Tucked in the southeastern alps lies the small country of Slovenia. With a small but attractive coastline, incredible mountains, and boarders with Austria Italy, and Croatia, Slovenia and its 2 million people should be firmly considered the hidden gem of European alpine tourism.
The people are very relaxed and accepting of progressive social issues. I found most people to be quite open when asking for directions and guidance, something not typically said about many other Western European countries (ahem, France and Italy). When not approached, Slovenian tend to mind their own business and value privacy, similar to the Swiss in this regard. Lastly, Slovenia is a safe country with low crime rates and high education.
Geographically, Slovenia sits in the cradle of eastern and Western Europe. For a backpacker this is an incredibly valuable junction point. Most find their way to Slovenia whilst balancing the transition between the Balkans and the Western European countries. I’d expect most backpackers to be moving eastward to avoid the pricey west.
As to be expected, Slovenia’s prices fall in between the east and west. Hostels range between 10-20 euros, food is pretty cheap, panini index is about 3.5 euros.
Slovenia is incredibly verdant, comfortably clean, and spacious in its land. It has a small community feel due to its small population and a humble nationalism akin to small town pride.
Slovenia offers some very accessible lakes and hiking in Triglavski National Park and its surrounding areas. Triglavski is a must-see.
Ljubljana is a small capital city that hosts the main university in Slovenia, a towering castle perched atop a central hill, and a canal that intersects old town and newer parts of town. It too is clean, however it has just the right amount of flavor and culture due to the young population that attends the school. Recommended to see this town during the school year for the true effect.
For transportation, the bus system in Slovenia is pretty good and affordable. Trains are used less. Most main areas a relatively accessible by bus year round, with the high alpine regions less accessible starting September.
Slovenia is rad of adventure tourism such as rafting, hiking, cycling, and paragliding.
It is possible to see Slovenia in only a few days, with day trips to Bonhij Lake and Lake Bled, two of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen, easily attainable by public transportation.