The Best 20 Castles to Visit in Slovenia (Listed by Popularity)

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Every year hundreds of tourists make their way to the cultural wonderland of Slovenia. Yet they all come back with a few dozen photos from the same three castles- Bled, Ljubljana, and Predjama. While these are definitely beautiful places to visit, Slovenia has a lot more to offer.

With over 500 exquisite castles and fortresses, each with its unique Renaissance, Baroque, and/or Medieval architecture, Slovenia has a rich cultural history. This list takes a deep dive into the 10 most popular attractions in Slovakia. And follows that up with another ten equally extraordinary, though less visited sites, for visitors willing to step even further off the beaten path.

The order of the list is based on Google search volume of each castle = popularity.

1. Predjama Castle

The amazing Predjama castle standing near the mountain limestone.
The amazing Predjama castle standing near the rocky landscape. David Jones from Isle of Wight, United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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The breathtaking Predjama Castle draws in visitors from near and far because of its perfect harmony between the man-made and the natural. The stunning four-story Renaissance manor has been built into the face of the cave, allowing it to loom gracefully over the rocky landscape. 

Originally, its precarious position atop a rocky ledge was meant to prevent enemy access and keep its occupants safe. According to myth, its 15th-century owner Erasmus of Lueg got into a feud with the Holy Roman Emperor when he killed an army commander over an insult caused to his deceased friend. 

Visitors can learn more about the rich lineage of the castle as it passed from one royal family to another and eventually fell into the hands of the Yugoslav Communist government who converted it into a museum.

2. Bled Castle

Bled Castle at the edge of the cliff.
Bled Castle at the edge of the cliff. Moon rising over Blejski Grad, Slovenia flickr photo by Charlie Phillips shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Standing majestic over a stunning lake, Bled Castle is picture perfect. To enter the manor you walk across a drawstring bridge across a moat. If you’re looking to recreate your dream historical fantasy moment, this is definitely the dramatic entrance you need.

The history of Bled Castle dates back to 1004, with its Romanesque Tower making it the oldest monument in Slovenia. However, a severe earthquake hit the original fortress, and huge portions had to be rebuilt to fix the damage. Most of the Renaissance-style castle you see today was constructed after 1511.

Bled Castle hosts numerous cultural events for visitors, as well as exhibitions in the Tower which has been converted into a gallery. You can also visit the Museum or the Gothic Chapel that speak to the manor’s ancient past.

3. Ljubljana Castle

The clock tower at Ljubljana Castle.
The clock tower at Ljubljana Castle.

Ljubljana Castle is an ancient site situated proudly on a hill in the capital city of Ljubljana. The medieval complex overlooks all of the old city, giving visitors exquisite views of the town and its surroundings.

The 15th-century castle was erected over an original 11th-century defense fortress, which had served as the headquarters of the lords of Carniola during the 14th century. Most of the structures on-site today were added in the 16th and 17th centuries. The castle remained in use throughout its existence, and today it is a gorgeous venue for various events open to the public to attend.

The museum gives visitors insights to Slovenia’s history and heritage; beyond the layered past of Ljubljana Castle, the splendor of St George Chapel will leave you awestruck. Between the puppet shows and the dungeon tours, trust us when we say there’s something for everyone.

4. Sevnica Castle

Some part of Sevnica Castle.
Some part of Sevnica Castle. MatMi-20180520-0046 flickr photo by Matjaž Mirt shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Sevnica Castle is a majestic site with breathtaking views from its elevated position above the old town of Sevnica, in the Lower Sava Valley. It is unclear when the first castle was erected, but part of a remaining tower at the site dates back to the 12th century, establishing an earliest-known date.

Inncocenz Moscon acquired the castle site during the late 16th century and was responsible for its late Renaissance reconstruction. The interior was refitted during the Baroque period and a wall in the south-east tower was decorated with a beautiful fresco painting.

The castle has been renovated extensively. In the present day, the site houses a museum, art gallery, shop, chapel, and vineyard. The castle estate is used as a venue for various entertaining events. The site caters for all ages, including a puppet theater and workshops for children. There are guided tours available.

5. Otocec Castle

Otocec Castle's view from across the water.
Otocec Castle’s view from across the water. Otocec flickr photo by Dr Korom shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Situated on an island in the center of Krka River, Otocec Castle is a picturesque site famed as the only water castle in the country.

The castle was noted in 13th century writings–since then it has served various purposes, including being used as an Italian fortress in the Second World War. In 1942, it was severely damaged by fire. An extensive, six-year-long renovation was undertaken from 1952, including a restaurant addition that opened in 1959.

In the present day, the castle is fully restored to its former Renaissance and Gothic style. A hotel is housed within the castle’s walls and the grounds include beautiful parks for visitors to explore. The site includes a boathouse and a golf course. There are also various leisure activities available to amuse children.

6. Branik Castle

Branik Castle surrounded by greens.
Branik Castle surrounded by greens. Alessandro Sgambati, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Perched in densely forested hills in the southwest of Slovenia, Branik Castle overlooks Branik town. Also known as Rihebmerk Castle, the castle is one of the country’s oldest, with Romanesque foundations suggesting it already existed as a Roman fort in the 12th century. The castle is believed to have been rebuilt in the 13th century.

The site features Renaissance protective walls and certain Gothic elements. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the castle building was converted into a Baroque-style manor house. In the 19th century, further renovations were carried out at the site.

In the present day, the well-maintained castle is open to the public with certain parts still under reconstruction. The site is mostly used as a venue for private events, such as weddings and conferences, although bookings can be made for guided tours of the castle and its grounds. 

7. Celje Castle

The aerial view of Celje castle.
The aerial view of Celje castle. Celje Castle flickr photo by stahli36 shared with no copyright restrictions using Creative Commons Public Domain Mark (PDM)

The preserved ruins of Celje Castle are spread over three hills in the south-eastern part of Celje city. It was once the largest fortress in the country, restoration of the site is still ongoing today.

The prominent Counts of Celje ruled the castle from 1341, they added several structures to the site and renovated the fortress structure into a palace residence. An earthquake caused some destruction to the palace, it was reconstructed shortly after.

The castle site is open to the public with a quaint café, Veronika, on the premises. There is a tourist information center that provides brochures about the site’s layout and interesting historical details about the centuries-old site and the town. Keepsakes and locally produced items are for sale at the center. The site features magnificent views of Celji city and is well-worth the visit.

8. Sneznik Castle

Sneznik castle view from across the river.
Sneznik castle view from across the river. Mihael Grmek, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pristine and fairy-tale-like, Sneznik Castle is situated in the municipality of Loska Dolina in Loz Valley. It has not been firmly determined when construction first occurred, but the castle is thought to be a 13th-century structure.

The castle site has a fascinating history with an extensive list of owners throughout the centuries. The four-leveled castle is enclosed by a Renaissance-style wall. Several renovation projects were undertaken at the site during the latter part of the 19th century. The site features glorious parks enclosed by linden and chestnut trees.

Today, the castle is open to the public, offering pre-booked guided tours and a museum to explore. The castle is suitable for adults and children with entertaining and informative activities. The site is also used as a venue for special functions such as weddings, parties, and conferences.

9. Bogensperk Castle

Bogenšperk Castle's tower view.
Bogenšperk Castle’s tower view. Petar Milošević, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bogensperk Castle is an immaculately maintained 16th-century castle situated in Smartno pri Litiji municipality.

There is uncertainty regarding when development started. We do know that the castle was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1511 and later rebuilt. The castle was again badly damaged, by a fire in 1759. Fortunately, it was fully restored to its Renaissance style. In the present day, it is heralded as an important Slovenian cultural landmark.

Bogensperk Castle is open to the public and there are guided tours available. The castle building houses a museum showcasing various historical and cultural collections, including hunting exhibits and a traditional clothing exhibition. There is a quaint restaurant on the first floor of the building. The castle is also available for rent as a venue for events and special occasions, and the grounds include a lush park area for visitors to explore. 

10. Krsko Castle

Krsko Castle's view at the top.
Krsko Castle’s view at the top. Janezdrilc, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Unlike the other extravagant manors on this list, Krsko Castle’s exterior is relatively understated. What makes it so special is its rich history. The estate goes by many names, Rajhenburg Castle and Brestanica Castle being a few. 

In the late 19th century, French Trappist monks made Krsko Castle their home. Together, they built a community and the things they needed to live a comfortable and modest life. They were able to make and sell products like cheese, chocolate, and liquor to fund their dominion. After the Germans took over in 1941, most of the inhabitants were deported with only 15,000 out of the original 80,000 remaining. 

Now, the castle has been converted into a museum, gallery, and restaurant where visitors can enjoy their time, learn of the manor’s colorful history, and even use the monks’ traditional items.

If you are a castle enthusiast, you must take out the time to visit these equally spectacular castles in Slovenia as well:

11. Bistra Castle

The entrance to Bistra castle.
The entrance to Bistra castle. Jacquesverlaeken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bistra Castle is a large, history-rich castle constructed in the 13th century. Situated outside the town of Ljubljana, Slovenia, the castle is surrounded by a river and lush country parks. 

The castle was originally a Carthusian monastery between 1260 and 1782 before being purchased by a wealthy businessman who redesigned it as a grand residence. 

The Technical Museum of Slovenia has been located within the castle since 1953, with a range of exhibits to explore and guided tours of the castle in a variety of languages for visitors to experience.

12. Brezice Castle

Brezice Castle's courtyard.
Brezice Castle’s courtyard. Bmaric, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Brezice Castle is a gorgeous castle situated in the town of Brezice in south-eastern Slovenia. Built in the 16th century, the castle is an exceptional representation of Renaissance architecture. 

The castle has an interesting history, passing between owners and sustaining damage and repairs several times over the centuries. After World War II, the castle was converted into 26 residential flats. 

Today, the castle is occupied by the Lower Sava Valley Museum. The castle site is a venue for the museum and the gallery showcasing various historical exhibitions and concerts. The castle is a very popular tourist destination. 

13. Skofja Loka Castle

Skofja Loka Castle's view from afar.
Skofja Loka Castle’s view from afar. marjan.savli, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Skofja Loka Castle is an ancient castle situated in the town of Skofja Loka in Slovenia. This grand castle with its breath-taking views of the city and surroundings is an experience to behold! 

The castle was first written about in 1202, described as a fortification. The castle was reconstructed in its present form during the 16th century. A devastating earthquake destroyed the castle in 1691. It was rebuilt entirely and remains pristine today.

There is a museum in the castle showcasing exhibits of art and history, and a Middle Ages farmhouse to explore.

14. Zuzemberk Castle

The panoramic view of  Zuzemberk Castle.
The panoramic view of Zuzemberk Castle. Petar Milošević, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Zuzemberk Castle is a charming place, situated above the Krka River in the town of Zuzemberk, Slovenia. Written about in the 13th century as being a fortress, this medieval castle obtained its current architectural design in the 16th century. 

The castle was severely damaged during the Second World War and restoration work has been ongoing to this day. The castle site includes the grand walls, reinforced towers, an inner courtyard, and a gallery.  During the summer months, various vibrant festivals and concerts are held at the castle’s inner courtyard.

15. Bistrica Castle

Bistrica Castle's architectural structure.
Bistrica Castle’s architectural structure. Slovenska Bistrica (99) flickr photo by Dr Korom shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Bistrica Castle is a medieval castle situated just out of Slovenska Bistrica town, in north-eastern Slovenia. First mentioned in the 13th century, the castle has an extensive history of owners before being nationalized after the Second World War. 

The castle is a combination of architectural elements from Renaissance and Baroque styles. The trapezoidal-shaped castle has a pillared inner courtyard and fairy tale features such as a fantastic painted staircase, a chapel and an impressive great hall that are sure to catch visitors’ eyes.

16. Kalec Castle

The ruins of Kalec Castle.
The ruins of Kalec Castle. Sl-Ziga, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The ruins of the once-proud Kalec Castle are intriguing to explore! The castle is situated in the town of Bač in Slovenia. The castle was built in the mid-17th century by the Steinberg noble family. Only the clocktower, some of the walls, and sections of an outbuilding remain to be seen at the site. 

The castle fell into disrepair when the current owners deserted the site after World War I. The site is enveloped by old linden trees and a section of the Krpan Hiking Trail passes by the majestic castle ruins, which are open to the public.

17. Kostel Castle

The worm's eye view of Kostel Castle.
The worm’s eye view of Kostel Castle. dominkod, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kostel Castle, known locally as Grad Kostel, was expanded into a castle between 1247 and 1325 from a fortress structure. The castle is positioned atop a steep hill above the Kolpa River, overlooking the village of Kostel, in south-eastern Slovenia.

The castle has had many owners during its existence. In the 1990s, it was handed over to the Municipality of Kostel, which reconstructed it to its former glory. The castle has been open to the public since 2018. Various events are held at the castle site for tourists.

18. Stanjel Castle

The entrance to Stanjel castle.
The entrance to Stanjel castle. Johann Jaritz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stanjel Castle was built in the 17th century on the foundations of a previous citadel. The castle is situated in the town of Stanjel in Slovenia. 

The marvelous castle offers guided tours and experiences to visitors; it can be reserved as a wedding venue or conference venue. The castle also houses an impressive gallery with a variety of interesting displays and exhibitions. Pascal’s work is featured as a permanent collection at the gallery. Stanjel Castle is open to the public.

19. Ajman Castle

The entrance to Ajman Castle.
The entrance to Ajman Castle. No machine-readable author provided. Žiga assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ajman Castle is a well-maintained manor house situated in Sveti Duh village. The castle falls under the Municipality of Skofja Loka in Slovenia. 

Today, an Ursuline Monastery occupies the castle. It was originally built in the 17th century, by the governor, as a residence. An altar-wall mural was commissioned between 1739 and 1746, the gorgeous work depicts St John Nepomuk and St. Francis Xavier at the side of the Virgin. 

Ajman Castle is built in the late-Renaissance style and is open to the public for touring.

20. Betnava Mansion

The entrance to Betnava mansion.
The entrance to Betnava mansion. Sl-Ziga, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Betnava Mansion is a magnificent, 18th century late-Baroque and Florentine styled construction. It is situated in the northern part of beautiful Slovenia, in Maribor city. 

Written about as early as 1319, it was further strengthened and built-up as a Renaissance mansion with a moat. It has a history including several owners, a chapel and cemetery was added at some point while the site was also used as a Protestant post temporarily. 

It was rebuilt in 1784 in the form it still retains today.

Conclusion

Slovenia is home to some of the world’s most stunning castles. Whether you want to visit the grand and stately home of a former monarch, a scenic lakeside manor that takes you back to a more peaceful time, or the estate of refuge monks this is the place to visit.

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Charmaine Waterston
Charmaine Waterston
After studying Law and Industrial Psychology, I went on to start my own ICT data recovery business. Some years later I qualified locally as a Financial Advisor and ran my own business with a portfolio of clients. Throughout my life, I traveled extensively to many interesting countries around the world. While enjoying my life’s adventures, I absorbed the rich history of various cultures and experienced the beauty of so many different places! Today, I am an author. I combine my career and travel experience with my thirst for knowledge about our captivating world and the remarkable people in it. My writing is an expression of my passion for personal growth and my love of communication. I am truly fulfilling my dream through my work!

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