Kamnik is a small town at the foothills of the mighty Kamnik-Savinja Alps and is considered to be one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Slovenia. And rightfully so! This picturesque and vibrant place has so much to offer. Whether you’re looking for a stroll through the streets with centuries of history or a natural oasis with luscious green forests, Kamnik has it all in abundance. Below are my top 6 suggestions what one absolutely has to see when visiting Kamnik.
Šutna and Mali grad
Šutna, the most captivating street in Kamnik, is a sight you will probably visit first. This is where the centuries old origins of this town are most visible. As you walk along the cobbled street the distinctive medieval houses with picturesque signs and other handicraft symbols mix with the 21st century and create an authentic atmosphere unlike any other. The eye-catching Gothic spire of the parish church of Mary Immaculate presides above the street and gives it its crowning glory.
It is matched by the Mali grad castle at the end of the Šutna street marked by the Samec pass. This pass once was a natural slope with a Middle Ages city wall running across it. It was lowered to the levels of the Šutna street at the end of the 19th century.
Mali grad, consisting of a chapel and a defense tower, is rising above the Samec pass and offers gorgeous views of Kamnik with the Kamnik-Savinja Alps as a stunning natural backdrop.
Stari grad and Špica hills
Rising high above Kamnik is another castle, the Old Castle. You can either hike or drive up to the remnants of the castle. The hike to the 585-metre high Stari grad hill will take about half an hour of your time. You will be rewarded with a stunning view of Kamnik and the surroundings. On a clear day you can see all the way to Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia. The Stari grad castle is one of the oldest castles in the region and dates back to the beginnings of the 13th century. It was heavily damaged during a devastating earthquake in 1511 and was later further affected by fire, caused by lightning.
If you’re thirsty or hungry when you reach the top you will not have to wait till you get down. The Grajska terasa bar and restaurant is a place with the best view in town and offers some delicious bites and drinks that will be, I’m sure, very welcome after such a hike. And if you’re feeling like the hike wasn’t enough for you, you can extend it to Špica. It will take another 10 to 15 minutes to get there and enjoy an even better view. Needles to say, this is my by far favorite spot in town. Well, right after my duplex down there.
The spring of the Kamniška Bistrica river
The glacial valley of Kamniška Bistrica is a stunning natural gem. The peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps are dominating the skies above it and create a true Alpine experience. Located just outside Kamnik it is easy to reach. It boasts with many natural attractions, starting with the most popular amongst them: the spring of the Kamniška Bistrica river. From there the river slowly but surely carves its way out of the valley and into the world. The intensity of blue and green tones of the water here is something you should not skip at any cost.
Close to the spring there’s another sight worth visiting: a hunting lodge of King Alexander, designed by architecture master Jože Plečnik in 1933.
The Predaselj gorge
The Predaselj gorge is where the Kamniška Bistrica river cuts deeply into the surrounding rock. Located just a short distance from the spring it is an easy descent right to the bottom of this 30-metre deep gorge. When you reach the river a stunning view opens up. Crystal clear blue waters of this Alpine river emerging from the darkness of the steep and narrow stone walls are a sight that will not leave you cold. The water, however, will.
The Orglice waterfall
Not leaving the Valley of Kamniška Bistrica just yet! While we’re here it would be a sin to skip the Orglice waterfall. To reach it, you have to enter the side valley of the Kamniška Bela torrent. It takes about 50 minutes of a very easy hike. The last leg just below the waterfall is slightly more steep and calls for some caution. The name Orglice or Orličje was derived from the name of the birds – the eagles (“orli” in Slovenian language) – that nest nearby. Others say it translates as harmonica because during the winter months the frozen waterfall looks like an organ and during the summer months the water makes an organ-like sounds.
The Velika planina plateau
Velika planina is a high mountain plateau that can be reached by many routes. The quickest and easiest is by a cable car from the Valley of Kamniška Bistrica. It is one of Europe’s best preserved high mountain herdsmen’s villages. This scenic high mountain plateau will stun you with its landscape, vast pastures, karst phenomena, cute little wooden huts and culinary offerings.
Velika planina looks captivatingly beautiful in all seasons but of course gets most visitors during the summer months. For me my most memorable visit was on a Christmas Eve when I attended the Midnight Mass at the Our Mary of the Snows chapel. Can you imagine an Alpine Christmas service? The snow and the stars are all around you and people carrying torches are illuminating the surroundings. Stunning is a word that doesn’t even begin to do justice to such a breathtaking experience.
To sum it up…
So, that would be my top 6 suggestions what to visit during your stay in Kamnik. The town has a lot more to offer, of course, but that would take a book not a blog post. If you’re visiting during the summer months, make sure you attend the Cool Friday culinary events held every – yes – Friday in the Europe park. Those events are packed with great food and vibrant live music. And every August Kamnik hosts the Kamfest Summer Festival that lasts about a week and brings many cultural, culinary, musical and entertainment events throught the town. Not to forget the Days of National Costumes and Clothing Heritage festival held every September. It is the biggest ethnological festival in Slovenia and is a sort of a window to the past, offering valuable insights into the days gone by.