Celje and its surroundings are famous for their thermal water. Each city nearby has at least one spa or wellness centre, which attracts tourists all year round. The largest settlement and centre of the region is Celje, which is located in a diverse natural environment.
The area around Celje is home to friendly, hospitable Slovenian people whose doors are open to visitors. They are the ones who will be happy to introduce you to traditional Slovenian cuisine, which is the basis of good hospitality. We also find plenty of accommodation in houses that vividly reflect local traditions.
The most popular attractions in the region are Rogla Canopy Promenade in the Pohorje mountains, Lovrenska lakes and marshland, and Bistrica Vintgar gorge. Of course, lovers of skiing can get to know the area well, as the Rogla ski area is also located here.
Today, the memory of the turning point is preserved in castles, chateaux and medieval towns, all of which once played an important role. Rich in the museums of the countryside, in the open-air and ethnographic museums we can learn more about the everyday life and customs of the rural population.
Map - Where is Celje located?
The countryside of Celje, with 21 cities, is located in the middle of the Savinja statistical region - which can be found almost in the middle of Slovenia. It's only 1-hour drive from Ljubljana (to the east). The city of Celje is located at halfway to Ptuj.
- Distance from Ljubljana: 45 mins / 80 km
- Distance from Ptuj: 45 mins / 65 km
- Distance from Rogla: 50 mins / 40 km
- Distance from Maribor: 40 mins / 55 km
More about the city
The city has a population of 50,000 and is the third-largest city in the country. The area has long been inhabited, dating back to the time of the Celts and Romans based on the relics found.
Today, it is a vibrant and constantly evolving city that is an administrative, cultural and university centre, as well as the business and sports centre of the Savinja region.
There is no shortage of sights either! Celje is a city with a historical past, which was a European hub centuries ago. It was located at the crossroads of important routes and was owned by one of the most powerful families on the continent.
History of Celje
Throughout its 2,000-year history, Celje has gone through many ups and downs. It was a thriving economic and military centre in the time of the Celts and Romans, but then seemed to disappear from the face of the earth.
From the following period until the 12th century no written document mentions its name. In 1436 it became the seat of the Duchy of Celje, and in 1456 it came under the rule of the Habsburgs. The city was often forced to take up the fight against enemy troops and the forces of nature at the same time.
It suffered a flood, and a Turkish attack, from which it then recovered with the help of the development of a trade route. It has managed to become a strong town again, becoming one of the most important trading towns in Lower Styria.
In 1846, with the arrival of the railway, the industry entered the city. Celje thus entered a new, exciting century in which its cultural and tourist life also flourished.
Before taking a look at the area’s attractions, let’s run through the city’s most popular attractions.
#1 Celje Castle
The most famous of Celje's sights is the Castle of Celje, which is mentioned as the most beautiful Slovenian castle. It offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding area, and in addition to the view of its partially renovated walls and towers, the rest of the country’s castles can retreat modestly.
#2 City Hall
Another symbolic building in Celje is the Town Hall, which is easily recognisable by its eight-storey tower. It was built by the local Germans at the turn of the century in response to the Narodni Domra, built by the Slovenes at the other end of the old town.
The Neo-Gothic style building was the cultural center of the local Germans until World War I, which is why it is still called the German House. Today it is home to cultural and tourist associations.
#3 Narodni Dom - National Hall
The Narodni Dom, ie the seat of the administrative offices of the National Hall in Celje. Built in the 19th century according to the plans of the Czech architect Vladimir Hrasky, it is one of the most beautiful houses in the city.
It was the center of the social and cultural life of the local Slovenian aristocracy during the last period of the Habsburg Empire. On the ground floor is the Likovni Gallery, which exhibits works by contemporary artists.
#4 Church of the Virgin Mary
One of the most beautiful churches in Celje is the Church of the Virgin Mary. The church, consecrated in the 14th century, was originally part of a minority monastery. A special feature is that the counts of Cille rest here, and visitors can see their family tomb.
#5 Church of St. Daniel
In the southern part of the Old Town, next to Glavni Square, stands the Church of St. Daniel, the usual starting point for guided sightseeing tours. Built on the site of an earlier church in the 13th century, it has gained its present appearance after several alterations, but has managed to retain its basically Gothic style both inside and out.
#6 Mestni Park
The city’s park is Mestni Park, located opposite the Old Town on the left bank of the Savinja River. The most beautiful photos of Celje can definitely be taken here! The park is not big, yet it is busy, many people walk, jog, or just sit here.
Attractions around Celje
Behind the mountains are even higher mountains, valleys beneath them, including castles, open-air museums and, of course, a wide range of gastronomic offerings in the local restaurants - 75 km from east to west and almost the same length from north to south. The countryside is not short of opportunities for recreation.
In winter, Rogla in the Pohorje Mountains is especially popular with tourists, and in summer, golf courses, swimming and hiking are the most popular destinations.
There are plenty of hiking trails for those walking or cycling. The routes cover the whole countryside, it is up to us to take a longer or shorter path that is easier to complete or challenging.
#7 Smartinsko Lake
Not far away is the largest reservoir in Slovenia, Lake Smartinsko, which is also a popular excursion destination. There are restaurants and bars on the shores of the lake, and the lake is excellent for boating and kayaking, but it is also a place for swimming competitions in summer.
Next to the lake, the small wooden huts were handed over a few years ago and can be rented all year round. With sophisticated equipment, the surrounding landscape and the Slovenian countryside, domestic and foreign guests are welcome in complete harmony.
Rogla is the highest peak of the Pohorje Mountains. Here, you will find the 1 km long, 37-meter-high canopy promenade. The promenade awaits enthusiastic tree and bird lovers every day to admire all that lives among the trees for an hour.
#9 Rogla ski area
Located at 1,517 m, Rogla is open to winter sports enthusiasts from December to April. Already in the II. Even before World War II, it was one of the most popular Slovenian resorts and has since developed even more and attracts more tourists each winter.
With their trails and quality services, it ensures that foreign and Slovenian guests feel comfortable here. You can choose from a wide range of accommodation options. There are bungalows here, but you can also relax in jacuzzi hotels.
#10 Lake Lovrenska
Near Rogla, at an altitude of 1,500 m, lies the Lovrenc Lakes, which are not really lakes but craters in a swampy area. Their depth is just over 1 m, and depending on the weather, they form 10 to 20 smaller or larger pond-like pools.
The Lovrenska Lake District was formed at the end of the last ice age, about 8,000 years ago. Nowadays, it is one of the favourite attractions of tourists, and the walking paths around it are also worth a visit.
If you are looking for historical sights, head to Podsreda Castle near Kozje. It is considered to be the most fortified castle in the region and in Slovenia. It is a real massive fortress, an excellent example of medieval Slovenian architecture, in which simplicity and practicality played a major role.
There are no ornate towers and gilded details, just a watchtower, a chapel, rooms and halls. Built in the 12th century, the castle is one of the best references to Slovenian Romanian architecture in all its flavours. after World War II, the condition of the castle deteriorated greatly, and it was only renovated in the 1980s.
In the castle you can see an exhibition of paintings and glass works, but the ancient walls are also home oof many events.
#12 The city of Lasko
Don't miss sightseeing! Lasko is perfect for this, as its beautiful old town brings you closer to the history of both the town and the countryside. It was already a market town in 1227 and is now home to 3,000 people. Lasko's name is known all over the world for the Zlatorog beer brewed here. Therefore, you can also visit the brewery!
Lasko is one of the oldest settlements in Slovenia, inhabited since ancient times. Due to the healing springs in the area, Emperor Franz Joseph often came here in the 19th century.
It is no coincidence that the spa of Lasko has become the leading spa in Slovenia. The hotels here host a lot of tourists from all over the world all year round.
Every summer, 150,000 visitors come to the Beer and Flower Festival, which could also be called the Slovenian version of the Bavarian Oktoberfest, with just more flowers and cheaper beers.
Just 30 minutes, 38 km from Celje, you will find one of the most secluded gorge valleys in Slovenia, the Bistriški Vintgar gorge. The valley south of the Pohorje Mountains follows the Bistrica River for 6 km.
Parking in front of the gorge is free. The tour starts from here following well-signposted routes.
- Address: Zgornja Bistrica 158, 2310 Slovenska Bistrica, Slovenia
- Distance from Celje: 38 km / 35 minutes
- Website: none
#14 Jama Pekel (Cave of Hell)
Many say that Jama Pekel Cave is one of the best gems in Slovenia. It got its name because in winter when the outside temperature is lower than that of the cave, steam flows out of its entrance.
Rogatec is a charming little town with an open-air museum. It is also part of the heritage of Dezela Celjska, where you can get a glimpse into the lives of the locals. Walking among the traditionally built houses, you can get acquainted with the traditions of the countryside, especially in the 18-19. century.
Handmade products, delicious snacks made locally and folk customs fly back to the past. In the museum, in this beautifully put together little village, you can learn how locals used to live here, what women and men worked in this part of Slovenia.
You can see the interesting process of basket weaving and bread baking, and you can also gain insight into the tricks of the blacksmithing industry. Most of the houses in the museum have been moved here from their original location.
The most famous of these is the wooden house Smitova Hisa, which dates back to the 19th century, when almost exclusively the same buildings stood in the surrounding villages. However, it is also special for Slovenes because it is the birthplace of their famous poet and translator, Joze Smit.