A region in Slovenia you’ve probably never heard about, Bela Krajina, stole my heart. Here is what to do in Bela Krajina.
Slovenia is well known for its beautiful lakes, sprawling landscapes, beautiful people, and Ljubljana’s quirky capital. But, a region you’ve probably never heard about, Bela Krajina, stole my heart.
Bela Krajina is located in the far South-East of Slovenia. It is nestled against the Kolpa River, which forms the natural border with Croatia, one of the cleanest and surprisingly warmest rivers in Slovenia. As the rest of the country is becoming more widely explored by tourists and travelers, Bela Krajina Slovenia lies unassumingly peaceful and charming.
Renowned for the color white in its unique forests made of white birch and traditional white costumes, Bela Krajina stuns its visitors with its beauty.
This region has a rich history in wine. Drive around the area, and you’ll be greeted with sprawling, beautiful vineyard after sprawling beautiful vineyard. The best-known varietals from this region are the red Metliška Črnina and the white Belokranjsko Belo. Both are served with every meal and often mixed with sparkling water. It’s an interesting quirk of the region to be handed a bottle of sparkling water when ordering a glass of vino!
If you get the opportunity to visit during harvest time, do not pass it up. Not only is the harvest a celebration in itself, but Slovenians really make it extra special! If you can, seek out a community vineyard. Often, in a town, there will be a vineyard set up as a “community grape bank” of sorts that everyone in the area contributes to, so if one vineyard has a tough season, they can pull from these extra grapes, so they don’t lose an entire harvest!
The wine flows, there are actual accordion players usually in the vines, and afterward, plenty more wine, music, dancing, and tons of food! The people of the region are known for their friendliness, and you’ll be accepted with open arms!
Bela Krajina’s largest towns are Črnomelj, Metlika, and Semič. Metlika and Semič are where you can find the majority of the vineyards and stunning fields and landscapes. I urge you to take a drive up a large hill to take in the views of the surrounding area. There are small parks nestled on some of these hills with watchtowers that are an absolute dream from which to look at the sunset.
Metlika is well worth visiting, mainly because it is home to the Bela Krajina Museum and the National Museum of Firefighting. The first volunteer firefighter brigade in Slovenia was formed in 1869!
The Bela Krajina Museum calls Metlika home because it is arguably the most important city in the region. There are actually strong indicators that the city was inhabited in prehistoric times and played a major role in defending the area against the Turks in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The fascinating part of the region is its people. Each shop owner, restaurant owner, and tradesperson has a unique story in how they wound up doing what they do.
Within Bela Krajina, you can visit many honey producers, a truly unique oil maker who makes edible oils from seeds, nuts, berries, and grains that you wouldn’t typically find, bakers, and so much more!
Craft beer is even starting to make its way into Slovenia primarily due to one truly successful brewer that paved the way for the hundreds of breweries popping up throughout the country. Vizir is the oldest craft brewery in the country and single-handedly opened the locals’ palates up to Pale Ales, Lagers, IPAs, and even Stouts. As you may have guessed, the owners came from winemakers, but they are more than happy brewing mostly beer nowadays.
Berryshka is another genuinely interesting vendor from the region. This liqueur distillery makes some of the most interesting drinks. Try the Black Currant flavor out of one of their own homemade edible chocolate shot glasses. Did I mention that they also produce handmade chocolate as well? Keep on the lookout in the next couple of years as they are supposedly in the works to start producing whiskeys!
Finally, the Slovenian food of Bela Krajina! Bread is a staple in this region, specifically Belokranjska Pogača, a type of focaccia-style bread with cumin seeds sprinkled on top. It’s served up alongside practically every meal, especially with breakfast!
One of arguably the best restaurants in the region is Gostišče Veselič. Owned by the vivacious Andrea, lunch is typically a choice between meat, fish, or vegetable main and a soup or salad full of cabbage to start. It’s often simple yet incredibly delicious. Don’t just come for the food, though; go for Andrea and her wild side!
If you are looking for a place to stay to explore the Bela Krajina region, look no further than Big Berry. The camp is nestled in Primostek along the Kolpa river.
The camp consists of individual modular-style homes with a beautiful backdrop. Resort goers can leave their expensive dresses behind and soak in the hot tubs that a local vendor produces, munch on the delicious breakfast treats served up in individual baskets and left on your doorstep each morning, or go on one of the limitless adventures the resort offers!
Each day we were greeted with a beautiful view, activities to choose from that included kayaking, hiking, visiting local vendors, sampling wines, and most importantly, eating! The camp is the perfect place to relax and experience the simpler side of life in the Bela Krajina.