We’ve stayed in some weird and wonderful places on our travels. Tree houses, hill top fortresses, and even abandoned churches have all made an appearance. So when I heard about Pension Lectar in Radovljica I knew we had to fit it into our week in Slovenia.
Pension Lectar is a traditional family home in the quaint town of Radovljica. It has a restaurant, a guest house and, wait for it…a gingerbread museum! I’m not a huge fan of museums, but when they’re dedicated to sweat treats and smell divine then I’m all for it!
Radovljica is a charming little town between Ljubljana and Bled, and it doesn’t take long to drive to either so it’s a great base if you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet. The old town is perched up on a hilltop above the Sava river valley and the Dežela plain. It’s a picture postcard location, with the dramatic Julian Alps appearing to surround the whole area. The historical part of town is full of superbly preserved traditional buildings, cobbled streets and open air cafes. It’s the sort of place where you can sit with a coffee or ice cream in the sun and just do a bit of people watching. Or snoozing.
Linhart Square is the centre of it all, and this is where you’ll want to visit, sleep and eat. There are plenty of museums, galleries and restaurants to check out in Radovljca, and it’s a great place to spend a day, or even stay the night.
The house is prettily situated on the medieval Linhart square in the heart of the old town in Radovljica. There’s really no better place to stay if you want to be in the centre of it all. As well as a guest house, the family run Pension Lectar has a restaurant serving traditional Slovenian food, and a gingerbread workshop and museum.
The name Lectar comes from the Slovenian word Lectarstvo which is the traditional craft of decorating shaped honey dough, or gingerbread.
It was popular with the elite in the 16th Century, and lect workshops could be found all over the countryside, and in city squares in the height of it’s popularity in the 19th Century. Many people used the gingerbread as love tokens, which is why they are so often heart shaped. Today they’re a great souvenir to take home. Or eat before they even make it into your suitcase!
At Pension Lectar you can visit the live gingerbread making workshop, and see for yourself how it is created. The lect workshop has been here for 2 centuries, passed down through family generations.
The shop sells all sorts of gingerbread variations, and you can even order it with your own message. There were a couple of little treats waiting on our pillows that evening, which was a lovely touch!
The 9 en-suite ‘Medieval style’ rooms at Pension Lectar are all traditionally furnished, and we loved the old beams in our room. We stayed in the Nogavičar bedroom, just up the stairs from the gingerbread shop. The whole place smelt of warm gingerbread, so cosy!
There was plenty of space to unpack and a little table for when the laptop had to make an appearance, but the best part was direct access onto the terrace which overlooked both the historical square and the rest of Radovljica.
The staff are all lovely and friendly, and communication with them prior to our trip was superb. We were given clear directions to the free private parking (just a couple of minutes walk from Pension Lectar), and they even came to help with our luggage.
Vehicle access to Linhart Square is restricted, but the staff at Pension Lectar have a key fob to lower the bollard blocking the street. So if you have a lot of luggage you can drive to the door to drop off and pick up if necessary.
Gostilna Lectar (the restaurant)
The traditional Gostilna Lectar food is famed throughout Slovenia, and it’s the one place I was really looking forward to in terms of sampling local dishes. ‘Gostilna’ means ‘inn’ by the way! We’d enjoyed fine eco-style dining at the Greenhouse Restaurant at Garden Village Bled, and now wanted to try something a bit more homely.
There are several medieval style dining rooms to choose from, and although it was a lovely evening and most people were eating on the terrace, we opted for a quaint little indoor corner full of beams for a bit of atmosphere.
We opted for the pumpkin soup (Bučna juha) to start, mainly because it came in an actual pumpkin! It tasted as good as it looked. Next up were traditional handmade dumplings (Žlikrofi) which were tasty, but the goulash that came with it was a real disappointment. The meat was too gristly to chew, let alone swallow. There was also a dead fly in our turnip side dish, which had clearly been fried up with the vegetables. Ugh! Given the fantastic reputation of the restaurant, this was a real let down. Rather than spending our final evening in Slovenia on a high, we felt deflated and retreated to our room to munch on gingerbread instead.
The staff did apologise, and only charged us for one main dish, which was appreciated. Maybe we were just unlucky that evening. The continental breakfast buffet the next morning was really good, with lots of choice and they even opened it an hour early for us as we had a flight to catch.
What to do in Radovljica
Standing right next to Pension Lectar, and dominating the old square with it’s Baroque façade, the huge Radovljica Mansion is home to several local museums, a music school and a stunning Baroque hall. As we tiptoed inside this vast and seemingly empty space, variations of Paganini floated down the corridor, filling the lofty hall with quite exquisite music. We stood and listened for a few minutes, feeling like eavesdroppers overhearing an intimate conversation. I wondered if the beautiful architecture and fabulous acoustics spurred the students on in their pursuit of musical perfection. It was certainly a far cry from the school halls, spare bedrooms and even kitchens where I learnt to play as a youngster.
Of all the exhibits in Radovljica Mansion, it was the Museum of Apiculture we wanted to see. We’d been learning about bee keeping during our stay down in Bela Krajina, and were keen to find out more about the history since Bee or Honey Tourism seems to be a big ‘thing’ in Slovenia. It was fascinating to see how bee keeping has changed very little over the centuries, and the museum is definitely worth stopping at if you’re in Radovljica.
Entrance costs €3. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Church of Saint Peter
St Peter’s is a 15th Century Gothic hall church, tucked away at the end of the main street in Radovljica’s old town. It is believed there has been a church on this site since the 10th Century. The leafy courtyard is a great place to find a spot of shade (Slovenia gets really hot in the summer!) and eat an ice cream!
There’s also a Gothic tavern next to the presbytery, and the oldest section of Radovljica’s town walls, with remnants of defence towers as well as a German bunker from World War II.
During the 15th Century Radovljica built up it’s fortifications, including a wall with 16 defence towers, and a moat. The moat, which has subsequently been built over, can still be seen (and walked through!) today. It is Slovenia’s only preserved town moat.
Wandering the streets
Really, the best thing to do in Radovljica is to simply wander through the picturesque old town streets. The colourful buildings here are so beautiful, with Renaissance and Gothic façades, and windows adorned with flower boxes. See if you can spot the old musical instruments hanging randomly on the street wall, the rather bizarre dog bakery, and work out where all those delicious looking ice creams that people are eating come from. Hint, it’s the cafe next door to Pension Lectar!
I definitely recommend staying a night or two in Radovljica if you have time. There’s not a whole lot going on but that’s what makes it special. It’s the perfect antidote to the tourist swamped Bled, and you could even base yourself here instead as it’s only a 10 minute drive between the two towns. Slovenia is such a small country that nowhere is really that far away! We actually stayed here before our flight out of Ljubljana the next morning, as the distance between Radovljica and the airport isn’t much further than from the capital city itself. Plus we had free car parking and didn’t need to negotiate city traffic.
It was a no brainer!