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ABOUT SLOVENIA

PLACES TO VISIT IN SLOVENIA

Stable, prosperous and welcoming, Slovenia is a charming and comfortable place to travel, with architecturally grand, cultured cities, and lush pine-forested countryside, perfect for hiking and biking in summer and skiing in winter. The country managed to avoid much of the strife that plagued other nations during the messy disintegration of the Yugoslav Republic, and has integrated quickly with Western Europe, joining the eurozone at the start of 2007. Administered by German-speaking Habsburg overlords until 1918, Slovenes absorbed the culture of their rulers while managing to retain a strong sense of ethnic identity through their Slavic language.

Ljubljana

There is plenty to see and do packed into this tiny capital city. Above the city, Ljubljana's Castle is accessible by funicular or by a steep but scenic walk, whose clock tower boasts incredible views of the city's Old Town with its pretty squares and Baroque architecture. While wandering around, look out for pictures and statues of dragons - they symbolise the mythological origins of the city. Legend has it that the Greek hero Jason and his Argonaut comrades killed a monster in a swamp on the present site of Ljubljana.

For a truly unforgettable stay book yourself into Hostel Celica for a night or two. The hostel is a former Yugoslav prison thats cells have been redesigned by over 80 artists into a mix of private and dorm rooms. They are individually decorated with quirky furniture (think circle beds that hang from the ceiling), mosaics and murals. The hostel also does guided tours if you can't get a room.

Bled

This picturesque, fairy-tale town is Slovenia's most popular resort, and rightly so. People flock here to enjoy the stunning views of the lake with its small church that sits on an islet. Beyond it you can see the gothic Bled Castle that is perched on the cliff's edge. It is a great town if you want a more active holiday as it is perfect for cycling, canoeing, and hiking and for the child in you, you can take a chair lift to the top of Straža ski slope andtoboggan back down – it's an amazing adrenaline rush and is a surprisingly good way to take in the views.

Skocjan Caves

This system of underground caves is a UNESCO world heritage site and has the highest cave hall in Europe. This huge, underground canyon can be crossed by a narrow bridge where you truly get a sense of how giant the space is. The caves are filled with impressive stalagmites and stalactites and are home to 15 species of bat.

Piran

The beautiful coastal town of Piran juts out in to the Adriatic Sea. The old town's winding streets are lined with Venetian style buildings. Its most impressive attraction is St Georges Church that stands tall over the town and from the hill that is sits on you'll see all the way to the ocean.

Vogel

Although not the most obvious destination for winter sports, Slovenia has many high-quality ski-slopes and cross-country trails. Vogel, for example, is sat on a plateau above the majestic Bohinj Lake and caters well for beginners and experienced skiers alike. Their season runs from December all the way through until May and what's more, it is considerably cheaper than more well-known resorts.

Predjama Castle

This 700 year old castle sits on a 123m cliff and is built into the mouth of a cave. It became famous due to the legend of the Robinhood-esque knight named Erazem Lueger – a robber-baron who stole from the rich and gave to the poor and fought the established order. Go in July and you can watch their annual medieval duelling tournament.

Soca valley

The turquoise River Soca stretches from Triglav National Park to Nova Gorica between the Julian Alps. It is a great place to go if you enjoy extreme sports. Paragliding and rafting are extremely popular pursuits here, but if you wish to go at a slower pace there are plenty of hiking routes, horse-riding trails and fly-fishing spots for you to just relax and take in the scenery.