Škofja Loka is a charming town set in the countryside between Ljubljana and Lake Bled in Slovenia. With an impressive hilltop castle and a pretty main square, the town makes for a lovely day trip from Ljubljana or Bled. Read on to discover the best things to do in Skofja Loka, Slovenia!
An old town with a rich history, Škofja Loka was given to the Bishops of Freising by the Holy Roman Emperor in the 10th century. Hence its name, which means “Bishops’ Meadows.” It has a stunning location at the meeting point of two rivers, and is surrounded by picturesque hills.
Skofja Loka is famous as the place where the oldest Slovene play was written. The Škofja Loka Passion Play describes the sufferings of Jesus and was enacted on Good Friday each year until the middle of the 18th century. It has been revived in modern times, with the next enactment planned for 2021.
The pretty medieval town of Škofja Loka is definitely worth visiting when you are in Ljubljana or Bled, especially if you love history, old houses, and castles!
Things to Do in Škofja Loka, SLOVENIA
As an exquisitely-preserved medieval town, Škofja Loka is perfect for just wandering. But it is also home to a number of sights that are worth visiting. The town is small, so you can explore it in a few hours.
We visited Škofja Loka on a rainy day in May. The intermittent rain couldn’t keep us from enjoying the tranquil beauty and charm of this little town. I hope you add it to your itinerary for Slovenia!
Here are the best things to do in Škofja Loka:
Snap a photo of the Capuchin Bridge
Enter the town via the new bridge over the Selška Sora River, and stop to admire the views on both sides. On one side, you will see the beautifully-preserved Capuchin Bridge. It’s the oldest bridge in Slovenia that is still intact.
The bridge was built in the middle of the 14th century, but its iron railings are much more recent. You’ll see the statue of Saint John of Nepomuk in the middle of the bridge.
The new bridge is the perfect spot to photograph the Capuchin bridge in its lovely setting. You’ll want to take a million photos of the picture postcard scene!
The views on the opposite side are beautiful as well, providing early glimpses of the charm you will encounter as you make your way into the town.
Step into the Capuchin Church
The Capuchin Church is located close to the Stone Bridge. The complex consists of the Church of Saint Anna, and the Capuchin Monastery, both built in the early 18th century.
The monastery library is a repository of many rare old books and records of births, deaths, and marriages. Here you will find Capuchin Friar Romuald’s manuscript of the Škofja Loka Passion Play, written in 1721. It is included in the UNECO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Visit the Church of Saint Jacob
Built in the late Gothic style in the 15th century, the Parish Church of St. James is charming. It comes up almost as soon as you enter the town. Its teal topped bell tower is typical of Slovenian churches: you’ll see them everywhere as you drive around.
Inside, admire the detail in the ceiling. The frescoes were painted in the 16th century, by a local artist. The gorgeous black marble altar is from the 17th century.
Of note, the interior of the church was restored to a design by Jože Plečnik, the famous Slovene architect whose work you will see everywhere in Ljubljana.
Stroll Mestni Trg, the main square
The facades of the houses along Mestni Trg, Škofja Loka‘s main square, are stunning. Their bright shades of orange, yellow, and dusty pink give the town its nickname of “Colorful Loka.”
The detail on the facades is beautiful as well. The Old Town Hall features frescoes from the 17th century. Homan’s House has frescoes of soldiers and St. Christopher, discovered when the house was being restored following an earthquake.
Most of the houses on the square have names, presumably based on their owners. You’ll find Martin’s House, which was built as an extension to the medieval walls, and Žigon’s House, at the edge of the wide portion of the square.
Also in the square, you’ll find the Plague Pillar, consisting of the statues of Mary, Saint Anthony, and Saint Roch. The baroque memorial was built in the 18th century as a mark of gratitude for the town having been protected from the plague.
You’ll find the Tourist Information office on the square, near the pretty stone fountain from the late 19th century. Pop in and get a brochure so you can learn more about the town’s fascinating history and architecture!
Climb the hill to the Škofja Loka Castle
If you walk all the way to the end of the square, you’ll see steps leading up the hill to the Škofja Loka Castle. The walk to the top of the hill is beautiful.
In the spring and summer, you’ll see tons of wildflowers along the way, and in the fall, the leaf colors are lovely. As you make your leisurely way to the top, pause often to look back over the rooftops of the town and across to the hills opposite.
You can also get glimpses of the castle from the walkway. The climb is gradually uphill, and should be doable for most people without mobility issues. If you don’t wish to walk and arrived by car, you can drive up to the castle.
Take in the views from the top…
The panoramas from the viewing area at the top of the hill are worth the climb! On a clear day, you can see the Alps, along with the surrounding countryside.
When we visited in late spring, Škofja Loka’s pretty orange rooftops contrasted beautifully with the emerald green of the hills. I am sure you will be rewarded with beautiful views no matter when you visit: I can imagine how beautiful it looks with a dusting of snow!
…And admire Loka Castle!
You can walk into the grounds of the castle and explore them without paying a fee. Loka Castle used to be the residence of the Freising Bishops. The facade of the castle looks impressive, with its bright red roof.
The castle you see today dates back to the 16th century, although there was a castle at the site before then. It was rebuilt in the 18th century following an earthquake.
Visit the museum inside the castle
The Loka Museum has been housed in the castle since 1959. There are two floors to the museum, and a variety of exhibits relevant to the history of the town.
You will see agricultural tools, furnishings from medieval times, and archaeological findings. There are exhibits related to World War II: the castle was occupied by the Germans during the war, and later it was used to house German prisoners of war.
For a town as small as Škofja Loka, the museum is impressive. We learned a great deal about Slovenian history and culture here at the castle museum. There is an admission fee.
Wander the town
Take the path right next to the castle on your way back down from the castle, instead of retracing your steps. You’ll walk through little alleys in the town and eventually come out in the main square.
Walk around the streets of the town to savor the charming ambiance. It won’t take you very long, but you’ll get some great photos of little nooks and corners.
Walk the Path to Puštal
If you have the time, and the energy, walk the Path to Puštal, the little town you see on the opposite hill. If you have a car, you can drive to Puštal as well.
To walk, take the path towards Karlovec that starts opposite Martin’s House on Mestni Trg. In Karlovec you will come to a lovely shrine at a crossroads. From here, follow signs to the Devil’s Footbridge, a wooden bridge over the Sora River.
From the footbridge, follow the path towards Puštal Castle, and then towards Hribec and the Church of the Holy Cross, from where you can return to Mestni Trg.
From the hilltop, you can get beautiful views of Loka Castle, and many of the houses along the path are historic and beautiful. This is a lovely walk if you have the time! Allow about 60-90 minutes.
Where to eat in Škofja Loka
The Gostilna Kašča is located in the basement of the 16th century Granary building in Spodnji Trg, the lower square. The location is historic and the cuisine traditional.
The less affluent citizens of the town lived in this part of town during medieval times. The building itself was where the grain collected from area farmers as taxes was stored.
You can choose from a variety of meat and fish dishes. As a vegetarian, I had pasta and grilled vegetables.
Getting to Škofja Loka
You can visit Škofja Loka as a day trip from either Ljubljana or Bled, or, if you plan to stay in both places, you can visit it one the day you plan to transfer from Ljubljana to Lake Bled or vice versa. The journey through the Slovenian countryside is delightful!
From Ljubljana to Škofja Loka
Škofja Loka is just a little bit over 14 miles from Ljubljana, and the drive takes about 25 minutes in normal traffic. There is a parking lot near the train station, another one just before the bridge to the old town, and also one up the hill if you drive past the river.
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The bus is an easy public transport option to get from Ljubljana to Škofja Loka. The journey takes about 37 minutes, and there are multiple departures everyday in both directions.
From the bus station in Škofja Loka, it is a very short walk to the bridge over the Sora River.
There are many daily trains from Ljubljana to Škofja Loka, with an average journey time of about 30 minutes. But the train station is located about 1.6 miles out of the town. So you would need to take a local bus from the train station into town, or do the 30-minute walk.
By Guided Tour
If you don’t have a car and prefer a small group guided tour, consider this full day tour that will take you from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, and Škofja Loka.
From Bled to Škofja Loka
From Lake Bled, it is about 24 miles to Škofja Loka, and you can do the drive in about 37 minutes in normal traffic.
The bus is a good public transport option to get from Ljubljana to Škofja Loka, but you may have to make a change. We took a bus from the Bled bus station to Kranj, and then another bus from Kranj to Škofja Loka.
The journey from Bled to Kranj takes about 38 minutes, and the journey from Kranj to Škofja Loka takes about 15 minutes. There are frequent departures in both directions, especially during the day in season.
There are trains that run between Lesce Bled and Škofja Loka everyday, but it is not a convenient option for a day trip since you need a bus or a taxi to get from Bled to the Lesce Bled railway station and a bus at the other end to get from the Škofja Loka rail station to town.
The train journey between Lesce Bled and Škofja Loka takes about 47 minutes.
So there you have it: my suggestions for how to do a wonderful day trip to Škofja Loka from either Ljubljana or Lake Bled!
Planning a trip to Slovenia? Its spectacular beauty will wow you! Check out my suggestions for the most amazing things to do in Slovenia! And if you like to explore from one base, you can do many wonderful day trips from Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital. And of course, there are many unmissable things to do in Ljubljana as well.
Three other fabulous and easy day trips from Ljubljana to add to your Slovenia itinerary: a visit to the stunning Lake Bled, with its hilltop castle and beautiful little island, or a trip to the serene and equally lovely Lake Bohinj, or a visit to Piran in the Slovene Riviera.
And finally, if you are looking for accommodation in Ljubljana, I have a couple of suggestions:
We stayed at the uHotel, the business extension to the historic Grand Union Hotel. The location, just off Preseren Square, is convenient to everything. Rooms are spacious and the beds extremely comfortable. And the breakfast spread is unbelievable!
Read reviews on TripAdvisor | Book a room here
If you are looking for a small boutique hotel with lots of ambiance and rave reviews, consider Hotel Cubo! It is located in the city center, walking distance to most major sights. Rooms feature contemporary furnishings.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor | Book a room here
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