine lake in the Julian Alps lies surrounded by picturesque mountains and forests. The medieval Bled Castle stands above the lake on the north shore, while a small pilgrimage church graces Bled Island in the center of the lake.
Logar Valley Landscape Park, Northern Slovenia
In the shadow of the towering Kamnik Alps on pastures green, this glacial valley is a stunning reminder that Slovenia is, fair and square, an Alpine country. The protected area also offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, cycling, horseback riding or a photo safari.
Island of Hvar, Dalmatian Coast
With over 1,000 islands, Croatia leaves you spoiled for choice. The island of Hvar, located between the isles Brač, Vis and Korčula, is one of the gems. Unusual for having a large fertile coastal plain and freshwater springs, Hvar’s hillsides are covered in pine forests, vineyards, olive groves, orchards and lavender fields.
© Temislav Medak on Flickr
Podgaric Monument, Central Croatia
Officially called the “Monument to the Revolution,” this sculpture by Croatian artist Dušan Džamonja has an eerie resemblance to Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. Erected in 1967, the monument, in fact, commemorates the people of the near region of Moslavina for their bravery during World War II. Then again, didn’t the rebels in Star Wars also bring down an evil regime with ingenuity and courage?
Plitvice Lakes National Park, West Croatia
One of the largest and oldest national parks in Croatia, the UNESCO protected park covers an area three quarters the size of Vienna. It’s world famous for its 16 cascading lakes, the result of the confluence of several smaller rivers and underground karst flows that are all interconnected.