Kocevsko destination, rich with natural and cultural heritage, covers the area of Kočevje, Kostel and Osilnica. It is known as one of the vastness forest areas in Slovenia. With its wilderness countryside and lush primeval forests it is a perfect destination for nature lovers.
My top things to do while exploring Kocevsko destination
Kočevje, the center of the largest municipality in Slovenia, is a small cute town. Enjoy sipping a cup of coffee, observe locals passing by, give ‘high 5’ to a wooden bear statue, walk along Rinža river and admire the magnificent church of St. Bartholomew dating back in 14th century. If you want to deepen your knowledge about history of Kočevje, then you should visit Kočevje Regional Museum. About 2 kilometers from the city center you can find artificial Kočevje Lake (Rudniško jezero) which was once an opencast mining pit of brown coal mine. Rudniško jezero, one of the cleanest lakes in Slovenia and a popular recreational point for the locals, is a perfect place for swimming, stand up paddling, surfing, boating, fishing and diving.
Beer tasting at the family craft brewery MATT
You cannot leave Kočevje without tasting MATT craft beer. We were greeted by cheerful and friendly Miran who led us into his beer temple, told us a story behind MATT family owned craft brewery (MATT stands for Miran, Anže, Toni Tekavec), and explained all secrets about beer brewing process. We pampered out taste buds with Bunker, Pragozd (Primeval Forest), Kraljica Roga (Queen of Rog), Veronika, KiPA, Quarantine, named after recent situation, and homemade snacks (yummy beer-infused flat-cake!). My favorite is definitely Pragozd. The beers are proudly representing the story and characteristics of Kočevsko region. While we were tasting beers and chatting with a professional beer maker, Lucija was entertained by Miran’s wife (Thank you!). What is more, we even had a chance to get acquainted with Robin Hood whiskey which is made from remains of mashing for beer production. Visiting MATT boutique craft brewery was a great and unforgettable experience. They will be more than happy if you visit them.
Hiking, hiking and more hiking
Kočevsko destination is one of the best places in Slovenia for hiking. It offers 22 marked hiking paths with 370 kilometers of walks in the unspoiled nature where you can admire 30 sights. We walked tiny part of Roška pot where we fully enjoyed the quietness of Rajhenav Rog primeval forest (consisting of magnificent fir and beech trees), hiking path to Kozice viewpoint from where we spotted Kolpa river in the distance, and educational Eagle’s trail which leads around Reško lake and it is a home to home to different wild animals, including the white tail eagle. Welcome to the embrace of the trees.
Krokar primeval Forest experience
With Brane and Marina (they are renting out Forest Studeno cottage!) and their huge dog we did part of Borovec path where we admired Krokar primeval forest which was included in the UNESCO list of natural heritage. But before we started the walk, we ate Kočevske bombice dessert (guess who ate almost 2?). First part of the walk lead us to the meadows which are in May covered with daffodils was quite easy but then the steepest part came. Brane showed us corners and viewpoints on Kolpa River we would hardly find. We were walking on the edge of the primeval forest and admiring majestic beech trees. Well preserved nature is untouched. In the pristine primeval forest life is left to the laws of the nature. We were amazed by the peace and quietness of centuries old giant beech trees.
Visit secret underground bunker Škrilj
Škrilj bunker was definitely well kept cold war secret for decades. With its 500 meters of corridor and 6 underground rooms, the bunker was built 80 meters below the surface during the cold war. Nowadays it is possible to visit a bunker on a guided tour which offers a great insight into Yugoslavia times. You should book your visit in advance.
The Stories of the Gottscheers
Gottscheers were living in the area for more than 600 years until 1941 when desolation and the collapse of Gottscheers villages followed. Gottscheers spoke Gottscherish dialect (part of the South Bavarian dialect which developed as an independent dialect for more than 600 years!) that is classified among the most endangered in Europe by UNESCO.
On the road to the land of Peter Klepec
On a steep zig-zag road and 19 curves on Strmo Rebro/little Vršič (annual world longboard competition is taking place here!) we finally made it to Osilnica which is surrounded by high mountains and Kolpa river is passing by. The area is named after brave young boy Peter Klepec who attacked the Turks and became a local hero.
Admiring picturesque castle Kostel
Newly restored Kostel castle complex, the second largest castle in Slovenia, above the hill offers great views over the scenic landscape. It combines the castle, a living settlement below the castle (apparently there is 1 local living here and many others who are coming during the weekends) and a church of St. Three Kings. For those who like escape rooms can attend Castle Escape Kostel – Unique escape game at Kostel castle.
Swimming in Kolpa river
Kolpa river is the warmest (the water temperature in the lowland can reach 30 degrees Celsius in the summer time) and cleanest rivers in Slovenia. It is very relaxing to sit on the river bank and enjoying the quietness and piece of the area. For those who are more adventurous, you can discover Kolpa river on a stand up paddling boards and rafting.
Where to sleep while exploring Kocevsko region?
Kocevsko region is a huge region so it is great to plan in advance where you would like to stay in order not to spend too much time driving. If you are exploring the area around Kocevje town, your base should be located near Kocevje. If you are exploring the area around Kostel and Osilnica, then look for the accommodation located close by.
We stayed in Podliparska vintage house which is based in Fara town (10 minutes driving from must-visit Kostel castle). The whole area at Rozni vrt is designed as a natural wellness where you can really res(e)t. We were warmly welcomed by Ljuba and Valentin. Of course we were offered homemade kostel rakija. This 500-year-old authentic Kostel house (apparently one of the oldest in the village) is located under the church (the church bell and the church clock are not significantly noisy so you can really enjoy your beauty sleep!), close to the stream, the forest, and Kolpa river is only a short walk away.
From the first moment we all felt in love with “our” new accommodation and the area. The kids started walking around and exploring the area barefoot, eating not-yet-ripen apples, admiring the flowers and little animals and laughing loudly. While walking up to the church, we were even welcomed by the priest who recently moved to Fara.
The accommodation is huge and perfect for a family with kids or friends traveling. There is a big room with an old bread oven and 3 beds (well restored double bed is a bit shorter as people used to be smaller), smaller room with 2 beds (Lucija choose to sleep in the bed with pink bed linen), well-equipped kitchen and a nicely decorated bathroom with a toilet (there is another old pit toilet outside on the balcony). The balcony is shaded with a beautiful vine growing around it.
The rustic Podliparska house (I specially loved the hardwood floor – I was walking around the house barefoot all the time and so did the kids) offers a cozy comfort. At every step you can feel how much love was put into restoration of the house. In the vegetable garden a huge zucchini was waiting for us to be picked and there was a comfy chair inviting us for after-the-kids-go-to-bed relaxing. Peace, nature, fresh air and clean and refreshing waters.
Ljuba is an open encyclopedia for suggestions on what you need to visit in the area. Her charming all-year-around open house is a great base to explore Kostel castle, lake Kocevska reka with 3 forest observatories and Eagle’s path, underground bunker Škrilj, Upper Kolpa region and swimming spots, Krokar primeval Forest.
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