Skofja Loka, Slovenia is one of the most charming and underrated towns in the region. Even if it is one of the easiest day trips from Ljubljana, still not so many people decide to visit Skofja Loka during their trip to Slovenia.
And that’s a big mistake as it’s so easy to fall in love with this place! I’ve been there twice and enjoyed it so much I wouldn’t mind returning there for yet another relaxing afternoon in the lovely surrounding.
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Why visit Skofla Loka
Skofja Loka was first mentioned in 973 and still today it is considered one of the best preserved medieval towns in Slovenia. It flourished especially in the 13th century when the town got rights to organize the market and shortly after it gained the city rights.
Sadly the town was badly destroyed in the earthquake in the early 16th century but after the place got rebuilt its look didn’t change much until today.
Skofja Loka is like a definition of slow travel perfection. The town’s vibe encourages you to take things easy, wander aimlessly around, sit down in one of the cafes to watch the world go by, and simply enjoy the place. It is also a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Ljubljana or other popular destinations in Slovenia.
How to get to Skofja Loka
You can easily get to Skofja Loka by bus from Ljubljana or Kranj. From the capital, there are frequent connections between the cities (roughly every half an hour) and the journey doesn’t take long due to the close proximity of these two places.
You can take the bus from Ljubljana main bus station at the edge of the center. Here you will find the schedule of buses to Skofja Loka.
How much time for visiting Skofja Loka
You can see all the Skofja Loka attractions in one hour really. But the town is so charming that you can easily spend here much more time, even the whole day, and still don’t get bored.
If you plan a visit to Skofja Loka as one of day trips from Ljubljana, you can combine it with visiting nearby Kranj (12 km away) which is another underrated and overlooked yet interesting place to visit in Slovenia.
What to see in Skofja Loka
Once you arrive at Skofja Loka you only need to cross the pedestrian bridge over the Selska Sora river and you are already in the Old Town, on the Cankarjev Trg with the 15th century St. Jacob church towering over the place.
But before you enter the Old Town it’s worth stopping for a second to admire the view around you, especially towards the Capuchin Bridge. It is, in fact, the oldest bridge in Slovenia (around 600 years old) that remained intact up to this day and you should visit it too during your trip to Skofja Loka.
On the Capuchin Bridge, besides another beautiful vista of the riverfront, you will also find the statue of Jan Nepomuceno which is one of the oldest of this kind in Europe.
The Capuchin Bridge got its name from the nearby Capuchin Monastery and the library with around 30.000 books (including Capuchin Friar Romuald’s manuscript of the Škofja Loka Passion Play written in 1721 that today is part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list).
The Old Town is a maze of narrow winding lanes that are inviting to wander around (this is in fact one of the best things to do in Skofja Loka). The best way to get to know the place is to simply follow your intuition and get lost in them. This way you will get the feel of Skofja Loka and will easily imagine the long past of the town.
The central part of Skofja Loka is Mestni Trg, the Main Square. It stretches across the whole Old Town and this is where you will find the most impressive and beautiful townhouses in the area, often painted in colorful shades. Many of them also still feature 17th-century frescoes on their walls.
The most beautiful one is probably the medieval Homan’s House, located on the edge of Mestni Targ – on its facade you can see the old painting of soldiers and St. Christopher. In this building you will also find Kavarna Homan – probably the best place in Skofja Loka to sit down for a cup of coffee, people-watching, and enjoy the vibe of the town.
Many of the houses on Mestni Trg are named after their previous owners. In the middle of the square, you will also find the 18th-century Baroque Plague Pillar, with statues of Mary, Saint Anthony, and Saint Roch. It was put here as gratitude for saving the town from the plague.
Near it, there is the 19th-century stone fountain that’s supposed to still work today. At the end of Mestni Trg and the edge of the Old Town you will find the remnants of the medieval city walls – only a small part remained until today but it still looks very impressive.
The highlight of Skofja Loka is its castle, towering on the hill above the town. Loka Castle originally dates back to 1202 and served as the residence of the Freising Bishops. Like many buildings in the town, it was largely destroyed by the 1511 earthquake and what you see today is the rebuilt version.
The Loka Castle is home to the regional museum where you can learn more about the history and whereabouts of Skofja Loka. Even if you don’t plan to visit the museum, it’s worth walking up to the castle to wander around its premises (it’s free of charge), but also to admire the beautiful panorama of the town and its surroundings (including the Alps).
Where to go next
Slovenia is a small country that really has a lot to offer. What makes it a wonderful travel destination is the variety of attractions and things to do in Slovenia. Other places that you definitely should visit during your trip to Slovenia include Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, Kranjska Gora, Velika Planina, Skocjan Caves, Postojna Cave, Slovenian coast, or Maribor. And, of course, Ljubljana. And these are only absolute highlights of Slovenia!
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