Visit Slovenia: 5 Unexpectedly Delightful Destinations | KCET
Visit Slovenia: 5 Unexpectedly Delightful Destinations
Even in today's well-traveled world, Europe has managed to keep some of its hidden charms. And Slovenia, tucked away where Germanic, Mediterranean, and Slavic worlds meet, is one of Europe's most fascinating, yet least visited corners.
Rick Steves takes a cultural voyage through this charming, former Yugoslavian country, starting at its lively capital then heading toward the Julian Alps and to the Slovenian coast. Here's a look at the top destinations featured in the episode.
Get more ideas from the full episode here. You can also tune in for more of Steves' Euro adventure tips weeknights at 7:30 p.m.
Located midway between Venice and Vienna, Slovenia's largest city and cultural capital is the perfect place to kick off your trip. Start at the Triple Bridge, which connects the city's historic banks to the modern part of the city. The best way to take in the sites here is to simply stroll the riverfront, check out the Art Nouveau and Art Deco influences in the buildings, visit the market, and then relax at a riverside café.
If you're a fan of architectural history, you can also visit the home of the city's most influential architect Jo?e Ple?nik. Take a guided tour through his house and see some of his equipment, models, and plans on display.
2. Lake Bled
Moving out of the city, Steves takes us to see some of Slovenia's natural alpine wonders at Lake Bled. In addition to peaceful, glassy waters, this area boasts gorgeous views and villas. It's a popular getaway destination for locals, and offers a tranquil mountain resort experience. Lake Bled's major focal point is its charming little island, and romantic local boats, called "Pletnas" provide a pleasant way to reach it. Once you're there, you can tour the island's adorable Church of the Assumption.
3. Julian Alps
Continuing to explore the Slovenian countryside, a drive through the Julian Alps is perfect for nature lovers. You'll pass valleys, mountain villages, and see Mount Triglav mark the skyline. This is a popular spot for travelers who love hiking and seeing nature. This area offers a unique alpine landscape.
4. The Karst Region
Head south for a different kind of landscape. In the Karst region, you'll find rolling hills of grape farms, small towns, and an impressive network of caverns and underground rivers. An absolute must-do is a tour through the ?kocjan Caves. There, you'll follow your guide through about two miles of caverns, where you'll spelunk through hundreds of dripping stalactites formations, hear the crashing underground river and much more. This looks really impressive.
This area is also home to one of Europe's most scenic castles -- the Predjama Castle. Built in the 16th century mainly for hunting, there's not much to see inside. But it does offer a nice backdrop for a scenic drink. And the spectacular views alone make it worth the drive out there.
Head to the Adriatic coastal town of Piran for some coastal relaxation. For breathtaking views of the coastline, hike to the cathedral and walk up its Venetian-style bell tower. The town's beautiful and traffic-free harbor front offers an inviting place to stroll, sunbath, and enjoy fresh seafood as you bring your Slovenian adventure to a close.
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Just south of Naples we'll experience the breath-taking Amalfi Coastline, the trendy resort of Positano, the limoncello charms of Sorrento, the ancient Greek temples at Paestum, and the iridescent Blue Grotto hidden beneath the enchanting isle of Capri.
No trip to Italy is complete without Milan and Lake Como. In Milan we'll take a peek at Italy's highest fashion, fanciest delis, grandest cemetery and greatest opera house...not to mention Leonardo's Last Supper. Then we'll cruise along Lake Como, settling down in the lakeside village of Varenna...classic honeymoon country, where Italy meets the Alps.
In Europe's classiest capital we'll tiptoe through the palace of Maria Theresa and be dazzled by the Hapsburg crown jewels. Then we'll picnic on the Danube, nibble strudel in an old world cafe, blush at slinky Art Nouveau, and waltz to the three-four beat of Johann Strauss.
The birthplace of Mozart - and everyone's Sound of Music fantasies -Salzburg is a Baroque jewel of a town. It's also the springboard for lots of alpine fun-from thrilling summer bobsledding, to idyllic boat rides in the Salzkammergut lake district, to exploring the delightful romantic town of Hallstatt.
Burgundy is a calm and cultivated corner of France, where nature is as sophisticated as the people. Traditions are strong here. We'll slow down to enjoy the region's edible, drinkable, scenic, and floatable delights. We'll travel on a canal barge, visit a medieval hospice and a modern monastery, build a barrel, appreciate fine Burgundy wine, slurp escargot, and eat very, very well. If you're looking for the quintessential French culture, you'll find it in Burgundy.
The creative spirit of Spain's Catalunya the land of Picasso, Gaudi and Salvador Dali is on a roll. We'll get caught up in the festivity of Barcelona, enjoying the vibrant street scenes, tasty tapas and pedestrian-friendly Gothic Quarter. Then we'll take a scenic side trip to mountaintop Montserrat, and finish with an artist's pilgrimage along the Costa Brava to Salvador Dali country seaside Cadaques to visit his home and nearby Figures to experience his playfully surreal mausoleum/museum.
Don't blink as we blitz through Europe's tiniest countries: Vatican City, the world's smallest country, comes with the planet's biggest church. The fairytale princedom of Monaco lures visitors with its fancy casino and glamorous views. Italy's last independent hill town, San Marino still looks formidable, as does the castle-guarded principality of Liechtenstein. And tiny Andorra entertains shoppers and hikers alike, surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Pyrenees.
In this episode we'll focus on an often overlooked side of Switzerland its urban charms. We'll get some exercise, from ringing a very big bell to floating down an urban river. We'll also enjoy a variety of eye-opening art, from Chagall and Klee to inmates of an asylum. Then we'll ponder a few Swiss innovations, from their open-minded drug policies to their hush-hush underground arsenals. And it'll all before a backdrop of Switzerland's stunning natural beauty.
Few travelers venture beyond Prague to experience the Czech Republic's many cultural riches and offbeat delights. We'll get you started with a whirlwind of Art Nouveau, local pub music, stinky cheese-tasting, river-rafting, and peat-bathing in places like Olomouc, Moravsky Krumlov, Telc, Trebon and Konopiste. We'll also tour a remarkable memorial to the holocaust in Terezen, and the charming castle town of Cesky Krumlov.
Island getaways are fun, but the real heart of Greece is found in the Peloponnese Peninsula. After enjoying the charming old port town of Nafplio, we'll time-trip through the ruins of Olympia, take center stage at the remarkably preserved theater at Epidauros, and explore the ancient capital of Mycenae. Then we'll wander off the beaten path along the rustic, rough-and-tumble Mani Peninsula, relax in the idyllic beach town of Kardymli and marvel at Greece's Rock of Gibraltar: the fortress town of Monemvasia.
Denmark's capital is the most fun-loving in Scandinavia. As we get to know Copenhagen, we'll discover reminders of its Viking history and symbols of its proudly independent ways today. We'll stroll through Europe's first great pedestrian zone, ogle crown jewels in the palace and take a bike ride through a famous hippie squatter community, finishing at Copenhagen's full-time carnival, Tivoli Gardens.
Using Copenhagen as a spring board, we'll visit the very best of Denmark. Aarhus welcomes us with its ruddy affluence, charming open air museum and eerily well-preserved ancient bog man. Roskilde impresses visitors with its royal burial church and the best Viking ship museum anywhere. And the delightfully quaint Isle of Aero beckons a bike ride among thatched cottages, "snooping mirrors", and cobbled alleyways that reminds us of the world of Hans Christian Andersen.
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