Welcome to the land where dragons roam and mighty Odysseus once took shelter. Slovenia and Croatia are fertile ground for old-world legends to intertwine with the natural wonders that abound.
River Valleys, Mountains, Caves and What Lurks Beneath
Slovenia’s Logar Valley and offer sweeping panoramic vistas. The Logar Valley, one of the most beautiful alpine glacial valleys in Europe, is straight out of a postcard. Lush, green basins hemmed in by the soaring Kamnik–Savinja Alps provide the runoff for the area’s countless waterfalls. offer sweeping panoramic vistas. The Logar Valley, one of the most beautiful alpine glacial valleys in Europe, is straight out of a postcard. Lush, green basins hemmed in by the soaring Kamnik–Savinja Alps provide the runoff for the area’s countless waterfalls.
In the Soča River Valley, a mesmerizing emerald green river carves through the landscape, a legend in its own right. To understand its power, visit the Great Soča Gorge, a 750 meters long gorge smoothed over millennia. Follow the river on foot or by raft as it winds through the valley. Or, don’t follow at all, find the perfect spot and let time pass you by.
Regarding waterfalls, ever seen one underground?
The UNESCO listed Škocjan Caves has 26 of them – and that’s not even the most impressive thing! Here you’ll find the largest subterranean canyon in all of Europe at 146 meters.
And who likes to hang out in deep cave canyons? Yep, dragons.
In the Postojna Cave, you can find the world’s most unique cave dwellers – baby dragons. Technically called olm, these aquatic salamanders look exactly like baby dragons which centuries ago led locals to believe that they were dragons.
Like the ones Jason and the Argonauts slayed at the source of the Ljubljanica River.
It’s not just Slovenia where these mythical beasts wandered.
Swimming with Dragons, Island Enchantment with Odysseus and One of Europe’s Deepest Lakes
In Croatia, the small Dalmatian town of Rogoznica is home to the Dragon’s Eye Lake or Lake Rogoznica.
Legend has it that Aristol, the great-grandson of Argonaut Jason, dueled with the dragon Murin, son of the gods Hera and Poseidon, for the love of his life. In death, Murin tore out his eyes, dropping one which dissolved the rocks below and was filled in by the lake.
Quite a place to take a dip, no?
Further south in Dalmatia, you’ll find one of the Adriatic’s most beautiful islands, Mljet. The forested island was so enchanting that the poet Homer made it the place where his hero Odysseus landed after a shipwreck. He swam into the mouth of a luscious cave, Odysseus’ Cave as it’s now known, subsequently spending seven years on the island.
Sure, he was held captive but once you see Mljet, you’d welcome a long stay in this paradise too which is also home to the Mediterranean’s oldest maritime national park.
Back on the mainland, in the Hinterlands of Dalmatia is a town called Imotski, which holds two natural wonders – The Red and Blue Lakes. Both formed by sinkholes, the steep red cliffs of Red Lake give it three things, 1) its name 2) its striking views and 3) complete inaccessibility for a swim. Notably, Red Lake is one of Europe’s deepest.
Blue Lake was the domain of fairies who made their home in a nearby cave that humans never dared set foot in. Nowadays you can swim in this fairytale-like lake whose 50 shades of blue are supplied by the surrounding mountains…that is until the dry season. At which point it’s time for another legendary Croatian tradition: a game of soccer in the lake bed.
Whether it’s real or surreal, Croatia and Slovenia are places you can create your own legends.