One of the first things you notice on arriving in Slovenia is the extraordinary variety
of landscapes. Driving across Slovenia creates the impression that in a very short space of time you have driven across several countries.
In this small piece of Europe, bountiful Nature has combined and interwoven a whole range of diverse landscapes. Mighty Alpine peaks with sheer faces, deep karst caves and potholes, softly rounded hills and vast plains: Slovenia has all of these. There are also beautiful lakes and bubbling brooks, the silence of forests and the crashing waves of the sea.
In slightly more geographical terms, this means that Slovenia lies at the junction of the Alpine, Mediterranean, Pannonian and Dinaric worlds, all of which have left their mark on its landscape.
In Slovenia the predominant colour is green. Forests
cover almost 60% of the territory, and there are even remnants of virgin forest in the south of the country. The sunny slopes of many hills in the winegrowing districts are planted with vines
can still be found in the valleys, although most fertile areas are used for agriculture.
Mountains and highlands...
Most of Slovenia is mountainous or hilly, particularly its northern part along the border with Austria. Running from east to west are the Julian Alps
, the Karavanke range
and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps
. Slovenia's highest peak, Triglav
, is in the Julian Alps, while the foothills of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps are just half an hour's drive from the capital, Ljubljana. All the mountain groups include peaks over 2,000 metres high. Further to the east lies the mighty Pohorje
, a highland area reaching heights of around 1,500 metres.
Hills also occupy large areas to the west and south of Ljubljana.
... coast and hills...
Slovenia's coast is short but full of variety. There you will find the internationally famous Sečovlje saltworks
and beautifully preserved medieval towns such as Piran
. The hinterland is dominated by the hills of Slovenian Istria. There are also many hills in south-eastern and eastern Slovenia, in the winegrowing areas.
A significant part of Slovenia's surface is taken up by plains, basins, valleys and karst poljes. Most of the flat areas
are in the north-east of the country, where the Pannonian Plain
begins. Ljubljana and its environs
lie in the largest basin. The Celje basin
is also sizeable.
... and the underworld
Slovenia is remarkable even below the surface. In its karst areas there are thousands of karst caves.
Over a third of the territory of Slovenia is protected. The largest part of it falls into the Europe-wide Natura 2000
network, which aims to protect biological diversity. Protected areas also include numerous nature parks and Slovenia's only national park – the Triglav National Park
Slovenia's landscape diversity is given an additional stamp by a wealth of water
resources. Slovenia is one of the richest countries in Europe in terms of water. Many streams, rivers and lakes are still entirely free from pollution.
All these natural riches mean that Slovenia offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor activities. In the morning you could be skiing in a mountain ski resort
, the afternoon could find you strolling along the shore of the Adriatic Sea
or pampering yourself in a spa in the east of Slovenia, while in the evening you could be attending a cultural event
at the other end of the country. In the midst of this busy schedule, time can nevertheless still be found for gastronomic pleasures
Such examples of a day spent in Slovenia are not merely theoretical: you will meet lots of people who actually do this. You can get from the coastal town of Koper to Jesenice in the north of the country in under two hours. From Koper to Murska Sobota in the far north-east of the country, it will take you roughly three hours by car.