There is a prevailing scent of freshness in Slovenia. It is green, active and healthy owing to its untainted nature and affection of the people for the land that extends from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea and is dominated by forests, farmland, lakes, rivers, streams and waterfalls. Here, refreshment is at your fingertips and the feeling of clear water running through your hands and enjoying its freshness is incomparable. The diversity of the Triglav National Park, the 3 regional and 45 landscape parks attracts thousands of visitors to Slovenia each year. Thanks to its extensive nature parks that cover more than 10% of the country, the green and ethical tourism is gaining in importance.
Feel the nature in Slovenia! Discover new dimensions of spending your leisure time – in the greenest parts of Slovenia the time runs slowly making your adventures in the nature even more noteworthy. The locals still take pride in observing the pace of the nature and its seasons. Numerous nature parks are the right place for finding peace and relaxation. The time stops when you hike through Slovenian hills, when you rest in the high grass and gaze into the sky or see the top of the trees and admire hills in the distance. The Triglav Natural Park in the Julian Alps is one of the most famous parks in Slovenia. It is located in the north-west of Slovenia near the border triangle with Austria and Italy. Covering the area of 839 km2, it is the only park in Slovenia designated as a National park. The park was named after Triglav (2,864 metres), the highest summit in Slovenia and the guardian of the last intact places of nature. It is a true paradise for mountaineers who can explore the flora and fauna, take a walk through the remains of the primeval forest, climb 2,000-metre peaks, contemplate by the emerald Soča River, enjoy the scent of mountain herbs and take a look at the shepherds of small livestock and cows. Each animal of the herd is appreciated here and, as local people say, has its own character and shape. During the summer they are taken to mountain pastures and their milk is curdled in the mountain huts. At the heart of the Triglav National park, you can visit the biggest natural lake in Slovenia, said to be the most captivating one in the country on the sunny side of the Alps, namely Lake Bohinj, which is very popular in the summer for swimming and is a true reflection of the nature around it. If you visit the Slovenian mountains you should taste a home-made curdled milk and cheese, and spend a night in a mountain hut or a wooden cottage.
Slovenia features three regional parks each with its own character. The Notranjska Regional Park situated southwest of Ljubljana is the biggest regional park in the country. One of the most significant attractions is the intermittent Lake Cerknica which is said by some of the locals to be the only place in the world that gives so much divergent impressions in one place. The Lake, which has been described as the biggest wonder of nature in the early Slovenian literary works has a large number of Karst tributaries flowing into the lake. When this Karst lake is flooded, it becomes the biggest lake in the country extending to 29 km2 and when the water runs off, it is reduced in size by almost 100-times. The lake might be even invisible; the body of water might be replaced by a wetland with numerous flowerbeds. Wetlands are characteristic for the first Notranjska Landscape Park declared in Slovenia. A picturesque valley of the Rak River is called Rakov Škocjan. What was once a rockfall cave is now only the remnant of its upper part known as the Small Natural Bridge and the Big Natural Bridge. The Notranjska Regional Park is also famous for its diverse fauna and is a perfect spot for birdwatching. In a nearby town called Cerknica a traditional carnival is held every year; it is one of the most renowned carnivals in Slovenia. Organic tourist farms offer home-baked crispy spelt and wheat bread with fresh dairy products as well as organic vegetables or meat.
Karst phenomena in the southwest Slovenia are a distinctive feature of the mysterious world of the Slovenian subsurface. According to UNESCO standards, the Škocjan Caves Regional Park is the deepest and the most extensive underground canyon in the world and lies hidden in the depths of the Karst Region where the Reka River disappears underground. It is a symbol of the underground world of Slovenia comprising a labyrinth of numerous tunnels, halls and chasms embellished with amazing dripstones. The Škocjan Caves offer visitors an unforgettable journey through the beautiful underground world and because of their unique natural features they have been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1986. After the visit of the caves visitors can enjoy a glass of an aromatic red wine called Teran and a few slices of dry-cured ham, chatting with the local people who are proud of the fact that the Karst phenomena in Slovenia have been the first to be explored in the world.
The Kozjansko Regional Park encompasses more than 200 km2 and lies in the east of Slovenia. The area is marked by the transition from the Alpine to the Pannonian landscape. The hills are gradually lowered into the lowland of the Sotla River. The Kozjansko Region features meadows in full bloom, orchards, vineyards, farmhouses and streams. "An apple per day keeps the doctor away" – this is an old Slovenian saying, however in Kozjansko the apples are in abundance and their exquisite taste is a temptation impossible to resist. The Fest of Kozjansko Apple which is a central event in the Park always takes place the second week of October each year. Some varieties of apples have quite amusing names, for instance the carjevič apple which means a little emperor. If you take more interest in real emperors from the past and you find pleasure in visiting castles the right places for you are Podsreda, Bizeljsko, Pišece and Kunšperk and especially the Olimje Monastery.
The Kolpa Landscape Park lies in the east of Slovenia and is surrounded by white birches growing along the green Kolpa River designated as one of the cleanest Slovenian rivers. And it is this 113-km long river with its waterfalls that makes the natural boundary between Slovenia and Croatia so full of life. Here, visitors can experience one of numerous possibilities for observing the nature, such as boating and observing fish jumping out of the water, herons mastering the art of hunting, turtles crawling and otters gliding through the clear water. The water is perfect for swimming. Along the river you can find a few exquisite family restaurants serving delicious trouts and a locally-known stew with vegetables and fish called čušpajs.
Let`s take a look to the north of Slovenia! The Logar Valley is one of the most scenic glacial valleys in Europe. An imposing feature of this landscape park is the legendary Logar`s lime tree measuring more than 25 meters in height and acting as a guardian of the entrance into the park. The best way around the park is on foot or by bike following the natural history and ethnographic trail. Another impressive feature of the Logar Valley is one of the highest Slovenian waterfalls called Rinka, a magnificent 90-metre high arc of water. The name of the waterfall was used for a contemporary centre in Solčava, namely Center Rinka. The Solčava Region is well-known for its forestry and agricultural way of life. The main feature of this destination is the indigenous Jezersko-Solčava sheep breed – the locals call it bicka. The main purpose of the Center Rinka is encouraging sustainable development of the region and its visitors can see how wool products are made, they get to know the wood from Solčava mountains and home-made delicacies. Many tourist farms in the Logar Valley and the Robanov Kot Valley are perfect places for visitors to relax and get away from their stressful everyday life.
The next issue will explore even more natural landscape parks in Slovenia as almost one third of the country is included in the European network of nature-protection areas Natura 2000 for the preservation of biodiversity. Enjoy the most beautiful shades of green invigorating the spirit and giving positive energy!