17 Aug 2019, 16:00 PM

STA, 16 August 2019 - The National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has been notified that golden-brown algae have multiplied at Lake Bled. Bathers should therefore avoid water activities where the algae are visibly present and take a shower after bathing.

NIPH reports that the algae can be spotted as brown coloured areas. The institute also advises against bathing in areas where the algae are present or sitting on dried algae on the lake shore.

The bathers should also take a shower after bathing. In case of allergic reactions such as skin irritation or breathing difficulties the bathers should seek medical assistance.

Špela Remec Rekar from the Slovenian Environment Agency, who monitors the state of Lake Bled, pointed out that the ecological state of the lake, which was always in good or solid condition, is worsening.

The expansion of tourism and an increase in the number of fishermen and bathers are the reason for this.

The Municipality of Bled is working on minimising the environmental effects on the lake. This year the municipality completed the construction of sewers and will gradually close the roads by the lake for traffic.

Some of the areas are closed off for bathing now, with Romana Purkart from the Bled Tourist Board "inviting bathers to the Grajsko bathing area that provides the needed infrastructure along with environmentally friendly sunscreen".

15 Aug 2019, 18:25 PM

The BBC Travel website has a long and interesting article that takes a deep dive into the story of the Swiss healer Arnold Rikli, whose work in Bled drew health tourists from all over Europe more than 150 years ago.

Related: How to spend from 4 to 48 hours in Bled…

So while the author, Mahima A Jain, does go up Mala Osojnica for sunrise, this is a story about Bled that doesn’t mention the church on the island or kremsnita, and touches on the Castle only to note it has an exhibition in Rikli.

As the article says:

Riki was the founder of a naturopathic and hydropathic healing regimen, a form of alternative medicine that avoided pharmaceuticals, and instead relied on the four elements of nature – sun, water, air and earth – for treating illness.

The regimen was one of physical activity, from early morning hikes to sunbathing, exercises in the fresh air to the use of cold, warm and steam baths to purify and strengthen the body. Evenings were for social activities, and all patients were prescribed eight hours of sleep.

It sounds idyllic, and it’s a fascinating story that connects with the current state of health tourism in Bled. It’s here we’ll also note the outsize contribution of Slovenia’s spas to its tourist industry as a whole, with spa towns second only to the alps when it came to the number of overnight stays in 2018, at 4.49 million for the Alps and 3.49 million for spa resorts.

15 Aug 2019, 12:36 PM

The luxury travel advisors Virtuoso, “the leading global network of agencies specializing in luxury and experiential travel”, has given out 18 awards to destination, cruise and lifestyle partners who it sees as offering outstanding products and services, as well as excellent collaboration with its members, in the areas of boutique and top quality tourism.

The winners cover the world, from the US to Oceania, with the Slovenian Tourist Board (Slovenske turistične organizacije - STO) picking up an award for Hottest Destination of the Year. STO was also nominated for the title of Tourism Board of the Year, which it lost to Switzerland.

The awards were given out as part of Virtuoso Travel Week, which takes place in Las Vegas between 10 and 16 August, and provides a venue for more than 6,000 tourism professionals to meet, make connections and do business, with the STO scheduled to have more than 230 meetings at the event.

All our travel and tourism stories are here

12 Aug 2019, 10:03 AM

Almost every visitor to Ljubljana will pass by Ljubljana Central Market (Osrednja ljubljanska Tržnica) at least once, but not everyone will explore it, and that’s a shame as it’s the right size to spend an hour or pottering around, or can you be more focused and nip in and out for fresh produce, bread, cheese, nuts and other snacks.

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The market in 1910. Wikimedia

It’s an old institution that remains at the heart of the city, where people come to buy ingredients for their kitchens, along with most of the city’s best restaurants. It’s also the perfect base from which to explore other parts of the city, with many of the “must-see” ones nearby, and the fact that it’s best in the morning to the afternoon means you can make it a goal for the first half of the day, with lots of places to eat and drink on both sides of the river.

The market itself is on the Castle side of the river, and the extended area runs from Dragon Bridge to Triple Bridge, or along the edge of Plečnik’s Arcades, the two-level structure with all the columns on one side of the river.

Check out our weekly guide to What's On in Ljubljana

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On the Castle side of the market you’ll see a statue from 1889. That’s Valentin Vodnik (1758 -1819), the first Slovenian poet, who the square is named after. In 1895 an earthquake destroyed the old monastery with college for girls that stood near here, and an outdoor market was then established. The present market building and arcades were designed by Jože Plečnik through the 1930s, and was built between 1940 and 1942.

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This was envisaged as a working market and remains one, despite the encroaching tourist character of the area. Come here and you can see how the city shops for fruit, vegetables and more. Here you can buy goods directly from the producers, with items sourced from all over the country, and find competing varieties of local specialties to compare. Like the city itself the whole thing is rather small, there’s no real danger of getting lost and there’s a lot of pleasure to be had by just wandering around and seeing what’s happening.

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The bulk of the outdoor market is taken up with fruit and vegetable stalls. Terms to look out for here are bio and ekološka, which and ecological.

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Prices are clearly marked, and no bargaining is expected

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The other side of the market is taken up with clothes, shoes and bags, plus a line of herbs and young plants, a place selling wooden / woven goods. The place selling wooden / woven goods is next to a Trafika, where you can get cigarettes. Next to that there’s a tourist information centre

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At each end of the market there are large tourist information centres. The one at Dragon Bridge is busier, while you can rent bikes from the one at Krekov trg 4, opposite the funicular. (Bike rental June – September 08:00 to 21:00, April, May, October 08:00 to 19:00.

This corner of the market opens up onto Krekov trg, with the Puppet Theatre opposite, and along the side the Vodnikov hram restaurant – selling Slovenian food – Čokl, a good coffee store, and Daktari, a great café bar that sometimes has live music. Next to this is the funicular.

If you’d prefer to walk up to the Castle then there are various paths from the Old Town that are fun to discover and explore if you live here. The one nearest here is just after Vodnikov hram, down the side street that goes up hill. Seeing Verba – a “yugostaligia” labour of love – will let you know you’re in the right place. Follow the path straight up for the direct route, and take the one on the left for a longer, more scenic route. Note that Castle Hill changes with the seasons, and one aspect of this is the quality of the paths. Heels aren’t recommended.

Related: How to spend from 4 to 48 hours in Ljubljana

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At the Dragon Bridge end there are some stalls selling fresh fast food, with fish a popular choice. From here you can turn left, walk to the bakery and be in the middle of the ethnic food centre of Trubarjeva cesta. Or downriver on the Castle side and if the market didn’t meet your needs then there’s a pretty good Spar and Hofer a short walk away, the latter staying open later and on Sundays. Note that no alcohol is sold in stores after 21:00. The same building also has a Lekarna to get your prescription filled (as does Prešeren Square).

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One side, by the covered market ,  has a milk vending machine– get a bottle and choose the amount. Next to this you can buy votive candles.

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There are two small doors to enter the covered market (Pokrita tržnica). In here you’ll find a climate controlled space that’s especially welcome on hot or cold days. Along with the air conditioning there’s bread, cheese, nuts, dried fruit, salami, cookies, chocolates and so on. A great place to stock up before a hike or for hotel room snacks.

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A cafe bar without a sign called Magda is next door that has a good menu. Note they sometimes have NSFW art on the walls so choose your seat with care if that could be an issue. The nearby Butchers' Bridge, with all the “lovers’ locks”, connects the market with part of the riverside that has some nice bars with a view of the Castle and Arcades.

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There’s a small fountain with drinking water in the middle of the market and the Arcades (not all winter. The nearest public bathrooms are under Butcher’s Bridge or Triple Bridge.

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Photo: Open Kitchen

On the Triple Bridge side of the covered market is Pogačar Square (Pogačarjev trg). This is home to certain irregular markets, so take a look and see what’s happening. In the warmer months it hosts Open Kitchen, a popular food market, every Friday, lunch till late, while in December there’s a Christmas market.

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Running along the side of the cathedral there’s a line of flower stalls, along with places selling the forest foods of berries and mushrooms. There’s an ATM here, on by the Tourist Information Centre, and another in Prešeren Square. You can also go downstairs in the Arcades and get closer to the water. There’s a restaurant and a fish market (Ribarnica. Near here there’s a stall that sells herbal remedies.

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Photo: Neža Loštrek

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Photo: Neža Loštrek

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Photo: Neža Loštrek

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All along the side of the market next to the river there are Plečnik’s Arcades. Here you’ll find cafés and restaurants along with stores selling meat, dairy, and deli goods.

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Bear and donkey salami are on the menu. Bears are protected in Slovenia, but there is a cull to keep the numbers manageable. The place below sells horsemeat.

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The row along the Arcades has two lines of varied souvenir and novelty stalls, with something to delight and/or appal everyone.

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The signs reflect the changing customers for some stalls

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Like Slovenia itself, this part of town is an intense mixture of smaller and more approachable features that you can find in other places, but here they have a greater concentration, and can give you the feeling of getting to know the place very well in just a few days.

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Homemade schnapps and wild mushrooms

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The open-air section of the market is open weekdays 6:00-18:00, Saturday 6:00-16:00 during summer, 6:00-16:00 in winter; Sundays and holidays closed The covered section is open weekdays 7:00-16:00, Saturday 7:00-14:00. The part under Plečnik's Arcades is open weekdays 7:00-16:00, Saturday 7:00-14:00.

09 Aug 2019, 10:46 AM

Ex-Yu Aviation, the best site for news on flights in the region, reports that Wizz Air will end its service between Charleroi, Belgium and Ljubljana for the winter season. The last scheduled flight is on 26 October. This will leave the budget carrier with just one service to the Slovenian capital, connecting Ljubljana with London’s Luton Airport, although this will be upgraded with the use of a 230-seat A321 instead of the current 180-seat Airbus A320.

All our stories on flights to and from Slovenia are here

07 Aug 2019, 14:40 PM

STA, 7 August 2019 - Ill-shod tourists attempting to scale Slovenia's highest peak are a major headache for mountain rescuers, but the Slovenian Alpine Museum has made it sure they can do that in a safe way with the help of virtual reality.

The institution, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, boasts a new addition to its state-of-the-art collection, providing a magical 3D experience of descending Mount Triglav.

Related: Police Stop Hikers for Wearing the Wrong Shoes

Visitors, be it in flip-flops or whatever their preferred choice of footwear, are now able to use a virtual reality zipline to descend the 2864-metre mountain and land in front of the museum.

They simply buckle a safety belt, sit down, put on 3D goggles and start the journey down the mountain.

During a couple of minutes, visitors are able to do a 360-degree spin and admire the neighbouring mountains and valleys while eagles are passing them by.

The zipline descent is included in the museum ticket and has so far elicited a positive response.

You can learn more about the museum here, while all our stories on mountaineering are here

05 Aug 2019, 09:28 AM

The best website for regional aviation news, Ex-Yu Aviation, reports that All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest carrier, will be returning to Ljubljana later this month, with two direct flights being operated for Japan’s largest tour operator.

Flight NH1951 will fly from Osaka Kansai International to Ljubljana on August 31, departing at 13:05 and landing in Slovenia at 18:5 the same day. The second flight, NH1955, will go from Tokyo to Ljubljana and leave Narita Airport at 09:00 on September 14, arriving at Ljubljana Airport at 14:00. The service will be operated using a wide-body Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

In June of this year the Slovenian State Secretary at the Ministry for Economy and Technological Development, Aleš Cantarutti, received a visit from Yoshihiro Seki, Japan's Minister for Economy, Commerce and Industry, in which they discussed the plans for more regular nonstop flights between the two countries. More on this story, including ANA’s new flights to Croatia, can be found at Ex-Yu Aviation.

03 Aug 2019, 18:00 PM

STA, 3 August 2019 - Long tailbacks of holiday traffic are reported from across the country this Saturday and a similar situation is also expected on Sunday and next weekend, as the tourist season peaks. The longest waiting time is still reported from the border crossing Gruškovje with Croatia, where drivers have to wait more than two hours.

Reports of several-kilometre tailbacks of traffic have been coming in all day and the jams still persist.

The queue of vehicles before Gruškovje was 3.5 kilometres long during the day but now it is still some 1.5 kilometre long, according to the Traffic Information Centre.

A six-kilometre tailback is reported before the Karavnke tunnel from Austria. In the direction of Austria, the tailback is even longer, at seven kilometres.

Jams are also being reported from the border crossings of Sečovlje, Starod, Jelšane, Metlika, Dragonja and at the regional roads Portorož-Strunjan-Izola in both directions.

The situation is being made worse by several accidents.

01 Aug 2019, 15:52 PM

STA, 1 August 2019 - TrNOVfest, the successor to the Trnfest annual summer festival in Ljubljana's Trnovo borough, will open on Thursday with concerts by the bands Hamo & Tribute to Love and Buržuazija, followed up by shows every evening until the end of August.

The popular festival open-air venue in Karunova Street will also notably see performances by Rambo Amadeus, Zabranjeno Pušenje, Noctiferia, Nipke and N'toko, Soul Fingers and Zaklonišče Prepeva, among others.

The 28th festival, marking the 99th anniversary of the Trnovo Culture Centre, which hosts the festival, will conclude on 31 August with concerts by Tabu and Traffic Religion.

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In addition to getting a new name, what is also new about the festival, which used to be free of charge, is tickets, costing five euros.

Iztok Kurnik told the STA on behalf of the organisers that they wanted to offer a diverse programme and explained that payable tickets had been introduced in order to cover the security costs.

Unlike the previous years, the festival will not come to a close with the traditional street festival Emonska Promenada at the end of August.

The 19th Emonska Promenada will have a different concept and take place in a different location, on the Shoemakers' Bridge in the centre of Ljubljana. It will be held between 22 and 24 August.

TrNOVfest’s schedule is perhaps best seen on the related Facebook events page, but can also be found on the official website and this PDF


31 Jul 2019, 18:49 PM

The latest edition of the Henley Passport Index has come out, based on the number of destinations a particular passport holder can access without a prior visa (either visa free or on landing). The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In first place are Japan and Singapore, which can freely access an incredible 189 of the world’s 195 countries (including the Holy See and the State of Palestine, with 197 if you count Taiwan and Kosovo). In second place are Germany, Finland and South Korea (187), and in third Denmark, Italy and Luxembourg.

Slovenia comes a little further down the list, in 10th place, along with Latvia and Slovakia.

Picking out a few other countries of interest to our readers, both the United States and United Kingdom are in 6th place, with access to 183 destinations. Croatia is 20th, with 167 visa free options, Serbia 41st (31), North Macedonia 46th (123), and Bosnia and Herzegovina 51st (116).

A PDF of the full report can be found here

31 Jul 2019, 16:30 PM

STA, 31 July 2019 - Slovenian tourism continued to boom in the first half of the year. Arrivals were up by over 6% compared to the same period last year to 2.6 million, with accommodation facilities recording 6.3 million nights, an increase of 10%, fresh statistics show.

While domestic arrivals increased just 3% to 733,000, foreign arrivals increased by almost 8% to 1.8 million, mostly due to increases in arrivals from the most important source countries.

There was a 13.5% increase in the number of guests from Germany, with arrivals from Austria and Italy rising by almost 6% and 3%, respectively, the Statistics Office said on Wednesday.

The picture for nights spent at tourist accommodation establishments is similar: foreigners spent 4.3 million nights in Slovenia, a rise of over 6%, while nights by domestic visitors were roughly flat at just over two million.

Among the largest source countries, the biggest increases were recorded for guests from Germany, Austria and Italy.

More details on this data can be found here

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