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March 2023

Discovering the secrets of the Paradise Valley

Authentic flavours, uncommon paths, surprising tales

People go traveling to escape their rut. And many regard traveling as a source of inspiration and a way to get new ideas: it’s about invigorating the senses and cheering up the soul. Fortunately, there are still places where you can let your senses run free, where flavours vie for your attention, where the colours of the landscape match your every mood, and where tales of yore take you back to a place without time. Vipava Valley offers a uniquely harmonious blend of exciting outdoor activities plus hedonistic indulgence with local flavours. Meanwhile, Nova Gorica offers exciting contrasts and a culture that transcends national borders. The Paradise Valley is real.

From castles to escape rooms

This part of the world, resting on the westernmost edge of Slovenia is blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate and has always been a unique melting pot of different cultures due to its natural features and historical circumstances. Retrace the steps of the people from the past and jump head-first into new adventures. You can start your discovery among the ruins of the Roman fort of Castra in Ajdovščina. As you saunter through the Old Town with the largest surviving Roman wall in the country, you can stop off in the pastry shops or gelaterias for a sweet pick-me-up. That’s just for a start, as there's no shortage of decadent delights in the Paradise Valley. You might seek them out while exploring the many castles and manor houses which are a veritable treasury of tales of yore. One of the quintessential medieval castles in the country, Rihemberk Castle is bound to intrigue you with an interactive castle presentation, and fascinate you with unique guided tours. Behind the curtain wall of Vipavski Križ Castle lies a tiny medieval village that used to be a town. Today, many consider the place to be one of the finest Slovenian cultural and historical monuments. End your leisurely saunter through the picturesque alleys of Vipavski Križ with a bite to eat in the local inns and a glass of good local wine. On the outskirts of Nova Gorica, you can quench your thirst for knowledge in the museum collections set up in Kromberk Castle and in the country manor of Vila Bartolomei. There, the fascinating exhibition UnForgotten Objects takes you back in time to an almost forgotten world. The venue Pristava, near Nova Gorica, located on the now virtually invisible border with Italy, hosts the museum collection Na šverc!, illuminating the topic of smuggling in Gorizia after the Second World War. The venue also features a topical escape room for a first-hand experience of the thrills of smuggling. And as the afternoon turns to evening, Nova Gorica, the City of Roses, offers plenty of opportunities to get your fill of top-tier gourmet delights.

Hiking, jumping, flying, and stand up paddleboarding

Outdoor pursuits in our Paradise Valley. The valley, the high karst plateaus, and the peaks, with some rising over 1,000 m, offer outdoor activities aplenty, making sure that you’ll want to revisit them. The varied terrain is perfect for hikes: maybe you’ll head for the friendly vine-growing hills or the winding paths over the steep slopes above the valley. But one thing is for sure: everywhere you look, there’s an unforgettable view to be had. Have you ever considered getting down into the valley by jumping off the edge of a cliff instead of walking back down? If you have, then now’s your chance: simply book a tandem flight with an experienced flight instructor or opt for the unforgettable Hike & Fly adventure. But that's not the only type of adrenaline rush this exciting area has to offer. The road bridge over the Soča River in Solkan, right next to the landmark Solkan Railway Bridge, is also the only bungee jumping site in Slovenia. In the sweltering heat of summer, the local rivers are especially inviting. Luckily, the locals have managed to keep the banks of the Vipava River pristine. In the lower reaches, where the river calms down, the verdant meanders create perfect conditions for exploring the river via SUP. Just a skip and hop from the urban area and idyllic villages, you can take in the simple wilderness and revel in all types of birdsongs.

Prosciutto, frittata and jota

Vipava prosciutto has always reigned supreme in local cuisine. The pride and joy of every farm, the meat is carefully and slowly left to dry in the burja wind. Guests can enjoy a slice or two for a filling and hearty breakfast. Over time, this meaty delicacy has become a staple snack when sampling the best wines. It makes for a perfect savoury overture for every local feast. As you embark on the journey of exploring local cuisine, you will find that the stew-like dish jota is another local staple. A particular highlight is the one made with fermented turnips (“repa tropinka”), whose unique flavour is down to the grape marc in which it the cruciferous vegetable has been fermented. Sure, the locals typically bulk the stew up with some dried pork, however, in keeping with the times and modern dietary choices, they’re also happy to make a meet-free version of this local star dish. Frittata or locally frtalja, is a typical omelette made of eggs, flour and fresh herbs. This Mediterranean-scented dish has a special place on local menus. A basket of freshly baked bread traditionally accompanies almost every meal and amplifies the cosy feeling of home. The ingredients for these dishes are all locally grown, carefully selected, and preserved using traditional methods so that their flavours can be enjoyed all year round. Stop off at any of the agritourism farms or rustic inns to enjoy these simple dishes with inimitable flavours. The heartfelt hospitality showcased by the locals elevates the flavours and takes you to foodie heaven.

But ultimately, IT’S up to you whether you’ll explore this area on your own or pick a top adventure with a local guide. Secrets are there to be discovered. The Paradise Valley is real.