Mention that you are planning a trip to Slovenia and you will receive one of two reactions. Either the person will stare at you with a blank look on their face that says they have no clue who or what a Slovenia is, or they will immediately break into a smile and tell you what a wonderful country Slovenia is these days.

It might be small and it might not be familiar to some, but those in the know are fully aware that Slovenia is one of Europe's jewels. A country that used to be part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia largely escaped the bloodshed and destruction that most of us associate with the Balkans. While it was part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia was economically more prosperous than many parts of the region. Today, it is a well developed country that is firmly aligned with Western Europe.

What to do

The city where most that travel to Slovenia inevitably end up is Ljubljana, a splendid capital with a history that dates back before the Romans. In addition to being home to the world's largest digital clock (you'll have no excuse for being late!), Ljubljana has fascinating architecture which includes a castle overlooking the main city that has been around for centuries.

Another chief attraction for visitors to Slovenia is the mountains. The countryside is absolutely stunning and offers up some of the finest and most affordable skiing in all of Europe. In the summer months, you can get in some awesome hikes without the crowds you experience in other parts of the Alps.

Getting there

Direct airfare to Slovenia is rarely cheap, but you can fly into one of the neighboring countries and connect via Eurail without much difficulty.

Where to stay

Whether you're in the mountains or the city, Slovenia has got you covered for accommodations. You'll find hotels from two to five stars in Ljubliana and a fair assortment of hostels in the cities as well.