STA, 5 November2018 - With the United Kingdom being one of the key markets for Slovenian tourism, some 35 Slovenian companies and organisations are being promoted at London's WTM, a leading global event for the travel industry, which runs from Monday to Wednesday.
We are delighted to announce the iconic #Ljubljana Castle is our official #WTMLDN partner.— Slovenia Tourism (@tourism_slo) November 5, 2018
The partnership is part of helping preserve the historic @Ljubljanskigrad, which has provided panoramic views of the city for 900 years.
⤵️Visit Stand EU1400 to learn more ? @WTM_London pic.twitter.com/Y9yHLlFFKq
Slovenia is being promoted under the auspices of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) as an attractive destination offering "five-star experiences".
A special emphasis is placed on culture, which is the main theme of the STO's promotional campaigns in 2018 and 2019.
The country's exhibition area, spreading on more than 175 square metres, features Ljubljana Castle as the main partner.
On Tuesday, the Slovenian pavilion will feature a meeting of Slovenian tourism industry representatives with British and global tour organisers plus global media.
Slovenian food will be served by chef Igor Jagodic and the author of the best article on Slovenia written this year will be declared.
STO director Maja Pak says that "as as one of the most important and globally recognisable fairs, the WTM is a unique opportunity to consolidate the existing and create new business opportunities as well as to connect with the tourism industry in the UK and wider."
Slovenia is recording a rise in arrivals and overnight stays by British tourists, according to Pak, who said that a 27% increase in arrivals was reported for the January-to-August period compared to last year.
In 2017, British tourists accounted for 370,000 nights in Slovenia, whose tourist industry has posted strong growth over the past few years. They are mostly interested in the country's mountains, cuisine, ski resorts and culture.
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Ljubljana Castle is the most visited attraction in the city, and – so it’s claimed – in Slovenia. While an earlier post looked at 25 things to know about the building that has watched over the capital for centuries, below we present a list of ten different ways to enjoy your visit there.
The Romans had a wooden fort on Castle Hill when Ljubljana was known as Emona, and built a well that still exists, just outside the entrance. What’s more, some of the stones that were used to build the Castle were repurposed from the ruins of the Ancient City, and can still be seen with their Latin engravings or decorations. Ljubljana Castle has almost 2,000 years of history, and the time you spend their can be used to link that with your own – a sobering thought to encourage you make the most of however much time you have left.
Roman stones in Ljubljana Castle. Photo: JL Flanner
Ljubljana is a green city. Photo: JL Flanner
The best views of the city are from the highest point in Ljubljana, which is the watchtower that a ticket to the Castle (or any of the tours) gets you into. However, note that the old architecture means there’s no disabled access or elevator here, so you’ll have to climb the steps. Still, if you can’t make it up, or don’t want to buy a ticket, don’t despair, as there are many other fine spots on Castle Hill from which to look at Ljubljana, from where it’ll be clear that this city really is set in the middle of a forest.
Most of Castle Hill is forested. Photo: Google Maps
While the Castle is large it still covers only a small part of the hill, which has many trails through the forest to explore, as well as grassy clearings, benches, small meadows and even a vineyard, making it an easily accessible escape from the city. Depending on the time of day and weather, expect to see joggers, dog walkers and others getting some fresh air, nearby by but far away from the tourists.
Tradtional Slovenian food at Castle restaurant. Photo: nagradu.si
While the fine-dining options of Strelec and Castle Restaurant (Restaurant Na Gradu) get the headlines when talking of food at the Castle, there’s also a café for more casual fare, and beyond that the old place makes a great location for a picnic, if not within the walls then in a quiet spot along many of the trails that run along the top of the hill, where you can enjoy a sandwich along with, as noted above, the view.
The Puppet Museum is full of colourful and interactive exhibits. Photo: JL Flanner
As part of Ljubljana Castle’s mission to preserve, present and promote Slovenia’s cultural heritage it hosts a number of exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, all year round. While some of these are free, such as the one on the renovations to the Castle that have taken place since the 1960s, to be found under the courtyard, others require a ticket, though luckily this ticket will also get you access to the watchtower and other features of the complex. One thing of special interest to families – a permanent exhibition showing some of the history of puppetry in Slovenia, a trip to which perfectly complements a visit to the Puppet Theatre in Krekov trg, just by the funicular station. Learn more about the Castle’s current exhibitions here.
The Castle and its halls can be hired for private occasions, and thus it plays host to conferences and presentations throughout the year, providing a memorable setting for many business events. More personally, it can also be used to weddings, with a dedicated office set-up to make the big day into a magical one. Learn more about hiring a venue here, and having a wedding or engagment partY in Ljubljana Castle here.
Lights make the place magical after dark. Photo: Branko Čeak for Visit Ljubljana
Medieval buildings come after dark, when the shadows playing on the walls light up the imagination and romance of the past. Ljubljana Castle is no exception, and is a great place to visit after dark at any time of year. In addition to all the usual charms in the evening the Castle often hosts concerts, such as the regular Friday night performances, while in the summer months there are also films shown in the courtyard and under the stars, as well dances and other special events. You can learn more about the various events held at the Castle here, and you can visit it until 20:00 in January, February, March and November, until 21:00 in April, May and October, until 23:00 in June, July, August and September, and until 22:00 in December 10:00 to 22:00.
An event at night in the courtyard. Photo: D Wedam for Visit Ljubljana
December is one of the most popular times of year for people to visit Ljubljana, drawn by the festive decorations in the city and the market stalls selling mulled wine and hot food, and the Castle is an essential stop on such trips. Not only can people get a great view of the Christmas lights in the streets below – with the evening these are switched on being an especially busy time – but they can also the decorations in the Castlem as well as other events, including Holy Mass in the chapel, at 22:00 on December 24.
The Castle may be old, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t keep up with the times. You can download an app that introduces the place based on your location in the complex, and all you need is a smartphone and pair of headphones. The app is available in Slovenian, English, Hungarian, Croatian, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and for both iOS and Android devices. The activation code for the app comes with a ticket to Castle, and can be collected at the Info Centre. More details here.
Perhaps best of all for regular visitors, much of what the Castle has to offer can be seen for free, with only the watchtower and certain exhibitions requiring a ticket, while the other areas remain open to all. Combine a walk up one of the various paths that take you to the top from the Old Town with a stroll around the Castle walls and courtyard, perhaps settling down for a rest on a bench or snack, and you’ve got an adventure that’ll fill a few hours in fine style without breaking the bank. What’s more, there’s always something new to see, whether related to the changing seasons, an event on the day, a detail you’d never noticed before, or a group of visitors from a land you long to visit, delighted at the a place you know well – there’s always a good reason to go back to Ljubljana Castle.
The Castle is open all year, although with some changes with the seasons. January, February, March and November its open 10:00 to 20:00. April, May and October from 09:00 to 21:00. June, July, August and September from 09:00 to 23:00. December 10:00 to 22:00. However, now that these times are for the main Castle complex, and not necessarily for all the attractions, with more details here.
Entrance to Castle courtyard is free, but if you want to see more you'll need to buy a ticket at the entrance, funicular station or Info Centre, with a basic ticket currently 7.50 euros for adults and 5.50 for children, students and pensioners, and there's also a family ticket for 19 euros. Note that tickets to tours also include entrance to all parts of the Castle, with more details here.
With 59 major rivers and 321 lakes within its small and varied topography, it’s no wonder that fishing in Slovenia is a popular activity, one that provides a way to explore the great outdoors, commune with nature, and hopefully bring something home for dinner. Still, it’s part of the nation’s tourist offering that we’re relatively unfamiliar with, and so when we came across Water Man Adventures, a company that organizes vacations with a focus on fly-fishing in Slovenia, we jumped at the chance to ask Robert Redding a few questions about the business.
Where are you based, and how did you discover Slovenia?
Water Man Adventures has a presence in Colorado, USA, where I’m based, as well as in Slovenia where my business partners are.
I fell in love with Slovenia and its fly-fishing when I was posted to the US Embassy in Ljubljana from 2006 to 2009. I began the business last year in anticipation of my retirement from the military in 2019. I expect to be based in Slovenia once that happens.
What makes Slovenia especially attractive for people who enjoy fly-fishing?
The country’s geography and weather make it a very special place, and there’s good reasons why fishing in Slovenia is increasingly popular. Primarily, there is tremendous diversity in terrain and rivers in Slovenia – with a high concentration in the western part of this small country. In the northern/alpine region, the streams and rivers are cold all year long, and this makes them a highly oxygenated and suitable habitat for cold-water fish like trout (and fishermen too) even in the hottest time of the year. Additionally, fly-fishing in Slovenia is normally a bit easier because of the low-nutrient (oligotrophic) nature of those streams - fish just have to eat all the time in order to get ready for the cold winter. Therefore, summer usually means dry fly action practically all day, not just during mornings and evenings, as is typical elsewhere.
The best part of Slovenia for fishing expeditions is that the distance between alpine and limestone waters is only a one hour drive. In fact, there are only two hours needed to drive through the whole country from north to south. Given both types of rivers, along with the lakes that are available, fly fishermen have a great opportunity for good fly-fishing conditions practically every day of the season. To make things even better, we can (and do) change regions and rivers during the fishing day in order to give clients the best opportunities to fish.
Where in Slovenia do you operate?
We take our clients primarily to places where there are trout in the rivers – and thus the water is clear and cold. Our current favorite rivers are on the Sava Bohinjka, the Krka, the Unica, and of course the Soča. Because we offer excursions other than fishing, you’ll find us at other hot spots like Bled.
What services do you offer?
Water Man Adventures provides an outstanding fly-fishing experience for the discriminating fly fisherman on the world-class waters of the Republic of Slovenia. We are a hands-on, destination fishing outfitter operated by an experienced team of completely focused on arranging a custom fishing and travel experience in Slovenia. So, we put together total packages for our clients. Beyond the fishing, we set up lodging and culinary experiences based on the desires of the client.
What kind of fish can people catch in Slovenia?
Brown Trout, Marble Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Grayling are what we fly fish for. You can also catch pike and the famous huchen (Danubian Salomon) on traditional fishing gear.
In addition to the fishing, what do people experience on your tours?
Our clients typically fish only part of the day – the rest is filled with the best that there is to experience in Slovenia. Of course, Ljubljana’s old town and Bled are on everyone’s itinerary. But we customize based on what the client is looking for. For example, some recent clients were very excited to have the opportunity to take one afternoon and have lunch at Hiša Franko.
When are the seasons?
The season for fishing in Slovenia kicks off in April and May, with it best when the first hatches of the year come in the various streams – it’s a different time depending on where you are fishing. The season continues through the summer, though it can get crowded in August during holidays. When fall comes, the best fish to look for are grayling. Of course, Huchen (Danubian Salmon) offer the greatest prize in late fall and early winter.
What’s your favorite spot to fish in Slovenia?
Really? I'm not telling… However, the smaller streams that are away from the Soča provide some of the best experiences for fly fishers – to include the Unica, Krka and Idrijca Rivers. We look to take our clients away from the crowds to places like these.
How far in advance do people usually book?
We take care of clients whether they want to fish tomorrow or next summer. Optimally, those who want to fish in Slovenia in the summer of 2019 with us will be booked by January.
What’s are the general profiles of most of your customers?
Most of my clients are Americans. When they are in Slovenia, Americans typically want to see and do what a lot of general tourists want to do. So, we provide turn-key vacation packages for them that include lodging, meals, and excursions – even completely separate itineraries for spouses (Rogaška regularly comes up!). Water Man Adventures also has European clientele, and they are typically more comfortable taking care of their own extra activities. Regardless, we custom design each tour based on what the client wants – no is rarely an answer for us.
Any changes innovations planned for 2019?
We are looking to continue to define this sector of the tourism industry, while conforming to what Slovenes want in the future. Our goal is to provide clients with fantastic experiences fishing in Slovenia, while minimizing impact on the environment and culture of Slovenia. While seeking that balance, we want to ensure that Slovenes are able to benefit, so we’ll use local resources every time that it’s possible to do so.
When you’re not leading tours, or fishing, what do you like to do in Slovenia?
I really enjoy exploring the variety of Slovenia’s regions; whether it’s on a wine road in Primorska or looking for bears in Dolenska – you’ll find me at the end of a dirt road somewhere.
If you’d like to learn a lot more about the trips Richard and his partners offer, then visit the Water Man Adventures website or Facebook page. And if you’d like to see some other ways to spend your holiday in Slovenia, then check out our Ten Ways to Enjoy the River Soča.
Get to Know the 17 Historical Towns of Slovenia
There are many ways to plan a trip around Slovenia and lenses through which to view it, and one way to explore the country is through its historic towns. But how to choose these in a land that’s got so many? One way is by turning to the work of the Association of Historical Towns (and Cities) of Slovenia (Združenje zgodovinskih mest Slovenije), a group that includes 17 mostly medieval towns sited around the country, each of which has its own story to tell, with the full list being Idrija, Jesenice, Kamnik, Koper, Kostanjevica na Krki, Kranj, Metlika, Novo mesto, Piran, Ptuj, Radovljica, Slovenske Konjice, Škofja Loka, Tržič, and Žužemberk.
STA, 29 October - Some 300-kilometre-long hiking trail around the Julian Alps was officially launched last week with organised tours on sections of the route in the Gorenjska and Primorska regions. Mountain and cycling trails are also planned in the region.
A selection of some of the festivals and events taking place around the country in November, with links to the official sites, with the main thing being St Martin’s Day (Martinovanje), which marks the arrival of this year’s new wine on the scene.
STA, 26 October 2018 - After an absence of 15 years, Russian flag carrier Aeroflot will return to Ljubljana airport as it launches daily scheduled flights from Moscow on Sunday.
As reported by STA, Adria Airways is likely to end a second year in the red, after posting a net loss of €5.4m in 2017, with the company blaming the poor results on fuel prices. However, despite a number of cancellations in recent weeks, the carrier is still planning to operate 171 weekly flights to a total of 21 destinations this winter, as detailed in the company’s latest schedule, which runs from October28 to March 30.
Comparisons breed unhappiness, listicles are (often) lazy and the notion of “best” is rather strained (at…best), but in the interest of “total Slovenia” coverage we must report that the country has made it on to one of Lonely Planet’s four Best in Travel 2019 lists, which rank the “top 10” countries, cities, regions and best value.