Laško: A Festival of Beer, Blooms and More!

Laško is synonymous with beer, and, with it, the annual Beer and Blooms Festival (Pivo in Cvetje).

Though Laško beer is widely known, some perhaps might not even realise that Laško isn’t merely the name of a beer, it’s also a thriving, compact town – and a lovely one it is too! Laško is located just a 10 minute drive from Slovenia’s 3rd city, Celje, and is easily reached by taking the Celje exit of the Ljubljana-Maribor motorway. The town is also well connected by public transport, with fairly frequent trains from Ljubljana taking under 1.5 hours.

The best place to start a visit to Laško is at the tourist information centre, which occupies a prime position at the entrance to the town in ‘Trg Svobode’. The centre stocks a very comprehensive selection of souvenirs, beer-related or otherwise (I bought chocolate made with beer!), organises brewery tours (only offered for groups but even if you are alone, as I was, the centre will try to arrange for you to join another group), and offers bike rental, as well as an extensive range of information on what to see and do in the town and its surroundings. More information here –


The Black Bridge, situated at the outflow of the Žikovca stream

Now, back to the beer! Beer drinkers in Slovenia usually belong to one of two groups, the ‘reds’ or the ‘greens’! The ‘red’ refers to Union beer – the brewery is based in Ljubljana, whilst the ‘green’ refers to Laško.


Laško beer dates back to 1825 when, Franz Geyer, a local producer of mead and gingerbread, founded the brewery, originally located in the Valvasorjev Spital building in the town centre, which is now a hotel. Geyer was later joined by the entrepreneur and developer Simon Kukec. Through the years the brewery has endured wars and economic crises, but has always managed to survive and even thrive. In 1944, when the factory was bombed, it was soon returned to its former glory and production restarted the following year.

Laško was the number one beer in the former Yugoslavia, which had a population of 22 million, and at the height of its popularity in the 1990s it was annually producing over a million hectolitres, with its beer being exported as far as India. Since Slovenia’s independence in 1991, and later the financial crisis, times have been tough for many of Slovenia’s companies, with many falling by the wayside, however, not withstanding a change of ownership, the Laško brewery has continued unhindered.

For many, a tour of the Laško brewery is high on the list of things to see and do, especially since, at the end of the tour, a tasting session is included! I can’t pretend to be a beer drinker, but that didn’t stop me going on a factory tour anyway! Brewery tours last around 2.5 hours, cost 8 euros, and include a visit to the Laško Museum, a guided tour of the brewery and a beer tasting session with savoury snacks.

You can get up close and personal with the ‘King of Beer’.


Technology in the factory means that the production process is far-removed from days gone-by. During my tour I could count on one hand the number of employees I saw as everything is automated. The actual recipe and ingredients, however, have remained largely unchanged. A case of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!’


For a special treat visit the restaurant in Tabor Castle. The castle sits atop a small hill just immediately above the town centre. The castle is thought to date back to the 12th century, was razed to the ground by the Turks in 1487, and for the ensuing two centuries it remained in ruins. It was finally bought and restored by the Laško brewery in the mid-1980s. Today is houses an incredibly cute, teeny, not to mention popular, wedding hall (with the emphasis being on ‘teeny’ rather than ‘hall’!), and a fine-dining restaurant.



For a special treat visit the Pavus restaurant, within the castle, which is ranked as one of the top 15 restaurants in Slovenia and one of the Jeunes Restaurateurs of Europe.


There are plenty of walking and hiking paths in the immediate vicinity. A good way to get your bearings is to take a gentle stroll alongside the Savinja river. The small, well-kept city park, with a play area for children and abstract sculptures, is a nice place to linger in fine weather.


Just a couple of kilometres from Laško in the hamlet of Strmca I visited the Šolar beekeepers, where for over 30 years the owners have been keeping bees and producing ‘Lectar‘ – otherwise known as decorated gingerbread, most often in the shape of a heart. Visitors can also experience the benefits of apitherapy. Their honey biscuits (medenjaki) are award-winning and I was treated to a sample together with some delicious honey liqueur.


Now, getting back to the Beer and Blooms Festival. This year’s event will take place on 14th – 17th July.


It actually started out as just a local flower festival, but was later, from 1965 onwards, expanded to include live music, fireworks, parades, exhibitions, and, of course, beer!

Over 135,000 people visited the 2015 festival and 250,000 jugs of beer were consumed. Not quite on a par with the Oktoberfest, but in Slovenian terms this is a pretty major ‘Don’t Miss’ event, and the bonus is that the beer is a fraction of the cost of that in Munich!

The highlight of the event, and that which draws the largest crowds, is the spectacular firework display on Saturday evening, which can last up to half-an-hour.

As with all good festivals, camping is embraced and a special area is set up for tents. Those looking for more comfortable accommodation can stay at the one of the Thermana Laško hotels. The Wellness Park hotel has a thermal centre with indoor and outdoor pools and retractable glass dome, a modern sauna and wellness centre and several restaurants and cafes. More here –

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© Adele in Slovenia

Rimske Toplice – A Spring of Health in the Heart of Nature

Slovenia has its fair share of spa and wellness hotels, however, it’s also fair to say that many of them are geared towards medical services, others towards the family market – swimming pools with water slides etc. i.e. great for kids. The Rimske Terme spa, located in the village of Rimske Toplice, near Laško, is, for me at least, out there on its own when it comes to total relaxation and wellness, and is especially suitable for adults.

On approach you can already see that it’s something special, thanks to the thoughtful design of the buildings which manage to both blend into the surrounding countryside and stand out at the same time.


Rimske Toplice is situated in the picturesque valley of the Savinja river. The village itself comprises mainly residential buildings and a notable church (see below), however, it is the spa and the surrounding countryside which makes this place so special, as well as its proximity to Laškohome of the famous Laško beer. Whilst there I also spent a day exploring Laško and will be writing a more detailed post about that soon since there’s way too much to squeeze into just one blog and to do so would be a shame.

The railway line between Ljubljana and Zidani most runs through the valley, which makes it particularly easily accessible for those reliant on public transport; my tip – if, like me, you are a light sleeper and don’t want the distant rumble of the (infrequent) trains to disturb your slumber, ask for a forest-facing room.

Rimske terme is situated beside a fault that is approximately 1000m under the earth’s surface. Thermal water, with a temperature of 39 degrees Celsius, rises from this depth and research has proved the many healing effects of the water, especially for rheumatic, orthopaedic, neurological, gynaecological and dermatological illnesses. As well as being used in medical treatments, there is a spring right outside the front door of the hotel and guests are encouraged to taste the water and enjoy its pleasant and healing effects.


The Amalija Wellness Centre offers a full range of beauty, pampering and medical wellness services. The hotel’s signature treatments are its Roman bath experiences, which take place in authentic stone bathtubs (it does feel slightly like getting into a coffin at first, but you soon relax and forget that!) filled with pure thermal water. If you are visiting with a loved one, you can also indulge in a romantic bath for two.

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A walk around the Energy Path, among the magnificent sequoia trees, was one of the highlights of my visit. Sequoia are not native to Slovenia; these trees were planted in 1879 as a tribute to the visit by Princess Victoria, heiress to the Prussian throne; the saplings were sent by the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew. There are 14 energy points, each with an information board explaining the effects on various chakras.

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As great as the Rimske terma spa is, it would be a crying shame not to get out and explore the surroundings too, so, of course, I did!

The Lurd church (Lurška Mati Božja) was built in 1886 and contains altar stones brought from the famous French Lourdes and is, in fact, the first church outside of France to be consecrated to the Blessed Virgin. Today, it is a popular pilgrimage sight.


The start of the hike to the peak of Kopitnik (910m) begins right on the doorstep of the spa. This was an added bonus for me during my stay as it meant I could indulge my passion for hiking in the morning – and didn’t have to use my car the whole time I was there – then enjoy some well-earned rest, relaxation and pampering during the afternoon. It takes 1-1.5 hours to reach the mountain hut Koča na Kopitniku (865m) – depending on which of the 2 routes you choose. Although it was dry and clear when I set off, unfortunately it was cloudy at the top so I didn’t get a chance to soak up the views. Oh well, I’ll just have to go back again!


The Aškerc Homestead (Aškerčeva domačija) is just a few minutes walk uphill on the road leading to the hamlet of Senožete. The former home of Anton Aškerc (1856-1912) – the poet, priest, journalist, traveller and campaigner for the freedom and education of Slovene people – today the 500-year old house operates as a museum where visitors can see the original black kitchen, the granary and the linden tree planted in Aškerc’s memory in 1856.

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The area is also ideal for cycling – beside the Savinja river for easier, flatter rides, or into the surrounding hills for something more challenging. Bikes can be rented at the hotel and during the summer months there are guided bike trips.

Fortunately, for me at least, this is far from being a ‘fat farm’ and good food is plentiful. Breakfast and dinner are buffet style but for an upgraded dining experience there is also an a-la-carte restaurant, and the cakes in the café were also delicious and very difficult to avoid, especially since I had to walk past them every time I went to use the wellness facilities!

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In short, there is a wealth to do, inside or out, at the Rimske terme spa and in the surroundings of Rimske Toplice. I liked it so much I visited twice in two weeks and I will surely be going back!

Useful links:

Rimske terme –

Aškerc Homestead –

Lurd Church –