Welcome to Dolenjska, the charming landscape full of green meadows, fertile vineyards, vast and lush deciduous woods hiding the remains of primeval forests, green rivers, underground hot springs and hospitable towns with rich cultural heritage.
Become an explorer
Kočevje primeval forest
Nature fans will be fascinated by the four primeval forests as their tree volume exceeds 1000 cubic metres per hectare. Come and meet the ancient trees and their queen – a more than 500-year-old fir tree, 160 cm in diameter, reaching the height of 51 m and the girth of 580 cm.
If you are a fan of unspoilt nature as well as history, then you should not miss out on one of the largest forested areas, spreading from the region of Bela Krajina to Kočevje, where the headquarters of the Partisan leadership (Slovenian national liberation movement) were hidden at the famous settlement of barracks called Baza 20 (Base 20) during World War II. You can visit permanent exhibitions in the preserved huts.
Venture into the cradle of woodenware and pottery with the famous annual Ribnica fair. This area is the highest part of the region with peaks reaching more than 1200m in height and with high-altitude settlements. The forests of this region are home to the brown bear, wolf and lynx.
Explore Bela krajina – the land of white birches and “Zeleni Jurij” (a deity which brings renewal and fertility in spring), the land of Easter eggs and numerous other old customs. This green landscape is characterised by vineyards and deciduous woods, there are also a lot of hidden caves and sinkholes. It is full of little churches, stone houses and hayracks.
Kočevje is attractive not only for fans of sports but also for culture fans. Deepen your contact with nature in the vast forests of Kočevje and in primeval forest reserves, explore karst phenomena, meet rare animals, and have a chat with the friendly locals.
Get an eyeful of the charming centre of Dolenjska from different vantage points, stretch your legs on pilgrim routes or explore the old town centre and its rich cultural heritage. Take a walk past the famous fountain on the Main Square, visit the Dolenjska Museum and Jakčev dom (Jakac House), enjoy the veduta of Breg and the dreamy Krka River underneath.
The Kolpa River
Almost 300-kilometre long river Kolpa, the border river between Slovenia and Croatia, is one of our cleanest and most attractive rivers. Get to know it by canoe or by kayak, enjoy fishing or swimming in summer. While exploring the beauties of Bela krajina do not forget to pay a visit to Lahinja Nature Park – it will reward you with its stunning unspoilt nature.
The Gorjanci mountain chain, an endless collection of natural beauties, also offers numerous activities for the hikers. Find out for yourself if there is any truth in the ancient fairy tale about the Gospodična spring, the water of which is supposed to rejuvenate and give strength. Get to know the spring Minutnik where the water flows in rhythmical intervals. Indulge in the primal nature of two primeval forest reserves, Ravna gora and Trdinov vrh, the latter being the highest peak of the Gorjanci, too.
Every excursion in the region of Dolenjska is an adventure. Discover a new dimension of active time off and venture into the places of exciting natural and cultural gems.
Trška gora hill
The spectacular view of Trška gora hill, full of vineyard cottages and vineyards, is postcard-like. Four linden trees grow at the top of Trška gora next to the Church of Mary’s Birth, one of them is the thickest linden tree in Dolenjska. At the Krkin hram tourist farm, according to previous engagement, you can make a group toast with the pride of Dolenjska’s vineyards – light, very drinkable Cviček wine, while enjoying the view stretching out from Novo mesto to the Gorjanci.
Pleterje Carthusian Monastery is the only operating Carthusian Monastery in Slovenia today. You can explore its history which left a strong cultural mark on these places with the help of multivision. The monks in Pleterje make highly valued produce by cultivating orchards, vineyards and farming. The produce can be bought in their monastery shop.
Kostanjevica na Krki
Kostanjevica na Krki is a very special town – both nature and cultural heritage have left their most beautiful mark here. Due to the idyllic position on the islet it is also called the Venice of Dolenjska. Its surroundings offer numerous possibilities for outdoor activities. This cultural and historical monument will also impress culture fans with the exhibitions and different cultural events at the Božidar Jakac Art Museum.
The Krka River
Without the Krka there would be no Dolenjska as it is today, since the river provides refuge for numerous animal and plant species. The Krka River valley is a unique symbol of Dolenjska with its inseparable intertwining of natural and cultural heritage. It is emphasized by the disappearing legacy of bygone water-mills, preserved wooden bridges, numerous castles and settlements on its banks; Novo mesto was formed around one of the most distinctive of its bends. If you would like to get to know the fun side of Dolenjska then go for a ride on the river with Rudolf’s raft and have a sip of the local wine speciality, Cviček.
Žužemberk spreads over both banks of the Krka River in whose valley you can admire both genuine nature and numerous cultural and historical monuments. In the valley of castles the most recognizable one is Žužemberk Castle – it will embrace you in an unforgettable way especially in the summer during the Market Town Days when it will carry you back in time to the exciting Middle Ages with medieval tournaments.
Stična has been an important cultural and historical centre for a long time with its Cistercian monastery which is the only one still operating in Slovenia. Stična Abbey is an important cultural monument since one of the first texts in Slovene was written here in 1428 – the Stična manuscript. What is more, you will be overwhelmed by the extraordinary architectural monument and peaceful natural environment.
Ljubljana and Zagreb
Regardless of which of our destinations you choose, you will be within an hour's drive from the Slovene and Croatian capitals. Their lively pace of life, charismatic cores, delicious cuisine and numerous sights will impress you for sure.
Do not miss
The only Indian lotus site in Slovenia is located in Šmarješke Toplice. Take a stroll along the botanical path in the spa’s park and discover a rare plant on a lake fed by a hot spring – Indian lotus. This lotus genus, which thrived across the globe in the Tertiary, can nowadays be seen in its natural habitat only in some parts of Asia and Australia.
The Land of hayracks
The Land of hayracks in the municipality Šentrupert is the first open-air hayrack museum in the world. These stand-alone wooden buildings for drying and storing hay, grain and other produce are characteristic of the Slovene countryside. The area of the Land of Hayracks covers 2.5 ha, with one kilometre of footpaths between the exhibits. The museum’s purpose is to show the development of hayracks through time and space from simple drying structures to complex forms of double hayracks – “toplars”.
Vineyard cottages and wineries
Renting a vineyard cottage – a typical little house by a vineyard is one way to experience authentic local atmosphere in the gently rolling landscape famous for its high-quality wine. Unwind while tasting domestic culinary delights and Cviček and enjoy the peaceful scenery.
Otočec Castle is one of the must-sees of the region of Dolenjska, located only a stone’s throw from Novo mesto. Situated on an islet in the middle of the Krka River, the castle building, together with its park, paints one of the most picturesque images in the country and is a prominent cultural and natural monument. Today the castle, restored to its original Gothic and Renaissance splendour, houses one of the most outstanding hotels in Slovenia – Otočec Castle Hotel that will impress even the most discerning of the travellers. Otočec is an excellent starting point for many outdoor activities as well as for sightseeing excursions.
Struga Castle is located on a terrace on the right bank of the Krka River, a stone’s throw from Otočec Castle. A fine example of 16th-century architecture, Struga Castle stands in a prominent location close to the Krka River, as a result of which it is one of the most important monuments in the Dolenjska region. It successfully revives the times when it was build – the end of the Middle Ages, marked with Renaissance and Baroque – with its lively programme. Explore the castle, try your skills in outdoor sports, listen to the old music, remove the veil of history together with children or use this extraordinary venue for business meetings, weddings or feasts.
Kostel Castle is the second largest castle complex in Slovenia, and the village below it is still inhabited. Its most important role was at the time of the Turkish invasion. This impressive fort that rests at 406-metre high slope was first documented in the 13th century. Don’t miss the famous gallows site near the castle, and the natural features of Kurja glavica, the Hribska stena wall, and the Nežica Waterfall.
Otočec Golf Course
The Otočec Golf Course is situated in the fascinating unspoilt landscape along the emerald river Krka, close to the famed Otočec Castle. The state-of-the-art 18-hole, par 72 golf course was designed to the highest industry standards by British architect Howard Swan, who exhibited a keen sense of the game and the natural scenery. Nestled among lush forests of Dolenjska, the open and diverse fairways, large and fairly undemanding greens, and spectacular views of the fairways and the surrounding areas are all the more reason why you will love this golf course. It has been recognised by the Slovenian Golf Course Owners Association (GIZ-GIS) as the best golf course in Slovenia for several years in a row, which is a guarantee for a high quality experience.
“Novomeška salamijada” (The Salami Festival - March, April)
Inhabitants of Dolenjska match the reputation of being excellent producers of salami and other meat products at the annual Salami and Cviček Fair where you can pamper your taste buds with local meat delights and vintage wine – Cviček.
Cycling Marathon along the Krka valley (April/May)
Enrich your cycling experience by overcoming kilometres by the dreamy river Krka at the annual spring marathon. You can choose the shorter 35-kilometre long route or the longer one which is 80 kilometres long.
The Cviček Festival (May)
Cviček has been a Slovene wine specialty for a long time; therefore, it deserves to have its social event. Have a sip at the ethnological event The Cviček Week which has been organised since 1972 or attend the one-day cultural event “Cvičkarija” organised by the students of Novo mesto.
The Brusniška Hrustavka Cherry Festival (June)
The inhabitants of Brusnice village near Novo mesto dedicated a festival to this juicy red fruit. Luscious cherries from Brusnice and the annual cherry queen competition are a guarantee for lots of fun.
Šmarješke Toplice Run (June)
Fans of running will love June since this is the time when the tourist society of Šmarješke Toplice organises the annual sporting event, where you can relax while running the 8-kilometre route or the much shorter one, only 2 kilometres long. They also organise a party for the children categories.
Fotopub (July, August)
Fotopub is an annual event in Novo mesto which has been organised since 2001. Both professional and amateur fans of photography meet at this festival focusing mainly on documentary photography. You can hear top experts and take part in various events.
Night on the Krka River (August)
The inhabitants of Novo mesto have been organising interesting events on the Krka River in honour of Nepomuk, the guardian of bridges and boatmen, since the 19th century. Children adorn the river surface with little boats with candles which create a magical atmosphere at the end of August. Indulge in good music, food and drinks.
The international workshop Jazzinty will impress jazz fans with its varied programme. For a few days in August the old city centre of Novo mesto is filled with jazz music and creativity from all over the world. You simply cannot miss this.
White Tennis Tournament (August)
The white tennis tournament with its white colour and old customs will take you back in time into the world of tennis culture which ruled tennis courts decades ago. Besides playing tennis with wooden rackets you are in for a style change in which the most ingeniously dressed visitors and players will be rewarded.
The Dolenjske Toplice Apple Festival (October)
The municipality of Dolenjske Toplice dedicates every third weekend in October to the special Dolenjske Toplice apple variety. Come and see the exhibition of fruit and dishes made from apples. Get yourself stored for winter with the king among fruit, take part in the evaluation of apple strudels or take a look at how the apple juice is made.
“Gorjanska polharija” (Gorjanci Dormouse Chase - October)
This is a traditional custom of the region of Dolenjska which made a mark on the local culture as far as hunting, cuisine and dressing code are concerned. In autumn you can experience this for yourself – you can observe it and taste it – during the event “Gorjanska polharija” (Gorjanci Dormouse Chase) at which you can feast on roasted chestnuts while listening to music and socialising.
Unique vegetation, mysterious castles, water sporting activities or golf by the lush forests – charming sights of Dolenjska are bound to stay in your heart and remain imprinted on your memory forever.
The events in Dolenjska are like the people of Dolenjska – merry, warm and mischievous. Visit one of the interesting events and become a part of the local spirit at least for a moment.