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Many travelers don’t know much about Slovenia, a small country that is often overshadowed by its more popular neighbors Italy and Croatia.
But this central European nation packs a surprisingly big punch despite its small size.
It’s full of beautiful scenery, a charming capital city, fewer crowds and more affordable prices than some of its neighbors.
Here are the top reasons to add Slovenia to your bucket list this year:
1. Stunning scenery
Slovenia is an incredibly picturesque country with so much stunning scenery.
One of the most popular destinations in the country is Lake Bled, with its fabulous scenery and famous 17th-century church on a small island in the middle of the lake.
Kranska Gora in the north is another beautiful place that is famous for its winter sports like skiing. It is also a great place for hiking in the summer. Triglav National Park is another place that nature lovers should visit while in Slovenia.
Although the country has little coastline (only 29.2 miles along the Adriatic Sea), you can find ancient towns like Piran along the coast.
2. Charming capital
The capital of Slovenia, the city of Ljubljana (pronounced lu-bley-a-na in case you were wondering) is extremely charming and not to be missed.
It is one of the smaller European capitals with a population of just 279,000.
However, you should not miss Ljubljana when visiting Slovenia. This picturesque and safe city is home to the extensive Tivoli Park, the bustling central market and the picturesque Ljubljana Castle.
If you don’t have enough time in Slovenia (for example, you only have three or four days to spend in the country), then basing yourself in Ljubljana and doing day trips is a great idea.
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3. Fewer crowds
If you’re looking for an underrated destination in Europe where you won’t have to fight the huge crowds, Slovenia is the place to go.
Not only is it a smaller country itself, but it is also not yet as popular as a tourist destination as neighboring countries such as Italy and Croatia.
This means you can enjoy fewer crowds even in the peak summer months than you can find elsewhere in Europe.
4. Affordable prices
Another reason to visit Slovenia is its affordability. Although not as cheap as some of the Balkan or Eastern European countries, Slovenia falls on the more affordable end of Europe as a whole.
Slovenia is part of the European Union and uses the Euro, but prices are much lower than you might expect.
Especially compared to Western Europe, travelers will find that their money goes much further in Slovenia.
5. Outdoor activities
If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, Slovenia is a great place for it. This country is well known as an excellent destination for outdoor activities and adventures.
Hiking and cycling are two extremely popular ways to explore the countryside.
Kayaking or rafting on the Soča River is another activity you cannot miss in Slovenia.
For thrill seekers, canyoning and bungee jumping are more popular activities to try.
6. Compact size
Slovenia’s total size is 7,827 square miles, or about the size of the US state of New Jersey, making it compact and easy to explore.
Many of the country’s most popular destinations are no more than an hour or an hour and a half away from the capital, Ljubljana.
The best way to explore the country is by car. You can rent a car for a week and see most of the country in that time. Or if you prefer not to drive, Slovenia also has good public transport, including buses and trains, which make getting around the country easy.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com