Slovenia is a little green gem, roughly the size of Wales, but packed with stunning alpine scenery, flower-filled meadows, lakes, crystal-clear rivers, caves, castles and a small stretch of Adriatic coastline. It's like Europe was a 100 years ago - heavily wooded with historic towns, minimal traffic and few tourists - but with all the benefits of modern infrastructure and a prospering economy. The relaxed and attractive capital, Ljubljana, is likened to a mini-Prague without the tourist hordes.
The people are friendly and welcoming. Although a former Yugoslav province (it gained independence in 1991), Slovenia escaped the Balkan conflict that engulfed its southerly neighbours. Tucked in between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, it's easy to get to, easy to travel around and inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe. For those who enjoy fresh air and outdoor pursuits (from fly-fishing, riding and hiking to rafting and canyoning), the Soca Valley is a real discovery and we've found a few charming little hotels that make an ideal base.