Best things to do in Idrija | Ideas for trips around Slovenia
You are searching for ideas for trips around Slovenia? Idrija is a good choice, here are some of the best things to do in Idrija.
We think that Idrija should be on people’s radar more than it is. It is the oldest mining town in Slovenia and it has the second biggest mercury mine in the world. It is home to the famous Idrija lace, and it has the oldest and the most important lace center in Slovenia. And it is also home of zlikrofi, a traditional Slovenian dish, made out of dove and potato filling. Absolutely delicious. You can’t leave Idrija without trying this dish.
When you combine all of this with outstanding nature, a beautiful castle, wild lake, and a river that you can swim in, you get a winning combination. Idrija is a small town but if you want to explore the nature around or swim in Idrijska Bela you have to spend at least a night there. You have different accommodation options, from hostels to hotels and guesthouses.
How to get to Idrija
Idrija has very good connections from Ljubljana by bus. Unfortunately, this is the only public transport to reach Idrija. So, how you get to Idrija from Ljubljana:
There are frequent bus connections all day. You can check the schedule HERE. The ride will take about one hour and it will cost you 6,3 €. You need to get to the main bus station in Ljubljana, the bus mostly leaves from number 13.
What to do in Idrija:
Visit the castle Gewerkenegg and the Municipal museum
The castle Gewerkenegg, built in the 16th century was originally intended for the storage of mercury and grains, later it was the headquarters of administration of the city mine. Today, in the castle there is The City museum and music school. In the year 1997, the City museum was declared for the best technical and industrial heritage museum in Europe.
Entrance: adults – 7 €; children – 5 €.
Working hours: Tuesday – Friday: 09:00-15:00; Weekends: 10:00-17:00.
Read more about the castle HERE.
Visit Anthony mine shaft
You will get experience in how mining looked more than 500 years ago. Unesco World Heritage Site was built in 1490, which makes it the oldest mine in Slovenia. This mercury mine was one of the best-equiped mines in Europe and it was known all over the world.
First, you will watch a short movie about mining history in Idrija and then you will put on a helmet and a jacket and walk in the tunnels of the mine. After descending to a depth of around 100 meters, you will see some of the original equipment that miners used. There will also be real size puppets of miners, that your imagination can do its magic.
We absolutely loved it, it was very educational and interesting to see.
Entrance: adults – 13 €; children + seniors – 10 €.
Working hours: in the high season (April-September) you have tours every 2 hours, staring at 10:00 (the first one) – 16:00 (the last one). If you are visiting in other months, check the schedule HERE.
Walk to the Holy Trinity church
The discovery of mercury ore contributed a lot to the formation of Idrija. The legend says that in 1490, a local farmer, called Skafar discovered mercury in the Idrija area. While he was pouring water into a wooden barrel, he saw something shiny inside. When he tried to move the barrel he couldn’t because the barrel was so heavy.
Later on, they discovered that the shiny thing in the barrel was mercury. And the history of Idrija began to write. On the same spot, a church of Holy Trinity was built in the year 1500.
Enjoy the town square and learn more about the Idrija lace
The town square was renovated in the year 2005 and it stands on the site of a church that was demolished in the World War II, you can see its outlines marked on the floor. Especially in the summer months, the square becomes alive with all the children playing and adults chilling on the benches. A perfect place to relax and enjoy the view of the city castle.
Idrija lace is a special kind of lace, which has been made in Idrija for centuries, and it is an important part of rich Slovenian culture. Learn more about it in one of the galleries in the town square. You can also buy a souvenir and take it back home.
Take a walk to Idrija Kamst water pump
For me personally, the Idrija Kamst water pump was nothing special but surrounding are beautiful. You have a big playground for children just next to it and many options to take a walk in nature.
Water had a big role in the mining history of this town, in a good and a bad way, it was the source and the obstacle at once. This water pump pumped water from flooded worksites, the interesting thing about this is, that the pump was powered by water.
Visit Wild lake (Divje jezero)
Just a couple of kilometers from Idrija you will find a natural phenomenon – a karst cave, a karst spring, and a lake at once. It is so special, that its attracting historians for almost 250 years. This place is a natural monument since 1967, and 5 years after it became the first Slovenian museum in nature.
Considered to be the deepest lake in Slovenia, as some brave divers descend to a depth of 160 meters. Some of them never returned and the final depth of this lake is still unknown.
The river Jezernica, which has the source in Divje jezero and flows into the river Idrijca is the shortest river in Slovenia, only 55 meters long.
Cycle to Idrijska Bela and swim there
Of course, you can also drive but if you go by bicycle you will really enjoy the nature around. It is an easy path, suitable for beginners with trees on the way and beautiful river flowing by.
On the confluence of the rivers Idrijca and Belca, you have a lot of activities that you can try – swimming, volleyball, table tennis, basketball and you also have a lot of picnic areas. If you love picnics in nature, this is the place for it! You also have a bar where you can have a drink or ice cream and enjoy the beautiful nature around you.
If you go by car just be careful that you pay for the parking, there is a big chance that you will get a fine if you don’t.
Where to eat in Idrija
We were visiting Idrija during the week and after exploring the whole day we figured out, that it is time for dinner. Some of us wanted zlikrofi and the others wanted pizza. We soon figured out, that eating in Idrija can be a tricky part, especially if you want to eat after 8 pm. In the end, we found an open place but we didn’t expect that it will be hard to find an open place on Tuesday evening. What we recommend:
Gostilna pri Skafarju
This was the only place we found open on that day. Unfortunately, the terrace was all occupied but if you are lucky you can sit outside, the atmosphere is much better than inside. Zlikrofi (traditional Slovenian dish) that we had were delicious, especially the ones with wild mushroom sauce. The pizzas were ok, but nothing out of this world.
Gostilna Kos is mostly known for its malice – hot daily meal, mostly for workers, usually served until 2 pm. You usually get the main dish and a salad for around 5 €. You can also go there for a lunch menu or delicious zlikrofi.
Not on the radar of many tourists
Unfortunately, Idrija is not on the radar of many tourists, but we hope this will change. Your trip to Idrija will be educational, full of fun, delicious food, beautiful nature, and cultural insights. It is very easily accessible from Ljubljana which makes it perfect for a one day trip or a weekend getaway in all seasons.