More about holidays in Slovenia

Tuesday was a state holiday in Slovenia – Statehood Day (Dan drzavnosti) which commemorates the act of independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

I have often read questions, posted on various forums by visitors to Slovenia, as to what is open on holiday days in Slovenia. Well, the answer is that it depends on the holiday! On Statehood Day for example, almost everything is closed – shops, businesses etc. However, cafes, restaurants etc. and the major tourist attractions all remain open so apart from being unable to shop, visitors are not usually affected, although bus and train schedules run to Sunday services. On other holidays however, some of the larger shops are open, at least in the mornings.

Being here on a holiday can also be a bonus as there are usually plenty of celebratory or commemoratory events taking place around the country. I think its fair to say that the majority of Slovenes are very patriotic, which is not surprising considering the long and somewhat turbulent history of this little country, and on state holidays you will usually see the Slovene flag flying on public buildings as well as on many private homes too.

On Tuesday, there were 2 events to mark the day in Radovljica. First at 9am there was a guided walk of  the Path of Peace, which starts in Brezje at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians and leads to the Peračica waterfalls. The path is well marked so can also be followed without a guide

Additionally, in the evening, there was a concert by the Anton Tomaz Linhart Choir in the Baroque Hall in the Radovljica Mansion House, located in the old town centre.


The Radovljica Mansion House (graščina) is the venue for numerous events including concerts, dances, weddings, exhibitions and other celebrations and events. Hardly a week goes by without some kind of event taking place – some of which are also free. It’s such a beautiful building, it never fails to impress, and even after having lived here for 6 years, I still admire it each time I walk past. So if you are visiting Radovljica, be sure to go in and take a look for yourself – it’s free to enter. The building is also home to the Museum of Apiculture (that’s beekeeping to you and me!), the Town Museum and the Radovljica Music School. Additionally, it hosts the very popular Radovljica Festival of Music, which takes place annually in August and last year celebrated its 30th anniversary. This year the festival will run from the 10th to the 25th August


In addition to Easter Monday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, there are also other holidays in Slovenia. The main ones, listed below, are both state holidays and work free days whereas some others are celebrated but they don’t mean getting a day of work (boo!):

8th February – Prešeren day (Prešeren dan) – Commemorates the anniversary of the death of the Slovene poet France Preseren

27th April – Day of Uprising Against Occupation (Dan upora proti okupatorju) – Marks the establishment of the Liberation Front in 1941 to fight the German, Italian, Hungarian and Croation occupation of Slovenia.

1st & 2nd May – May Day Holidays (Praznik dela) – Work free days

15th August – Assumption Day (Marijino vnebovzetje)

31st October – Reformation Day (Dan reformacije)

 1st November – All Saints Day (Dan spomina na mrtve) – Literally, a day dedicated to remembering the dead.

 26th December – Independence and Unity Day (Dan samostojnisti in enotnosti) – Celebrates the proclamation of independence from Yugoslavia in 1990 following the referendum.

Until this year, 2nd January was also a holiday but that one fell victim to the economic crisis cost saving measures – though how this will save the ailing economy is anyone’s guess!

Next weekend it’s the Blacksmith’s Festival in Kropa. This annual event is an ideal opportunity to get acquainted with the long tradition of iron forging in this quaint village. There will be plenty going on so read here for more information –

Hop-on Hop-off Radovljica

Tourism Radovljica have come up with a great idea for a new Hop-On Hop-Off tourist bus which will travel between Bled, the Šobec campsite, Radovljica, Begunje and Kropa. The bus will make stops at places of interest along the route and will make four circular journeys every Tuesday and Friday during the period from 1st July to 23rd August 2013.  So now, even those without a car, will have the opportunity to visit some of the hidden delights in this area, get away from the usual tourist hotspots and see some of the places I have blogging about too!

The price for an all-day ticket will be just 4 euros for adults and children can ride for free sounds like a bargain to me! You can get on and off the bus as desired and in addition there is an accompanying programme of interesting activities and guided tours, many of which are free, in the towns and villages that make up the Radol’ca region – Radovljica, Begunje na Gorenjskem, Podvin, Mošnje, Brezje, Kropa, Kamna Gorica, Spodnja Lipnica. Further details of the programme and the bus timetable can be found here –

The weather has been gorgeous all week; swelteringly hot and sunny – just as I like it! I have been hiking, riding my bike, or a combination of the two, most days. There’s no shortage of places to go when the weather is so great, the only difficulty is choosing where to go. If I’m short on time, a favourite bike trip is the slightly longer variation of the Sub-Alpine Cycling Route ( which in part follows the road from Begunje beneath Mt. Dobrča, and offers spectacular views across the valley, then leads downhill through the village of Leše before returning via Brezje to Radovljica. For a longer ride, I often continue on the road under Mt. Dobrča, which eventually leads down to Tržiška bistrica then return via Kovor, Podbrezje, Posavec, Črnivec and back to Radovljica.

On Saturday, I visited Škofja Loka where the annual Festival of History was taking place.  The beautiful old town centre was transformed into a medieval wonderland for the day with locals dressed in traditional clothing, stalls selling various wares and numerous workshops and performances. After that I took a walk up past Loka Castle and followed part of the Three Castles Path (Pot treh gradov), which I wrote more about in a previous blog ‘A rude awakening’ (March 2013).


On the way back home, I stopped to visit the Potato and Sausage Festival in Šenčur. The village of Šenčur is synonymous with the potato and both potatoes and sausages, eaten alone or in a number of hearty stews and other dishes, form a staple of the Slovene diet. There were stalls offering, of course, a variety of potato and sausage dishes as well as some selling handicrafts. However, the event really comes to life in the evening when the live music and merriment begins, with just a glug or two of schnapps to make it even merrier!


It’s hard to believe, but yesterday was already Midsummer’s Day and therefore it was the annual Midsummer’s Eve bonfire which is held at Kamen Castle in Begunje. It doesn’t feel like 5 minutes since it was winter – can it really be mid-summer already? However, at least the occasion is always celebrated in style here. The ruins of Kamen Castle provide a magical setting for the event, which is held in a medieval style. The gothic and renaissance castle, which stands at the entrance to the Draga Valley, was originally built in the 12th century by the Counts of Ortenburg. Today only the remains of the tower and keep are preserved and can be visited anytime.


It’s summertime and tourist season is now in full swing so there are plenty of events, concerts, festivals etc. happening all over the country. Here are just some of the events for this week in Radovljica and the surrounding areas:

25th June at 9.00am – Guided tour of the Path of Peace in Brezje (more about Brezje can be read in my last blog).

28th June at 8.00pm – Haileybury School Choir and Big Band, St. Peter’s Church Radovljica

28th & 29th June – Music Festival ‘Ko Radovljica zaživi’ – Some of the biggest names on the Slovene Music Scene will appear at this 2 day event.  More information and ticket purchase can be found here (in Slovene only) –

Churches galore and the Radovna Cycle Path

There are a lot of churches in Slovenia, over 3,000 of them. They can be found everywhere – in cities, towns, villages and even atop remote hills and mountains. I’m far from religious and certainly not an expert in sacral architecture, but I do like to stop at churches when passing by on a walk, to admire the frescoes, artwork and intricate interior fittings.

Radovljica and it’s surrounding villages (collectively known as Radol’ca) has 18 churches. One of the most known churches in Slovenia, a national sanctuary and the Slovene pilgrimage centre, is the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Brezje, just a few kilometres from Radovljica. Pilgrims flock here in their thousands from all over Slovenia and elsewhere in Europe on the main pilgrimage days, 24th May and 15th August. The church even has its own Pilgrimage Office (Romarski urad), for those requiring further information – Brezje 72, BrezjeTel:+3864/5370700


Last weekend I went for a walk to the village of Crngrob, near Škofja Loka, which is home to the pilgrimage church, dedicated to the Annunciation of Maria. The church, one of the most beautiful medieval churches in Slovenia, is adorned with frescoes and has gothic and baroque features. I began my walk from the centre of Škofja Loka and continued through Stara Loka passing by the villages of Papirnica and Pevno before arriving in Crngrob. A leaflet entitled ‘Path to Crngrob’ is available which has further detailed information about the walk and the sights of interest along the way.

Crngrob 2

On Sunday I did another long bike ride – though not as long or as far as last weekend’s epic adventure! This time it was on the bike path through the Radovna Valley. There are lots of great places to cycle in Slovenia but unfortunately, in this area at least, not a huge number of traffic-free dedicated cycle paths so the Radovna Cycle Path is among my favourite rides.

The Radovna Valley is between the Mežakla and Pokljuka plateaus and is part of Triglav National Park. Though I usually encounter a few cars along the 16km cycle path, they are fortunately fairly few and far between as the road is mostly unmade and best explored by bike. I certainly hope it remains this way as cars travelling along the road create a lot of dust which is most unpleasant for cyclists and besides, there are more than enough roads elsewhere, leave this path to us cyclists! Along the route there are a number of places to stop, information boards and sights of interest such as the Psnak Mill, the burnout ruins of Radovna and the Napoleon Stone. According to tradition, the Emperor Napoleon’s initials were carved into the stone when his army was said to have marched though the valley at the beginning of the 19th century. I cycled from home and made it a circular route by continuing to Mojstrana and back through Jesenice.

This year in September, Slovenia is hosting the Eurobasket Championships, and now with less than 100 days to go, the countdown has begun. Tickets for the final have already sold out but tickets are still available for other games. Matches will be held at four venues across Slovenia – Jesenice, Ljubljana, Celje and Koper –

There are a lot of events coming up in the forthcoming week in Radovljica and the surrounding areas. It will be dificult to choose which ones to go to but I will certainly be going to some of the ones on the list below:

Fri 21st & Sat 22nd June – Potato and Sausage Festival – Sports Park, Šencur

Fri 21st June – Concert by the Triglav Lesce Choir, Radovljica Mansion House (entry free) –

Sat 22nd June – 11am Presentation of the new Memorial Park and opening of a memorial dedicated to the writer Mimi Malenšek, with guest speaker, Borut Pahor (President of Slovenia) – Podbrezje Memorial Park. For more information contact

Sat 22nd June –3pm  Literary Gathering with the writer Boris Pahor – Pircev dom, Podbrezje.

Saturday 22nd June – Škofja Loka, Festival of History – A range of events, workshops, presentations, performances, culinary fair and more. For the full programme see –

23-30 June – Kekec Days in Kranjska Gora – A festival based on the childrens book character Kekec with events for all the family including creative workshops, sports, concerts, theatre shows and more –

Sunday 23rd June – Midsummer Eve Bonfire at Kamen Castle, Begunje. This tradition medieval event is held annually to celebrate midsummer’s eve and includes childrens activities, traditional food, music and an accompanying cultural programme.

Vintgar Gorge and by bike around Gorenjska

Having had one of the snowiest winters ever, this was followed by the wettest May since 1975. So last week I decided to try to find a positive to the recent heavy rainfall by visiting Vintgar Gorge, which is at its most impressive following heavy rain.


Vintgar Gorge, in the vicinity of Gorje, 4kms from Bled and approximately 10kms from Radovljica, is one of the major tourist sights in the area. It is usually open from the end of April until October. During the summer months buses run regularly from Bled or it also makes a pleasant walk from Bled. Personally I prefer to walk from the village of Zasip up to the church at the Hom hill and take the path across its slopes, before following the road down into the gorge and returning up through the forest. It’s a  much longer route but its circular and I like circular routes! However, for those that don’t wish to walk so far and have their own transport, there is a large car park at the entrance to the gorge, which is also where the buses stop. The gorge is 1.6km in length and has a boardwalk throughout which ends at the Šum waterfall


By mid-week the weather had improved and by the weekend it was positively summer-like, with the exception of a few torrential downpours and almighty thunderstorms. Sunday was forecast to be the best day of the week and so a friend and I embarked upon a rather ambitious cycle trip; ambitious in as much as she needed to be home by 12 o’clock and between here and there were a lot of kilometres and a lot of ups and downs! Our trip came about as a result of last week’s blog, where I wrote about my attempt at making Dražgoški kruhki. A friend then asked me if I had actually been to Dražgoše, to which I ashamedly replied ‘no’! So, it was time to rectify this and a visit by bike seemed the ideal way to see the best of it as one has more time to take in and appreciate the views whilst cycling.

We started from Radovljica and first travelled through the Lipnica Valley to the village of Kropa. This picturesque village is known as the cradle of Slovene iron-forging and has a centuries old tradition of ironworking and blacksmithing. It is one of the most important of Slovenia’s historic places due to its preserved architecture and technical heritage

Kropa is a small village but a pleasant place for a stroll, to see some of the ironworks on the buildings and get a glimpse into the history of the village at the Kropa Blacksmith Museum. The museum is located in the central part of the old square, in Klinar’s House, and among its  exhibits is the only preserved iron-forge in Slovenia as well as displays of authentic materials and tools ranging from the 14th to the 20th centuries –

From Kropa we took the windy road, with seemingly countless hairpin bends, up to Jamnik (830m). The church of Saints Primus and Felician, which stands atop Jamnik, is a prominent feature of this area and can be seen from far and wide. From Jamnik we continued onwards to Dražgoše and from there down to the village of Železniki and through the beautiful Selška Valley to Škofja Loka. Then from Škofja Loka to Kranj, Naklo and back to Radovljica. The weather couldn’t have been more ideal for such a trip – hot but not scorching – with just a light breeze to keep things cool. It was a 4.5 hour ride in total with just a short stop at the war memorial in Dražgoše for a photo break as evidence that I was there (we didn’t quite make it by 12 o’clock but weren’t far behind).

CIMG6394 Drazgose

Here are some forthcoming events for the week ahead in Radovljica and the surrounding areas:

  •  Weds 12th June – Concert by Podnart Choir – free entry, Radovljica Mansion House
  •  Saturday 15th June – Open Day at the Gorenjska Beekeeing Centre, Lesce
  •  Saturday 15th June – Forester’s Competition, Opposite the Sava Farm Co-operative (KGZ_, Lesce
  • Saturday 15th June – Summer Museums Night, 80 museums throughout Slovenia open for one night only from 6pm until midnight with free admission –

My first attempt at Dražgoški kruhki!

With the weather being so awful all week (rain, rain and more rain), I don’t have any exciting trips or walks to report. However, I found an indoor activity to do instead and went on a course at the Biotechnical Centre in Naklo to learn how to make Dražgoški kruhki; handmade, ornamental honey breads, a speciality of the village of Dražgoše.

The recipe is really simple as there are only three ingredients (as seen in the photo below together with the prepared dough); flour, honey and ammonia carbonate (jelenova sol), available from the chemists, but which could also be substituted for bicarbonate of soda. After mixing and kneading the dough, then comes the decorating, for which a bit of patience and flair is required (that latter not being something I have in abundance!).

Drazgoski kruhek 30 maj  2013 005

The finished product should look like this:


And this was my finished product – not bad for a first attempt don’t you think?!

Drazgoski kruhek 30 maj  2013 016

The small village of Dražgoše (pictured below), after which these honey breads are named, lies on the south slopes of Jelovica, the plateau which dominates the view to the south of Radovljica. As well as being known for its honey breads, Dražgoše is also known for being the site of a second world war battle between Slovene partisans and Nazi German armed-forces. After suffering heavy losses the Nazi forces set fire to the village, shot 41 hostages and deported the remaining residents. In 1976 the Dražgoše war memorial was built just outside the village to commemorate this battle and the destruction of the village. There is now a traditional commemorative night walk from Pasja ravan to Dražgoše (Po poti Cankarjevega bataljona), which is not for the faint hearted since it takes place annually in January and takes on average around 10 – 12 hours to complete.


At the beginning of this year, (2nd January 2013), I wrote about how I had met and enjoyed the company of two of Slovenia’s national treasures – Ivanka Kraševec and Ivan (Žan) Prešern.

As well as both having very successful music careers, Ivanka and Žan also devote their attention to painting these days and have both hosted exhibitions. I was therefore surprised and more than delighted when they gave me a painting last week, a belated birthday present, which Žan had painted especially for me, and similar to one his paintings that I had been previously been admiring. The painting is of the beautiful view looking out over the back of Radovljica, across the valley and towards Triglav.

To see this view at its best, there is a new viewing platform which can be reached by walking through the old town in Radovljica and turning right shortly before the church. There is an information board which details all the sights and a couple of benches, perfect for simply sitting and soaking up the views.

Thankfully the forecast looks more promising for the week ahead so I hope to be able to get out and about a lot more. In the meantime, here are a few things going on in Radovljica and the surrounding areas in the coming week:

  • 2nd – 8th June: Country Week in Loka – A variety of events taking place in Škofja Loka and the surrounding villages including guided walks, cookery workshops, farmers markets and more
  • 6th – 9th June: Radovljica Swimming Pool – 37th Open Swimming Championships
  • Thursday 6th June: Radovljica Manor House – Gala Concert with Manca Izmajalova and others

More information about events in Radovljica, and about the villages in the surrounding areas, can be found here –