Velika Polana is ideally placed to explore, not just Eastern Slovenia, but Hungary, Croatia and Austria. We are about 15 minutes from the Hungarian and Croatian border and 25 minutes from Austria. Slovakia is also a half day’s drive away. You can explore the border areas, or combine your stay with 1 – 2 nights at Balaton, Graz, Zagreb, Vienna (Wein) or Bratislava. Or you could visit other parts of Slovenia, including Ljubljana.
There are no border controls for Austria and Hungary.
Click on the links below to view details of other countries and the best places to visit:
Some travel Times:
Velika Polana – Graz 1 hour 20 mins
Velika Polana to Kesthely (Western Lake Balaton) 1 hour 20 mins
Velika Polana to Varaždin (Croatia) 50 mins
Approx Times to major cities (From RAC Route Planner)
*Also accessible by train from Murska Sobota
Guide books for Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Austria are available at our cottage to help you make the most of your visits to these countries. We have also picked up various brochures when visiting places ourselves. This guide is based on visits we have made.
NB: You will need Hungarian Florins (Ft) in Hungary, so may need to pop into Lenti and find a cash point. Exchange rate is 400Ft to the Ł1(2006). Prices in Hungary are very cheap. Wine is good. Chili is very popular and may be served as a condiment (like Ajvar is in Slovenia, but very hot).
Hungarian Border (Őrség region): Hardly qualifies as a longer excursion, as the villages are so close to the Slovenia border. You can cross the border at Lendava or Hodos and the villages referred to are all marked on the Pomurje map as well as the Őrségi Nmzeti Park map available at our cottage. It will take no more than 30 minutes to reach this area from Velika Polana.
The Őrség region forms part of the trilateral (crosses three countries) national park of Őrség, Raab (Austria) and Goričko (Slovenia). The area is quite different in appearance to Goričko, being more forested, less farmed and fewer vineyards. There is clearly a thriving tourist industry. The Őrségi Nmzeti Park map has numerous walking and cycling trails. There is a good tourist information centre North West of Őriszentpéter.
Őriszentpéter appears to be the central base to the region. There is a reasonable restaurant, called Bognár Étterem (Beware of the Chilies in the salad bar). You will also find 2 places making & selling Haben Pottery not far from the restaurant and tourist information centre.
At Szalafő there is a small open air museum (follow signs for Pityerszer) showing examples of traditional village houses of the region. (Entry 400 Ft).
Magyarszombatfa is famous for it’s Haben pottery. It is well worth a visit. Park outside the small museum (showing how pottery is made, entry 120 Ft). When you have seen the museum, just walk around the village and visit some of the potters (Fazekas). Some examples of their work hang on tree branches outside, but you need to go into their workshops to see the best pottery (they will invite you in). There is a pleasant cake / ice cream parlour. There is also a restaurant, (part of a hotel) but we have not tried it.
Lake Balaton: You can reach the west coast of Lake Balaton in an hour and 20 minutes. The lake has “beaches” where you can swim, sun bathe or windsurf. You can also go cycling around the lake or walking in the hills north of Lake Balaton. It is worth spending one or two nights in the area (particularly if you have flown into Balaton airport). However it is very busy and touristy and so may not appeal to all.
the other hills. The Kisfaludy House Restaurant was very busy - you need to get there early to get a table with a good view. (NB it is about a 20 minute drive from Kesthely if the traffic is good, but the road can be quite busy).
Héviz: is worth a visit, but not worth staying long unless you want to take to the thermal waters. You can swim in (or float around on a rubber ring on) the thermal lake for 1,200 Ft for 3 hours. If you just want to see the lake, you can walk around it by going through the park (though it is fenced off). There are some good, cheap shops here.
Described as the “Jewel of Hungary” this is an attractive small town close to the Austrian border. It is about 2 hours drive north of Velika Polana. Hotels and rooms are cheap if you want to stay overnight. You can walk from the town into the neighbouring national park (Irottkő Geschribenstein Naturepark). The walk up to cavalry hill (viewpoint) takes about 45 minutes. You will find a map of local walking routes at our house.
Kőszeg by day and night.
About 1.5 hours from Velika Polana and on the way to Kőszeg, Ják is famous for having Hungary’s most outstanding Romanesque abbey church.
Abbey Church, Ják
Graz: is well worth a visit. It is an attractive city, also worth visiting in the evening. Do take the lift up the Schlosberg, as the views are very good. Also walk around the old town and take time to look at the Murinsel (Island in the Mur) and Grazer Kunsthaus (also known as the Sow). These examples of modern architecture may not be to everyone’s taste, but certainly make a statement.
To visit Graz City we recommend that you use the park and ride at Graz – Webling. (Refer to City Map). Continue along the A9 motorway following the signs to Graz. The motorway will split, take left hand lane to Graz. At the roundabout go straight ahead, then immediately get into the left hand lane and turn left into the car park. There are P&R signs. (NB The car park is nothing fancy – it just looks like an old area of tarmac where cars have parked randomly). If you miss the turning, go left at the roundabout at the end of it and turn left into it from the other side. Follow some signs down some steps to the Trattfeldstrasse bus stop. Catch the No. 32 bus to Jakominiplatz (the main city square). When you have bought your bus ticket, you must date stamp it using the machine on the bus. On the way back you will need the bus for Seiersberg and get off at Trattfeldstrasse. The buses run every 12 minutes and cost around 1.50 euros.
There are summer concerts in Graz – look at www.grazjazz.at for details. And a jazz festival from mid July – early August (www.jazzsommergraz.at ). There is an internet café at Herrengasse 3 (near Hauptplatz).
There is also good out of town shopping at Seiersberg (turning off motorway before Graz - follow signs from motorway).
You can cross the Croatia border at Lendava, Razkrižja or Središče Ob Dravi. If you go via Središče Ob Dravi you can include a nice drive through the JERUZELEM wine region and a visit to the Pumpkin Oil museum at Središče Ob Dravi on your trip. From the road between Razkrižja and Ljutomer, turn right just past the Ljutomer town sign, following signs to Središče Ob Dravi.
Croatia have the Kuna, exchange rate (according to guide books) 12 Kuna:Ł1. From our experience English is more widely spoken than in Slovenia.
Varaždin: is highly recommended. It is only 50 minutes from Velika Polana (via Središče or Lendava). It has a beautiful Baroque style old town, an attractive castle and a lovely market. The cemetery is also worth a visit. Amazingly there are very few tourists and it is a pleasure to wander the quiet streets of the old town.
The castle costs 20 Kuna and is open 10am – 6pm daily. A guide takes you around (to ensure you don’t get lost). There are notices up at the entrance to each room describing some of the contents in English – you just have to try to match the description to the object. You can ask the guide questions, although ours wasn’t very forthcoming.
The bakery on the corner of Uršulinska U. and Kačićeva sells good pastries for lunch. The Caffe Bar “Pop Ice” on the corner of trg Kralja Tomislava sells good ice cream. It has an English menu and it’s drinks menu includes Belgium Beers (including a Cherry and wheat beer).
The Market is open daily until 2pm – sells a good range of fruit, meat, dairy products and local fare. Many shops are closed between 1pm – 5pm.
INVANSČICA: This is a 1060m high mountain close to the border with Slovenia. It takes around an hour to drive to Ivanec, from Velika Polana via Ormož. From there you can make an energetic walk to the top, where there are fabulous. views. There is a 9km track that can be driven as well (takes about 30mins). There is a Pizzeria in Ivanec. We also found a reasonable restaurant at Lepoglava (West side of town, near the church and bus station). It is called Buffet Invansčica. Further Information about Invansčica
View from summit of Invansčica.
TRAKOŠČAN CASTLE: Just 20km further on from Ivanec is Trakoščan Castle, described in the guide books as being the best in Croatia. (about 1 hour 20mins from Velika Polana). Entry was 30 Kuna. The castle looks quite fairytale and sits on a big lake. The walk around the lake is good, but takes a good 1.5 hours to complete.