Slovenia is filled with tons of charming rural towns across the whole country. Varying from Alpine villages, to historical gems in valleys, to country-style places between rivers and meadows, to wine villages in rolling hills close to Italy. In this blog I am happy to share 5 of my favourites.
1. Škofja Loka
Škofja Loka is a medieval town close to Ljubljana (about 24 km, 14 mi) and is known for the oldest bridge of Slovenia, shown on the picture below, and the 13th century Loka Castle which overlooks the old town from a hilltop.
☞ location of Škofja Loka
From the bus stop and parking place you walk into town over one of the bridges over the Sora River and soon you will find yourself among many small and winding streets.
The main square (which more or less looks like a wide street) is called Mestni trg and has got beautifully coloured and decorated buildings with heavy doors on each side.
The Old Town Hall has got frescoes dating back from the 17th century.
Lots of quiet streets with nice views on each corner.
The Loka (Loski) Museum is situated on the hilltop in the Loka Castle and showcases historical, archaeological, ethological and art collections.
Even if you don't like to visit the castle itself, it's a nice little walk up the hill to see the castle gardens with a wooden 16th century peasant house. Afterwards you walk back into town through these cute alleyways.
The Capuchin Bridge is the oldest bridge in Slovenia which has this beautiful statue and good views over the surrounding old buildings and mountains.
The charming village of Radovljica lies in the Northern part of Slovenia about 6 km (3.7 mi) from Lake Bled and has got around 6.000 inhabitants. The town is known for chocolate (it even has an annual Chocolate Festival in April) and beekeeping.
☞ location of Radovljica
Linhart Square is the main attraction with buildings varying from the 16th to the 18th century.
Here you will find the Gingerbread Museum which was unfortunately closed during our visit, but I think it is worth to stop by when you are in this town. Lectarstvo is an old and renowned traditional handicraft of Slovenia. Colourful decorations are made on top of honey dough / ginger bread which is popular since the late middle ages. In the basement there is a workshop where you can see how the pastry is made, and a café on the ground floor to try their tasty creations.
(beekeeping) and a Music School. When we where there we heard piano and violin music coming through the open windows.
The entrance to the Gothic St. Peter Church lies on a small square at the end of the Linhart Street.
One of the narrow and winding streets of Radovljica.
Many buildings are painted in soft tones or decorated with patterns.
In this well maintained village they really have an eye for detail, because even the streetlights are decorated.
3. Kranjska Gora and Podkoren
Kranjska Gora and Podkoren might not be the prettiest towns of all, but I think they really deserve a mention in this blog as they are situated in one of the most stunning parts of Slovenia in my opinion. These towns (only separated by a few kilometres) have a very relaxed atmosphere with beautiful traditional wooden houses, cute churches and breathtaking views over the surrounding Julian Alps.
From Kranjska Gora and Podkoren it is only (maximum) 15 minutes drive to natural treasures like Lake Jasna, Zelenci, Upper Sava Valley, Tamar Valley, Peričnik Waterfall and Martuljek Waterfall to name a few. Find more about these nature escapes in my blog post Slovenia: The 10 best nature escapes.
This picturesque 16th century Gothic church lies in the middle of Kranjska Gora. In font there is a square where they organise Alpine Village (a Christmas Market) during winter.
Traditional wooden houses and the Julian Alps in the background everywhere you look.
View from a parking place on the Wurzen Pass (linking Slovenia with Austria) over the village of Podkoren and the Julian Alps.
The Church of Podkoren is located just outside of town.
The traditional and cozy four star Hotel Kotnik has got 2 restaurants. We have tried both and where pleasantly surprised by the price/quality ratio. The main restaurant serves good traditional and local specialties, supplemented with seasonal dishes.
The next door pizzeria Pino is built out of wooden logs an has a rustic atmosphere. The kitchen and massive oven stands inside the restaurant so it is nice to see how your pizza is made.
Restaurant Pri Martinu's menu is for those who love a traditional heavy meal after a long hike or a day on the ski slopes. For us it was a cozy place to try the unfiltered National Union beer. Good to know: the traditional beautiful green tiled stove next to the bar, will keep you warm during the cold winter months.
We have stayed several nights at the cozy Design Rooms Pr' Gavedarjo in Podkoren. This family run homestead was bought by their great grandpa before World War I and is in the family for over 100 years. It shows a good combination of modern comfort and preserving cultural heritage by adding many details like traditional fabrics, furniture and decoration.
4. Stara Fuzina
The beautiful Alpine village of Stara Fuzina only has got a couple of sights like the little
St. Paul Church and the Museum of Alpine Dairy Farming. But if you start smiling when I say terms like: rural, slow living, vegetable gardens, mountains, crystal clear river and meadows with cows, then this might be a place to spend a small hour or maybe even the night. Because here you will only hear the sound of cowbells, the barking of a dog and the sound of a tractor in the distance. No shops, no restaurants, just silence and honest country life. A true gem.
☞ location of Stara Fuzina
Stara Fuzina is perfect to combine with a trip to Lake Bohinj as it is only about 2 km (1,25 mi) away from the shores of the lake.
I've saved my favourite Slovenian town to end this blog...
Šmartno is situated on a hilltop in the heart of the Brda wine area where it feels like you're in Italy as you are surrounded by rolling green hills and wine estates as far as the eye can see. Which is not strange as Italy is only a stone throw away!
☞ location of Šmartno
The small and winding cobblestone alleys are perfect for pedestrians as they are car free.
Cotton-candy coloured Church of Saint Martin.
This town is filled with characterful houses and mediterranean plants like oleander, olive trees and grapevines.
Restaurant and Hotel Hiša Marica is situated in the heart of Šmartno. Here they serve traditional Slovenian/Italian food.
Great asparagus risotto with local wine.
The terrace of Hotel San Martin is the ideal spot to enjoy a cup of coffee while taking in the sweeping views.
The beautiful Renaissance style Vila Vipolže is actually not situated in Šmartno, but in Dobrovo, 5 km (3.1 mi) outside of town. But as it was my favourite restaurant in Slovenia I think it really needed a mention in this blog. The villa contains a restaurant, wine bar with excellent local wines and a museum.
After lunch we went back to Šmartno to watch the start of the sunset over the surrounding hills and wine estates.
At first I planned this road trip through Slovenia to be able to enjoy its natural beauty, but when I was there I realised that the country has got much more to offer than its stunning nature.
The towns have a lot of charm and many sights to discover. So for me this journey was extremely various and I can honestly say that Slovenia exceeded my expectations for sure!
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