There are not many countries where you can change your mind on whether you want to spend the day skiing in the mountains or strolling by the sea… and fit your plans in an hour’s drive. MI lottery promo code can grant me many wishes, but for this one, I head for Slovenia, the tiny green gem between the Alps and the Adriatic. Do not make the mistake to visit only the capital, Ljubljana, although this small, lovely, artistic urban center usually has tourists falling in love with it at first visit.

Strolling along the Ljubljanica river, exploring the narrow streets overlooked by elegant historic buildings and rich in fashion and crafts shops at street level, enjoying local cuisine and craft beers… these are just some of the activities that keep tourists busy in the Slovenian capital. Do not miss a visit to the castle, perched on the steep hill that dominates the old town. Several centuries of history, skillfully presented in the completely renovated ancient fortress, can easily fill a whole day.

As the Christmas holiday is approaching, in the last days of November Ljubljana is getting ready to dress up in fanciful lights to convey all the joyfulness of the winter spirit. And the mountains nearby are getting ready too, waiting for the snow. The city is surrounded by mountains with nice hiking trails but for skying you need to head north-west to Kranjska Gora, on the border with Austria and Italy.

A mere 52-mile drive that takes about an hour and you are all set to go. Slovenia has several skying resorts but this one has the advantage of being so close to the colleague skying facilities around Tarvisio on the one hand and Klagenfurt on the other. So you can get a taste of the winter atmosphere and traditions in three countries instead of one, in addition to dozens of miles of ski tracks, from the easiest to the most challenging.

dragon, bridge, sculpture

On the other hand, if you love the seaside better, from Ljubljana just turn in the opposite direction. Again, about an hour’s drive is enough for a complete change of environment. You can take your pick between the lovely, Venetian-style small seaside towns of Pirano/Piran and Capodistria/Koper (* the double names, Italian and Slovenian, are characteristic of the multi-ethnic tradition of the region).

Their past ties with Venice will speak to you from the architecture of the historic buildings. If you steer your course just a few miles to the north, you will discover one more different world: Trieste, nowadays in Italian territory, still showing the grandeur of its past as the main harbor of the late Austro-Hungarian empire. A larger city, still showing the wealth of its golden age in the palaces of former ship-owners, bankers, and insurers, Trieste has more in common with Vienna, Prague, Budapest and Zagreb, its cousin cities of the former Central European empire.

Again, you only have 55 miles to go when you want to touch base back in Ljubljana. Take your pick, enjoy the luxury of so many different attractions in return for such low mileage.