Winter is coming. It’s the time for puffy coats, woolly hats and scarves. The time of year for drinking hot beverages in front of warm fireplaces. It’s the season to be jolly and to go Christmas shopping way too soon. The time when forests, hills and towns get covered in a lovely white blanket of snow. But in Slovenia, above all else, it’s a very special time indeed: It’s time to go skiing!
“Hey, where are you going skiing this year?” is probably the most frequent question you’ll hear a Slovene ask in wintertime. Slovenes love to hit the slopes. Children learn to ski almost as soon as they can walk. Come late November, Slovene families migrate to the mountain pistes for some snowy fun.
You would too if you had 50 ski resorts in your backyard. And if your backyard happened to look like a winter fairy-tale. You see, wherever you’re from in Slovenia, winter activities are a short drive away. Very short. Just imagine the unspoilt wonderland of the Julian Alps. Now imagine you can take a daytrip to ski, snowboard or sledge amid those magnificent mountains and mythical lakes. It’s basically what makes Slovenia a skier’s paradise.
That said, the best things in life are meant to be shared, right? Ski holidays in Slovenia are guaranteed to give you a taste of the natural luxuries enjoyed by the locals on a yearly basis. Although Slovenian resorts are relatively small by international standards, they’re modern, affordable and uncrowded pistes are attracting tourists like bees to honey. In fact, it’s their size, proximity and pristine environment that attribute the best ski resorts in Slovenia with such an unspoilt, authentic alpine feel that you won’t find at any other mainstream resort.
Skiing in Slovenia is more than a sport, it’s a national pastime. Over 65% of Slovenes agree that skiing is the country’s number one sport. Backing up that statistic is the fact that around 300,000 people (15% of the country) go skiing regularly and 500,000 Slovenes know how to ski. That’s a quarter of the population! It’s not a new hobby either. Skiing in Slovenia dates back to the 17th century, making it a very important part of the country’s cultural heritage.
No wonder Slovenia has produced so many incredible professional skiers, ski jumpers, snowboarders and cross-country athletes. Don’t take our word for it, Slovenia’s rich winter sports history speaks for itself.
Skiing doesn’t have to be done vertically. There’s a horizontal version of the sport as well. Or as it’s commonly known: cross-country skiing. Slovenia possess excellent terrain for some good old-fashioned Nordic exercise. The area around Kranjska Gora is home to superb cross-country trails and Pokljuka even hosts an annual Biathlon World Cup. Don’t have time to stretch those ski legs during winter? No worries and no excuses. There’s an indoor all-year-round training centre at Planica.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s probably one of the world’s top ski jumpers at Planica’s ski jumping centre. Practicing this sport isn’t for the faint of heart, but watching the spectacle is something everyone can enjoy. If you’re in the neighbourhood in March, be sure to check it out.
Slovenia is also home to the Golden Fox. No, it’s not a wild animal of peculiar colour. It’s the FIS Women’s Ski World Cup. This international competition has been held at Mariborsko Pohorje, the largest Slovenian ski resort, since 1964, and draws crowds of ski fans from near and far. Wow, such a prestigious event for such a small country. Well, actually, there are two. Since 1961, Kranjska Gora has been hosting its own FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. If that doesn’t make Slovenia a world-class ski nation, then Canada has never heard of hockey.
Yup, as much as they like partaking in winter sports, Slovenes love to watch and cheer on their sportsmen and sportswomen at the country’s various skiing events. The atmosphere is unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed. The noise, the fresh air, the alpine spirit at its finest.
Slovenia may not be the best-known ski destination, but it just might be the best. Wow, really? Yes. France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy are absolutely awesome. There’s no doubt about that. However, they could never pack so many diverse skiing locations into such a small area, nor can they offer such modern services and urban après-skiing activities at such near-eastern European prices.
Yup, money. Let’s be honest, skiing is not a cheap sport. But it shouldn’t be too expensive either. Although Slovenia could never provide you with giant resorts and crowded pistes – not that that’s a bad thing – it will definitely go easy on your wallet. Besides what has been mentioned above, there’s something the big four destinations really can’t afford: morning skiing day trip, followed by driving through forests and vineyards to go swimming, rafting or caving in the afternoon, and partying in the country’s capital at night. Priceless!
And if you happen to be stuck in or want to visit one of those western ski resorts, you’re in luck – they’re right next door. Italy’s Monte Lussari resort and Austria’s Nassfeld, Dreilaendereck and Gerlitzen are within an hour’s drive from Slovenia.
Before you dash off, here’s a recap. Perched on the end of the Alps, Slovenia’s mountains are the first to get hit by weather fronts from the east, providing ski resorts with more than enough snow for the entire winter and a great portion of spring. These resorts are accessible, well interconnected and have unbelievably unique characteristics. Nature tops it off by making the authenticity of the place dreamlike. Oh, and the rich history and culture of Slovenian skiing can be felt on every step and enjoyed by absolutely everyone.
So, once again: winter is coming. And with it, the new ski season is approaching fast. It’s time to gear up and swish down the best slopes Slovenia has to offer.
Happy skiing everyone!
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