Third largest city in Slovenia, Celje is not a famous touristic location. However I recommend the detour to visit the old Celje Castle where you can admire magnificent views of the region. Here is my travel guide to help you plan your visit.
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Visit Celje Castle and Town in Video
Let's start with a short video to give you an overview of the pleasure it is to stroll to streets of the Celje old town and to climb the towers of the Celje Castle:
It is one of my favorite castles and overall things to do in Slovenia 🙂
About the Celje Castle and Town
Celje, a Major Slovenian City
Celje is the 3rd largest town in Slovenia after Ljubljana and Maribor. It is the Styria region's center.
It is located at the confluence of 4 rivers, hence its strategic importance.
It has a long and rich history and a fantastic atmosphere.
The views from the old castle dominating the city are worth the stop!
A short Celje History
- Traces of settlement in the area date back to the early iron age
- During the Roman period, it was known as Celeia (references have been found with many names and spelling such as Cylia, Zellia, Celee...)
- During the Middle Age it became a market settlement which marked a turning point in the history of the city. This is when it started flourishing under the Counts of Cilli
- The original castle built during the 12th century was smaller that the actual one
- Many evolution happened throughout the centuries until it was abandoned in the 18th century
- At that time, stones from the old castles were used in the construction of other buildings in the area
- During the second wold war, Celje was occupied by the Nazi
PLANNING TIPS - Celje Slovenia
How to get to Celje
- Celje is very easy to access East from Ljubljana or from the airport. It is by the motorway midway between the capital city and Maribor.
- Lubljana to Celje - 50min
- Maribor to Celje - 40min
- Celje is also accessible by train from Ljubljana - 1h to 1h30 depending on the train - Check out train options and prices
- If you are traveling by car on a road trip, you can find GPS coordinates of carparks for the town and the castle in my ebook to easily plan your road trip:
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- I recommend to spend at least 1 day to enjoy the museums, history and nature of Celje
- However, Celje can also be a central points for holidays with easy access to many regions (1h30 to Lake Bled, 1h15 to Logar Valley) and with some nice hikes very close by
- Note that access to the castle can be by car to a carpark at the top. But there is still a slope and stairs to reach the inside
- Inside the old castle are facilities and a snack bar
- Old Celje castle opening hours - at least 10am to 4pm but longer in Summer (9am to 9pm)
- Events are often organized in the castle - medieval festivals, concerts, weddings...
Celje Hotels & Accommodations
Celje is not yet very touristic, so the choice of accommodations is not as important as in other towns.
- IN THE CITY - to stay in the old town, you can sleep at Hotel Evropa, on the main square - Check out latest prices and photos
- BUDGET - for a cheaper option, the MCC hostel is also conveniently located in the center - Check out latest prices and photos
- B&B - for something smaller and cosy not too far from the center, consider the Bed & Breakfast Dvorec - Check out latest prices and photos
- Or check all accommodations in the Celje Area
Visiting Celje Castle Slovenia
Now let's head to the mountains to visit the old castle of Celje.
The front wall with the entrance is already very impressive.
Contrary to other Slovenian castles and monasteries, I have found the restoration work on this castle more discreet.
I really love those square towers. The Zice monastery has some too, and I find the architecture particularly attractive. Maybe because I am more of a square person than a circle one. LOL.
This tower is 3 story high and called the 'tower above the Pelikan's trail'. It was erected at the beginning of the 16th century.
The tallest structure at the top of the hill is the Frederick's tower, named after of the of Counts of the Cilli dynasty. It was erected during the 14th century and is 23m high.
The walls are 3m thick!!!
Stairs allow you to navigate along the defensive wall and to climb all the way to the top of the tower for magnificent views 🙂
However know that the spacing between the steps can be difficult for those with vertigo.
Views from Celje Grad Slovenia
As I said, if you climb all the way to the top of the Frederick's Tower, you get 360° views of the area.
On one side you can see beautiful lush mountains with small villages.
Notice one of the rivers arriving at Celje.
On the other side, you have the famous view which combines the Old Celje Castle with the Old town:
And on another side even more hills!!!
If you can't climb all the way to the top of the Frederick, you can calk past the Gothic palatium and the Drawbridge to reach a viewing platform. From there you can see very well the old town of Celje with the orange roofs.
I recommend bringing binoculars to appreciate all the details of the scenery (you can have a look at my guide to choosing your binoculars)
Other Things to do in Celje
And now we head to the center of the old town...
Celje has some rich museums, but if you only have a couple hours, just strolling in the streets of Celje is very enjoyable. It was one of my favorite cities in Slovenia.
Start at the square coming from the train lines. Here you can see the Celje Hall, a community center and venue for concert (celjski Dom)
There are several small places and many streets are pedestrian which is really enjoyable.
In the picture below you can see the tower of the St Daniel's church. Originally from the 13th century with a single nave and 2 towers it has evolved over time. It is the Celje cathedral.
Don't miss a visit to the Visitor center where you can see some remains of the older town. There is actually a whole town beneath the current one called Roman Celeia.
Below is the Virgin Mary's assumption church, originally from the 13th siècle and part of the Minorite monastery disbanded in 1808.
The regional museum, the second oldest in Slovenia, is located in Princely Palace (sometimes refer to as the Lower Celje castle).
During the 14th and 15th centuries, this mansion was the residence for the counts of Celje.
Inside, the museum offers great insight into the regional history as well as contemporary art.
This is where you can see the archeological exhibition of the older town under the current one.
Check out the exhibitions you could enjoy inside here.
Another enjoyable activity is to walk along the Savinja river. A walking path has been set up. The environment s quiet and you can see the old castle on top of the hill in front of you.
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Grandiose views, don't you think?
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