Kamnik old town
This is one of our fave medieval towns in Slovenia to hang out in for coffee, ice cream and a stroll before (or after) a trip up the cable car to the heavenly Velika Planina or to visit the amazing Kamnik gorge and waterfalls or the Secret WW2 Forest hospital.
It is also our "GO TO" tip for guests who have a couple of hours to chill before using Ljubljana airport during the day and want to be close enough and easily accessible from there off the motorway.
Kamnik is exactly what you might imagine or dream of as the archetypal Green Slovenian town with a river, old town, castles, several church steeples on the skyline and mountains in the background.. but there is even more on offer for you here and we will tell you a few more reasons to get excited about visiting Kamnik old town.
Like many European old towns, first find the river, then follow the signs for "staro mesto" (old town) or just look for the grand old colourful buildings. There are lots of little car parks and parking spaces scattered around, so don't worry about doing a small circle first to have a look around and decide where to park, but the great news is cars are not allowed along the main high st, which is pedestrianised, making it even more pleasant for a stroll.
Most Slovenians towns are so small they don't have car free centres, so you do get a kinda "Ljubljana feel" walking around here, admiring the buildings and little independant local shops instead of listening to and avoiding traffic!
There is a lovely old town square with cafes, the Tourist Info Centre (TIC) and restaurants dotted around. Our favourite cafe is actually not here, but just around the corner between the main square and the high street under the castle.. with a great choice of cakes, of course!
The castle is called "mali Grad", which is apt as it means small castle, but do climb up the steps as the view is nothing short of sensational from the main tower. You can see across the red brick old town roofline across to the Kamnik mountains and across the other side of the river is a large hill shaped a bit like a golf ball.. it's really cool!
There is another "castle" (only a pretty chapel building remains) on top of this hill called "stari Grad" (old castle) with a restaurant and even better views, but this is on the other side of the river.
There are several museums in Kamnik, one especially in the high street explains a bit more about a very important Slovenian General (depending on your opinion), whose actions pretty much stopped Slovenia being even smaller! Directly after WW1, while Ljubljana was sitting on its hands he organised a brigade to "protect" Maribor from Germanic hands..
So this chap was called Rudolf Maister and was born in Kamnik.. He is actually a guy who might be interesting for you to know more about, particularly if you didnt realise how big Slovenia really was in the past and how history, circumstances, politics and bigger countries chopped bits off the Slovenian map to make it the tiny funky chicken shape it is nowadays!
Slovenians often bang on about various "famous" poets or writers, with very little explanation or translation into your language to help you out, so unfortunately for visitors it is impossible to relate to or understand what these "great" people did.. so when you get the chance to learn more about historical Slovenians like Maister or the great man Valvasor, who we know you can relate to, for example, then you might want to take the chance..
Just past this museum, there is a big church with a majestic tall tower, frescoes and statues to admire. You can find plenty of independant little shops around the old town and the high street selling locally made souvenirs and products, which is not a given in Slovenia, so do enjoy this shopping opportunity.. and if you do get as far as the end of the high street then turn right and go up a cute little side road to a very large manor house building, which holds the regional museum.
So there is an overwhelming feeling of "what Slovenia should be like" for a visitor to Kamnik.. it is a very pleasant place to be and have a look around and you get a real sense that you are in middle Europe.
And finally, you will probably notice this for yourself, but just in case, we encourage you to look up a lot when strolling around the cobbled streets to try to spot all the fantastic antique metal "trades" signs hanging around, we have included a few of our favourites in the gallery below! These signs, the cobbles, the pristine clean streets and little side streets just add to the classiness of this place.
All this exactly one hour from the Lodge and just around the corner from the airport.. So you can see now why we rate this little town so highly and how we try to help include it into our Guest's plans for their Green Slovenian adventures!