If you’re a creature of habit and always visit the same countries – France, Italy, Spain – over and over again, all we can say is, you really have missed an absolute gem! At least, so far.

Slovenia takes most visitors by surprise in every sense – its sheer natural beauty, its elegance, its hospitality, friendliness and sense of security, its prosperity and assured cultural identity, and its love of the outdoors and camping. If you think that language barriers may be a problem, no worries; many Slovenians – indeed most within the towns – speak English as a second language. If you think the currency may be a barrier, far from it; the country uses the Euro. There really is nothing to stop you from visiting this magnificent country.

Predominantly rural, Slovenia is bordered by Austria in the north, Italy to the west and Croatia to the south and east, with a fraction of a border with Hungary in the north east. Slovenia’s capital is Ljubljana, a cultural city that’s well placed geographically to use as a base for exploring all regions of the country. With just under 300,000 inhabitants, it’s compact enough to explore on foot. Slovenia’s second largest city, with a population of 116,000, is Maribor, in the north east of the country. The centre of a wine-growing region with, reputedly, the oldest vine in the world, Maribor is a delight to explore on foot or by bike – or indeed by boat along the River Drava.

But Slovenia’s highlights are, arguably, within its rural environs. Whether that’s the spellbinding Triglav National Park and the Julian Alps, the romantic charm of Lake Bled, with its tiny island and castle, the vine-clad slopes filled with Roman vineyards, the emerald colours of the Soča river valley or the richness of the Istrian coastline. And that’s before adding in specific attractions like the network of karst caves or the world famous Lipizzaner horses, the numerous spa resorts or the hilltop castles.

If you’re thinking of a tour of Slovenia, however many days you plan to stay there, double it. You’ll find you’ll want more!