Not only is Ljubljana a magnificent city and hugely popular with foreign tourist for short breaks, but its central location makes it super-easy for those wishing to explore other parts of the country, even if time is limited. In just a few short hours and by any method of transport visitors can enjoy a day trip further afield to discover some fascinating places of interest that would otherwise remain unseen.
Situated amongst the rolling green hills of the Šalek Valley with the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and Pohorje Mountains to the west and east respectively, Velenje is embraced by nature on all sides. Despite being less than an hour's drive from Slovenia's three largest urban centres (Ljubljana, Maribor and Celje) and being the country's fifth largest city itself, Velenje is still largely undiscovered by tourists, making it one of the country’s true hidden gems. For more info and ideas go to www.velenje-tourism.si.
Must See :
This excellently maintained lake resort has all the fun and games one expects from a lazy day at the beach, from sun loungers on which to sunbathe, nearby grassy areas for leisure games and a variety of different watercraft to take you out to the water, including the popular stand up paddle boards (SUP). Velenje beach was even named Slovenia’s Best Natural Swimming pool in 2018. A bar is located in the boathouse, with a whole host of refreshments on offer, and the beach is also dog friendly.
Coal Mining Museum
It's no exaggeration to say that in large part modern Velenje owes its existence to its coal mine, which has been continually operating since the 19th century and still produces some four million tons of coal annually. The mine is inherently intertwined with many aspects of the city's history, culture and economy, making the mining museum a must-see on any visit to Velenje. The comprehensive tour includes a multimedia presentation, followed by a trip 160m below the earth's surface for a hands-on demonstration of what it's like to work in the mine. Afterwards take a ride on an underground railway back above ground, and finally take a look at an intriguing historical and ethnological exhibition, as well as a unique space for temporary fine arts exhibitions. Don't forget to save some time to visit the gift shop, which is stocked with all kinds of interesting items.
Velenje Castle & Museum
One of the finest castles in all of Slovenia, for much of its history the town of Velenje consisted of little more than the this medieval hilltop residence and a handful of buildings at its base. While everything changed in the 1950s, the castle has maintained a watchful eye over the development, and is still the single most recognisable sight in Velenje. As architecturally interesting as the building itself is, the real attraction here is the diverse collection of the Velenje Museum that is housed within. In addition to an exhibition covering the history of the Šaleška valley, there's a permanent exhibition of Baroque and contemporary art, as well as a detailed presentation of the origins of the modern city. It is also home to the largest collection of African art in Slovenia - and the true story of how it found its way here is almost as interesting as the collection itself.