There are many castles and lakes to choose from all across Europe and in Slovenia. So why should you go out of your way to see Snežnik Castle and Lake Cerknica? Because you can not find this duo anywhere else and is a great way to explore the karst landscape in Notranjska. This day trip itinerary is easily reached from Ljubljana and also perfect for those heading into Croatia.
With a nice Saturday off, Jaka and I headed on a day trip. He wanted to try his new drone, I wanted to see a castle, so it was a win for both! It is also really nice to have a partner who supports my camera habit. When we go somewhere I can easily bring a bag full of cameras and he won’t say a word, just asks to carry it for me. Now that he also has a fun camera it is a different experience sharing it with someone and collaborating with our work. You can see the results below in my YouTube video.
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About Snežnik Castle
Snežnik Castle (Grad Snežnik) is from the 13th century and located south of Ljubljana, just about an hour and a half drive. It is often referred to as a fairy tale castle because it really does look like one!
Snežnik Castle was purchased at an auction in 1853 for 800,000 florins by a German prince. One of his sons, Prince Jurji, inherited it in 1859 and began remodeling it and introducing animals to the nearby woods, had paths built, and hired experts to maintain the grounds.
The estate was later divided between kingdoms after World War I. During WW2, a castle caretaker guarded the property against looters, and because of this, much of the inside is still intact.
Unfortunately, we did not go inside because we didn’t realize the tours are only at the top of the hour and we missed it by 5 minutes. Jaka had something else up his sleeve (watch the video to find out!) so we had to leave before the next tour. Don’t worry I will be back to visit and share the inside. It is one of the few castles in Slovenia to have original furnishings so I am looking forward to seeing it.
After we left the castle we drove to go find some food. On the way there we noticed this unique church so we pulled over to take a few photos. It is the Church of Saint Vitus in a small town called Martinjak. This church is part of a path of various churches around this region called Prelatova pot (Prelate Path) celebrating various bishops and important figures. Their site has more information but it is only available in Slovene.
During our continued search for food, we realized we were very close to Lake Cerknica (Cerkniško jezero). This is an intermittent lake, meaning it is not always visible. It depends on the season and the amount of rain received in the year. This is due to the karst landscape, similar to in Kras. When it is full, it is the largest lake in Slovenia.
A fun fact is that there are fish in the lake. They appear and disappear with the water, hiding in the caverns below.
Visiting Snežnik Castle and Lake Cerknica
Unfortunately, as far as I am aware or can research, you can only reach these sights via car.
Snežnik Castle is open all year round. They are closed on Mondays and of course over the Christmas and New Years Holidays. They are open 10:00-19:00 with a tour at the top of the hour, every hour. The last tour begins at 18:00. For detailed information check out this website. I have seen photos of Snežnik Castle in summer, with colorful leaves, and covered in snow and each one is beautiful and magical!
It is best to visit Lake Cerknica during the spring or fall, although it can be unpredictable and dependent on rainfall throughout the year. During the summer months, the lake is often drained and more of a marshy green wetland perfect for bird watching. Visiting the Notranjska Regional Park website can share more information about wildlife and visiting this area.
Other activities in Notranjska
Postojna Cave (Postojnska jama) – World famous Postojna Caves are just a 45-minute drive away from Snežnik Castle.
Predjama Castle (Predjamski grad) – Just a quick 10 minutes from Postojna Cave is Predjama Castle, the world’s largest cave castle! Don’t skip the audio tour as it adds a lot of context to the castle. Book a trip from Ljubljana to both Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle here.
Cross Cave (Križna jama) – For the cave enthusiasts is Cross Cave, the world-renowned water karst cave. Here you can take boat tours through the cave lakes. There are two additional tours that take much longer and go much deeper but they are strictly reserved for a limited number of people per day so you must make reservations.
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And that was our adventure. If you ask me, it is the perfect day; castle exploring, road trip, random pit stops, trying a new restaurant, and getting a big surprise at the end. Watch my video to find out what it was.