If you look at the map, Slovenia is actually in the centre of Europe. There are centuries of history here. So many different empires marched through, some remained and built castles to defend their territory. Lots of forts and castles still survive, many were destroyed, but check this fact out, Slovenia has more castles than Wales and in all shapes and sizes! Pretty much every town, city and even many villages have their own castle in Slovenia.
What is more, we are lucky enough to be walking distance from one of the most beautiful and unique castles in the world, the fairytale Predjama castle, (10 mins), (it means castle in front of the cave). It will take you just 40 minutes to walk along the beautiful "blacksmiths" forest trail direct from Lipizzaner Lodge to Slovenia's most famous castle, which is built into a cave and hangs out over a 121m high cliff face!
There are many, many other terrific castles to visit, each with it's own special story. In Ljubljana, (30 mins), the castle has a Roman museum and great views over the smallest & cutest capital city in Europe.
As part of your daytrip to Lake Bled, you can easily hike up the side of a steep cliff to the amazing Bled castle (60 mins) overlooking the beautiful lake, with the Slovenian Alps, (Julian Alps) as the backdrop. But there are so many other fabulous castles to visit as part of your day out in Slovenia.
We really love the museum packed with room after room of treasure at Ptuj castle (110 mins) and there is another exhibition next to the castle there, overlooking Slovenia's oldest town, containing costumes from Slovenia's carnival time. A day out to this fantastic castle could easily be combined with a tour around Slovenia's own Jeruzalem, close to Ptuj. This is a rolling wine growing region, so beautiful, the returning Crusaders named it after the holy city.
We can't pronounce Žužemberg, so we say "Cucumber castle" (70 mins). This castle has been recently renovated by the local townspeople and is perfect for kids to run around and explore, with hidden chambers, wooden staircases and viewpoints everywhere. It also overlooks the bottle green Krka river and is near to an impressive cascade waterfall.
In yet another castle location, we are really excited about the medieval knights festivals and other events on offer at Celje castle (85 mins). This is the only royal castle in Slovenia, where the last Counts of Slovenia died off many centuries ago. You can see when these events take place by checking out our CALENDAR page. Another reason to visit Celje castle is the magnificent sunset view you might get as the sun lowers behind the mountains. You can also go up the huge tower for a quite breath taking view.
The view from the top of Velenje castle (90 mins), also requires a sharp intake of breath. Here you will see how a socialist town was built to accommodate industry and house workers for the nearby coal mine, (by the way, there is also a fab coal mine museum there too). the castle is one big living, breathing museum with frescoes, an old fashioned shop and would you believe it.. a large exhibition of wooden African Pigmi masks!
The poor chap who explored Africa and gave this collection to the museum in a bizarre exchange for Yugoslavian residency was tragically knocked over by a car just days after finally settling in Velenje! And if you want to get a little flavour of how socialism was in Slovenia, then Velenje castle is definitely the place for you as there are several rooms packed with exhibits and explanations about the development of a socialist town in the shadow of this beautiful castle on the hill.
You can combine a trip to the geographic centre of Slovenia with a visit to Bogensperk castle, (80 mins), the home of Slovenia's first travel writer, Valvasor. He was a 17th century prolific writer and publisher who brought many of Slovenia's unheard of treasures to the attention of the world, including the London Royal Society, who made him a member for his efforts. This is yet another castle that you can say, wow, great place for a wedding! Oh and kids.. Valvasor was very the first writer to publish a book containing vampires!
And don't forget how close we are to Italy and Croatia. There are 2 incredible coastal castellos to visit near Trieste. One, Duino castle (45 mins), has a fantastic breezy cliff walk on rocky Karst stone with views along the Adriatic coast and the castle. You could also go to the Italian seaside during this day out. Another beautiful castle is Miramar castle (50 mins), with a huge Hapsburg created park attached and amazing sea views.
There are crumbled castles all over the place, which are excellent stop offs for a sandwich break, "popstop" or for a quick look around and a stretch of your legs whilst you are on the way to visit other places. We found a great castle crumbling away on top of a hill with amazing views over the Ljubljana valley at Smlednik (35 mins). This castle has such an amazing location and 360 degree vista that it is now a very popular wedding location with wonderful newly built dancing platform .. book early to avoid disappointment. This castle is a great stop off on the way to Heaven on Earth, (Velika Planina) or to the amazing Hunter's valley, (Logarska Dolina).
There are also towers dotted along the forest horizons and leaning out over cliffs, indeed wherever there is a vantage point over a valley or forest in Slovenia, you can be pretty sure to find a castle or tower controlling who comes and goes and to spot the raiding parties arriving through history. One such tower is in nearby Planina and we call it "Rapunzel's" tower (25 mins), you will see why and even better, just below it, hidden in the forest, there is a secret cave with powerful river and derelict mill to explore!
A castle can be the focal point of your day or just a pleasant stop off as part of a bigger schedule. For example, you can visit a castle as part of a wine tour trip, en route cycling or hiking, or maybe you could also spend your time painting or sketching a castle on your own painting holiday? There is a wonderfully restored tower at Kalc (20 mins), right at the centre of Slovenia's 17 disappearing lake mini region. You could even cycle there and set up your easel for a wonderful day out!
To give you an idea of the amazing choice and beauty of Slovenian castles, we would say Predjama castle is our favourite and there are so many others that when you add up value for money / history / location and legends then Ljubljana castle would probably not even get into our top 20! This doesn't mean it is not worth going to see Ljubljana castle, it just means that you need to know there are so many more amazing castles to find here.
Our second favourite castle is the stunning Šneznik (Snow Mountain) castle, (50 mins), in the heart of the oldest forest in Europe, (below) and such incredible value to visit! A lot of our guests have visited Šneznik castle and combined this with a trip down the nearby Križna cave or a hike along the local Green Heart Hike.
We know a local guide who can take you walking here and you could also book a horse carriage ride into the forest.. just ask! There is also usually a knights tournament held here every summer with jousting and hog roasts.