The charmingly picturesque town of Skofja Loka, meaning Bishop’s Meadows, is considered to be the best-preserved medieval city in Slovenia. Located roughly halfway between Ljubljana and Lake Bled, this delightful town is certainly worth a visit.
A Little History
The first written records of what was once the bustling market town of Skofja Loka date back to 1248. Although mentions of the town date as far back to 973!
Škofja Loka gained its city rights in 1274 and became an important economic centre for the region. In 1511, a devastating earthquake damaged nearly every building in town. However, the town of Škofja Loka was successfully renovated and has retained its current quaint appearance ever since.
Skofja Loka was once enclosed by stone walls and access to the town could only be made through one of its five gated towers. Although there is not much evidence of these towers today, the original town plan of Skofja Loka remains the same – there’s the Upper Square that is known as the Plac and the Lower Square, the Lontrg. Overlooking the town stands Loka Castle.
Skofja Loka and its surroundings belonged to the Bavarian Bishops of Freising for more than 900 years before the land was traded between Italy and Austria.
What Is There To Do In Skofja Loka?
Take A Walking Tour
The very knowledgeable and enthusiastic Mirjam organised by our host https://mateja-travel.com took us on a guided tour of the city. Usually, we explore streets on our own, but we have to admit it’s rather lovely being shown places of interest that we probably wouldn’t have found by ourselves. Especially when it’s a private tour!
Explore The Old Town
There is nothing better than losing yourself in the narrow streets of the Upper and Lower sections of the town. It’s an incredibly picturesque town and not yet overrun with tourists – always a bonus!
Walking up the cobblestoned streets from the Town Square in the Lower Section of Lontrg, you’ll come to the colourful old houses of the wealthy in the Upper Section.
In the centre of the square, you’ll find a statue of Mother Mary that commemorates the end of the plague in 1751.
The Capuchin Bridge / Stone Bridge
The Capuchin Bridge, also known as Stone Bridge, crosses the River Sora. It’s one of the oldest bridges in Slovenia and Central Europe.
Bishop Leopold built the bridge in the mid 14th century. Legend has it that when Bishop Leopold rode across the fenceless bridge in 1381, his horse was startled and the Bishop fell into the river and drowned. Not sure what happened to the horse, hope he was ok!
The iron fencing you see today was added in 1888.
When the Capuchin monks moved into Škofja Loka at the beginning of the 18th century, the bridge was referred to as the Capuchin Bridge.
The Capuchin Church
Across the Capuchin Bridge is the Capuchin Church with its monastery and library that date back to 1709.
In the monastery’s library, there are around 30,000 books including the Dictionarium Quatuor Linguarum (the first multilingual dictionary of Slovene), Jurij Dalmatin’s Bible (the first translation of the Bible to Slovene), and a copy of the famous Škofja Loka’s Passion Play.
Visit Loka Castle & Museum
Once you have explored the old town, head up to the Loka Castle and Museum.
The museum in the castle is quite small, but there are some interesting handicrafts, historical art, taxidermy and weaponry. There’s also a little chapel which is quite a popular wedding venue.
In the castle grounds, you’ll find a cool reconstruction of a typical 16th-century peasant house.
From the castle, it’s a nice walk back into town. The trail back down offers excellent views of Škofja Loka and the local countryside. Coming from Malta, it’s rather refreshing to see so many trees and forests.
If you have time and fancy a slightly longer walk, there’s the 5km Three Castles Path which begins at the castle and takes you past the ruins of the Krancelj Tower and the Old Castle. Maps of the walk are available in the Tourist Information Office and at the Museum.
The museum is open from 10:00 until 17:00 Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays), and entrance costs just 5€.
For up to date information on opening hours and ticket prices, please check here https://www.loski-muzej.si/en/.
Škofja Loka Passion Play
Sleepy Škofja Loka comes alive during its performance of the Passion Play. The next spectacular will be in 2021, and the whole town gets involved. With more than 600 actors and 80 horse riders taking part, the town turns into the largest open-air theatre venue in Slovenia. Our guide Mirjam was already incredibly excited about the event insisting that we come back to see. Umm, maybe by 2021, we will be ready to combine the Passion Play with a running event with https://mateja-travel.com/alltours/.
The Passion Play was first performed in the streets in 1721 during Lent and then every year after that until 1752. It was then almost 200 years until the next performance in 1936 and then another 63 years until the Škofja Loka Passion Play was staged on the streets again, in 1999.
The next performance in 2021, will celebrate 300 years since the Passion Play was first performed.
For more information on events and what’s happening in the area, take a look here http://www.visitskofjaloka.si/en/.
Running In Skofja Loka
There’s a 10km Four Bridge Night Run that takes place in June. It’s limited to just 1511 runners. Why 1511? This was the year that the devastating earthquake hit Skofja Loka.
Also, being so close to Ljubljana, Skofja Loka would be an excellent pre or post base for taking part in the Ljubljana Marathon that takes place in October.
For more information on running events in Slovenia, please see here https://mateja-travel.com/alltours/.
Where To Eat In Škofja Loka
The Granary (Kašča) is one of Škofja Loka’s best-preserved medieval buildings that today houses a restaurant.
Along with Loka Castle, in medieval times, the Granary was one of the most important buildings in Škofja Loka. Built of stone, it was once part of the town’s defensive walls.
Having eaten a large lunch earlier in the day in Ljubljana, we just stopped for an enjoyable coffee and afternoon snack, but I’ve heard the food is rather good here and looking at the menu, the prices were very reasonable.
Have you eaten at the Granary? What did you think?
When Is The Best Time To Visit Škofja Loka?
Being a town, any time of the year is a great time to visit. We visited in September, there were remarkably few tourists, and the weather was pleasantly mild. So if you’re visiting Ljubljana or Lake Bled and fancy a break from the crowds, head over here, you won’t be disappointed.
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How To Get To Škofja Loka From Ljubljana
There are relatively regular buses from Ljubljana Bus Station to Škofja Loka, although slightly fewer departures at the weekends. Tickets cost €3.10 and the journey time around 36 minutes.
To travel onwards to Lake Bled, take one of the frequent buses to Kranj and change there.
The Bus Station is just a very short walk to the town.
It’s also possible to travel by train from Ljubljana to Skofja Loka although Skofja Loka train station is 2.5km northeast from the Old Town. Buses run every 15 minutes from the train station to the town. Taxis can be a little hard to find.
Easily accessible by car and only 23 kilometres from Ljubljana. Plenty of car parking available in Skofja Loka. Remember to keep coins spare for the parking meters as many do not accept notes.
Disclaimer: We explored Slovenia as guests of Mateja Travel https://mateja-travel.com. However, all opinions are entirely and genuinely our own. We wouldn’t recommend anything that we hadn’t enjoyed and experienced firsthand.