Idrija and Cerkno, Slovenia
Idrija and Cerkno lie in the wooded foothills of the Julian Alps, an area that is often overlooked which is a shame because in the steeply wooded valleys are several unusual attractions. The woods provided protection and a base of operations for the Partisans in WWII and some sites still remain and are open to visitors. Idrija is famous for the mining of mercury and lace-making. Nearby Cerkno is home of the Laufarija, an ancient Shrovetide celebration where wooden face masks are worn and the Old Year is ‘executed’!
Attractions in and around Idrija and Cerkno
- Anthony’s Mine Shaft in Idrija – For almost 500 years miners descended here to work the mercury mine and it is possible to experience, in a small way, the arduous conditions in which they worked and visit the unique underground chapel. Guided tours descend the shaft daily.
- Municipal museum in Idrija – housing a permanent exhibition of the 500 years of mercury mining in the town, a collection of bobbin Idrija lace (klekljana čipka) and a rich geological collection with over 2.600 pieces. The museum is in the Gewerkenegg Castle and open daily between 9am and 6pm.
- Lace School and Lace Festival in Idrija – the festival takes place every year in June but if you miss that you can visit the Lace School which is open on work days from 10am to 1pm and in July/August every day also from 3pm to 6pm.
- The Partisan Printing Workshop at Vojsko near Idrija – some 313 issues and 1,394,000 copies of the Partisan Daily were printed under the very noses of the Nazi occupiers who never discovered it. Open on Tuesday to Friday: 9am–3pm; Saturday, Sunday, holidays: 10am–1pm and 2pm–6pm.
- Wild Lake (Divje Jezero) – a small pool that comes alive after heavy rain as water gushes up from a karst spring and makes the water appear as though it is boiling. There is a pleasant walk from the Idrija to the pool, a nice outing in any weather!
- Cerkno Museum – home to WWII Partisan displays as well as the Laufarji masks. Opening times are the same as the Partisan Printing Workshop.
- Franj Partisan Hospital, near Cerkno – sadly, the hospital was destroyed by raging floods in 2007 but, after a Government supported reconstruction effort, the museum re-opened to visitors in May 2010. The hospital was a triumph of adversity and is an inspirational place to visit.
- Other museums in Idrija and Cerkno – this website has full details of the above museums and many more.
We have three walks easily reached from Idrija and Cerkno in our book.
Accommodation in Idrija and Cerkno
Accommodation in Idrija and Cerkno is more limited than in the towns near the Julian Alps. Only one hotel is listed for Idrija, the 5* Kendov Manor Hotel, in nearby Spodnja Idrija, about 5km away. In Cerkno there is the 3* Cerkno Hotel. There are some apartments, rooms and overnight accommodation available in both towns, as well as a Youth Hostel in Idrija. There is no nearby camping site. We advise you to book in the summer months!
The Idrija Tourist Information Centre and Cerkno Tourist Board websites have lots of useful information.
Idrija and Cerkno are easily reached by bus. The nearest train station is at Most na Soči.
- Click here for up to date bus timetables from all Slovenian locations to Idrija.
- Click here to access train timetables.
- Click here for language help reading timetables.
Idrija has a good range of shops, and places to eat. In Cerkno, the choice is more limited. Tours and trips can be booked at the Idrija and Cerkno Tourist Information Centres (see above for links).
Please leave a comment below, or contact us, if you have some up to date information that you think might be useful or any suggestions to improve Slovenia-walking.