DOLENJSKA AND BELA KRAJINA REGIONS
Vineyards and little hilltop churches, castles and monasteries, broad forests and groves of birch trees give the extensive region of south-east Slovenia a particular charm. Dolenjska, which joins hands with Bela Krajina across the beautiful Gorjanci Hills and further up with the Posavje region, is an area that offers countless opportunities to relax, explore and enjoy, to visit natural sights of interest and make interesting stops along heritage trails and wine routes.
One of the sights of this mysterious region above the gorge of the River Kolpa is Kostel Castle and the legendary Nežica waterfall. The Land of Peter Klepec (named after the legendary hero) has its centre in Osilnica, a valley with seven churches and various opportunities for recreation: from water sports on the Kolpa to hiking trails and cycling routes.
Those wishing to follow the waters towards the south can set off from the centre of Slovenia along the River Krka. From its source in Krka Cave to Žužemberk, the location of one of the most picturesque castles in Slovenia, the river, which once drove the wheels of watermills, today attract canoeists and anglers. The Krka also gives Novo mesto, the capital of Dolenjska, a town built on seven hills, its characteristic appearance. Not far from the town, with its many historical and religious monuments, are the spas of Dolenjske Toplice and Šmarješke Toplice and Slovenia's only island castle Otočec castle, which stands on an island in the middle of the Krka. The nearby Gorjanci Hills promise adventure to hikers, cyclists and hunters. Trška Gora, a hill above the town, shows us that we are in wine country, the home of Cviček, a famous local speciality.
On the other side of the Gorjanci Hills, which mark the border with Bela Krajina, Dolenjska continues along the Krka all the way to the point where it joins the Sava River: from Šentjernej with its equestrian tradition, it leads to Pleterje with its famous Carthusian monastery.
The River Krka, winding lazily across the plain below the Gorjanci Hills, is responsible for the creation of one of the most interesting natural curiosities of the area: the river island on which Kostanjevica na Krki, one of Slovenia's oldest towns, was built in the 13th century. As a result of frequent floods in past centuries the town became known as »the Venice of Lower Carniola«.
The economic, administrative and cultural centre of the region is Brežice, close to the confluence of the Krka and the Sava. Brežice Castle is home to the Posavje Museum Brežice and is particularly famous for its great hall, which is used as a venue for numerous cultural events including the SEVICQ Brežice festival of early music. Just a few kilometres from the town is the Terme Čatež spa, one of the best and most modern natural health resorts in Slovenia. Also in the vicinity is Mokrice Castle, which includes a golf course.
Also worth a visit is Brestanica, where Rajhenburg Castle contains the Wine Gallery of the Posavje Wine Region. The best way to sample the region's wines and gastronomic specialities is to follow one of the wine routes. These are also suitable for cyclists and walkers, as of course are the region's many other marked cycling and hiking routes.
TOP 10 EXPERIENCES OF DOLENJSKA AND BELA KRAJINA REGIONS
- Visit Pleterje Carthusian Monastery: a visit to the chapel gives an insight into a fragment of this unique and very closed community of monks.
- Pick the grapes on Trška Gora: a signature mountain of Dolenjska and pride of inhabitants of Novo mesto, this is the place best enjoyed with a glass of wine and a song.
- Spoil yourself at Otočec Castle: a unique island castle in Slovenia. We suggest spending the night, but if time is short, stop at least for dinner, which is a high-class culinary experience.
- Drive or cycle along the Krka Valley: this picturesque river valley, surrounded by forests and farming fields is especially popular amongst cyclists and walkers.
- Visit the Žužemberk Castle: standing on the side of the main town square, looking over the Krka River Valley, it is a signature image of Dolenjska.
- Experience Bela Krajina Wine Road: taste Belokranjec, Metliška Črnina, sample the local flat cake and experience the hospitality of the locals. For the best experience have your own driver/guide.
- Spend the night in Mokrice Castle: this castle made pop history when British duo Pet Shop Boys chose it to film the video for their No.1 single »Heart«.
- Board a raft on Krka River: a chance to experience the local culture through music, dance, wine and a sample of local food.
- The nest of Merops Apiaster: a great experience for all bird watchers. Visit Bizeljsko between midst of May and end of August to see them nesting.
- Walk through fire-fighting history: all things connected with fire-fighting are on show in this small but interesting museum in Metlika.