Podčetrtek- 2019 Winner
Winner in the ‘Health and wellbeing tourism’ category
Podčetrtek is a charming and very diverse area. The Olimia Thermal Spa realised long ago that they are the main driver of the destination’s vacation offer as well as its health and wellbeing philosophy. Through the lens of cooperation, networking and sustainability, the destination has expanded to also include the neighbouring municipalities, demonstrating that tourism is borderless. Podčetrtek is ideal for anyone with a liking for thermal waters, natural and cultural attractions and wellness and wellbeing in general.
What makes Podčetrtek special
Stretching over three municipalities, the destination offers special experiences in the unspoiled nature of Kozjansko and Obsotelje Biosphere Reserve (MAB) which will definitely contribute to your well-being. Podčetrtek promotes sustainable and environmentally friendly farming, ensuring that its food is of the best quality, complementing the dietary and detoxification spa programmes.
Health and wellbeing tourism
Podčetrtek aims at socially and environmentally sustainable use of cultural and natural resources.
The destination’s offer is based on a common history, natural resources, and thematic cultural heritage. The Olimia Thermal Spa and its comprehensive health and wellness programmes add to the area being known for well-being.
The Podčetrtek is now an ideal destination if you are looking for an active and healthy holiday aimed at finding personal satisfaction and inner peace. The products, services and activities are based on nature and culture, including locally produced goods and services. The range is of high quality, offered by professionals based on local tradition and with a homely touch.
- A large part of the destination is located within the biggest regional park in Slovenia, Kozjansko Regional Park. The park is known for its biodiversity and efforts to bring back old varieties of fruit trees, especially apples. Take a walk along one of the park’s trails and enjoy the unspoiled nature.
- Visit the village of Olimje with its Minorite Monastery and one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe. Get to know local tourism providers offering home-made food, local beer, wine, and chocolate together with their unique stories and adventures. And don’t forget the Jelenov Greben, where more than 100 domesticated deer and buck wander around the property and some even let you hand-feed them
- The Podsreda Castle is the mightiest of all Slovenian castles. This castle is a lively place holding numerous cultural and musical events.
- Climb up the 40m tower of health and joy on the 622m high Rudnica hill. Since 2010, the areas of Kozjansko and Obsotelje have been part of the biosphere reserves network within the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme.
Koper - 2017 Winner
Winner in the Cultural Tourism category
Koper is a leading active and green year-round Mediterranean destination in Istria and Slovenia. It features an interweaving of the historical coastal town and the green countryside, full of sun-kissed treasures and tastes. The old town streets display a remarkable history and cultural heritage, and offer a wide range of gastronomic delights, along with numerous authentic stories and adventures. The green countryside offers a wide range of experiences along with many cultural and natural features. The pleasant Mediterranean climate is ideal for a variety of leisure-time activities and relaxation in nature or by the sea, at cultural heritage sites or in top-quality sports facilities. The town is especially lively upon the arrival of cruise ships, when the area is overflowing with visitors from across the globe
What makes Koper special?
Koper, a historical coastal town with a lush countryside, offers a variety of experiences for active leisure time. Visitors can explore the precious cultural and natural sights, enjoy the local gastronomy and lose themselves in authentic stories - all in one place.
Koper is a Mediterranean city with a colourful history.
Don't miss Koper's finest palace in the main square - the Praetorian Palace, which today houses the city hall. The City Tower now serves as a bell tower and offers a beautiful vantage point. The headquarters of the present-day University of Primorska, the buildings of the Foresteria and Armeria, date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Built in the 15th century, today, the Loggia is home to a café that offers splendid views of the square. Numerous treasures are kept at the Cathedral of the Assumption. The destination also has a number of cultural institutions and societies that work together and develop attractive cultural programmes.
The façades of the buildings and their interiors reveal the millennial history of Koper. With more than a millennium of history, the city has gone through some name changes. Once it was named Capris, then Lustinopolis, Insula Capraria, Caput Histria and Capo d' Istria. Koper's architecture evokes the eras of the Venetian Republic and the golden age of Gothic style and the Renaissance. Intertwining narrow streets wind towards the main square that boasts the largest cathedral in Slovenia. A diverse palette of cultural experiences enriches the city streets and squares, especially in the summer months.
There is a plethora of cultural sights in the town centre, a few of them are:
- The historical town centre (Tito Square, Prešeren Square, Carpaccio Square)
- Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Koper Cathedral)
- the Bell Tower with the oldest functioning bell in Slovenia from 1333,
- the Praetorian Palace
Cultural sites in the countryside include:
- Strmec Castle (Socerb),
- Vrešje House - Krkavče Live Museum,
- Church of the Holy Trinity (Hrastovlje)
Brda - 2015 Winner
Winner in the Tourism and Local Gastronomy category
Brda - land of invigorating moments - is nestled between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, at the meeting point of the Romanic, Germanic and Slavic cultures. It is a destination of exquisite oenology and gastronomy, rich cultural and natural heritage, and diverse options for spending the holidays outdoors in nature. Traditional Brda farms and contemporary hotels provide guests with superior hospitality to experience the scenic landscape, green hills, vineyards and orchards.
Visitors exploring Brda on electric bikes or scooters, on foot or otherwise, can see the area’s commitment to sustainable development everywhere, mainly with regard to mobility, but also to accommodation and other tourism products. Loyalty to local products, sun-ripened fruit and exquisite wines, as well as a passion for growing and processing are embedded in the creative yet genuine and traditional cuisine of the Brda hills.
Culinary delicacies on offer in Brda are closely tied to its core products – the Brda wines, and its most distinguished example, the Rebula.
The winning destination of Brda is prominent for its culinary art and gastronomy as the primary and only traveller motivation and the core of its local tourism.
Among the areas highlights are:
- a series of culinary events linked almost exclusively to food, wines, and fruit,
- the Brda Wine Road, Slovenia's only genuine wine road that closely connects wine culture with cuisine
- the picturesque hilly, green and amazingly sunny landscape entices visitors with its array of exquisite Brda wines, diverse cuisine and rich cultural heritage.
Brda wines have found their way into the world's most distinguished restaurants. The indigenous Rebula is the signature wine of the area.
Boasting a mild Mediterranean climate that supports tourism year-round, the area provides guests with an unforgettable experience in close contact with the local inhabitants and life that beats in Brda at a rate of its own. Foreign journalists often refer to Brda as Slovenia’s Tuscany, but in many aspects the Slovenian region is much more pristine and genuine.
- Visit the land of invigorating moments and unforgettable oenological and gastronomic experiences. Capture the essence of Brda with its exquisite wines and diverse cuisine. From endemic and old local grapes to white and red varieties, the wines of Brda are a symbol of experience, memories and socialising. Complete your oenological and gastronomic journey by tasting the produce of Brda (fruit, olive oil, honey) or delve into the sumptuous dishes cooked by skilled regional culinary artists.
- Experience the impressive historical heritage and green landscape. Visit the scenic medieval settlement of smartno, Dobrova Castle, the Vipolze Manor, the Sabotin Peace Park, or one of many artistic collections – wherever you go, you will be charmed by the hospitality of the local people and the richness of monuments. You can also explore the green countryside in a sustainable way: rides on electric bikes or scooters, donkey trekking, API-therapy, walking barefoot, lavender or olive oil product workshops, honey production tours, olive oil tastings in an olive bar, etc.
- Have an active holiday retreat in Brda. Hike the hills and vineyards, the Alpe-Adria hiking trail that connects the Alps with the Adriatic Sea, orchards and olive groves, or take a ride in a jeep, on an electric scooter or bike, and experience the green, hilly and remote landscape of Brda. Who knows, you might even come across a grape or cherry harvest!
Lasko - 2013 Winner
Winner in the Accessible Tourism category
Lasko is a small spa town in the eastern part of Slovenia, at the foot of Hum Hill. The town dates back to 1227 and is famous for its beer brewing traditions and healing water springs. Wellness and health tourism are based on honey and beer treatment and are accessible to all.
The countryside around Lasko has kept its cultural and natural heritage intact. Unspoilt and interesting landscape is waiting to be explored, through mountain and hiking trails crisscrossing the local hills and valleys, leading through forests and over meadows and pastures. For physically impaired people specially equipped vehicles are available.
A large number of food and drink tastings take place all year round, as do several displays and presentations of local growers, craftsmen and artists.
In 2008, the Municipality of Lasko drew up a strategic plan for the development of accessible tourism, involving the most diverse organisations, individuals and tourist service providers, including non-traditional destination structure, contents and programmes.
Today it offers a range of programmes for various groups of impaired persons.
The town also has extensive experience with organising events in sports tourism and hosts preparatory training for athletes with disabilities.
- Experience the beer-brewing tradition.
- Dip into the curative springs and benefit from their healing powers already acknowledged by the Romans.
- Experience the adrenalin of flying in a tandem glider parachute.
- Get introduced to local crafts and trades in an Eco-workshop.
Idrija - 2011 Winner
Winner in the Tourism and Regeneration of Physical Sites category
Idrija is Slovenias oldest mining town, situated in the western part of the country, in the Goriska Region.
Famous for its mercury mine and lace making, Idrija is a fascinating destination with spectacular scenery. Picturesque mountains, pristine forests and Lake Wilde create a breathtaking landscape.
Its rich natural and industrial heritage is treasured by local people who are proud of their history. Rejuvenated cultural heritage attractions and well-preserved natural landmarks are attracting more and more visitors to the town.
The areas surrounding Idrija offer various activities throughout the year, from fishing and skiing to hiking and swimming. There are numerous art galleries, museums and exhibition halls for Idrija’s lace-making school, which host vast collections dedicated to local history and crafts.
And, if you’re feeling hungry, don’t forget to try some of local specialities such as 'idrijski žlikrofi', 'bakalca' and 'smukavc'.
Regeneration and revival
After 500 years of operation, the mercury mine closed in 1995, heavily impacting the local economy and employment prospects.
Since its closure, local authority projects have regenerated local land marks, attracting new tourists to Idrija, helping the local economy to recover and flourish. The projects were aimed at reviving industrial heritage and preserving the natural environment.
Combined with new activities such as the Lace Festival, sports marathons, as well as new hiking and cycling routes, Indrija is a unique destination for active and historically interested visitors.
In 2012, the mercury mining heritage in Idrija was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Protected Site.
- Visit Realka, the first Slovenian non-classical secondary school.
- Take a walk in Zgornja Idrijca Regional Park, spanning over 4,000 ha - a spectacular place to discover Idrijas natural environment.
- Pay a visit to the small town of Spodnja Idrija, which is situated in the valley of the Idrijca river. It is most famous for the baroque pilgrim church Our Lady of the Assumption.
River Kolpa - 2010 Winner
Winner in the Aquatic Tourism category
The River Kolpa is located in the south-eastern part of Slovenia. The river is considered the longest Slovenian 'coastline' and one of the warmest and intact rivers in Slovenia.
This green beauty is comprised of a 113km long strip of land which borders the Republic of Croatia.
Passing along several waterfalls from Osilnica, Kostel, Kocevje, crnomelj, Semic and Metlika, it is a magnificent location for a grand variety of activities and an unforgettable holiday. The river is particularly popular in the summer months, as the water's temperature rises up to 30°C.
What makes the River Kolpa special?
One of the special features of the area is its unique geographic location. This piece of land has formed a special cultural identity, influenced by numerous ethnic groups living in the area. History, culture and exceptional concentration of natural values contribute to the harmony of this region.
The scenery is completed by picturesque villages, old town centers, castles and sawmills which add a touch of the local life to the overall impression of the region. Local traditions are still very strong in the area and are an important part of its charm.
- the natural treasures of the Regional Park Kolpa and Regional Park Lahinja.
- take part in the celebration of St. George in Bela Krajina.
Solcavsko - 2009 Winner
Winner in the Tourism and Protected Areas category
Solcavsko, or Solcava, is a mountainous municipality in the north of Slovenia, in the southeastern part of the Alps.
With many of the peaks more than 2,000 metres in height, you can hike high or low at any time of the year - either in Alpine meadows, misty beech forests or through fields of wild strawberries. There are hundreds of walking trails here and apart from a scattering of farmhouses, it is easy to find solitude.
In Logarska dolina - the Logar Valley, visitors can see more than forty natural attractions, which include waterfalls, springs, rock pillars, glacial boulders and ancient trees.
The area also offers advendure sports in summer and winter. The ski slopes at Krajiska Plenina are great for downhill enthusiasts, while the high mountains are perfect for snowshoeing, ski touring and ice climbing - as well as biking and hiking.
What makes Solcavsko special?
Solcavsko is a region of waterfalls – there over 20, of which Rinka is the most spectacular. The 80-meter arch of water drops in a sinuous, willowy curve, like a sleek ponytail. It is one of the highest free-falling waterfalls in Slovenia and is a protected natural monument.
Situated seven kilometres into the Logar Valley, it is only reachable by foot. Driving, and even cycling is not possible in the valley. The valley also has a nature-ethnographic trail that takes you through the most beautiful spots of the park.
Solcavsko is a pristine Alpine environment, and the local government and tourist authorities are keen on keeping it that way. But it is not just about the environment. The cultural heritage of the local foresters, charcoal burners and farmers is just as important. All of them have coexisted with nature over the centuries.
For an authentic Slovene experience, you can stay with a family and get your breakfast and dinner home-made every day. It is a great way to try the delicious mountain fare.
What to look for in...
- spring: larch turns green, wild flowers appear, beach leaves open
- summer: the valley floor blossoms with wild flowers
- autumn: the larches turn fiery yellow in this season
- winter: sparkling snowy fields, great for cross-country skiing
- Spend a night at a local, family-run rustic hotel.
- Wake up at a mountain lodge looking out over the Savinja Alps.
- Try the hearty and delicious Slovene food.
- Explore the area with a local forester.
- Ride on a hay wagon or traditional carriage.
The Soca Valley - 2008 Winner
Winner in the Tourism and Local Intangible Heritage category
The Soca Valley is located in the easternmost part of the Julian Alps in north-west Slovenia. It brings together three municipalities: Bovec, Kobarid and Tolmin, covering an area of 942 square km.
This colourful valley is rich with waterfalls, pools, canyons, and flora and fauna. The legends in the air give it a fairy-tale atmosphere.
What makes the Soca Valley special?
Snow-covered peaks and the flourishing valley form the Soca Valley landscape. The destination’s vital link and popular spot is the blue-green Soca River with picturesque gorges and wonderful streams, waterfalls and green meadows. Paths lead to natural sites such as the great gorge of the Soca river by the Soca path, the Tolminka gorge and the Kozjak waterfall.
Another integral part of the valley is Triglav National Park, the only national park in Slovenia and one of the oldest in Europe. The park was named Triglav after Slovenia’s highest peak, which is situated almost at the heart of the park. This area is also home to the story of Goldhorn, a supernatural white chamois (mountain-antilope) with golden horns, which, according to the legend, has the power to restore its strength in nature.
The Soca valley is a popular hub for natural scientists and botanists as well as home to the Juliana Alpine Botanical Garden – the first alpine botanical garden in Slovenia.
Visitors can have active holidays and relaxation at the same time. The Soca Valley offers water sports on the Soca River, hiking, cycling, skydiving, gliding, mountain biking, Alpine, Nordic and freestyle skiing and ski touring, fishing, climbing, mountaineering, potholing, golfing, and more. Craftsmen sell characteristic local products made from wool, wax and Soca river pebbles.
Don't miss the local culinary specialities either: compe and cottage cheese, frika, postóklja and prepared Soca trout. Dishes such as bulja, bovski krafi or kobariski struklji are sure to satisfu those with a sweet tooth.
The Soca River Stories
The Soca River Stories is a two-day event at the end of April or beginning of May. It tells the stories of World War I and its consequences for the valley and its population.
Around a million soldiers were killed between 1915 and 1917 at the Soca front during the battles. The event aims to turn the bad memories into a favourable event, promoting cultural, ethnological and natural heritage, as well as peace.
The event takes place at the Kluže Fortress, and presents the life of local and international soldiers during WWI. It helps visitors understand the history of the Soca front battles - chronologically, geographically and contextually. On the first evening, memories of soldiers fighting on the Soca front are read and on the second day visitors with guides wearing WWI uniforms take part in the Walks of Peace.
A number of museums and private museum collections also compile and present WWI artifacts on The Soca Front.