With the emergence in popularity of places like Ljubljana and Bled, Kranj is the perfect town to enjoy culture, history, nature or just strolling around a city that was already settled in prehistoric times without the sometimes overwhelming crowds of tourists. It's also cheaper and very conveniently located just around 30 km northwest of Ljubljana and about 25 km southeast of Bled. You can easily reach both Ljubljana and Bled from Kranj by car, train or bus. In case you're flying in or out, the airport is also just 9 km from the city centre.
But worry not, Kranj is more than just a convenient sleep over place or a starting point for day trips, it offers great local cafes, restaurants, events and as you will see from the pictures below, it also looks awesome. Plus, and this is important, it's where yours truly was born and raised. Like most of Slovenia it's also super safe and family friendly.
17 Must See Places in Kranj, Slovenia
Here are some of the sights that you can enjoy in the capital of Upper Carniola and Slovenia's fourth largest city.
1# Slovenski Trg (Slovenian Square)
Just outside of the main street and next to the city library, you can relax at the Slovenski Trg (Slovenian square). There are lots of cafes around the square, but you can also just enjoy the weather on one of the benches. It's also the best place to see the Gimnazija Kranj, our secondary school, founded in 1810 by the Governor of the Illyrian Provinces under Napoleon.
2# Mestna knjiznica (City Library)
The "mestna knjiznica" or city library was relocated to its current spot in 2011 and promotes the joy of reading, understanding and reflection on reading by performing activities such as family reading project, storytelling hours, bookcases, reading recommendations for children and adults.
3# Maistrov trg (Maister Square)
What? Another square? Yes, Kranj has plenty of them. This one is called Maistrov trg and is named after the general Rudolf Maister, who famously secured the city of Maribor and its surroundings after an attempted annexation by Austro-Hungary during the First World War. As you can see, there's plenty of cafes and shops to choose from, or if you feel like you need a new haircut, we got that covered too :)
4# Presernova ulica (Preseren Street)
Arguably Slovenia's greatest poet, France Preseren lived in Kranj, so naturally, there are a number of things named after him, including this lovely street. Fun fact - the Slovenian national anthem is based on "Zdravljica", which he wrote.
5# Glavni Trg (Main Square)
Surprise, surprise, this is the city’s main square. It serves as a venue for events, local farmer's market and for locals to meet and exchange generic obvious comments about the weather (e.g.: such a nice sunny day today, right?).
6# Narrow Streets & Lovely Houses
No matter where you go, you'll see lovely narrow streets and picturesque houses.
7# Layerjeva hisa (Layer House)
8# Castle Khislstein
Searching for a cup of a refreshing beverage, a cultural event (e.g. outdoor cinema or theatre) or just want to relax in a park, Castle Khislstein has you covered.
9# Mitnica Bar
Another cool place to have a break is the Mitnica bar, which is located in a 16th century toll house at the entrance of the city.
10# Canyon Kokra
There's more - there is a river canyon running straight through the city centre. So, if you want to dip your feet into the water or just take a walk in the shade of trees, you can do that at the Kokra Canyon.
11# St. Cantianus Church
In case you're into old churches - the St. Cantianus and Companions Church was built in the 15th century and served as a pattern for later Gothic churches in the territory of modern Slovenia.
12# Presernovo Gledalisce (Theatre)
Dating all the way back to 1945 this is the main theatre of Kranj and is also named after the great poet, France Preseren. It also looks awesome from the outside and sometimes doubles as a skate park for local Tony Hawk impersonators.
13# Plecnik Staircase and Arcades
Well, the name basically says it all :) Joze Plecnik was one of the most influential Slovenian architects and had his impact on the modern architecture of cities like Vienna, Prague, Ljubljana and as you can see, Kranj.
At the very end of the city centre, you can find the area, called Pungert. It has an awesome defence tower, an observation deck, a nice cafe and a playground for the little ones. It's also home to the Jazz Kamp Kranj, which is an international event that combines an extensive workshop programme with a series of evening concerts - forget the Montreux Jazz Festival, this is where all the cool kids will be :)
15# Terasa Bar
In case you thought we were done with cafes/bars. Nope, there's another cool one where we like to have hang out - Terasa Bar. It's just "below" city centre if you continue your way down the hill from Plecnik's staircase and arcades.
16# Kavarna Bazen (Swimming Pool Cafe)
Kavarna Bazen or "the swimming pool cafe" is a cool place to have the best burger in town, just some drinks right next to the river or visit an event at the concert hall. The reason it's called "the swimming poll" is that this facility used to be the city indoor swimming pool.
17# Trainstation Squat
In case you're interested in the alternative scene, the local youth of the Trainstation Squat have you covered with lots of events that will satisfy all of your alternative tastes. As the name suggests, the venue is located at the main (and only) train station in Kranj.
Bonus: Nature & Outdoor Activities Around Kranj
The surroundings of Kranj offer many outdoor activities - hiking, mountainbiking, swimming, boating, kayaking, paragliding, etc.
Another blog post about the nature places around Kranj will follow - stay tuned!
Where to Stay in Kranj
I guess this should be enough to convince you to add Kranj to your itinerary and you're ready to book your accommodation. Don't worry, we have that covered as well - here are your options in alphabetical order:
- Hotel Actum - botique hotel in the heart of the city centre
- Hotel Azul - just outside of the city in the "shopping centre area"
- Hotel Bellevue - on the top of Smarjetna hill - about 200m above the city centre
- Hotel Creina - in the city centre, next to Slovenski Trg
- Hostel Cukrarna- a small hostel in the heart of the city centre
- Layer's Art Residence - lovely place with a cafe and wonderful summer terrace in the city centre
In case we missed something and for more info in general, please visit the official Visit Kranj webpage.
How do you like our home town in Slovenia? Have you been? Let us know in the comments below!