Slovenj Gradec experience
Slovenj Gradec is the oldest and one of the prettiest towns in Koroska (Carinthia) region which lies on the crossroads between different paths. It offers a great base for exploring Koroska region. In 1989 Slovenj Gradec got awarded by UN with the honorable title, The Peace Messenger City.
My top 10 things to do in Slovenj Gradec and its neighboring areas
Strolling around Slovenj Gradec
Slovenj Gradec is a hidden pearl among Slovenian towns. This medieval town with well-preserved town’s architecture, majestic church and rich cultural scene, is a perfect spot for exploring Koroska region, its natural, cultural and culinary sights.
One is sure, you were not in Slovenj Gradec if you didn’t experience family-owned company Perger Honey Heaven. A tiny and very well stocked shop (award-winning honey dough biscuits, organic honey candies free of preservatives and artificial colors, lollipops, honey bread hearts, honey drink (mead), energetic candles). Today the ninth generation is taking care of this rich lect and candle making tradition. With love, commitment and passion since 1757. For those who love real Christmas atmosphere, Slovenj Gradec during the Christmas time is very peaceful and calm.
Lights experience between Christmas and Epiphany
More than 40.000 lights experience can be found at Toni Štrigl estate. It is the most festively decorated estate in Slovenia. He’s been decorating his property with lights for 15 years and every year he add some more lights. Toni is a legend here. He is a passionate collector and you can admire more than 15.000 exhibits in his private museum. Call Toni in advance at 00386 41 711 922.
Peca mountain is the highest mountain in Koroska region shared between Slovenia and Austria. The area of the mountain is a protected area called UNESCO Geopark Karavanke. For those who are seeking unique adventures under the Earth’s surface, Peca underground is a perfect experience either by walk, train, bike or kayak. This tourist mine tells you stories of the miners’ lives. If you are into legends, ask the locals what happened to king Matjaz and when he will awaken.
Crave for some local food? Above Mežica you will find Izletniška kmetija Kajžar. Perfect all-day-sun location and facing mount Peca and tasty local cuisine. In 2017, hard-working family opened nicely decorated wooden cabin with Jacuzzi, sauna and spacious rooms. Perfect for romantic weekend getaway or family vacations. Slovenian music was playing while we were indulging our taste buds with pumpkin and deer soup, beef meet with venison sauce and typical sweet dessert kločevi nudlni. I was not surprised when Lucija managed to eat 2 plates of soups and easily managed to eat the whole portion of local dessert as well.
Snow Castle Festival (Gradovi Kralja Matjaža)
If you are visiting Koroška region during the last weekend in January, check out Snow Castle Festival at Plateau Mitnek close to Črna na Koroškem. The festival is dedicated to King Matjaz who is still sleeping under Mount Peca. This unique winter experience where professional and non-professional ice builders are creating castles and other sculptures from the morning to the sunset, will not leave you indifferent. What is more, the small town of Črna na Koroškem is a cradle of quite a few successful skiers (Tina Maze is one of them) so pay a visit to the local Olympic Champion’ Museum.
Hug Najevska lipa lime tree
Follow the zig-zag road above Črna na Koroškem and you will reach the thickest tree called Najevska Lipa lime tree (Tilia cordata). Did you know that lime trees are symbol of Slovenia and decorate many homesteads as well? With its 24 meters and more than 700 years Najevska lipa is truly majestic and magnificent the oldest Slovenian lime tree that annually hosts a well-attended meeting on the independence day.
Visit small villages like Šentanel
I was wondering where the zig-zag road goes. But after some curves we arrived to pretty village Šentanel with rich historic landmarks and a green abundant landscape. Sunny day was just perfect to admire Peca mountain, to walk around sleeping village that was welcoming first guests of the year and to listen to the birds singing.
Raft/timber experience on Drava river
In the warmer months you can experience traditional timber raft along calm Drava river. Even though rafts are no longer used to transport timber, its rich tradition, cultural and technical heritage will be a nice blast from the past. Be ready for cheerful atmosphere, local food and good-humored raftsmen in untouched nature.
Radlje ob Dravi water park
Koroska region does not have many swimming options. But in Radlje ob Dravi you can find first natural chlorine free pool surrounded by plants that are filtering the water naturally. While staying in the small wooden houses in the shape of old wooden mills on Drava river, free entrance to the water park in included. The water park is opened during the summer time only.
Tasting local cuisine
There is no better way to get to know the region through its cuisine. Mežerli, ajdovi žganci, ržen kruh, kločevi nudlni, štruklji, mošt, borovničevo žganje are just a few tasty local dishes and drinks you should taste while exploring Koroška region.
We stopped by farmstay Ravnjak which lies under Mount Urslja gora and it is surrounded by meadows, woods and orchards. It is only 10 kilometers away from Slovenj Gradec. Time goes by slowly in the countryside. We were greeted by Breda, lovely lady who is running with her family Ravnjak eco farmstay. You could feel and see that the whole family (Breda, Roman, Nejc, Larisa) is devoted to tourism and hospitality.
In the warm dining room two couples were already sitting and we got a great table just close to the heating place. Ravnjak eco farmstay is well-known for lamb batch roast. We were offered such a tasty sheep soup that we finished it in couple of minutes. Breda told us that they are dealing with sheep farming, poultry farming, rabbit breeding and trout farming. It was not surprising that for our main dish we were served lamb, apple juice and homemade cider. Kločevi nudlni were the best way to finish great home prepared food at the tourist farm Ravnjak.
“If you are visiting us in the summer time, you could breathe fresh air, walk around vegetable garden and flowerbeds and listening to the sound of sheep bells.” told us Breda before we said goodbye.
Koroska farmstay experiences
Koroska region offers a great selection of farmstay experiences. For our weekend getaway we chose Lesnik farmstay which is only 8 kilometers away from Kope ski center. Almost self-sufficient Lešnik organic farmstay is definitely one of the nicest farmstays in Slovenia offering 9 units dedicated to different trees growing nearby (walnut, pear, maple, cherry, ash, pine, spruce, lime). For those who prefer to stay closer to nature, it is a possibility to sleep in the beehive or in the hay in the old hayrack during warmer months. Once you enter the comfortable room (we stayed in the walnut room), the aroma of wood intertwined with rustic furniture. The clay lights and the short curtains completed the image of the room. The TV is perfectly hidden in the closet. In the evening we took an advantage of enjoying Finnish sauna (extra cost of 7 EUR/person/3 hours).
Lešnik Organic Tourist Farm is child-friendly accommodation that is preserving tradition, games and local songs. Irma’s husband is making wooden board games by himself. He is genius and made us crazy with his games. Lovely dog Dina was walking around the estate and Lucija was afraid of her because dog was too big 😉 so she preferred to chase 3 little kitties instead. Rich natural and cultural heritage boast on every corner of the farmstay, including protected linden and holly trees, a shingle-covered double hayrack, a wooden cottage, a granary with a press and a mill, a restored 19th-century chapel, two fountains, an ethnological collection, beehouse, herbal garden and honey plants. What is more, the area offers endless walking paths and places to get rest under majestic trees.
Hard working family is producing good-quality organic food (honey, meat, wine, cider, teas, bread). The rest they get from organic farms all around Slovenia. Meals (for the guests only) are served in 2 dining rooms. One day we treated our taste buds with beef soup with dumplings, cabbage with blood sausage and baked apple, another day we tasted yummy mushroom soup (we could easily finish the whole bowl), buckwheat, rice, beef steaks, pickled vegetables and kločevi nudlni.
Nutritionful breakfast consists of locally produced salami, sausage, milk, honey, 3 yummy jams, freshly baked rye bread and tasty herbal tea.
In case Lesnik farmstay is booked (it happens very often due to great hospitality and service), check Eco Ravnjak farmstay or Tourist farm Samec.
Koroska region is all-year-round destination still neglected by many visitors (there is no motorway!) which offers mouth-watering local food, great farmstay experiences, hospitable locals and endless cultural and natural attractions. Welcome to experience Koroska!