A Short Guide to Bela Krajina, Slovenia

Known as White Carniola, Slovenia’s region of Bela Krajina is the kind of place you have probably never heard of. However, it is a place which you are bound to fall in love as soon as you see it.

Located at 90 km south-east of Slovenia capital Ljubljana, Bela Krajina is the most rural and underdeveloped region of Slovenia.

The main cities are:

  • Črnomelj, that has around 14000 inhabitants
  • Metlika, whose population is of about 8000 people
  • Semič, where around 4000 people live
  • Primostek is one of the smallest villages, but also one of the most charming.

Off-the-beaten-path compared to other more popular destinations in Slovenia such as Ljubljana and Lake Bled, Bela Krajina is slowly but steadily becoming more popular among international travelers, thanks to its beauty and to having retained all of its character.

This is the kind of place where life goes by slowly, where people still enjoy spending time with family, where they prefer buying local produce.

More than anything else, in a world where life has become more and more frenetic, people in Bela Krajina seem to appreciate life to the fullest.

If you are considering visiting this beautiful region and are looking for information about it, you have come to the right place. Continue reading this post to discover the best things to see and do in Bela Krajina, and how to plan your visit.

What To See And Do In Bela Krajina

Visit Metlika Bela krajina Museum

The best place to learn about the history of the region is a museum located in a castle in Metlika, the biggest city. Bela Krajina Museum has a permanent exhibit of artifacts of the region up until the 20th century. That’s how you’ll discover that this was already inhabited in prehistoric times and had an important role in the defense of the region against the Turkish invasions of the 15th and 16th centuries.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sundays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Admission is €4.

Visit Tri Fare

Not far from Metlika, in a village called Rosalnice, there’s a complex known as Tri Fare, which for 7 centuries was the object of pilgrimage. Surrounded by a wall, there is a cemetery and three gothic churches built one next to the other. The reason why 3 different churches were built in such a small place are still unknown.

Tri Fare, Slovenia
Tri Fare, Slovenia – Picture courtesy of Heather from Conversant Traveller

Taste the local wines

Part of the history and culture of Bela Krajina has to do with wine. The region is covered in vineyards, especially on the hills that surround Metlika and Semič. Sukjie is one of the nicest wineries in the area, where the owners will welcome you with plenty of good samples while recollecting the family history.

If you happen to visit the region right during harvest time, you may be able to join in the celebration in one of the many wineries.

Vinyard in Bela Krajina
Vinyard in Bela Krajina

And beers

Bela Krajina is also quickly developing its own tradition in beer crafting. Vizir is one of the oldest breweries in the region, and its craft beers are quickly overtaking the market as a good alternative to Lasko, the most common beer in Slovenia. It mostly produces ales – make sure to try the SuperStar!

Try Pogača

The cultural traditions of Bela Krajina are also reflected in the traditional bread, the Belokranjska Pogača, a focaccia kind of bread that is prepared with cumin seeds and which is present at pretty much every meal – even at breakfast. Try it plain or stuffed with whatever you can think of: it’s delicious!

Traditional Pogača Bread from Bela Krajina
Traditional Pogača Bread from Bela Krajina

Try honey at Čebelarstvo Veselič

If you are a fan of honey, head straight to Čebelarstvo Veselič, a local small honey factory where you can learn about the process of honey-making – from seeing the bees at work, to learning about the role of the Queen bee, all the way to the final product. You can even taste medica, a lovely honey liquor.

Oil tasting at Oljarna Pečarič

Bela Krajina doesn’t produce olive oil – the climate is not right for that. Yet, any other kind of oil is avaialble. Oljarna Pečarič, in Metlika, makes the best walnut oil. Other kinds you can try and buy are hazelnut oil, wild rose, sunflower, linseed and even cannabis. Most oils are suitable for cooking. Others are to be used only for cosmetic purposes.

Oil Tasting Bela Krajina
Oil Tasting Bela Krajina

Kayak along Kolpa River

The Kolpa river marks the border with Croatia for 113 km and contributes to making Bela Krajina incredibly lush. Its clean waters are among the warmest of Slovenia, and can get up to 30 degrees in the summer – not bad at all for a river. And rafting, canoeing or kayaking along the river is a pleasant (if only a bit hard, if you are as lousy as I am) experience.

Kayaking in Bela Krajina
Kayaking in Bela Krajina

Visit Kolpa Natural Park

The Kolpa river also names the Kolpa Natural Park, a beautiful park where you can spot various species of birds, turtles and otter. Dears and foxes roam free in the region – and actually pop out from nowhere in the middle of the night.

At Kolpa Natural Park you will find plenty of hiking and biking trails, for all levels of difficulty and of various duration. One of the easiest is the Divji Potok, which is short and well marked and ends at some beautiful waterfalls.

Get mesmerized by the Krupa River

Bela krajina is packed with hidden gems. One of them is the Krupa River, a beautiful source of water that actually looks like the set of a fantasy novel. It’s the kind of place where you can go meditate, for the only sound to be heard is that of the leaves softly swept by the wind. A watermill at the back gives the place an even more intriguing aura.

Krupa River, Slovenia
Krupa River, Slovenia – Picture courtesy of Heather from Conversant Traveller

Visit the Mithraeum of Rozanec

Another hidden gem in Bela krajina is the Mithraeum of Rozanec, near Črnomelj, one of the most interesting archeological sites in Slovenia (and shockingly free to access). The beautiful Mithraeum of Rozanec can be accessed via a lovely path through a chestnut forest and a narrow path between large rocks.

GOOD TO KNOW: Mithraism was based on the cyclical alternation of life and death, and on the conflict between good and evil and the power of redemptive sacrifice. Its origins were found in Persia, from where it spread to the Roman empire adopting elements from other religions.

Enjoy the countryside

Not far from the Krupa River, the road follows along the countryside. Turn after turn, Bela Krajina proves to be one of the most photogenic places you will ever see. Feel free to stop along the road (there hardly is any traffic, anyways) for photos!

Bela Krajina
Bela Krajina

Take a peek at Krupa Castle

One of the most charming sights are the remains of the Krupa castle, in Stranska vas. This fortress dates back to the 13th century. The site was originally Croatian, and fell under the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. Back then it was used as a stronghold to spread power to the west.

GOOD TO KNOW: Another cool castle is that of Gradac, which dates back to the 13th century and was abandoned years ago. You can’t go inside, but you can peek in through the windows.

Go on a day trip to Zagreb

If you are staying in Primostek, it takes you around one hour and 20 minutes to drive to Zagreb, the beautiful capital of Croatia. You can’t possibly explore it all in a day – there is too much to see and do. Make sure to visit the beautiful upper town, the Cathedral and the Museum of Broken Relationships.

St Mark's Church, Zagreb, Croatia
St Mark’s Church, Zagreb, Croatia

Practical Information To Plan Your Trip To Bela Krajina

How to get to Bela krajina

Metlika, the main city in Bela Krajina is located at about 100 km from the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. You can get there by public bus (it takes little over two hours). However, this region calls for a road trip so I recommend renting a car to make the most of it.

Where to stay

Big Berry Luxury Glamping is one of the best places to stay in Bela Krajina. It offers small but comfortable bungalows, each with two bedrooms, one bathroom and a fully equipped kitchen and dining area. There even is a hot tub right outside, perfect to enjoy some relaxing time. The resort is beautifully located on the banks of the Kolpa River and fully immersed in nature. However, it is still close to all the main attractions in the region. You can book it here.

Final Thoughts On Visiting Bela Krajina

Bela Krajina feels like a chest full of treasures that have been hidden for too long. A perfect combination of welcoming, smiling people, beautiful nature and intriguing history. Chances are that after one week in Bela Krajina, you will want to visit again!

Dunhuang, Gobi Desert, China

About the author:

Steve Rohan is a writer from Essex, England. He has traveled to over 60 countries, lived in Armenia, China and Hong Kong, and is now living the digital nomad life on the road.

Steve prefers “slow travel” and has covered much of the world by train, bus and boat. He has been interviewed multiple times by the BBC and recently featured in the documentary Scariest Places in the World. See the About page for more info.

Where I am now: Yerevan, Armenia 🇦🇲

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