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Olimje Castle

Olimje, Šmarje pri Jelšah, Slovenia
6 Kudos
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While it now serves as a Franciscan monastery, this 16th-century structure used to serve as a castle. Unfortunately it's not entirely from the 16th century as much of it had to be renovated in the '70s due to an earthquake. Nonetheless, this beautiful structure is definitely worth seeing. Interestly, it houses the 3rd largest pharmacy in all of Europe, a church with a magnificent altar, and a garden. There is even a chocolate shop! If the castle itself wasn't beautiful enough, the view of the surrounding area is breathtaking! I absolutely recommend visiting this castle. It's actually a shame because Slovenia has so much beauty and very few people know about it. Perhaps that's a good thing though as it doesn't get too touristy :)
Story Details

Culture and experiences

Kobariški muzej d.o.o.
World War I museum in Kobarid depicting the events that transpired in the area of Kobarid during the war. Interesting display of weapons and artifacts from that time.

Hotels

DIC Hostel
Nothing fancy here. Average hostel that is good for an inexpensive night or two in the capital city.

Points of interest

Town Hall
Often the center of festivities, particularly during the winter holidays.
Štanjel
The review is more for the castle. Another impressive castle in Slovenia. The views are pretty nice but I personally fancied the beautiful courtyard more than anything..
Dragon Bridge
Reinforced concrete bridge built in the beginning of the 20th century that crosses over the Ljubljana River. There are four dragon statues that adorn the bridge.
Piran
While small, Piran is one of my favorite cities in Slovenia for a number of reasons. It is absolutely gorgeous with its orange rooftops and proximity to the clear blue Adriatic Sea. A beautiful view of the city can be seen from atop the towers of the Town Walls (great for sunrises or sunsets). The seafood here is delicious. While it does resemble Venice in many aspects, I personally prefer Piran over Venice for all the reasons listed above and because it is a much cleaner city. It is a bit out of the way but if you do have the opportunity to go, it is a must-see. You could definitely see the city in half a day but I would would probably give it a full-day depending on where you are coming from and what you want to do. For instance, from Ljubljana, it takes 2.5 hours just to get there by bus. The main highlights are the beach, Tartini Square, Town Walls, and the Church of St. George.
Tivoli Mansion
Tivoli Park is a lovely city park located roughly 15 minutes away from Ljubljana city centre. At the tip of the park, you will find Tivoli Castle or Tivoli Mansion, with now houses the International Centre of Graphic Arts.
Postojna Cave
To begin, you are taken by a train inside the cave. You will note that the cave is enormous in size. It contains gigantic structures/formations of stalagmites that are truly impressive. Of course, you will see Brilliant, which is a gigantic, white formation and the symbol for the cave. I've been to such caves before but undoubtedly what makes this cave stand out is its sheer size as well as its gigantic concert/performance hall. Yup... the cave has a concert hall. If you have a chance, I would most definitely try to catch a symphony or orchestra performance down there as it will likely be unlike anything you will find anywhere else. I did not have the good fortunate to attend one but I've heard the acoustics are exceptional. I would recommend visiting this cave if you have a chance but especially if you're looking for a rainy day activity. There is a restaurant and a souvenir shop inside the cave.
Bled Island
Although quite small, visiting Bled Island by boat is a must-do. The church is quite small and in order to see it, you will need to climb quite a few stairs. At the top, you get some pretty amazing views of the lake from the top. What's pretty cool is that during the winters, you can skate from the shore to the island.
Bled Castle
Beautiful castle alongside Bled Lake. Beautiful views from the top of the region. A must-see!
Cathedral of St. Nicholas
Grand, beautiful cathedral in Ljubljana. I really loved the frescos/paintings on the ceilings.
Izola
A breathtaking sea-side city! Beautiful views of the town can be seen at elevated points and you can even take a boat ride on the Adriatic Sea.
Administrative unit Maribor
Piramida Hill provides a short 15 minute hike up a hill surrounded by vineyards and has a beautiful view of Maribor.
Ptuj Castle
Ptuj castle is located in Slovenia's oldest city of Ptuj. While the architecture of most castles can generally be classified into 1 or 2 major styles, the fascinating thing about Ptuj castle is that it is a mesh of various styles over 4 centuries. The castle now serves as a museum with an impressive display of history from the 12th to the 19th centuries. Whether you are into history or not, there really is something for everyone. At the very least, you can walk the beautiful grounds and take in the gorgeous view of the countryside and the Drava river.
Ljubljana Castle
The city of Ljubljana is one of the most beautiful in all of Europe. Cobble-stone streets, a river running through the center of the city, gorgeous architecture, wonderful little markets, and of course the castle. You may choose to take a funicular from the city center for an additional 2.5 euros but I preferred the 10 minute walk up the hill (it probably takes longer with the funicular if you consider waiting in line). Entrance into the castle costs 7.50 euros for adults and 5.20 euros for children (family package available) if you do NOT take the funicular (again it's more expensive if you do). While the history of this 15th century castle is quite fascinating, the breathtaking views alone are a reason to go, especially on a clear day. You may choose to enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine and take in the all that the castle has to offer. Do check this website as hours vary depending on the time of year you go: http://www.ljubljanskigrad.si/en/visit-us/opening-hours-and-prices. Of note, there is usually something go up at the castle in the evening so make sure to check the website for events.
Ljubljana
The gorgeous capital of Slovenia. Beautiful views of the castle that overlooks the city, orange rooftops, Ljubljanica river, cobble-stone streets, expansive green spaces, and more.
Mežica
Location of the lead and zinc minc. A very unique experience that I highly recommend if you are able to make it out there.
Iglica Falls
Gorgeous waterfalls and breathtaking views of the surrounding area filling with mountains, trees, and cute little homes. Reminded me a lot of Switzerland.
Lake Bled
An absolutely breathtaking lake that allows you to cross with boat to Bled Island.

Restaurants

Grajska Plaza Restaurant
Stopped here to try the famous Bled cream cake. Delicious and pairs well with coffee :) The restaurant itself is right on the lake so try to sit on the patio if the weather is good to get a nice view of the lake. There were quite a few birds when I went but that was not an issue. I can't comment on the food since I only had the cake but it looked pretty good from what I could tell. Reviews of the restaurant tend to be mixed with some people saying that you pay more for the view than the quality of food. However, prices do seem to be quite normal for such a tourist idea, with dishes ranging from 10-20 euros. For beer drinkers, I would recommend Lasko since that is beer most commonly consumed outside of Ljubljana (although you can also get it in Ljubljana). Just as an FYI regarding the beer, the two main beers in Slovenia are Lasko Zlatorog and Union. They used to be two separate brewing companies but Pivovarna Lasko bought out Union and now they are owned by the same company. I really can't tell a huge difference in the beer but Lasko is a Czech Pilsner and Union is more of a Euro Pale Lager. Again, not a huge deal since both are now owned by the same company.

Special activities

Skocjan Caves
Like castles, Slovenia also has a number of caves with beautiful natural formations. This place is surreal and absolutely worth a visit.
Kobilarna Lipica - Uprava Kobilarne Lipica
Also known as the Lipica Stud Farm. It's a bit out of the way but if you're in the area, it may be a good way to spend a few hours or half a day. The surrounding landscape is beautiful and the horses are absolutely gorgeous. Personally, I greatly enjoyed walking the grounds and taking in the tranquil scenery. I would highly recommend booking a riding session if you're going to come down here so that you can get the full experience. Otherwise, I don't feel like it would be all that much fun. For the kids, you can book pony riding sessions and they will love you forever (but be careful because they may want you buy them a pony :P). For those in Trieste, this is a good half-day trip. For those wishing to stay a bit longer, there is a hotel on the grounds as well as a golf course. It really is a good get-away from the city life. For more information, you can visit http://www.lipica.org/en/what-to-do/visit-to-the-stud-farm.
Sečovlje Saltworks
Personally didn't think a whole lot of the Sečovlje salt mine but it is interesting to see the history and the process.
Isonzo
If you're looking for some adventure, the perfect place to go is Soca River. There is no shortage of things to do on the river or the surrounding valley. Some activities include white water rafting, hiking, paragliding, zip lining, horseback riding, downhill biking, canoying, bungee jumping, mountain biking, and so much more.
Planet Tuš
Bowling alley inside of a shopping mall. Also includes a cinema and supermarket as well as other shops.

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