Laško: throughout Slovenia and entire region of South East Europe, the name is synonymous with the green cans and bottles of the locally-produced Zlatorog brand pilsner. In fact, in Slovenia the word Laško has almost become the equivalent of beer. This in itself is no small achievement for a small medieval town of only some 3,600 residents. However, there is much more to Laško than its internationally renowned brewing tradition.
To begin with the town itself is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in Slovenia, with a compact old city centre located in an enviable position amongst rolling hills and picturesque valleys that spread out in all directions from the river Savinja. The surrounding area is perfect for exploring by either bike or on foot, and long before beer was produced on a large commercial scale, the town was known for the healing powers of its thermal springs - which made it a favourite holiday spot of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph during the middle of the 19th century.
There's also a second thermal spa centre a few kilometres to the south of Laško in the charming village of Rimske Toplice, smaller than the complex in Laško proper, it's been recently renovated and is a great value. Elsewhere in the municipality, the main attraction is the ruins of the 12th century Cathusian monastery in Jurklošter (about 15km to the east of Rimske Toplice) and the imposing settlement of Zidani Most, set high above the confluence of the Sava and Savinja rivers at the far western edge of the region.
Of course the highlight of the year remains beer-related, with some 150,000 visitors flocking to the area for the annual Beer and Flower Festival every summer - something like Slovenia's version of Oktoberfest (only with more flowers and cheaper beer). All this is only a scant 10 minute drive, or train ride, south of Celje.