With just over half of its surface splashed with lush, life-giving woodland, Slovenia is one of the most forested countries in Europe. Whether you’re looking to move through at pace with biking, hiking, ziplining, or rafting, or prefer a slower journey, bathing your eyes and ears in the country’s plethora of over 24,000 animal species and countless varieties of plants, you can explore these incredible surroundings in entirely your own way. Here’s how Slovenia cherishes its natural landscapes and nurtures a mindful connection with wildlife and wilderness.
Slovenia’s green heart
Slovenia boasts 34 landscape parks, along with several small forested and regional parks, each telling its own story of coexistence between people and nature. Although Slovenia has no shortage of beautiful natural spaces, Triglav National Park is the country’s only designated national park, and it bursts with biodiversity while offering panoramic views of the Julian Alps—and of Mount Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain. If you can, cover the entire park as every corner offers a natural surprise, such as the great gorge over the River Soča, the thundering Kozjak and Peričnik waterfalls, and the rolling green wonders of the Pokljuka Plateau.
No Slovenian community is far from nature, but should you find yourself in the capital city of Ljubljana, the Ljubljana Marsh Nature Park is literally in the southernmost suburbs. With hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, and other animals, these marshes are a dream walk for wildlife enthusiasts. You won’t have time to see everything in one trip, but an overnight stay in the city and a guide will give you enough for a lasting impression. For additional scenic adventures, Logar Valley Landscape Park offers hiking, cycling, and horseback riding against a natural backdrop that will rob you of words. Thankfully, a photo safari offers you the chance for imagery that more than describes the experience!
Slovenia’s forests are part of the country’s identity, imagery of natural green and wild landscapes its hallmark. Appreciation of the outdoors is enshrined in Slovenia’s attitude toward sustainable development—authorities and individuals are dedicated to maintaining forests as vital ecosystems and habitats. Forest management is a national policy grounded in conservation and ecological balance. Even private owners need to ensure that their land maintains its ecological, social, and productive functions under the Forest Act. Despite its relatively small size, the amount of natural diversity in Slovenia’s forests is staggering, with around 70 native tree species, the tallest of which can reach more than 60 meters high. Diversity like this is worth protecting, and Slovenians do so together. Because the state owns around 20 percent of all forests in the country, Slovenia established a national company in 2016 to better manage these wildlife havens. Since then, the company has run an annual campaign during which volunteers from around the country replant thousands of trees in areas affected by natural disasters. In addition, the Slovenia Forest Service monitors the state and development of forests, including keeping records and ensuring the passing on of relevant knowledge and advice for future generations.
Into the green
Everywhere you go, Slovenia envelopes you in green, all the while offering seemingly endless ways for the essence of nature to nourish your body, mind, and spirit. Enjoy an accessible and inclusive walk among the treetops of a forest in the Pohorje Mountains: A kilometer-long wheelchair-and-stroller-accessible elevated walkway offers one of the most unique experiences imaginable. The walkway ultimately winds around to the top of a 37-meter-high observation tower, where panoramic views of the mountains can be enjoyed—and the most adventurous visitors can access a 62-meter-long express slide back down to terra firma. Or, if you prefer your feet remain firmly on the ground, you can literally feel the forest under your toes in a recharging session of “Forest Selfness” reflexology—walking barefoot along spruce needles in the great forests near Cerkno. While you’re there, you can immerse yourself further, swinging gently from a hammock suspended between trees as you bathe in the sounds of the woods.
For a more elemental connection with nature, head to Kočevje, where Slovenia’s most densely forested province shrouds nature in its most primeval form of virgin forests—ancient, undisturbed, and home to unique ecological features. The Krokar Virgin Forest and the Snežnik-Ždrocle Forest Reserve have both been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, and although hikers cannot directly enter these forests, marked walking trails rim the reserves. To get closer to the wild beyond these untouched forests, why not hone your survival skills with a local expert, free from the confines of modern convenience? You can learn how to identify and forage safe foods to eat, how to start a fire with only sticks, and how to build a shelter in the middle of the forest. Not only will you leave Slovenia with incredible memories of living green, you would have also learned important forest skills, too.
If you prefer a little more comfort, however, there are glamping experiences that will also immerse you in nature―but without having to forage for your own dinner. Resorts around Lakes Bled and Blaguš offer particularly luxurious glamping experiences.
There are few better ways of truly immersing yourself in the green of nature than submerging yourself in blue. Slovenia’s waters are entwined with its forests, and every bit as enriching: Experiencing an outdoor thermal spring is a great way to enjoy the benefits of both worlds. High mineral concentrations and warm temperatures have made Slovenia’s waters famous for their stress-relieving—and, some believe―healing qualities, with plenty of spa destinations across Slovenia. The highest concentration of natural spas is in the Pannonian Basin, and several ancient springs around Dolenjske Toplice and Šmarješke Toplice deliver geothermal water from deep within the Earth’s crust.
Wherever you may find yourself, you’ll be inspired to explore until you find your own connection to Slovenia’s remarkable landscape. In a country so blessed with natural beauty, it shouldn’t be any wonder why this gift of greenery is something Slovenians want to share with the world.