- Unique mixture of unspoilt alpine, rural & coastal scenery
- Explore the art & architecture of Ljubljana
- Captivating renaissance & baroque churches & castles
- Excellent Slovenian food & wine
- Comfortable & well located 4* hotel in the heart of the capital city
Since independence twenty-eight years ago, Slovenia has truly come of age. It sits at the heart of central Europe, having emerged from the quagmire of Yugoslavia’s collapse. It is a place of unspoilt beauty, economically prosperous and very welcoming to visitors and full of remarkably preserved monuments. Settled by Illyrian and Celtic tribes, Augustus conquered the region, establishing two Roman provinces, Pannonia and Noricum. Roman Emona, now Ljubljana, developed on a river connecting the Balkans to the Danube basin, building up trade as the region flourished. After Rome’s fall, the area was swept up by the Ostrogoths and later contested by both Byzantines and Lombards.
Medieval Slovenia saw first the Slavs, then the Franks, establish a vassal state, converting the people to Christianity. Subsequent Bavarian involvement initiated the ‘Germanisation’ of the region, though instability was always close at hand via Avar invasions from Hungary. Throughout the late Medieval and early modern eras, revolts and uprisings awoke a ‘Slovene’ conscience. Further stimulated by the Reformation, this gave Slovenia its first vernacular books, helping it affirm its own language, culture and identity.
As in most of central Europe, when the Habsburgs took control the area became enmeshed in their wars against the Ottoman Turks. However, under the Empress Maria Theresa reform came, reflected in an unexpected outbreak of artistic patronage. Thereafter, the vicissitudes of the Napoleonic and Austro-Hungarian Empires of the nineteenth century need no rehearsal here. Suffice to say that after the defeat of Austria-Hungary in 1918, Slovenia was ruled from Serbia, incorporated within the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. After World War II power was again based in Belgrade, this time under Marshal Tito within the new Yugoslavia. Finally, true independence in June 1991 brought a new democratic beginning, which happily continues to flourish.
We shall stay in the heart of Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, at the 4* Grand Hotel Union, located close to the Ljubljanica River and within walking distance of the city’s principal sites, restaurants and shops. The tour will be led and managed by James Hill who will be joined by a number of local guides and experts.
Day by day
- Day 1: Monday 30 August
- We fly from Heathrow to Ljubljana, arriving late-afternoon. We travel by coach the short distance into Ljubljana to check-in at our hotel, the 4* Grand Hotel Union. Later in the evening we shall dine in a local restaurant - wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Tuesday 31 August
- We spend our first full day on foot in Ljubljana. The unique architecture of Jože Plečnik, active between the two world wars, places him for many as the father of Post-Modernism. His playful, eclectic and wittily irreverent designs are visible throughout the city, including his iconic Three Bridges and Library. Our morning’s walk around the handsome old centre will also include visits to the Church of St Francis and the Cathedral of St Nicholas, a baroque feast. Ljubljana Castle dominates the town where our visit concludes with a group lunch in one of the city’s best restaurants - by chance situated in one of the castle’s turrets. In the afternoon we visit the National Museum of Slovenia, an excellent introduction to the city’s Roman period of history. We return to the hotel via a gentle boat trip along the river after which the evening will be free.
- Day 3: Wednesday 1 September
- Today we travel northwards to Lake Bled in the shadow of the Julian Alps. Only in the nineteenth century did the Habsburgs fully appreciate the beauty of Bled’s scenery and the purity of its waters, transforming the lake into a grand resort. We begin our visit at the unlikely lakeside Villa Bled, one of many properties periodically enjoyed by Marshall Tito. Now a hotel, it contains murals championing his socialist vision. We then take the pletna gondolas across the lake to Bled’s islet to visit the Church of the Assumption. We end our morning at Bled Castle where, sitting high above the lake, there are a Museum and a very good restaurant, where we shall lunch. We make our return to Ljubljana via the medieval village of Kamnik and the Volčji Potok Arboretum, neatly arranged around a series of formal parks. On our return the evening will be free.
- Day 4: Thursday 2 September
- We drive across the Primórska region to the slither-like south-western coastal part of Slovenia, minutes from its borders with Italy and Croatia. We visit the Church of the Holy Trinity at Hrastovlje, romanesque in design, its fortifications were added ahead of the advancing Turks in 1581. The joy of this small church lies within - its interior was entirely frescoed around 1490. We continue to the Adriatic Coast and the town of Piran. Five centuries of Venetian rule have left an indelible mark on this delightful ‘mini Venice’ perched on a partially walled spur of land. Our walk through the town will include a visit to the panoramic, baroque Cathedral of St George. After lunch (not included) and some free time, we return to Ljubljana and the evening will be free.
- Day 5: Friday 3 September
- Our eastward travels take us to the medieval town of Ptuj via the Basilica of Mary the Patroness or Ptujska Gora. This important pilgrimage church is one of the finest Gothic churches in Slovenia, commanding quite splendid views of the gentle countryside. Once a Roman military outpost on the Drava River, Ptuj equals Ljubljana in historical importance. From the ninth to the sixteenth century it came under the control of Salzburg. Happily, in the nineteenth century the new Vienna-coastal railway bypassed the town, thus leaving it to remain as one of Slovenia’s most handsome survivors. After a walking tour around the town we have our group lunch facing the Drava River. In the afternoon we visit Ptuj Castle, fortified in the sixteenth century in defence of the advancing Turks, and once somewhat unexpectedly owned by the Scottish Leslies who left in 1802. Today it houses a collection of wide-ranging objects including paintings, tapestries and furniture. After our visit we return to Ljubljana where the evening will be free.
- Day 6: Saturday 4 September
- Our half day of activities on foot focuses on our second exploration of Ljubljana with a visit to its finest baroque buildings, the Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity. We then walk towards Tivoli Park and the National Gallery of Slovenia where the collection brings together art from both local and itinerant artists. The Baroque period is well represented and there are some superb Neo-classical, Romantic and Impressionist works of art, mostly by Slovene artists benefitting from the proximity of Vienna and Munich and their respective Art Schools. Lunch is not included and the rest of the afternoon will be free. Later in the evening, our final group dinner in one of the country’s most renowned restaurants.
- Day 7: Sunday 5 September
- We make a final leisurely departure and travel westwards to the Vipava Valley to explore the superb wines of Slovenia in one of the most verdant parts of the country. A visit to a notable vineyard is complimented by a final festive lunch in a renowned restaurant. Following of week of explorations across this delightful country, we return to Ljubljana airport and our late-afternoon return flight to Heathrow.
- Price: £2,835 per person
- Price without flights: £2,670
- Deposit: £395
- Single Supplement: £495 (Double Room for Sole Use)
- Tour Manager: James Hill
6 nights with breakfast at the 4* Grand Hotel Union, Ljubljana
Outward: BA848 Departs London Heathrow (Terminal 3) 0905 arrive Zagreb 1225
Return: BA849 Departs Zagreb 1320 arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 3) 1455
2 dinners & 3 lunches with wine, water & coffee, all local transfers, City Tax, entry fees & gratuities, services of James Hill and our local guides
Travel to/from Heathrow, 4 dinners & 3 lunches
Weather Conditions for Slovenia in June are:
Average Temperature between: 11oC - 23oC / 52oF - 73oF
Rainfall: 50mm / 1.9inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.