Consider Celje for an Alternative Taste of Slovenia
For those that like to venture off the well-trodden tracks of Spain and Greece, short breaks in Slovenia tend only to go as far as the city that nobody is sure how to pronounce, Ljubljana. You can’t blame them; there is no denying that it’s a fabulous city but it’s a bit like the many people that come to England for their holiday who never venture any further than London.
It’s much the same story in Slovenia but there is so much more to see than just Ljubljana. The lesser known city of Celje could be just what the doctor ordered for an alternative taste of Slovenia.
Celje lays on the intersection of the Voglajna River and the Savinja River, slap bang in the middle of its siblings, Maribor and Ljubljana. The prime location means that, despite the wealth of appeal within the city boundaries, you are excellently placed to visit surrounding areas too.
So what is there to see in the city itself? Well, the city centre is compact and you can get around very easily by foot, meaning you are free to explore at your own pace without parking metres restrictions or having to continually check the bus timetable. Take a wander to see the plethora of historical, attractive buildings such as the Cathedral of the Prophet Daniel and Celje Hall with its fairytale tower that will capture your imagination. Find the Old County Palace within which the Regional Museum is housed, explore the several impressive churches and other museums and take some time to visit the shops and meet the locals. The old town, and indeed the “down town” area are both exceptionally beautiful and are filled with a vast array of things to see.
One of the unmissable sights is Celje Castle, sometimes better known as Upper Celje or Stari Grad Castle; a building which is primarily in ruins but is currently in the process of being fully restored. It sits on the crest of Three Hills which can be found in the southeast portion of the city, around 2km out. Some of the first written mentions of the castle date back to the 10th century meaning it has played a key part in the livelihood of Celje over the years. Visited by thousands each year, it remains one of the most important buildings in the city to this day. The ascent will take around half an hour, but once you arrive, you can not only explore the building, but drink in the views of Celje beneath you.
When it comes to food and drink there is a lovely and varied selection of eateries and pubs along with a nice handful of cosy cafes to satisfy that afternoon coffee and cake craving. Try Kavarna Evropa out for size – the interior, with its chandeliers and old wood panelling makes for an antique but enjoyable experience. Head to Istrska Konoba for your evening meal and then onto the Jazz Pub: many agree that it is the perfect place for you to end your evening of entertainment.
Choose to discover what’s on offer outside of the city and you won’t be disappointed. Breathe in the valley air and amble along the walkways next to the rivers. Smartinsko Lake is just spitting distance away with Slovenia car hire and offers a serene and scenic day trip; perfect for swimming, should weather permit or you could even hire a boat. A rather quirky activity can be found nearby in the form of zorbing which essentially involves rolling down a hill in a giant, transparent plastic orb! It is said to be really fun, although I guess it depends on preference!
I’m not sure I’ve done it complete justice in just one article, but rest assured that Celje, with its beautiful history and small town feel, offers that little something different that you may well just fall in love with. After all, the Slovenia Tourist Board slogan isn’t I Feel Slovenia for nothing.