One hour from: Ljubljana

Pop in for cocktails at the hotel du lac

Mountains, valleys and lakes make Slovenia a "Europe in miniature".

Mountains, valleys and lakes make Slovenia a "Europe in miniature".

Lake Bled

Travel across this beautiful and famous lake by pletna, which is a sort of wide-bottomed gondola, stroll on the boardwalk around the shore and pop in for cocktails at Chateau Vila Bled, a former summer residence of President Tito which is now a hotel.

By car: route 211 north, then A2/E61 and follow signs; journey time about 45 mins. By bus: frequent service from bus station; an hour plus. By train: frequent service to Bled Jezero; an hour plus.

Idrija

Mercury put Idrija on the map when it was discovered here in 1490. The town became rich thanks to its "live silver" mine. Now closed, the mine has 15 levels of shafts to visit.

By car: route 409 west, then route 102; an hour. By bus: frequent service from bus station; an hour.

Lake Bohinj

This stunning glacial lake on the southern edge of the Triglav National Park is almost three miles long. There are museums to visit, while active types can try kayaking, take a spin on a mountain bike or climb Mount Triglav. Don't miss the wild-mushroom soup.

By car: route 211 north towards Kranj and follow signs; an hour plus.

Novo Mesto

One of Slovenia's prettiest towns, with narrow streets and arcades hiding Baroque mansions and traditional houses. The Gothic church, Kapitelj, has a Baroque interior with a Tintoretto altarpiece. Stop off at nearby Ototec Castle, on an island in the river Krka, which is reached by drawbridge.

By car: A2 then E70 towards Zagreb and follow signs; about 45 mins. By bus: frequent service from bus station; an hour plus.

Logarska dolina

"The valley of silence at the end of the world" is home to stunning springs, peaks and waterfalls. There are walking trails and farmhouses where you can sample some delicious home-made fare.

By car: take E57 towards Maribor, then route 225 towards Radmirje and follow signs; an hour plus.

Lipica

Birthplace of the Lipizzaner horse. The thoroughbreds used in Vienna descended from these lines are now bred in Piber, Austria. Founded in 1580 by Austrian Archduke Charles, the stud has had a chequered history, but is now thriving, with up to 50 foals born each year. Hourly tours between May and September and you can have a riding lesson on a Lipizzaner.

By car: A1, then E70 towards Trieste and follow signs; about an hour.

Slovenija Pursuits (08702 200 201; www.slovenijapursuits.com) offers a three-night, four-star b&b city break to Ljubljana from £350 per person, including return scheduled flights and private transfers. Car hire costs from £163 per week. Holiday Options (0870 013 0450; www.holidayoptions.co.uk) also features Slovenia.

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