STA, 18 May 2021 - The sole national park in Slovenia is celebrating 60 years since the Valley of Triglav Lakes was declared the Triglav National Park (TNP), and 40 years since a key law was passed to protect virtually the entire Julian Alps mountain range in the country.
Spreading on an area of almost 84,000 hectares, the park in the northwestern-most part of the country in the Julian Alps covers around 4% of Slovenia's territory.
It is named after the country's highest mountain, Triglav, a 2,864-metre peak which lies practically at the heart of it.
Enthusiasts recognised the area's beauty and the diversity of its fauna and flora, as well as the need to protect it, more than 100 years ago.
In 1908, before any national park was declared in Europe, scientist Albin Belar came up with the idea to protect the area under Komarča around the Savica Waterfall.
Protection was eventually introduced in 1924 when an 1,400-hectare area of the Valley of Triglav Lakes was declared an Alpine park.
The park ceased to exist after WWII as the relevant contract expired in 1944, but was revived and expanded to 2,000 hectares in 1961, changing its name to today's.
On 27 May 1981, a new law was passed to protect almost the entire Julian Alps, with another law in 2010 expanding the national park to its present boundaries.
Apart from Triglav, the national park boasts a number of natural wonders, such as gorges, waterfalls and lakes, including Lake Bohinj, and several peaks higher than 2,000 metres.
It is a popular tourist and hiking destination, with the first recorded ascent to Triglav in August 1778 credited to four locals upon initiative of Baron Žiga Zois.
But unlike national parks in Europe or the US, there are 34 settlements with some 2,700 residents in the TNP, who initially found the strict conservation regime limiting.
TNP director Janez Rakar says that all stakeholders have now realised protection is needed.
The locals' attitude towards the restrictions started changing when regulations on state co-funding of local projects started to be implemented.
"The state too has realised that the natural park is not just about occasionally bragging about it, but is really needed and shows the country's level of development."
He praised those who wrote the protective law to restrain the appetites for capital investments and restrict construction in the national park.
And although it is hard to precisely assess the effects of the protective law as social and climate change is happening, Rakar says "things would have been different without it".
"If there were no rules written down, the situation in this part of the natural environment would have been definitely different, and I dare say not better."
STA, 15 May 2021 - The hiking event Highlander Adventure is coming to Slovenia for the first time ever this summer. Participants will have five days, from July 10 to July 14, to finish a 100-kilometre trail. They will carry all the necessities with them and sleep outdoors, while food and water will be provided at checkpoints.
The start will be around Lake Bohinj and the finish in Kobarid in the Soča Valley. After a group start, the participants walk the trail on their own.
They are provided with a map of the route and they have to reach all five checkpoints during the five days.
Sleeping is advised at certain checkpoints, where the organiser provides them with food and water, the I feel Slovenia Highlander Julian Alps team said in a press release.
The goal is not to compete, but just to finish the 100-kilometre long route and receive the Highlander title. The organiser is expecting around 150 participants.
To prepare for the event, test hikes and three webinars will be organised in May and June.
The event is a part of Highlander Adventure hiking events. This year it will take place in 15 countries across Europe and the Middle East.
"Highlander promotes respect for nature, care for the environment, 'leave no trace' principles and minimalism," the organisers said.
Learn more and Register for Highlander Julian Alps, and follow on Facebook
STA, 13 May 2021 - When the bicycle renting system Bicikelj was set up in Ljubljana on 12 May 2011, there were 30 stations and 300 bicycles. Today, the system boasts 73 stations with 730 bicycles, while the plan is to expand it to over 80 stations and 800 bicycles by the end of the year, the municipality has announced.
On the first day, the municipality recorded 787 rentals, and to this day, 217,000 users have made eight million rentals, almost all of which shorter than one hour and therefore free of additional charge. The highest number of rentals in a day, 6,387, was recorded on 22 October 2019.
Although the pandemic lowered the number of rentals compared to recent years, the number of active users continues to rise, now standing at an all time high with 52,500 users or 17% of Ljubljana's population.
"The municipality is aware of health and environmental benefits of cycling, so it constantly upgrades the cycling infrastructure," Mayor Zoran Janković said on Wednesday.
Numerous sustainable mobility awards prove this, alongside the fact that since 2015, Ljubljana has been among the top 20 cycling-friendly cities in the world three times in a row according to the Copenhagenize Index.
These achievements will be presented at the Velo-City 2022, a world cycling planning conference Ljubljana will host from 14 to 17 June next year.
Bicikelj is operated by the billboard operator Europlakat through a public-private partnership. Europlakat is part of the JCDecaux group, which is the reason why one of its executive directors, Jean-Francois Decaux, visited Ljubljana on the occasion.
"Ten years ago, Ljubljana was the first city in Central Europe to introduce a bicycle renting system for its citizens and tourists through a public-private partnership. I'm very proud that Bicikelj has become one of the most successful systems in the world, with each bike being rented an average eight times a day," he said.
Over the years, Bicikelj's software has been updated. The mobile app BicikeLJ Official allows users to check the availability of bicycles and free spaces at each station. Rental is possible with the app or with the Urbana city card.
Learn more about how to rent a bicycle in Ljubljana
STA, 10 May 2021 - The boss of the company operating the Postojna Cave has told the weekly Reporter he does not expect a normal flow of tourists this year due to the strict and rapidly changing restrictions in the EU member states. Speaking about "tourism cannibalism", he says Slovenia is in for a very poor season.
"Restrictions are harsh and they change on a weekly basis. This means there will largely be no normal tourist flow," said Marjan Batagelj of Postojnska Jama, the operator of one of the Slovenia's main landmarks.
In the interview with Reporter, published on Monday, Batagelj added that tourism was not bars and restaurants and their terraces, as the revenue in the sector came mostly from foreign guests.
And if there are no foreign guests in Slovenia, and if the airline industry does not get back on its feet, Slovenia is in for a very poor season. "This is not something that pleases the ear, but it is true. I will be happy if I was wrong."
Batagelj also spoke about what he labelled as "tourism soloing by countries", which implicates the beginning of "tourism cannibalism".
"Before the crisis, tourism regions were united to a certain extent at least when it came to joint promotion in remote, overseas or continental markets. Now there are no friendly tourism countries any more. Every country will bet on their domestic guests, and tourist flows will be stopped."
He noted that the situation for tourism workers had been deteriorating for one year and a half, while he is putting a lot of hope in the upcoming special emergency law for the tourism and hospitality industry.
While Batagelj commended the state aid, he was critical of tourism vouchers, as the idea would have been very good if it was intended for all stakeholders in tourism, which is "not only accommodation, overnight stay."
It is also about sights, natural and cultural heritage of Slovenia, museums, agencies, guides, transport industry, restaurant owners - everybody who serve guests, he said.
The Postojna Cave, which remains closed until the end of the epidemic is declared, last year had EUR 4 million in revenue, compared to the target of EUR 35 million. "I don't even want to mention this year's numbers, because there are no numbers."
Batagelj is worried about this year's season, as he does not think that people will start visiting the landmark now that restrictive measures are being relaxed as tourists are "shyly cautious". "This season will be worse than last year's."
Slovenia’s slow reopening continues along with its vaccination program and those of its neighbours. At present (6 May) outdoor drinking and dining is possible, along with indoors under certain conditions, as set by set by the National Institute of Public Health. Hotels, hostels and B&Bs are also open, albeit currently limited to offering 30 rooms, and visits to galleries, museums, and so on can be made. Moreover, with the EU making plans to enable international tourism, there’s every expectation that the country will have a relatively busy summer season, as people take advantage of their new freedoms to do things they once took for granted.
Of course, when it comes to Slovenian tourism one site stands out above all in the promotional literature – Lake Bled, its island and castle, which reopened for business a few weeks ago – along with the views that surround it.
It’s this backdrop that helped Royal Bled win the honour of being added to the World of Leading Golf’s list of “Best and Most Beautiful” courses in 2018, based on the high quality of service, excellent golf courses – both 18- and 9-hole – and the fact that golfers rated it as well worth revisiting.
In February 2020, just before the world shut down, Royal Bled gained further renown when it joined golfscape’s top 100 courses in the world. The oldest and largest course in Slovenia came in at #86, just after The Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami, USA, and before Golf de Spérone, France. Unsurprisingly, it was again the beauty of the area that caught the imagination of the authors, with the report noting “the course is flanked by towering mountains and the impressive valleys of the Alps. With excellently manicured grounds, many hail it as one of the most beautiful courses in all of Europe.”
But can you enjoy Royal Bled today, with the epidemic still not over? The simple answer yes, Royal Bled’s golf courses and restaurant are open for business, as is the luxury accommodation that’s available in the King’s House – originally built for King Alexander I of Yugoslavia – and the Lake House, with special “Play & Stay” packages available to ensure comfort, convenience and full golfing pleasure (details here)
Golfers who plan on staying elsewhere can book a tee time online for the 18-hole championship King’s Course (€155), or the 9-hole Lake’s Course (€55), and clubs, trolleys and carts can be rented. Note that the handicap requirements to play on the King’s Course are 29.0 for men and 36.0 for women, with an HCP certificate needed to prove this. There’s also a dress code for both club and restaurant, with details here.
The tournament season at the club begins in June, with the Royal Bled International Pro Am running from the 10th to 13th, open to a maximum of 22 teams of four players including one professional, with more details here. July then sees the 47th Golden Lion Trophy on the 17th, while the 28th to 31st is the 48th Golf Week, sponsored by Tesla, Castrol, Optisis and SK Golf, all played with those beautiful views.
In short, if you’ve spent the last year trapped at home and dreaming of wide open spaces, great natural beauty, and a good walk enhanced with a game, then now’s the time to visit the Royal Bled website and plan your trip to one of the best golf courses in Slovenia.
Golf Resort Royal Bled, Vrba 37a, 4248 Lesce, Slovenia
At last count there were 14 golf clubs in Slovenia, offering both 9- and 18-hole courses. Lean more about them here.
Please note that PCR tests performed in Serbia and Turkey will be recognised as a way to avoid quarantine on arrival in Slovenia only for arrivals at airports and not in general as reported earlier.
STA, 3 May 2021 - PCR tests done in Serbia and Turkey will be recognised as a way to avoid quarantine on arrival in Slovenia through airports from Wednesday under an amended decree that the government adopted on Monday.
Save for some exceptions, passengers from countries on the red list must quarantine unless they submit a negative PCR test no older than 48 hours, proof of vaccination, or proof of having had Covid-19 in the past six months, which includes a positive PCR test older than 21 days.
STA, 1 May 2021 - Ljubljana will be connected to Brussels with regular flights during Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of the year. The routes will be operated by carriers Brussels Airlines and Wizzair, Slovenia's permanent representation in Brussels has said.
Between 31 May and 30 October, Brussels Airlines will be operating six flights a week between the Jože Pučnik Airport Ljubljana and the Brussels Zaventem airport. The carrier will fly every day of the week bar Saturday.
Wizzair will be flying between the Jože Pučnik and the Charleroi airports every Monday and Thursday as of 31 May.
After traffic to and from the Ljubljana airport was slashed by the coronavirus pandemic and no direct routes to Brussels have been re-established, the government has made a considerable effort to ensure good connectivity during the presidency.
The press release also said that they were now working on securing flights to Brussels at appropriate hours of day, as well as to other destinations across Europe.
STA, 1 May 2021 - Slovenia and Hungary have agreed to mutually recognise their respective Covid-19 vaccination certificates, the Slovenian Ministry has announced. A vaccination certificate issued in one country will have the same legal effect as the one issued in another, in line with the internal national legal orders.
Slovenia already permits entry to the country from Hungary without mandatory quarantine or proof of a negative coronavirus test if a vaccination certificate is produced.
Under the agreement, Hungary will now do the same for entry from Slovenia, after only certain exceptions have so far been permitted to enter Hungary, the ministry said on Facebook.
In addition to the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), also applied in Hungary are the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and the vaccines of the Chinese producers Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.
The Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) has announced that the country is now ready to welcome tourists once again, and is thus stepping up promotional activities to gain more of the much-anticipated post-epidemic boom in travel, as people rush beyond the boundaries set by restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the wake of the successful roll-out of vaccination programmes.
While anyone arriving now will still face limits with regard to where they can stay, with hotels allowed to offer no more than 30 rooms, and where they can eat and drink, with indoor dining still involving distancing, things do seem to be moving in the right direction.
STB is playing to Slovenia’s strengths when it comes to post-epidemic travel, promoting the great outdoors along with the exercise, fresh air and general healthy living that go with it.
As Maja Pak, director of the STB, puts it:
The first steps towards the resumption of tourism give us hope for a quick re-establishment of tourist flows and the recovery of tourism as one of the most important industries. Throughout the crisis, the Slovenian Tourist Board has carried out situation-adapted communication activities on foreign and domestic markets, which have now been upgraded and strengthened, as the restrictions have released. In the light of changed travel habits, guests are in search of a non-mass, healthy and safe holiday destinations. Therefore, active experiences in unspoiled nature are being highlighted, a tourist product that has the most potential for the recovery of tourism.
Health is becoming an increasingly important value as well, so we also pay special attention to the product health and well-being. Slovenia is also the holder of the European Region of Gastronomy 2021 title, which means that we also focus on inviting domestic as well as foreign guests to discover unique gastronomic experiences. Of course, safety plays a major role when choosing a holiday destination, this is why Green&Safe brand has been launched, which present safe and attractive experiences in Slovenia.
In addition to foreign visitors, STB is also promoting staycations among Slovene’s with the Zdaj je čas. Moja Slovenija (The Time is Now. My Slovenia).
Anyone thinking of making a trip to Slovenia in the near future is advised to check out this website which has a good summary of the various criteria you need to meet in order to cross the border and avoid quarantine, with even more details provided here if needed.
There’s also an online app – in English – to guide you through the various restrictions. Just click here then scroll down to start the process, and find out if you’ll be able to enjoy a stay on the sunny side of the Alps.
STA, 29 April 2021 - Spanish airline Iberia will operate a Ljubljana-Madrid route this summer, after its social media followers chose Ljubljana in an online campaign. In August, it will be flying between Spain and Slovenia twice a week, the company said on Thursday.
This was the first time that Iberia asked its social media followers about their preferences. The users of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter chose Ljubljana from among seven destinations, with the Slovenian capital receiving 38% of the votes.
Nearly 4,720 people took part in the campaign, which saw the Azores take second place, while the Greek island of Zakynthos placed third.
Iberia will be flying to 113 destinations this summer. The prices for a return ticket between Madrid and Ljubljana will start at EUR 115.
STA, 27 April 2021 - The Slovenian Tourism and Hospitality Chamber (Turistično gostinska zbornica Slovenije - TGZS) demands that the government immediately change of scale back restrictions in the industry that it deems "senseless" and a drag on business.
The chamber made the appeal on Tuesday, a day after accommodation was allowed to reopen after several months of complete closure.
However, establishments may only open up to 30 rooms and guests have to provide negative tests, or proof of vaccination or evidence of having already had coronavirus.
As a result, many establishments chose not to reopen at this point given that it is not economical to operate so few rooms.
The chamber said this restriction was "particularly illogical" in campsites, apartments and bungalows, which are safe.
The most senseless measure, according to the chamber, is the restriction on the use of hotel restaurants by guests given that restaurants may operate indoor seating in regions in the yellow tier of restrictions.
"In practice, this means that a guest ... stays at a hotel ... but may not enter the hotel restaurant. They may, however, simply walk into a restaurant across the street."
The chamber also said it had been informed about the reopening just days before, despite numerous appeals for the communication of such decisions at least a month in advance so that marketing campaigns may start early enough.
"We understand how demanding these decisions are, but Italy, for example, said at the end of April that cultural institutions, outdoor pools, hotels, restaurants, gyms, fairs, conventions, spas and theme parks would reopen on 1 July."