It occurred to me recently that among all the hundreds of blogs I’ve written about Radovljica and the surroundings throughout the years, the large majority have been about active pursuits – my love of hiking, cycling and, of course, food!
However, somewhere along the line I’ve overlooked the fact that Radovljica and its surroundings is also a great place for some R&R – that’s rest and relaxation to you and me!
Of course, what is one person’s idea of R&R can be at polar ends of the spectrum to another, so below I’ve suggested some ways you can include R&R, wellness and well-being, into your visit to the Radovljica area.
Massages, facials and more! There are quite a number of beauty salons in the Radovljica area, where you can relax, be pampered and/or be smothered in honey or even mud!
Numerous sportspeople use cryotherapy, as it is said to help promote faster healing of injuries and can also help with muscle pain and some joint and muscle disorders.
And here in Radovljica you can try cryotherapy at the Rož’ca salon at the Radovljica Sports Park, where you can also have various massages, magnet therapy and more.
Wellness and saunas
The small, family-run Sport Hotel Manca is the place to go for a sauna in Radovljica. It has a Turkish, Finnish and infrared sauna, as well as a whirlpool.
The Torok guest house and spa is located in nearby Hraše. Upon prior booking, the wellness area, which features a jacuzzi and Finnish sauna, is also open to non-residents.
At the time of writing, the Radovljica Olympic-size swimming pool is undergoing renovation, but is nonetheless open to the public for recreational swimming during the week from 8pm to 10pm and at weekends from 9am to 12noon and from 4pm to 7pm.
In winter the pool is covered, while in summer it is open-air. The pool hosts a wide range of competitions, including national championships, training camps and other events.
The aforementioned Sport Hotel Manca also has an outdoor pool, where in summer you can cool off in the water then sit back and soak up the views of the surrounding mountains.
With the world becoming, or trying to become, ever ‘greener’, many of us are trying to do our bit here and there, including taking public transport, where possible.
The great news is that Radovljica is really well connected, so it’s an ideal place to base yourself for getting around Slovenia and even further afield.
In addition to Radovljica’s new railway station, Slovenian Railways also introduced some new trains late last year. The first journey took place on the new electrified KISS trains, produced by the Swiss producer Stadler, on the Ljubljana-Litija line. The trains are renowned for their improved comfort, spaciousness and functionality, as well as panoramic windows for a literal ‘seat with a view’.
Within minutes of stepping off the train at Radovljica’s railway station you can reach Linhart Square – the heart of the historic old town centre.
It takes less than an hour to reach Radovljica from Ljubljana (or vice versa), or in the other direction, you can go to Jesenice and from there to Villach in Austria and onwards. In the opposite direction, i.e. from Ljubljana, you can travel to Maribor or Celje – Slovenia’s second and third largest cities respectively – or to Zagreb in Croatia and further.
Below I’ve put together a few suggestions of what to see and do by train (and bus) in the local area.
Take the train from Radovljica to Globoko, where you can visit the Barbana Stud Farm to see the famous white Lipizzaner horses.
With the current heatwave here and in much of Europe, no doubt many people’s thoughts are turning to how and where to keep cool. Well, in Slovenia it’s not that difficult really, since the country has so many forests and water sources.
Did you know that Slovenia has more than 60 rivers and streams, 300 artificial and natural lakes and 7,500 freshwater springs?
In the Radol’ca area there are fountains with drinking water in various places, so all you need is a water bottle and you can fill up (free of charge!) along the way, whether on foot or by bike.
There are also several new rest areas, which are situated at road intersections and are the ideal for cyclists to stop for a drink, rest…
…and even a bit of (additional) exercise!
Perhaps you are wondering where to hike in this heat? Well, again, it’s not a problem, you just need to choose the right trails, i.e. ones that lead through the shade of the forest, and also make sure you set out early and have plenty of water with you.
My favourite ‘cool’ hike at this time of year, in fact I went there this morning, is the Shepherds’ Trail, which leads from the Draga valley up to the Preval mountain hut.
If you’d prefer to be in, or on, the water in this heat, then there are plenty of opportunities to do that, too, in the Radol’ca area.
Although currently undergoing a complete renovation, work at the Radovljica swimming pool has temporarily stopped over the summer and the pool is open to visitors, and guests of the Šobec Camp have free access to the natural outdoor pool.
If you’d rather be on the water rather than in it, then rafting, canyoning, kayaking and other river-based activitiesare available on the Sava river and other nearby watercourses.
I, for one, am not moaning about the heat. Enjoy the heat while you can, I say, since winter is never far around the corner here in Gorenjska!
The walk begins in the Pristava area of Tržič, where there is a small parking area almost directly opposite the start point.
The trail to Gozd takes just over an hour and is well marked throughout with signs and the usual red and white circular trail markers.
It is particularly pleasant at this time of year in the summer heat as it runs almost entirely through the shady forest (or as was the case for us yesterday, the forest also provides shelter when it begins to rain!).
After about half an hour you emerge onto the road, where you are greeted on the opposite side by a dazzling array of signs!
Follow the signed trail to the left, which, after around 20 minutes emerges at the forest shelter, where you can enjoy a rest, a drink and some sustenance before either returning the same way or heading onwards and upwards!
PHoto: PD Križe
There’s a small climbing wall and play area for ‘kids’ too! Note: the shelter is usually open on Friday afternoons, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, or at other times upon prior arrangement.
Opposite the shelter is a shrine, which appears to be ‘keeping watch’ over the shelter and the hikers that pass by.
If you are looking for a more challenging hike, you are spoilt for choice with hiking trails in the area, the main ones being Kriška gora, Tolsti vrh and Storžic.
If, however, you don’t plan to walk any further, then why not just join in the crowd!
Enjoy your walk/hike, and, take my advice, make sure you have your waterproofs with you in your rucksack, because at the moment there seems to be a storm every afternoon and you don’t want to get caught out…like we did!
I could probably almost write an entire book about the various paths that lead to Talež – a vantage point on the Jelovica plateau with magnificent views over the Radovljica plains, Bled, the Karavanke mountains and towards the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. However, as I’m writing a blog rather than a book, below I’ve provided a brief overview of just some of the trails that lead up to Talež, so you can pick the one that suits you, depending on where you are starting/staying.
From Radovljica the most direct route leads down from the old town over the bridge above the railway line, down Cesta svobode road to reach the bridge across the Sava river at Lancovo. Cross the bridge then turn immediately right and after just cca. 100 metres take the left fork. Continue for cca. 150 metres to another fork, where you should continue straight ahead (not up to the left).
After passing a few houses on your left, you will enter the forest. Continue to the first green waymarker to Talež, where you should turn left, then at the next waymarker turn right. Thereafter, there aren’t any other visible waymarkers but the path is well trodden, and even if you lose your way, just keep heading in a roughly westerly direction until you reach the forest road, which you then follow, again in a westerly direction, towards the Koča na Taležu (Hunters’ Hut on Talež) mountain hut.
If you are staying at the Šobec campsite, you can cross the bridge over the Sava river from the rear of the camp then continue across the meadows to reach the bridge over the Sava river at Bodešče, from where you can follow the trail up to the Koča na Taležu mountain hut. Note: this trail is somewhat easier to follow and has a couple of waymarkers.
If you’d like to do a longer, circular walk then you continue onwards from the hut to the highest point of the Talež ridge – Tolsti vrh. There are several options, but my preferred one is to continue past the hut following the green signs for Tolsti vrh.
Alternatively, for an even longer, circular walk, you can first walk (or cycle/drive) alongside the Sava river all the way to Selo, where you cross the Sava river.
Then walk up through the forest to the village of Kupljenik, passing a couple of shrines on the way.
On reaching the village you are rewarded with the first of many great views!
From the village, initially follow the marked path to the Babji zob cave before branching off towards Talež.
As this walk is at lower altitudes, it’s also ideal for late-spring (or winter if there’s not much snow). These photos were taken in April, hence you can still see snow on the mountains in the distance.
You might meet a friend or two along the way!
Whichever route you choose, you will eventually end up at the Lovska koča na Taležu hut, where you can enjoy a refreshing drink, a cake and/or something more hearty, while soaking up the views over the Radovljica Plains and the Karavanke mountains (note: out of season the hut is usually only open at weekends, during summer it is open daily).
At last, I’ve found time to sit down and write my first blog of the year 2022! It’s been a funny old winter so far. First a lot of early snow in December, followed by a very cold spell, then an unseasonably mild spell, followed by rain, a bit more snow and now another really cold spell, albeit now at least with beautiful blue skies and sunshine.
Although I’ve never been a fan of the cold and snow, I’m also not one to sit indoors, regardless of the weather (and my ongoing health woes). So, here are a few ideas for winter hikes in the Radol’ca, oh, and read on to find out about the ‘spikes’ (as mentioned in the title) too!
One of our favourite hikes at this time of the year is to Smokuški vrh above the village of Begunje na Gorenjskem. Since we like doing circular routes and prefer to leave the car in the garage, when we have time we often set off on foot from Radovljica to Begunje (cca. 50 minutes), where we take the path that begins near the post office and leads steeply up to St. Peter’s church (cca. 30mins).
From the church, we carry on up to Smokuški vrh on the ridge, which is a great vantage point.
We then walk along the ridge, with stunning views of the Julian Alps and Slovenia’s highest mountain – Triglav – before descending towards the village of Rodine and back through Hraše and Lesce to Radovljica.
Now onto the ‘spikes’ I mentioned above…As also mentioned above, it’s been a mixed bag this winter, which means that although some places at lower altitudes are now almost snow-free (up to around 800metres above sea-level), in the forest, particularly in areas that don’t get any/much sun and paths that are well used, the paths are really icy in places, hence ‘spikes’ i.e. mini crampons, are a ‘must’ in my rucksack wherever I go.
So, if you are planning any hikes in winter, I’d advise you bring (or buy while you are here) a pair of these mini crampons – you can pick them up for around €30, they are very lightweight and quick and easy to put on. Note, however, that these crampons are NOT suitable for more strenuous and higher mountain tours, for which semi-automatic crampons are a must at this time of the year.
And what’s more, the ones I’m ‘modelling’ below, are even made here in the municipality of Radovljica – at the Veriga factory in Lesce, where you can buy them direct of pick them up in sports shops.
My other favourite places to hike in the Radovljica area in winter include the Goška ravan mountain pasture and hut on the Jelovica plateau…
The Roblekov dom mountain hut, above the Draga valley on the slopes of Mt. Begunščica…
I believe that every visitor to Slovenia who wants to get a real sense of the country, rather than just visiting the usual tourist attractions, should visit at least one of the numerous mountain pastures, where you can enjoy some simple, hearty, homemade food, enjoy the peace and views, and soak up the atmosphere of pasture life.
And there’s no better place to do so than on the mountain pastures beneath Košuta – Slovenia’s longest mountain – above Tržič, particularly as they are easily accessible even for those who don’t enjoy, or are unable to take part in, long hikes. The options are almost limitless; you can opt to go on a full day walk from the valley, or drive part of the way for easier access, you can just walk from pasture to pasture, or you can tackle one of the peaks along the length of Košuta, or even stay the night so you can see and do even more!
Having previously blogged about our overnight stay at the Scouts’ Hut on the Šija mountain pasture and hike to Kladivo, this time we picked up the walk where we left off – at the Pungrat mountain pasture – from where we walked to the Dolga njiva alpine dairy farm.
Since we wanted to do a partly circular walk, we started at the Zali potok hidroelectric station and took the unmarked path. However, it is a little difficult to find the trail in a few places, so for first timers and those wanting a longer walk, I would recommend instead starting your walk from Medvodje, which is reached by driving through Tržič then past the Dovžan gorge (it’s well worth stopping for a walk through the gorge) to Jelendol and onwards on the forest road.
Alternatively, you can drive, or even cycle, further up the mountain road and park just 20 minutes from the Dolga njiva alpine dairy farm, which is a particularly favourable option for families with young children, and/or those wanting to hike further and higher.
It was one of those summer days that was forecast to be sunny, but the clouds were very persistent and didn’t lift until well into late afternoon, but the scenery, and the four-legged friends, made up for the lack of sun.
On reaching Dolga njiva, you can try some really typical mountain food, such as masovnik – a hearty mixture of flour and sour cream. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to try it (coeliac disease and wheat flour = a big NO!), so I asked one of the hikers if I could take a photo of her food before she tucked in!
Buckwheat topped with pork crackling is another popular dish, often served with sour milk.
Kids will love the mini farm with its curious cows, snoring pigs, donkeys, turkeys and geese.
You can then set off for a circular walk on the Eagle Trail (Orlov pot), where you can see golden eagle nesting sites, the source of the Košutnik stream, and the flora and fauna of the area, while opposite the dairy farm you can see a chest used by allies to drop supplies to the pasture in World War II in the occupied area of the German Reich.
Dolga njiva is also an excellent starting point for hikes onwards to other mountain pastures or upwards to reach the highest point of the municipality of Tržič – Košutnikov turn.
If you want to stay longer you can stay over and sleep in a hay loft then next morning, after a hearty breakfast, head off to explore more of the pastures beneath Slovenia’s longest mountain – all 10 kilometres of it!
On what was – if I remember correctly – my second visit to Radovljica back in 2006, prior to moving here in 2007, I called in at the Radovljica Tourist Information Centre to enquire about where I could go for a walk without needing a car.
I was given a map of the area and directed to the Forest Nature Trail and/or the Lipnica Castle Trail. I’ve written about the latter previously, however, it wasn’t until I recently read in the local paper that the former has now been equipped with new signage, that I realised that I have never actually written a blog about it. So, now is the time to right that wrong!
Do like me and pop into the Tourist Info Centre to pick up a map, then, if you have a car, you can drive to the start, or, like me, cycle there!
There is an information board at the start (unfortunately it’s only in Slovene), and from there just follow the trail through the forest. You can’t (really) go wrong!
The trail is equipped with signs showing the species of tree (in both Slovene and Latin) as well as signs with footprints showing the way.
It first leads through the forest on a terrace above the Sava river…
…before descending to a beautiful, tranquil, forested part of Radovljica, which makes you feel like you are a million miles away from civilisation. There is a tree trunk showing the rings of wood and significant national and international events that occurred based on the presumed age of the tree.
In one of the quieter areas, away from the road, we even spotted deer in the forest in broad daylight when we were there last week, though you’ll have to trust me on that since I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to catch them!
Additionally, if you are in the area from now until the end of August, why not try the Hop On and Discover tourist bus – a reincarnation of the Hop-On Hop-On tourist bus – which connects interesting sites and attractions in the municipalities of Radovljica, Tržič and Jesenice, thus giving you a chance to see, and do, even more!
As our thoughts are slowly beginning to turn to planning holidays, this year – more than ever – it makes sense to choose a destination for your holiday that is ‘far from the madding crowd’.
Slovenia, fortunately, has plenty such destinations (my tip is to be sure to avoid the overcrowded places during the height of summer – Bled, in particular, as well as to some extent Piran, the Postojna caves, Ljubljana…). Radol’ca, where I live and about which I wrote last week, is one such uncrowded place, while Tržič, which is just a stone’s throw away, is another.
So, this time I’ve put together plenty of reasons why you should consider visiting Tržič, whether for a few hours, a day or two, or even as somewhere to base yourself for your entire stay in Slovenia.
Tržič is located in the Gorenjska (alpine) region of Slovenia and is separated from Austria by the Karavanke mountains, hence it’s a hiker’s paradise.
…and Šija, which lies beneath the ridge of Slovenia’s longest mountain.
On a side note, the equally relevant, the Slovenian tourist board has also stepped up its activities to promote the country as one with responsible travel standards under the label GREEN & SAFE and Tržič is one of the Slovenia GREEN destinations.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay, why not choose a stay at the Šlibar organic farm or glamping at Glamping Mountain Fairytale – both ideal places for some r&r – though there are numerous other choices of accommodation, too.
The Gorenjska plaža (Gorenjska beach) swimming pool is the ideal place to cool off during the heat of the summer, while the Trziška bistrica stream and the area’s waterfalls are other places to ‘chill’!
With all those mountains, mountain pastures and forests, there’s also plenty of cycling to be done – particularly for fans of mountain biking – while the Dovžan gorge is an adventure as well as a(nother) ideal place to cool off in the heat of summer.
Hooray, I am finally the bearer of some good news…it feels like a while since I’ve been able to say that!
Writing this feels a bit like groundhog day, as it was around this time last year that Slovenia began to exit its first lockdown and I published a similar blog on the subject. And here we are today, almost a year later and only now Radovljica, as well as the rest of Slovenia, is slowly beginning to re-open after three, seemingly endless, lockdowns.
Unfortunately, the vaccination programme is still going slowly – to date around one-fifth of the country’s 2 million residents has received at least one shot of a vaccine – but, notwithstanding, things are steadily moving in the right direction and finally, after 6 long months, the terraces of restaurants/bars etc. were able to re-open last week and as of yesterday (Monday 26 April) hotels and other accommodation facilities are able to open up to 30 rooms (regardless of the size of the property). Note, however, that a negative test or proof of vaccination is required to stay in an type of accommodation (camps included).
So, now you, well we if I include myself, can actually begin to start thinking about planning holidays, something that has seemed unthinkable for a long time now. And since most of us will no doubt – sensibly – prefer to avoid places overrun by mass tourism, it is destinations such as Radol’ca that come into their own with its boutique accommodation and numerous hiking trails and other off the beaten track attractions. So, here are a few ideas to help you in planning your visit to Radovljica – whether for a few hours, a few days, or even longer!
After record snowfall in some places, it’s still very much winter in Slovenia’s high mountains, fortunately here in Radol’ca there are plenty of hiking trails at lower altitudes. I’ve written about such trails on numerous occasions, so a quick search back through previous blog posts using key words will turn up plenty of info on hikes to, for example, Suharna, the Vodiška planina mountain hut, the Roblekov dom mountain hut, St. Peter’s church above Begunje na Gorenjskem, and more.
Of course, after all that fresh air and activity you will be in need of some sustenance, and you certainly won’t go hungry at Taste Radol’ca restaurants, the ethos of which is using seasonal, locally sourced, ingredients. At the time of writing, some of the restaurants have yet to re-open, since they are currently only allowed to serve customers outside on the terrace and for those with smaller terraces it is not worth their while re-opening. However, it is to be hoped that it won’t be too long until they are able to fully re-open. Radol’ca even has a Michelin-starred restaurant – Vila Podvin – as well as several other fine dining restaurants and numerous rural inns.
In terms of accommodation, there’s plenty to choose, from river-side camps to apartments, guest houses and other boutique accommodation.
In terms of events, it’s still a bit early to say what will and won’t take place this year. The Radovljica Chocolate Festival, which was cancelled last year and postponed this year, is provisionally scheduled to take place on 11th and 12th September this year, while the organisers are hoping that others events, such as the Craft Beer Festival and live music and food on Thursdays evenings in the square, will be able to go ahead in summer, in some form or another. But at the moment it’s a case of watch this space to see how things pan out.
Of course, all the above-mentioned are in the Radol’ca area itself, meaning there’s still a whole host of other places waiting to be explored in the surrounding areas; the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park are on the doorstep, Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are close, Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is just a cca. 40 minute drive, and even places such as the Postojna caves, the Soča valley, and Slovenia’s coast are all within a 1-2 hour drive – nothing is that far away in Slovenia!
So, I hope I have provided you with some food for thought and ideas to help your holiday planning and, as and when there is (even) more news about more things opening up, I’ll be in touch with more up-to-date info, or, in the meantime, do feel free to drop me a line if you need more info. Always happy to help, well, within reason that is!