I wanted to explore new places for my 30th birthday and going to Goriška Brda region in Slovenia was a perfect decision. Brda is a small wine-growing region in the west part of the country, tucked in between the Alps and the Adriatic. It is full of hills with picturesque villages, winding country roads, vineyards and olive tree plantations. It is also known as the Tuscany of Slovenia. Driving around Brda means stopping all the time to admire all the amazing green views. Or to have another wine with a view (if you are not the driver, of course) or another plate of delicious local food. Brda is also known for its fruit production, especially cherries, peaches, figs and plums. Sounds amazing, don’t you think?
So, what is there to do in Goriška Brda?
1. Get the best views at Gonjače observation tower
Climb 144 steps to get to the top of Gonjače observation tower for 360 degrees view of Goriška Brda. Tower, which was built already in 1961, is 23 meters tall and offers the most known view from the region – view of Šmartno village. In nice weather you can admire Brda’s hills and see all the way to the Alps, Kars, Vipava valley and even Italian Trieste and Dolomites.
2. Stroll the streets of Šmartno
Picturesque village of Šmartno is situated in the geographical centre of Goriška Brda. It is located on a hill and surrounded by defence walls. Its history goes back all the way to the Roman times and the village itself was first mentioned already in 1317. Inside village you can get lost in the narrow streets that all lead to the Church of St. Martin, dedicated to the patron saint of wine, while admiring old and new houses with typical balconies. To see the way people used to live, visit a typical house called Briška hiša.
3. Go to Klet Brda for tour of wine cellar and wine tasting
Klet Brda is the biggest Slovenian wine producer and exporter of Slovenian bottled wine. At the tour of wine cellar, you get to know the history of Klet Brda, which was established in 1957 as a cooperative and is owned by more than 400 local wine growers, and all about their wine production. They make a variety of wines and are most known for the region-specific white wine called rebula. At the wine tasting we tried 20 of their amazing wines, from sparking to white and red wine. For me my favourite is “Krasno rdeče” wine, a mix of Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon and Cabernet franc. Beside Klet Brda, there are numerous renowned wine cellars in the region that also offer wine tasting.
4. Visit Castle Dobrovo
Near Klet Brda Castle Dobrovo is situated. It was built in the 17th century on the grounds of old castle and is has a shape of a square with symmetrically set towers at the corners. Today the castle is home to museum, gallery, restaurant and wine cellar. I loved how the castle grounds are surrounded with olive trees.
5. Walk along Kožbanjšček valley to the Krčnik natural bridge
Kožbanjšček stream has dug out a picturesque gorge, called Krčnik. The gorge is 40 meters long, from half meter to 6 meters wide and to up to 6 meters deep. In the middle of the gorge water has formed natural bridge with 5 meters long arch, which stands 1 meter high over the channel. You can drive to Krčnik or walk along Kožbanjšček stream in a beautiful valley and admire its cascades and little pools.
6. Stop at the Church of Holy Cross above Kojsko
Above little village of Kojsko the Succursal Pilgrimage Church of the Holy Cross on Tabor is situated. It is an interesting gothic church with bell tower and resembles a small fortification. From the church there is a beautiful views of Kojsko and other surrounding villages. I suggest leaving your car in the center of village and walk uphill to the Church of Holy Cross.
7. Have a coffee break at Villa Vipolže
Even in wine region I love to stop for a coffee. 🙂 And Villa Vipolže with cute café at the outside terrace is a perfect spot. If you are hungry, they also have a restaurant with some amazing dishes. The terrace is set outside the 16th century villa. You can also enter and see a free exhibition about the history of the mansion. Today it serves as a conference, cultural and social centre.
8. Admire Hotel Restaurant Gredič
Gredič is a boutique hotel with restaurant and wine cellar, so you can enter only if you are a guest. But for me the architecture of this little castle, that was built around 400 years ago, with the well and lavender in blossom in front of it is enough of a reason for a stop.
9. – 12. Drive/walk around little villages and take in all the views
We choose to stop and walk around villages of Biljana, Gradno, Medana and Višnjevik to admire the local architecture and yes, all the views of the surrounding vineyards. In some of the villages there are also informative signs about their history, which was especially turbulent during the First World War, as the region is just next to the Italian border. We were driving around with a car, but if you prefer walking, there are eight Cherry blossom hiking trails in Brda. They that named after old Brda cherry varieties and cover all the best spot of the region. If you like hiking, there is also popular nearby hill called Sabotin.
Where else did we go on this trip?
You can visit the majority of site in Goriška Brda in one day, but we took it slow, had three full days and also visited some nearby places.
Botanical garden Sežana
The botanical garden in Sežana is such a beautiful place! It is located next to the Villa Mirasasso, which was built in the 19th century, and the garden slowly grew around it. It is designed in the style of Italian bourgeois gardens and surrounded by a high stone walls that hide it from the outside world. There are many footpaths, rondos, pavilions, ponds, giant tress and gorgeous flowers in the garden. In the centre there is a glass palm house – my favourite place –, filled with cactuses, succulents and green plants, like giant monstera deliciosa, ficus and palm trees.
The Solkan railroad bridge over Soča river is the world’s longest stone arch railroad bridge (and second-longest stone arch bridge). It was built in 1905 and has an arch span of 85 meters. Below the bridge the beautiful emerald river Soča flow. However, on our visit the weather was so gloomy that the true colours of Soča didn’t come out.
Nova Gorica & Castle Kromberg
Slovenian city of Nova Gorica lies on the border with Italy. So an interesting spot in the city it’s the Europa Square. When Slovenia entered European Union in 2004 they removed the fence in the square which was marking the border and dividing the cities. Since then people can freely cross from one country to another via this square. It is also a perfect opportunity to stand in two countries at once. The city centre of Nova Gorica itself is nothing special, it has shops, cafes and some museums. But do visit Franciscan Monastery Kostanjevica with the Bourbon tombs. We also drove to the nearby Castle Kromberg, which holds the main exhibition of Nova Gorica Museum and is also a home to a restaurant.
Start your visit with some delicious Italian coffee, then admire the colorful streets of Gorizia. Stop at the main square Piazza della Victoria with majestic church Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio and (window) shop at Via Rastello. Castle Castello di Gorizia its also an interesting stop, on the way up to the castle hill visit also the city walls for some nice views of the city. We wanted also to visit Palazzo Coronini Cronber with the park and Mercado Coperto, but they were both unfortunately closed.
Visited: July 2020