There are so many travel clichés out there, that it’s sometimes hard to really appreciate the words, in fact – damn it - we've put one in the title!! Slovenia has its fair share of them attached to it when written about in the travel press. We get a little bored of reading them – a hidden treasure, off the beaten track/path, unique charm, hidden gem, stunning landscape, breath-taking beauty…. the list is endless.
The words are true of course, but all too often they’re written about Ljubljana, Lake Bled and Piran, when there is so much more to see in Slovenia than these places, whether you’re an official tourist (an overnight stayer) or a day tripper! What’s wonderful about Slovenia is that there is a wealth of destinations just a short drive away and now there’s a fun way to enjoy them with the whole family whether you’re from overseas or a native. A Mini Adventure is the perfect way to explore and get to know a town or city in a new and exciting way.
So, pack up your day trip essentials (a Mini Adventure being the main item!) and head off to our top memory making locations.
Known as the "City of Flowers and Wine", Slovenske Konjice more than lives up to this title. It's well preserved and clean streets, squares, bridges and buildings are a delight. Set beneath the mysterious Konjiška Gora mountain, where it is said a dragon once resided and nestling amongst hills of vineyards. It is charming, authentic and full of character.
Explore Slovenske Konjice from one end of the town to the other, it’s not such a long way, so perfect for young families. The modern area, where the railway station used to be leads on to the squares of the new and old town which are separated by the Dravinja river. On leaving the Town Square (Mestni trg) you hit the Old Square (Stari trg) where the stream of "Dragon's slobber" begins. It's a tiny stream with small bridges that divides the one-way street and pedestrianised area. The old square is lined with beautiful town houses, which from spring until autumn, are adorned with colourful window boxes filled with blooms. As well as being able to see frescoes on some of the houses along here, there is also the Plague Monument, a masterpiece from the 18th century.
The large and imposing Church of St. George is surprising considering the size of the town itself, the bell tower measures 62m high. From the church there is a gentle hill to the park area where kids can stop for a play at the playground. The park has an attractive pond and is overlooked by the Trebnik Mansion, a Renaissance mansion from the 14th century.
One of the things you can't fail to notice as you explore Slovenske Konjice is its celebration of horses. The horses are in honour of St. George's horse. The legend of him riding in on his white horse to save a maiden who was due to be sacrificed to the dragon that lived in the mountain above Slovenske Konjice is celebrated every year. They also symbolise when Slovenske Konjice was a busy stopover point for travellers in old times when travelling with horses was the only form of transport.
Kamnik, a medieval town is rich in history and tradition. It’s surrounded by the Kamnik-Savinja Alps so breath-taking views of the mountains are never too far away. It is from the top of Mali grad hill found in the centre of the town and nicknamed the "Balcony of Kamnik", that you will encounter the most impressive vistas. It is here also that a unique two-storey Romanesque chapel stands, one of the most important in Slovenia. It is all that remains of a 11th century castle complex that once stood here, where counts of Bavaria had their seat.
The most enchanting street in Kamnik is Šutna, where medieval houses lean against each other, showing off several guild and craft signs. A throwback to times gone by when the street was home to numerous artists and craftsmen. One craft tradition of Kamnik which is being brought back to life is Majolica earthenware production. A workshop named Hiša Keramike, zakaj pa ne majolka is situated here. And you can't miss the Church of Mary Immaculate which dominates Šutna. The separate Gothic bell tower was once part of a medieval church.
The town's squares - Trg Svobode (Liberty Square) which is where local fairs would have taken place, is surrounded by buildings, some of which date back more than 400 and Glavni Trg (Main Square) with a fountain in the middle of it are both worthy of a visit. Žale Hill where the Church of the Marriage of the Virgin stands and the Franciscan Friary which houses about 7,000 books are a must see too!
And don't worry if all the exploring has summoned up a thirst or hunger, Kamnik has a great array of places to stop off for a while and soak in the atmosphere. And if you love shopping, there's a superb range of shops, many selling the famous ceramics of the area.
Ptuj is known as the oldest town in Slovenia and in terms of importance in history, equals Ljubljana. In fact, Ptuj is so embroiled in history that it is forbidden to dig deeper than 1 metre (70cm in the very centre) for fear of what valuable remnants of old times lurk underneath and might be damaged! It has a calm and serene air to it, and is a pleasure to walk around, without the crowds that the capital has.
The small and colourful medieval centre is easily discovered on foot and has a quirky feel to it too with alleyways and fascinating backyards where you can visit small cafes and take in street art. It’s also packed with churches, museums, and monasteries and home to an impressive castle which sits on a 300m hill looking down on the town and the Drava River. A walk along the river is great for the soul and there’s a fabulous view of the castle which dominates the town to be enjoyed from the footbridge.
Every corner you turn you come across remarkable buildings - Dominican Monastery (built in 1230), Drava Tower, Minorite Monastery, the City Tower and the magnificent Orpheus Monument which is a Roman monument and was used for public punishment in the middle ages.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this charming town it just for history and architect buffs either! A day trip here will elate the whole family – young and old!
A small and compact city which is the regional capital of Prekmurje, Murska Sobota was part of Hungary until 1918 and gets its name from the Hungarian Muraszombat, szombat meaning Saturday. This refers to the weekly markets and fairs that were held in the city, on a Saturday.
The City Park, which is an English style landscaped park with a pond and a playground, is a great area to explore. In the centre of the park, Sobota Castle can be found. It's an impressive 16th century building which houses the award winning Murska Sobota Regional Museum. An avenue lined with 200-year-old-trees leads from here to the Evangelical Church. The impressive Victory monument is not far from here and then it’s only a short walk into the hub of the city and to the market area which has seen traders come and go for many, many years.
The newly opened Expano, a unique visitor centre on Sobota Lake is just a couple of kilometres out of the city and can be reached easily by bike. It’s the perfect ride for families as it’s lovely and flat all the way. You can use the Soboški Biciklin service which allows you to rent bikes from the centre of town or from Expano, as well as from other points in surrounding villages.
Hopefully we’ve avoided the dreaded travel clichés and after writing about these fab little places we think this travel quote we found sums these places up perfectly – “If you walk a city, if you love a city, if you put your miles and years with open heart and mind, the city will reveal itself to you”
There’s 13 more exciting adventures waiting to be discovered on our website, either in Slovenia or just a short drive away into Hungary, Austria or Croatia!
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