6 Must-sees in the Dolenjska Region of Southeastern Slovenia

 

6 Must-sees Dolenjska Region, Southeastern Slovenia

The Dolenjska and Bela Krajina region in southeastern Slovenia is a stunning hilly area, dotted by picturesque castles, gorgeous natural scenery and friendly locals. We decided to wrap up our 10-day Slovenia escapade with this lesser-known are, in order to escape the crowds and enjoy the tranquility of the rural landscape before we head back home.

When I initially included this area into our itinerary, I thought we’d have a few relaxing spa days at Dolenjske Toplice to rest a bit before the long drive. However, the area surprised us by offering much more than a few thermal baths. So we decided to explore the highlights of the region instead of soaking in the swimming pool and we didn’t regret it for a second!

Here are some of the top attractions you should visit in the Dolenjska region of southeastern Slovenia: 

1. Visit Novo Mesto

Novo Mesto is one of the largest cities in the Dolenjska area. It is actually the birthplace of the current First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump. But that’s not actually why we wanted to visit the city. We chose to travel to Novo Mesto to admire its ravishing Old Town lined by the mighty Krka River, offering a postcard-perfect view. I’m talking about this viewpoint, which can be best admired from the Kandijski Most bridge:

Novo Mesto, Dolenjska, Slovenia

Novo Mesto, Dolenjska, Slovenia

Once you’re there, don’t hesitate to wander into the Old Town area which architecture buffs are sure to appreciate. The heart of the city is filled with lovely architectural gems waiting to be discovered. The Old Town Hall, the Franciscan Monastery, the Museum of Dolenjska and the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas should all be included in your visit.

Novo Mesto, Dolenjska, Slovenia

Novo Mesto, Dolenjska, Slovenia

Novo Mesto, Dolenjska, Slovenia

Novo Mesto, Dolenjska, Slovenia

 

2. Devil’s Tower & Grad Soteska

Probably the most underrated attraction on this list, the ruins of Soteska Mansion are anything but modest. As a huge fan of old, ruined castles left untouched for centuries, this attraction piqued my interest from the beginning. (I am not saying that castles should not be maintained or renovated, just simply stating that there’s an unequivocal charm to historic ruins somewhat overtaken by nature’s greenery). I wouldn’t advise climbing on the walls of the castle, however you can enter the interior courtyard to admire the edifice’s size and style from the interior.

Soteska Castle, Dolenjske, Novo Mesto, Slovenia

Soteska Castle, Dolenjske, Novo Mesto, Slovenia

Soteska Castle, Dolenjske, Novo Mesto, Slovenia

Across the road you can notice a lone tower with some low walls and a plain field around it. That’s the Devil’s Tower, which also belongs to the mansion grounds. It’s quite a funky sight, seeing as how it’s located relatively far away from the mansion, nevertheless it’s definitely worth a stop. The tower houses a painting exhibit in its interior with the works of a 17th century Dutch painter.

Devil's Tower, Soteska, Dolenjska, Slovenia

Devil's Tower, Soteska, Dolenjska, Slovenia

Devil's Tower, Soteska, Dolenjska, Slovenia

of course I had to sit on that swing..

 

3. Žužemberk Castle

The small town of  Žužemberk should also be on your list of must-sees whilst exploring the Dolenjska region of Slovenia. The castle bearing the same name towers over the dwellings of the local population. The medieval castle was constructed sometime at the beginning of the second millenium and stood guard over Žužemberk for centuries.

Zuzemberk Castle, Dolenjske Region, Slovenia

Zuzemberk Castle, Dolenjske Region, Slovenia

Zuzemberk Castle, Dolenjske Region, Slovenia

Zuzemberk Castle, Dolenjske Region, Slovenia

Throughout its longstanding existence, the castle was damaged numerous times. The last instance happened during the second World War, however efforts to restore it began in the 1960’s. Today the fortress stands strong above the town, is quite well-kept and is often the host of various local cultural events. All in all, it’s quite a scenic place to visit year-round and the views from Žužemberk Castle aren’t half bad either:

Zuzemberk Castle, Dolenjske Region, Slovenia

Zuzemberk Castle, Dolenjske Region, Slovenia

4. Roadside Hayracks & Wooden Barns

Okay, so this isn’t technically a place, rather a roadside attraction, if you will. Nevertheless, I wanted to include it because it is a prominent element in rural Slovenia, not only in the southeastern part of the country, but in basically all areas where you can find crops and hay.

Rural Slovenia

These charming little wooden barns are quite a photogenic sight, along with the kozolecs, the traditional hay drying racks governing the Slovenian landscape. The latter come in different sizes, mostly made up of a ladder-like wooden structure with a small roof at its top, protecting the hay from precipitation.

Slovenia hay drying racks

Slovenia hay drying racks

5. Grad Otočec

If you’re looking for a unique and memorable place to stay whilst you get to know the Dolenjska region, then Hotel Grad Otočec might be calling your name. The only river castle in Slovenia, built in the 13th century and situated on a small island in the middle of the majestic Krka River, this stunning edifice is another mandatory stop during your southeastern Slovenia exploration. Although the rooms cannot be visited by tourists, you can still take a leisurely stroll in the beautifully-maintained castle grounds and marvel at the castle’s particular features and scenic location.

Otocec Castle, Dolenjske, Slovenia

Otocec Castle, Dolenjske, Slovenia

Otocec Castle, Dolenjske, Slovenia

Otocec Castle, Dolenjske, Slovenia

 

6. Krupe Izvir, the source of the Krupa River

Once you’ve gotten bored of all the castles in the Dolenjska Region (I am not sure that ever happens), you might want to escape a bit to a wilder place, untouched by humans. In this case, I honestly recommend a quick detour to see the emerald-colored karst spring of the Krupa River. It is quite a mystical sight, surrounded by a lush forest and a handful of rare, protected plants. It is the first time I’ve actually seen Cyclamen in the wild, so it was an interesting stop in many aspects.

Krupa River Spring, Dolenjske, Slovenia

Krupa River Spring, Dolenjske, Slovenia

Krupa River Spring, Dolenjske, Slovenia

Krupa River Spring, Dolenjske, Slovenia

Krupa River Spring, Dolenjske, Slovenia

Krupa River Spring, Dolenjske, Slovenia

 

Where to Stay in the Dolenjska Region?

If you don’t wish to break the bank by staying at Otočec Castle, then I have a more budget-friendly option for you. For the two days in which we were traveling in the Dolenjska Region, we based ourselves at Hotel & Restaurant Ostarija, a quite charming (and affordable!) accommodation site in Dolenjske Toplice. There are a myriad of spa baths near the hotel and the food served in the restaurant is fantastic, so I highly recommend it!

For a complete overview of our trip, check out the article I wrote for Just a Pack about a fantastic 10-day road trip itinerary through Slovenia

If you liked the post, feel free to help spread the word by pinning it to Pinterest!

6 Must-sees Dolenjska Region, Southeastern Slovenia

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: