The capital of Slovenia means ‘beloved’ in Slovene and the city centre really is very special. Beautiful buildings cluster around the emerald green Ljubljanica River; café tables spill into the narrow streets of the Old Town; and street musicians and actors entertain passers-by in Prešernov trg and on the little bridges spanning the languid Ljubljanica river. The city centre is a mix of baroque and Habsburg architecture and owes much to the work of Joze Plecnik (1872-1957), who invested the city with a remarkable number of structures, the most celebrated of which is the Triple Bridge linking the two sides of the river.
The museums and galleries, atmospheric bars and varied, accessible nightlife make it a wonderful, relaxed place to visit and stay awhile – perhaps longer than you had planned.
Take a stroll along the narrow, cobbled streets of the pretty Old Town, with its handsome orange- and red-roofed townhouses, arty shops and pavement cafés, you'll chance upon several paths snaking up to the 16th-century castle (or you can take the funicular) From here, there are superlative views of the city and the Kamnik Alps in the distance.
The Saturday morning farmers’ markets in the colourful and picturesque Central Market are definitely not to be missed – quite simply a foody’s paradise. Apron-clad Slovene ladies selling produce they’ve literally picked from their garden that morning; fragrant mounds of whatever fruit is in season (Grska Brda peaches, strawberries, crunchy apples, deep purple cherries, sun-warmed fresh figs); piles of fresh walnuts, dried fruits; bundles of fresh herbs, earthy wild mushrooms picked fresh from the forest including fresh porcini in autumn; fresh trout straight from the rivers, buckets of flowers, handmade dairy products of all descriptions and even a lady selling nothing but handmade, light as air, filo pastry.
Kamnik is the closest town to Chalet Lenart (other than Cerklje, which isn’t much more than a village really) and is delightful. It stands on the banks of the Bistrica River, nestled under the Kamnik Alps and is a lovely place to spend a morning or afternoon. The most beautiful part is undoubtedly its old town core with typical narrow streets, decorated by medieval and baroque facades of houses. Up on the hill, right in the centre of the town, there is a ruined castle, Mali grad, with a three storey Romanic chapel. Even higher above the town another ruined castle, Stari grad, still watches over the sleepy town. Among sights worth seeing are two museums - the castle Zaprice and the private Sadnikar museum, and the Franciscan monastery with a rich collection of old books and treasures.
Kranj is only 15-20 minutes away from Chalet Lenart, and is Slovenia’s fourth largest city. That’s not to say it’s very large though, with a population of just 54,000. Don’t let the sprawling suburbs and apartment blocks put you off – the city centre is beautiful and has been declared a national and cultural monument. It was a Roman settlement and today boasts some fine gothic and baroque architecture, with numerous cultural monuments, churches, museums, galleries, bars, shops, restaurants and theatres.
Nearby Brdo castle is also worth a visit – a beautiful mansion surrounded by glorious parkland.
Radovljica is on the way to Bled and is about 30 minutes from Chalet Lenart. It’s absolutely beautiful, with a medieval core, stunning old buildings, great restaurants and the wonderful beekeeping museum, which is rated by the Rough Guide as one of ‘the’ things to do while in Slovenia. To quote a recent TripAdvisor review:
“As the others have said, this place is real gem! The highlight is the extensive collection of folk art associated with bee keeping, which is just amazing in the breadth of what is represented. This is worth visiting even when the weather is terrific (as it was when I visited) since the town itself is also quite a fascinating place, composed of Medieval and Renaissance buildings with some fantastic views of mountains and valleys. There are also quite a few small cafes and restaurants on the single street in the old part of town”.