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Celje, Slovenia ranks as the 3rd largest city in the country, yet it is often overlooked as a tourist destination. We, too, might have skipped it if we had not heard about the incredible Celje Castle, which happens to be the largest medieval castle in Slovenia. Once we were in the city, however, we learned that there is much more to see when you visit Celje than just the castle.
On a day trip from Ljubljana, we discovered a plethora of things to do in Celje – from exploring the Celje Old Castle to sightseeing the Celje City Center to feasting on regional Slovenian food.
In this blog post, we include all the Celje, Slovenia info you need to plan your trip – including how to get there, where to stay and what to see in Celje!
Save, Pin or Bookmark our Celje Travel Guide so that you can easily find it for your trip to Slovenia!
Celje Castle Slovenia
One of the most beautiful castles in Slovenia, the Celje Castle is a must see! The castle – which has a fascinating history – sits on a hilltop offering expansive views of the Savinja River and Old Town Celje.
Celje Castle History
The oldest part of the Celje Castle dates to the 1100s, when it was a simple structure consisting of just one small building, a courtyard and ramparts. But that was just the beginning.
The Castle and the Counts of Celje
When the castle changed ownership to the Counts of Celje in the 14th century, it was expanded to include residential quarters and a 75-foot-tall defense tower with walls that are 10-feet thick.
Fun Fact: The tower is nicknamed Frederick’s Tower because Count of Celje Frederick II was imprisoned inside it after defying his father. He was only freed when it was time for him to become successor.
The importance of the Celje Castle increased in the 15th century when two Counts of Celje were elevated to the rank of Princes of the Holy Roman Empire. However, it was short-lived; the male blood line of the Counts of Celje ended in the year 1456 and all of the estates of the Counts of Celje – including the castle – were transferred to the Habsburgs.
Celje Castle Expansion Under the Habsburgs
Defensive expansion of Celje Castle continued under the Habsburgs, with additions of an outer wall, military facilities and trenches. In the 16th century, new ramparts were built, and the Celje Castle was redesigned as a fortress and place of refuge for the citizens in times of war. However, by the 18th century, the castle was left uninhabited and parts of it were used as building materials for new structures in the region.
Visiting Celje Castle
Today, the Celje Castle has been renovated and the castle and grounds are open to be explored by visitors. Frederick’s Tower can be climbed for 360˚ views of the surrounding land. The Tower above Pelikan’s Trail, built in the 16th century, is also open to guests and has interesting displays. The oldest part of the castle hosts a medieval playground (of sorts) and fantastic views down to the city of Celje.
Additionally, there are guided tours, a cafe providing refreshments and events at the castle throughout the summer.
City Center Celje, Slovenia
While it was the Old Castle in Celje that prompted us to visit the city of Celje, we were compelled to venture into the city center of Celje during our day trip – and were not disappointed!
Quick History of Celje
The area of Celje has been inhabited since 300 B.C.; first by the Celts, then by the Romans. It was during the Middle Ages and the reign of the Counts of Celje, however, that Celje was developed as an economic center. In 1846, the railway was constructed, connecting Celje to Vienna and Trieste – and, thus, the rest of Europe. As it is today, the city of Celje is a combination of preserved past and an urbanized center.
Celje: What To See
Although our time in Celje was short, looping through the city and along the Savinja River, we were able to see many of Celje highlights.
Relatively new, the Celje Hall dates to the early 1900s and was built by Celje’s German inhabitants in the Neo-Gothic style. Celje Hall now houses the local Tourist Information Center; stop in for a free, detailed city brochure!
St. Daniel’s Church – or the Celje Cathedral – was built as a single-nave church – but has been renovated and expanded throughout the centuries. The interior houses historic artwork.
The Old Counts’ Mansion
Built between 1580 and 1603 as part of the city walls, the Old Counts’ Mansion is a beautiful Renaissance structure. Inside, visitors will find the famed ‘Celje Ceiling.’ The mansion houses the Provincial Museum of Celje and the lapidary is part of the Regional Celje Museum.
Celje Central Library
While not a historic attraction, the Celje Central Library is modern and bright. Built in 2010, it is the 3rd largest library in Slovenia and offers more than 370,000 library materials.
There are numerous restaurants in Celje, Slovenia – but two that we can personally recommend!
If you are looking for a place to dine near Celje Castle, look no further than Gostilna Kmetec. The restaurant serves delicious traditional fare – and the views of the castle are stunning (so make sure to ask for a seat on the patio or by a window).
Gostilna in Pivnica Stari Pisker
Stari Pisker is known for its incredibly delectable grilled meat. Although we have not dined at the Stari Pisker restaurant, we got a taste of the scrumptious beefy burgers from Stari Pisker during a food festival in Ljubljana – and we highly recommend the Holester Burger!
More Things To Do In Celje, Slovenia
We covered as much ground as we could with our one day in Celje, but visitors with a longer stay might want to check out some more fun things to do in Celje.
The NK Celje football club (soccer) is part of the Slovenian PrvaLiga. The Celje FC team won the league title in the 2019/2020 season.
Celje Night Clubs and Nightlife
There are a handful of bars and clubs in Celje, Slovenia that will entertain guests staying overnight in the city. Several bars are found within walking distance in the Celje center.
Use this link to Google Maps for an online version of our map of Celje, Slovenia.
More Slovenia Sightseeing
The small size of Slovenia makes it easy to see a lot of the country in a short amount of time. We outline some of our favorite sightseeing adventures in our Ljubljana Day Trips blog post, but we have a few suggestions below, too.
Celje-Maribor Combination Trip
When visiting Celje, consider extending the trip to include Maribor – one of our favorite Slovenian towns! Known for its wine production and abundant nature, Maribor is a fabulous place to visit. You can even further extend the trip to include Ptuj, Slovenia’s oldest town. Because all three cities are in the same region, you can easily create a Celje-Ptuj-Maribor day trip!
More Castles in Slovenia
Ninety-six. That is the number of Slovenia castles listed on the official tourist website. While visitors would be hard pressed to see them all, in addition to seeing Celje Castle, we highly recommend visiting these, too: Bled Castle, Ljubljana Castle, Skofja Loka Castle and Predjama Castle.
How To Get To Celje, Slovenia
The Ljubljana-Celje distance is about 80km (50 miles) and the drive takes about 1 hour. Both buses and trains make the trip between Ljubljana and Celje. However, there is no direct bus to the Celje Castle (but you can pick up a city bus to the castle from the station). Note: The train can be cheaper and faster than the Celje-Ljubljana bus, but check at the station for the best times and prices.
Where To Stay In Celje, Slovenia
Hotel Celja, Slovenia
If you want to stay in a Celje hotel in the center of the city, check rates and availability at Hotel Evropa Celja; it is located right in the heart of the city and gets rave reviews from fellow travelers. Check rates!
The MCC Celje Hostel is a good option for travelers looking for budget accommodations in the city center. The hostel offers free bikes and WiFi, too! Check rates!
Celje Holiday Apartments
Visitors who want their own space and a kitchen can book a holiday apartment. The Fazarinc Apartments get great reviews for location and affordability! Check availability!
Start your search for the best Celje, Slovenia hotels on Booking.com!
What You Will Need For Your Trip To Celje, Slovenia
On your trip to Celje, make sure you wear (or pack) comfortable walking shoes for exploring the Old Celje Castle grounds and the City Center of Celje. I wear these shoes – but you can read more about our Top Picks for Travel Shoes.
Celje was surprisingly photogenic! Make sure you capture the sights with a quality camera. For our travels, we use a Canon Rebel with an everyday 18-135mm lens, which takes phenomenal photos. Find more of our advice in our blog post, The Best Travel Cameras.
Weather Appropriate Gear
The weather in Celje is seasonal – and you will want to be prepared! In the summertime, bring sunscreen and a wide-brimmed travel hat. In the spring and autumn, carry an umbrella and lightweight raincoat. In the wintertime, don’t forget your hat and gloves!
Of course, it’s a smart idea to bring a day pack to carry everything in – like the everyday travel items we always have on hand! There are several types of day packs, which we outline in our Best Day Packs for Travel blog post.
We want to know: Have you visited Celje Castle and the Celje City Center? What were the highlights? What other castles have you visited in Slovenia? Tell us in the comments!
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