and head to a place where 5-star cuisine is ubiquitous, locals aren't happy unless you're stomach and arms are bursting with Slovenian goodies, and strolls in nature are mandatory.
on a cultural immersion tour filled with abandoned villages, seaside breakfasts, and subterranean sleeps
You know where coastal Italy and Croatia almost kiss?
Slovenia's like right there. But it also stretches to meet the former lands of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It's as if Slovenia was in the center of a group hug between Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia.
While Slovenia was once a part of Yugoslavia, it's a very independent Balkan country.
With regions like Istria, Drava, Mura, and Carniola, Slovenia already *sounds* like a fairy tale, but wait until you *experience* it.
Influenced by its situation in the Mediterranean, Ancient Rome, and the Alps, Slovenia comprises a storied history that includes the Venetians, the Croats, Eastern Europe, and Sleeping Beauty. Probably.
I’ve spent months exploring, researching, and curating under-the-radar immersion adventures for you in Slovenia.
My trips are hand-crafted to bring you the full scope of a culture, stopping places others can't or don't even know about.
Like eating lunch in an abandoned village. Where the mother makes spectacular dishes, the daughter is the pastry chef, and the father makes wine AND is known to pull out his guitar to serenade you while you eat on their terrace.
or staying at a 300-year-old Homestead. (with goats for neighbors!) And the kitchen just happens to a Michelin-starred chef.
or eating gelato in Europe's second smallest medieval village, with fresh olive oil as a topping...because what else do you do when you've got an old fortress for a backdrop and olive groves dotting the valley?
The pandemic travel bubble is about to burst and avoiding the crowds is going to be like outrunning hornets. They'll be EVERYWHERE.
And Slovenia's not France or Italy. It's a rising star in Europe. Meaning early adopter travelers are clue-ing in and numbers are rising from here.
Now is the time to visit and still capture that uncrowded, "all this... for ME?" feeling. During 2020, Michelin came in and for the first year ever, granted stars to a few of Slovenia's excellent chefs and restaurants, effectively causing the rest of Europe and all the travel writers to start shining attention on the area. If you want to experience Slovenia and its generous hospitality before they are filled to the gills with admirers, NOW is the time to go!
Remember what happened to Iceland 5-10 years ago? Almost overnight it became THE destination. Now the best spots there require reservations and limit daily entries.
Which is great for sustainability, not so much for intimate experiences.
Most people - and their pent-up wanderlust - will spring for beaches and cocktails and plastic loungers by a pool. Relaxing, sure. But far from bonfire-story worthy.
This trip to Slovenia is like being welcomed home after being away for waaaaaaaay too long.
While everyone rushes back to Paris, Rome, and Dublin, breathtaking Slovenia and its generous locals will be eagerly waiting for guests to share their country with.
The cherry on top? Getting to see it all without the crowds that surround you at over-touristed spots.
Because one-of-a-kind experiences aren’t enough. Memories are made with people. The right people. You know what I mean.
Top-shelf people who respect your privacy and start stellar conversations. Group dynamics can make or break a trip. That's why we make sure everyone's a good fit for these types of culturally immersive experiences before we finalize the guest list.
You're getting years of expert reconnaissance, relationship-fostering, and lowkey travel spycraft. All rolled into 1 dreamy trip. Your itinerary is designed with enough free time to absorb every nuance, dig deep into a new culture, and enjoy the heck out of it. It's also full enough that you return home with no regrets.
None of this tourist restaurant crap where they're trying to make a buck by getting you in and out. No faded menus with pictures or sad iceberg lettuce lunches. It's all the real deal here baby. Your meals are made with love, very often in the homes of locals. And the restaurants? We'll never let you eat anywhere less than memorable.
When you travel with us, you're a name and a face we remember, not a booking reference. Once you're in, you're IN. You get preferential booking and first dibs on all future trips. There are plenty of perks for being part of the inner circle. If you know, you know.
Remember the whole Travel Fam thing? We mean it. Need more travel info? A packing list? Flight advice? Whether or not you should bring that third suitcase (answer: probably not, unless it's just for wine). We're here for you if you need anything. (3 doors down, room #12. The password's "hotbubblingcheesybread.")
We take you places where your dollars are invested directly into the community, not skimmed into global corporations’ coffers (looking at you, Airbnb experiences). We're always striving to DIRECTLY and positively impact the regions and people we visit.
We also have a policy to work with women-owned businesses first, and then family-owned businesses so that we can contribute to the autonomy of the individuals we visit. This means you feel good about it, locals benefit, and they love sharing the finest of their culture with us even more.
Well that's an issue. But you have me - Juliana Dever - and that's almost as good!
When I fall in love with a country, I dig in and start scouting. I criss-cross a region, wander off the beaten path, and make loads of friends.
I sit and visit with people, learn from them, and ask them if they’d like to share any favorite spots that I can share with you when I bring you back.
I have an innate knack for cutting through travel noise and getting past hollow theme-park-like tourist traps. What can I say? It's just a superpower of mine.
I've created this Slovenia adventure and I want to take you with me so you can connect with the culture in ways you wouldn't if you went by yourself.
Imagine you and me, spending our summer together in Slovenia dipping our feet in an icy spring while walking on pebbles in the name of "therapy," in a park up in the mountains. Who does that? Slovenians for sure.
And now you, me, and the rest of our new BFFs on the trip.
If you're going to spend all that time and money to experience a destination, it needs to be meaningful.
I've had tour operators tell me I don't need to work so hard to bring you the little gems because you "won't know what you're missing."
But I will. That's why my itineraries are so special.
And I know you - that's not why you and I travel. We want to explore to the fullest and really understand a culture.
We love to make real, authentic human connections (and eat all the food, too. Ahem.).
That and the most awesome people go on my adventures, so having a blast traveling with each other is all but inevitable. You'll have more fun with your new traveling companions than binge-ing a season of Ted Lasso.
During my travels throughout this Balkan oasis, I've made close friends with a sommelier and restaurant insider, a winemaking family on the Italian border, and Slovenians who've dedicated their lives to welcoming guests to their home country.
All of whom you'll meet on this 'castles to coasts' caper!
Tina, your guide, is a born and bred Slovenian. For the last 25 years she's guided privately, for Rick Steves, and now also with CleverDever Adventures. What was once a hobby has become her life's work and she loves every bit of it.
We met during my first visit to Slovenia and spent an entire day laugh-crying through the Julian Alps. That's when I knew we had to collaborate on a cultural deep dive to share with you.
Tina's deep knowledge of her country, coupled with her adventurous spirit means she brings lots of secret nooks and locals-only gems to our itinerary.
With a master's degree in tourism management, Tina occasionally teaches at the University. She speaks Slovenian, English, Italian, German, and Croatian fluently and can come by with some French, Czech, and Slovak.
She cannot wait to welcome you to her beautiful homeland, Slovenia.
Because of these relationships, I'm able to create experiences and introduce you to people you wouldn't have access to if you traveled here on your own.
You'll only get that kind of authentic adventure by traveling with locals, not by spending 17 hours reading reviews of the same 10 things on TripAdvisor.
ONLY 12 people max + your host, Juliana Dever!
Culturally Immersive, Local Experiences, Guided, Fully Curated
And the Pillows?
Mix of 3* and 4* Boutique Hotels and Traditional Guest Houses
How Active Will it Be?
Moderate - Intermediate: Walking for 1-2 hours at a time, optional trekking, you must be able to carry your own bags on cobblestone and up stairs
My guides are local Slovenes who are also fluent in English (among other languages)
Independent, kind, respectful, curious, absolutely inclusive, and a bit silly.
Do I Get Free Time?
Oh yeah! While we have a plan every day, you'll have plenty of time to explore on your (Or lazy gazing at the gawk-worthy scenery)
Slovenia is a foodie's dream! We can accommodate almost any restriction - please enquire.
Your inclusive tour price covers all of this:
Does not include: Air travel, airport transfers, your meals during free time, gratuities for drivers and porters
Day 1: Ljubljana
Our tour will kick off in the afternoon.
Meet the group for a progressive food and drink tour of Ljubljana's old city center. But first a ride through the heart on a private boat. You'll see the city from the water as we toast and float down the Ljubljanica River.
You can't visit Slovenia and NOT go to Lake Bled. But you don't have to get stuck in the tourist throngs.
Our private guide grew up here and knows everyone in town. She'll take us to visit local artisans that are behind the scenes. We'll also relax and try the famous Bled cream cake at the former mansion of the President of Yugoslavia, Tito Broz.
Meals: B, L
Take in the unbelievable beauty of the Bohinj region. With water so green you'll think it's a filter, you'll have the opportunity to hike along a gorge deep into the forest, where gorgeous waterfalls await.
Enjoy traditional buckwheat dumplings for lunch in a hut overlooking the valley, and try a shot of honey schnapps at a bee haven.
Meals: B, L, D
We'll make our way through the Julian Alps, stopping to take in the beautiful Soča Valley.
There's a delicious craft brewery in the mountains where we'll chill, have snacks and taste their local beers.
Then on to the border of Italian wine country with its terraced terroir, filled with vineyards and hilltop towns. We'll take time out to meander through another medieval village filled with artisans.
Meals: B, L
Another day, another gorgeous view of Slovenia's non-stop landscape.
Today we'll tuck into our guide Tina's favorite little town to visit a friend and set out on an epic adventure throughout the walls of this medieval charmer.
Meals: B, L
Part of Istria, Piran was once a part of the Republic of Venice. This medieval town is right next to Croatia and shares a fair bit of cuisine with its neighbor.
Today you'll have the chance to get out onto the Adriatic sea, visit working salt pans, and spend your free time climbing the church's hilltop clocktower, getting lost in the laneways, or hiking a seaside cliff.
Meals: B, D
Our marvelous migration back to the city will be interspersed with stops in the Karst region.
Lunch is at the home of a very welcoming winemaking family that is now seven generations strong.
Our farewell dinner will have a swoon-worthy view and a meal fit for a Queen. We can talk about our favorites parts of the trip and plot where to travel together next year - it's just too hard to say goodbye!
Meals: B, L, D
*activities subject to change
MEMBER OF / IN COMPLIANCE WITH
7 Day Culturally Immersive Tour to Slovenia
Includes lodging, daily breakfast, lunch or dinner every day, wine and beer tastings, professional guides, all planned activities including, bonuses PLUS travel with Juliana Dever!
(Hi! Yes, I'll be there from our first hello to the final joyfully teary 'goodbye'. BUT 2022 is most likely the last year - so get on it!)
“I loved every minute. It was so well organized, planned, and we had such great guides - it made this the best holiday of my life. I would definitely go on another CleverDever Adventure, it is worth every penny.”
Upgrade to a private room for the entire trip for only $640USD.
Just check the "private room" option.
Traveling Solo but want to take advantage of the double occupancy rate?
Request to share a room with another single traveler upon checkout.
We will do our best to fulfill all share requests, however, we cannot guarantee a roommate. If we cannot pair you, the private room rate will apply.
*Please note there may be instances in some of our small European hotels where you share a bed. This is the nature of small village guesthouses and we cannot change this, so please consider this when booking.
Health and safety is our first priority. If we must reschedule this trip due to COVID-19, we will reschedule you onto the future trip of your choice with *no* penalty or fees. More info here.
If the tour needs to be postponed due to covid, your paid-up funds are transferrable to any trip through 2023!
FOR YOU, MY GORGEOUS FENCE-SITTER
I'm here for you!
Book a free 15-minute call with me and we'll have a no-presh chat about whether this trip's for you.
Because I want you to be so happy (and happy travelers make better friends both off and on the road).
"I would recommend this tour absolutely - this tour was well planned out. It was so nice not to have to worry about details. And so much was included. You won't go hungry or want for great wine or beer!"
Is it safe to travel to Slovenia?
Yes. Slovenia is actually one of the safest countries in the world. It's in the top 5 and rates higher in the Gallup Law and Order report than the United States. The capitol city of Ljubljana is very safe and while of course one should always exercise normal precautions, I walk alone at night there and have never felt unsafe at all.
What city do you fly into?
The main capital city of Ljubljana is accessible to fly into from most European gateway cities. It’s also where we’ll start our tour. You can also fly into other cities like Trieste Italy, Zagreb Croatia, and Vienna Austria and come by land into the city.
What is the currency? What is the best way to get it?
Slovenia uses the Euro, which is very easy to get at any bankomat or bank.
Is the tour open to everyone globally?
Yes! Everyone’s invited! CDA tours tend to be all women, but you're definitely invited if you're great in groups.
What language do they speak in Slovenia?
Many people in cities and towns speak English. Slovene, a Slavic language, is the nation's first language and you will hear it spoken amongst locals. We’ll also have a native Slovenian guide with us to help prevent anything getting lost in translation!
What's the climate like?
Rain can show up at any time, it's a bit fickle there. The sun also breaks out just as quickly, so it's rarely one type of weather for long.
On the coast near Italy, it can be mild, rainy and sunny all in one day. For the most part, the areas that we will be visiting will be sunny, nice and warm. Expect highs up to 85°F/ 30°C and lows of 60°F/15°C everywhere but in the mountains where it is typically about 5-10 degrees cooler.
How should I dress?
Slovenia is very western with respect to dress, so you don’t have to make any special considerations when visiting other than dressing for the weather. Because we will be going up in the mountains, you'll need light layers and a rain jacket. We’ll also be doing some hiking, so you’ll want some hiking clothes and appropriate footwear for both terrain and comfy shoes for city walking. We'll also have a few nice dinners, but Slovenia tends to be casual, so no formal wear necessary. ;)
Don’t worry, I’ll send everyone who’s going with me a suggested packing list. 😉
What's the food like? How can food restrictions be accommodated?
Depending on where we are, Slovenian food changes. Expect hardy Eastern European dishes like potato dumplings with sour cream, fresh farmer's cheese croquettes, and pumpkin oils near the border of Hungary.
When we are closer to Italy you'll find more fish, olives, and pasta. In the regions near the Julian Alps you'll find dishes with buckwheat dumplings (you will see these in a lot of area), meats, and soups. Slovenians love soups and often have them every day.
Slovenia is also going through a bit of a food revolution, so you'll find a lot of elevated modern dining as chefs try new things and push boundaries. This is prevalent throughout the country so expect really delicious small plates of things like beetroot pancakes with sage sauce or a delicate ravioli with roasted mushrooms.
We can accommodate for celiac, vegan, vegetarian, kosher and other food restrictions. There'll be an opportunity to let us know about any allergies or dietary needs after you book the tour.
What is the wine like?
It's not NOT a wine tour. But seriously it's not the main event - the culture and meeting locals is.
Slovenia has some unique wines and we will be visiting several winemakers during this trip. The reds can be rustic and earthy, the whites crisp and fragrant, and the ORANGE wine…oh it’s my favorite by far. It might take a few tastings to appreciate it, but it just might become your all-time favorite!
What kind of adapters will I need?
Slovenian power sockets are type C and F, which are standard euro round prong plugs. The voltage is 230, so plan to have dual-currency electronics or bring a voltage converter to prevent burnouts.
How much hiking will we be doing?
The Julian Alps soar across Slovenia's northwest border and there's no way we're going all the way to Slovenia and not spending time in nature - it's one of the countries' favorite pastimes.
We'll be spending a morning doing some easy hiking the Soča valley near Triglav. It's a fairly easy trek, but you can also opt to stay back at the guest house or explore the town. There will be several other opportunities to hike, how much or how little is up to you.
What nearby countries should I visit before or after our Slovenian adventure? If you're looking to visit neighboring countries or cities, look to Croatia, Italy, Austria, or Hungary. I've been to all of them and you won't go wrong no matter what you choose.