With a mighty view of Slovenian Alps (Triglav, Stol, and Grintavec,) Kokra River Canyon right next to the Old Town, and a rich six thousand years old history, the Capital of the Slovenian Alps, the Cultural Heart of Slovenia, the Capital of the Gorenjska region, and the fourth largest city in Slovenia, Kranj is an intriguing blend of culture, history, and nature.
Sadly, Kranj, Slovenija mostly fails to make it to travelers’ Slovenia itineraries.
Though, its proximity to Ljubljana Airport, Jože Pučnik (9 km) as compared to Ljubljana city center (35 km) makes it an easy on arrival or a before departure destination while exploring Slovenia.
The city is just 35 minutes (37 km/18 miles) away from Ljubljana and 25 minutes (27 km/16 miles) away from Lake Bled.
The strategic location of Kranj also makes it a great base destination to discover Slovenia.
You can effortlessly explore Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Skofja Loka, Vintgar Gorge, Kranjska Gora while staying in Kranj, Slovenija. The accommodations are cheaper than other Slovenian cities plus fewer tourists means peaceful stay.
We loved the way we had the whole town to ourselves 🙂
Perks of small-town travel, you know!
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Things to do in Kranj, Slovenia
We scheduled a night-halt at Kranj while driving from Bled to Ljubljana. It was on purpose. The plan was to slow down a bit and relax before we head to explore Ljubljana.
But, it came out to be much more than a stop-over. I’m glad we added it to our Slovenia itinerary.
The city surprised us so much so that we wanted to stay a little longer.
We realized it’s highly overlooked after discovering tons of things to do in and around Kranj, Slovenia.
You can take a self-guided tour or can book a guided tour with Viator, our trusted tour partner.
1. Feel the Pulse of Kranj – Walk the Old Town
Kranj’s old town is as charming as a little kid. The contemporary architecture curiously hides the cultural center of the city.
As you stroll the town, every step unfolds the culture, history, and art.
Slovenski Trg (Slovenski Square)
We started our exploration from Slovenski Trg which is a beautiful square with benches to sit and relax. There are some amazing cafes around the square.
Opposite to the square is a Gimnazija Kranj (Grammar School Kranj), a secondary school dating back to 1810 and adjacent to the square is Kranj City Library (Mestna knjižnica Kranj) that beautifully preserves the verses in Preseren’s handwriting in a glass façade.
The GLOBUS building that houses a library itself is an attraction in itself. I couldn’t stop clicking pictures of the gorgeous corten façade.
Maistrov Trg (Maister Square)
Maistrov trg, named after general Rudolf Maister who protected the city of Maribor from Austro-Hungary during the World War I marks the entrance to the historic old town. It was an ancient site of the upper town gates.
The Špital Tower, one of the eight defensive towers along the town walls now forms a part of a shop here. The square now is a center of all the social activity with its many cafes and shops.
Prešernova ulica (Prešeren Street)
Maistrov trg progresses into Prešernova ulica, a lovely street named after the Slovene National poet who called Kranj his home, France Prešeren.
Kranj’s affection for its beloved poet is evident at every corner.
You’ll find monuments and buildings paying tribute to their greatest poet from the 19th century at almost every turn.
Did you Know? France Prešeren's poem Zdravljica (A Toast) inspired the Slovenian national anthem.
Prešeren’s House (Prešerenova Hisa), the 19th-century house where the poet spent the last 3 years (1846-1849) of his life at Prešeren Street is now converted into a memorial museum that provides interesting insights into the poet’s life and times.
Prešeren Grove (Prešeren Gaj), his final resting place along with other famous Slovenes between the Gregorčič and the Partisan Streets is worth-visiting.
Don’t forget to stop by at a beautiful lush garden right next to Prešeren Grove.
Did you Know? The first Slovenian rose, Rosa Prešeren, created by Dr. Matjaž Kmecl crossing diverse rose varieties can be seen in the Prešeren Grove.
Glavni Trg (Main Square)
The Prešeren Streets end at Glavni Trg, surrounded by many beautiful Gothic and Renaissance buildings, the most notable of which is Mestna hiša (Town Hall).
The Museum of Gronjeska inside the town hall portrays stories of Kranj and its intriguing history. Its Renaissance Hall and three permanent exhibitions are open to the public.
Right in the center of Kranj, Parish Church of St. Cantianus (Cerkev Sv Kancijan) is the most distinguishing Gothic architectural structure in the city skyline. The foundation of the church date back to the 6th century.
The underground Ossuary to the north of the church houses the remains (bones and skulls) of Kranj citizens. Discovered in the early 1970s, the bodies are thought to have been buried here between the 14th and 16th century.
A little ahead next to a huge monument of Prešeren is the Pavšlar house that accommodates the Prešeren Award Winners Gallery. It offers an insight into the contemporary Slovenian art.
Prešeren Theater next to the gallery is a small professional theater that stages premières.
Cankarjeva ulica’s south end has a dramatic Gothic church dating back to the 16th century and reconstructed in 1892, Church of the Holy Rosary. It served as a Protestant sanctuary during the Reformation.
Alongside the church are a typical arcade, a staircase, and a fountain designed by Jože Plečnik (Plecnik’s Arcade and Fountain) to give his city impressive access up from the Sava River.
The stairs lead to Vodopivceva ulica that takes you to the Sava River.
The Cankerjeva ulica or rather the old town ends at Trubarjev Trg. Located at the southernmost end of the old town, on the headland overlooking the confluence of Sava and Kokra Rivers is Pungert, the only entirely preserved three-storey defensive tower from the 16th-century within the ancient city walls.
It was once used as a dungeon and even lodging. The towers aren’t open to the public for climbing which otherwise would have been amazing viewpoints.
The confluence of Sava and Kokra Rivers can be seen from the viewing platform right where the former defense tower stood a few steps ahead of Pungert hanging high above the composite rock. The view of Kokra Gorge is not clear from here due to lush trees.
Right next to the tower is the 15th-century Succursal Church aka Plague Church dedicated to St Fabian, St Sebastian, and St Rok for their contribution during the plague epidemic.
As we retraced our steps back to Cankerjeva ulica towards Tomšičeva ulica, we passed the preserved city walls. The old town of Kranj was once enveloped by a wall with 8 towers, 3 of them still exist.
Khislstein Castle (Grad Khislstein), a 15th-century fortress which was a part of the erstwhile town wall is now home to cultural organizations and a favored venue for concerts and theater shows.
Right next to the castle, is the hidden Vovk Garden (Vovkov vrt) enveloped by the ruins of old town walls. It also hosts outdoor film nights during summer.
Pro-Tip Relax with a cup of coffee at cosy Cafe 12:56 in Khisistein Castle.
Layer House (Hisa Layer) at Tomšičeva ulica, house of a famous Slovene painter Leopold Layer, houses a cafe with a beautiful terrace, offers accommodations in its mansard art residences, and diverse creative experiences through its artist studios, exhibitions, and innumerable events.
Next to the Layer House is Škrlovec Tower, one of the few left defensive towers is now an art gallery and a venue for theater and music events.
Good to Know All museums and galleries in Kranj are open every day except Mondays. Prešeren Award Winners Gallery is closed on Sundays too. Some shops, restaurants, and galleries are closed during festive days: January 1st and 2nd, April 27th, May 1st and 2nd, June 25th, August 15th, October 31st, November 1st, and December 25th and 26th.
2. Explore the Tunnels Under the Old Town of Kranj
Under the historic town center are the secret tunnels built during World War II to give shelter to the citizens in case of air attack. The tunnels were opened for the public as a historic attraction in 2007.
These 1300 meters long man-made tunnels resemble the natural caves that give you an opportunity to explore the underground natural treasures – cave animals like orb weavers and stalactites.
You can even experience the simulated airstrike.
The best time to walk the tunnels is during traditional events like Wine Road or Halloween that take place in the tunnels.
You can join a guided tour that lasts for an hour and costs 3 Euros per adult and 2.5 Euros per child under 14. The tour takes place each Tuesday and Friday at 5 pm and each Saturday and Sunday at 10 am.
3. Hike the Kokra River Canyon
A canyon in the city center? Yes!
Kranj is perched on the rock above a 30-meter deep canyon, Kokra River Canyon or Kanjon Kokre at the confluence of the Sava and Kokra Rivers.
A bridge above the Kokra River beautifully connects the concrete jungle and backwoods.
Did you Know? Kokra River Canyon is the second highest city canyon in Europe.
The locals here love to spend their afternoons indulging in the outdoor activities. And why not when nature is next door!
About 2 km circular walk by the Kokra River is refreshingly appealing.
The trail is accessed down by the flight of stairs under the Poštna Ulica bridge over the Kokra River or from the Kokrški breg street.
There are quite a few rocky beaches along the riverbanks that are perfect for summer swimming.
4. Experience the Kranj Culinary Scene
Foodie or not, you’ll be amazed by Kranj’s traditional yet versatile food scene.
Named after the city of Kranj, the Kranj culinary trio includes – Kranj sausage (Slovenian national dish), Kranj craft beer, and home-made Kranjski štruklji (rolled dumplings with cottage cheese).
The gastronomic trio is best served at Gostilna Kot located at Maistrov trg 4.
Locals would recommend eating Kranj sausage with Kranj craft beer (Kranjsko pivo) for the best experience. You can try this much-endorsed combination at Kranjska pivnica brewpub.
Ice-cream lovers can head to Kavarana Evropa for yummy homemade lavender Ice-Cream.
If you are traveling with kids, take them to Ice Cream Bar Grefino at GLOBUS where they can pour their own ice-cream and choose as many toppings as they want. The price of the ice-cream depends upon the final weight.
Burger enthusiasts can feed their taste buds at Burger Project by the Kaverna Bazen Kranj on the Kranj Beach.
Terasa Bar is where you can enjoy good food, local beer under the rustic setting, Plečnik staircase.
Bar Mitnica, housed in an old toll house dating back to the 16th-century is another chic place to stop-by and relax with a glass of local beer.
You can taste and smell all the cuisines as chefs prepare them live under one roof during Kranska Kuhna Street Food Festival.
The culinary event takes place almost every Saturday and on special occasions. No better way to experience the food scene in Kranj!
5. Discover the Street Art Scene
We discovered the wall graffiti by David Almajer while strolling the streets of cultural quarter Kranj.
You can even take a Kranj graffiti tour with a professional anthropologist for a vivid creative experience.
6. Breathe in the Views
The southern tip of the pier at Pungert affords some amazing views over the end of the canyon where Kokra River meets the Sava River.
Hiking or biking the hills of Šmarjetna and Saint Jošt offers stunning views over the city with the Alps in the background.
7. Visit the Brdo Estate
Dating back to the 15th century, Brdo Estate is an elite meeting venue for diplomats and aristocrats all across the world.
The Renaissance Brdo Castle in the center of the estate that served as an abode to royal families and many former presidents is now an important diplomatic protocol building in Slovenia. It is open to the public on special occasions.
Brdo Park, again a part of Brdo Estate with its lush forests, meadows, lakes, and walking trails attract nature and outdoor lovers. The entry ticket to the park is 3.50 Euros per adult.
You can also enjoy a horse carriage ride and horseback riding.
8. Hike to Jamnik
You can easily walk up to the 831 meters high Jamnik hill to relish the unforgettable views. The church of St. Primus and Felician at Jamnik is considered Solvenia’s one of the most photogenic churches.
There are quite a few trails to Jamnik – you can take any one of the trails from the villages of Besnica or Kropa or Nemilje.
Accommodations in Kranj
Hotels in Kranj
A lovely boutique hotel in the heart of the historic old city decorated in a romantic neo-Baroque style is best fit for couples and families.
Just outside the city of Kranj, Hotel Azul is best suited to people who want to explore the city of Kranj while staying near to Ljubljana Airport.
Located in the heart of the city center, the hotel offers the best value for money.
Located right on the Smarjetna Hill, the hotel is rightfully rated for its beautiful location. Here’s your chance to book a room with a view!
Apartments in Kranj
Lovely location. Lovely apartment. Lovely host. Value for Money. We stayed here and so, can blindly recommend it to everyone.
A stay with a touch of the art! Beautiful apartments for beautiful people at modest prices, I’d say.
Highly rated by travelers for its idyllic location and accommodating host.
Right on the road just off the E61 motorway, It’s loved by all kind of travelers for its beautiful surroundings, delicious breakfast, and friendly host.
Located in a small hamlet of Ilovka, Valjavec is just 800 m way from Brdo Estate that says a lot about its surroundings.
The apartments with a private beach, PR`FIK is a top pick by travelers for its strategic location and value for money.
Located at Breg ob Savi, Sava River is just 200 m away from the guesthouse. It’s rated for its mountain view rooms, and excellent breakfast.
Holiday Farms in Kranj
A tourist farm in Crngrob near Kranj and Skofja Loka, Pri Marku offers amazing traditional experiences to its guests. The high point is organic and homemade food straight from the farm.
Housed in a traditional farmstead, somewhere between Kranj and Škofja Loka, Na Poljani offers a peaceful and quaint stay.
Hostels in Kranj
The 17th-century house renovated into a hostel accommodation, Cukrarna offers a terrace with views of the Kokra River and delicious breakfast at cheap prices.
Solo-travelers can also check the availability in Hostel Dijaski in Student Dormitory.
We love Airbnb and recommend it to our readers and fellow travelers. They have cheap yet lovely stay options.
For further Kranj tourist information please visit the official website of the local tourist information office.
Alternatively, you can visit Kranjska hiša ( Kranj House) – Tourist Information Center on the main square (Glavni Trg 2) to get ideas about what and how to explore the city of Kranj and its surroundings. It’s open from Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 7 pm and from 9 am to 6 pm on Sundays and Festive days.
Have you ever been to Kranj? How did you like it? Or is it the first time you’ve heard of it? If yes, have I convinced you to add it to your Slovenia itinerary?
Also, I’d be obliged if you could take five minutes of your time to share this post with the world if it helped you in any way.
Europe posts on our blog that might help you:
- Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia
- Lake Bled, Slovenia
- Bratislava, Slovakia
- Vienna, Austria
- Wachau Valley, Austria
- Hallstatt, Austria
- Salzburg, Austria
- Driving the Epic Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse
- Undredal – a Fjord Village in Aurland, Norway
- Oslo, Norway
- Finnish Lapland in Summer
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Dragør, Denmark
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