Nature, wines, and welcoming locals: find out what to do in Bela Krajina, the undiscovered region in the heart of Slovenia.
Us Italians think about Slovenia as a little gem nestled in the middle of Europe. Slovenia is synonym with the smallest capital city in Europe, many rivers with at least three different names (in Slovenian, German, Italian, sometimes even Hungarian!), alpine meadows and nature, but also beautiful castles and historical sites.
When we landed at Big Berry Lifestyle Camp, we did not expect much more than this, and we had never heard of the region before. But in just a few days the Bela Krajina region proved to be the hidden precious heart of the gem. You could easily add this region to Lake Bled and transform it into an epic road trip.
What to do in Bela Krajina, are you wondering? Here you have the 6 spots you shouldn’t miss.
1) Discover local wine at Malnarič winery
We spent a precious afternoon at Malnarič winery. When Samoel Malnarič opened the door of his winery, we felt like he was welcoming us to his home. And not only because his house is actually in front of the winery, but because he is clearly spending 90% of his time in there.
While tasting the local Belokranjec wine, Samoel told us how he built the entrance by using old bricks recovered from the old ruined houses of the neighborhood. After that, we moved down to the cellar, and we sipped sweet wines with high alcohol content. Samoel told us all about his activity with a special light in his eyes.
There is a word for this: passion. And that is probably what makes each of his wines so tasty. Trust me, he made us taste almost all of them!
2) Feel good with oil at Oljarna Pekarič
How many tastes can oil have? Stefania and I could count barely four or five. But that was before we met Martin Pekarič at Oljarna Pekarič, only 15 minutes by car from Big Berry Camp. There we had the chance to try more than 20 different oil tastes, from hazelnut to linen, from sesame to hemp and even grape.
Martin told us how he started in the 1990 by going up and down from Germany to find out how to build the right clockwork for the oil he wanted. Why Germany, and not Italy or Greece for example? – we asked. Because the Germans built the world – he answered.
Regulating blood pressure, soothing headaches, purifying the liver…each of the oil we tried has its own little “miracle”. We doubted, we smelled, we tasted, we tried. We tried again, and we finally bought the linseed oil. It is supposed to help with heart diseases, hemorrhoids and healthy nails and hair. We’ll let you know!
READ ALSO: A Long Weekend in Slovenia at Big Berry Camp
3) Hike on the tracks of a famous local writer
I will not lie. I had no idea of who Oton Župančič was and – despite my attempts to learn something on the way – I still don’t. But it was a pleasure to walk on his tracks from Dragatuš (where he was born) to Vinice (where he spent his childhood).
During the 13 kilometers walk, we had the chance to slowly absorb the beauty and the small details that make Bela Krajina so special. Meadows, woods, typical old houses, hidden churches. A special mention goes to the guide, with whom we ended the path in a tavern on the Kolpa river, chatting and drinking a pint of Slovenian beer.
4) Feel speechless in front of Krupa River’s spring
The Krupa river’s spring is one of those places that are so unique and breathtakingly beautiful that it’s difficult to describe. Listen to me, just go and enjoy the views and the sounds of nature. The misty landscape and the chilly air are the perfect background for some relax…and a thousand Instagram pictures, of course!
5) Say “hello” to cows
There are 180 cows and one bull (lucky one!) at the Štrucelj farm . We stopped by the farm on our way back to the camp after a day of sightseeing. It was a good chance to say thanks to the cows for the delicious milk and yogurt we had every morning at Big Berry. Stefania especially loved interacting with the cows 😀
6) Learn about traditions while sipping rakia at Domača obrt Cvitkovič
Why Krajina is white? Because the traditional folk dresses of the inhabitants were white! This is what Mrs Cvitkovič told us while visiting Domača obrt Cvitkovič. If there is one thing you should do in Bela Krajina, is learning more about the traditions and culture of the region. Mrs Cvitkovič will show you how traditional linen clothing was made in the past. Just a hint: it takes hard work! Moreover, she will show you how to make the traditional easter eggs, the “Pisanice”.
Mrs Cvitkovič showed us how welcoming and proud are the inhabitants of Bela Krajina. She later took us to her restaurant on the Kolpa river, where she offered us good coffee, cookies and bit of strong local rakia, which never lacks in Bela Krajina.
I forgot one last and very important information: it was raining almost the whole time we were in Bela Krajina. I won’t lie, it was a bit of a bummer, but the Big Berry team is used to the crazy summer weather and made sure we never felt stuck by the rain . And you know what? When it’s nighttime, you and your partner are in your private jacuzzi. When you are remembering the amazing places you have been visiting during the day, and you are listening to the water falling down and sliding away on the Kolpa river, rain sounds like a good company.
Of course there is so much more in Slovenia than Bela Krajina. I still haven’t had a chance to explore Ljubljana and Lake Bled, but check out this itinerary for one week in Slovenia for tips and travel inspiration.