“Don’t stay in Bled,” was the advice my well-travelled children gave me when I recently visited Slovenia. “It’s touristy and busy. Go to Lake Bohinj.” So, never one to ignore travel tips, I duly booked a hotel on the banks of Bohinj, in the small town of Ribčev Laz, and did not regret it for a second.
Lake Bohinj is an outdoor enthusiasts dream location. Located within the Triglav National Park the lake is 4.2 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide at its widest spot. The clear waters provide enjoyment for fishing enthusiasts, swimmers, kayakers, paddleboarders and hikers. It is breathtakingly beautiful too so don’t forget your cameras.
This area is a winter option for a visit too, with nearby Vogel Ski Resort accessible by gondola.
There are plenty of outdoor activities in the area, both during the summer and winter.
• Alpinsport, based in Ribčev Laz, offers kayak, canoe, paddleboard and bike rentals, and in the winter cross-country ski equipment. There are also day packages to enjoy.
•The lake’s crystal clear waters are a wonderful turquoise blue which seem to call you in for a swim. Remember your water shores though as the lake is rocky.
• Boat Trip –There are two electric boats that go up and down the lake from Ribčev Laz or Ukanc, from April to November, complete with information from the tour guide on board.
• The lake has a wonderful trail on the north side, and if you don’t want to walk the return journey you can take the electric boat from either Ribčev Laz or Ukanc. The trail has endless picturesque spots for a picnic or a swim. You might just decide to give up the hike and stay to enjoy the views.
• There is a 45-minute hike from Ribčev Laz to Mostnica Gorge, a beautiful gorge in the Voje Valley. Both during summer or fall, for a small fee, you can meander along the trail following the crystal clear alpine river as it wraps itself around the huge mountain boulders.
• Another hike from Ukanc will take you to Savica waterfalls. A popular Slovenian waterfall, and one where the river splits in two and is 78-meters high.
• Vogel Mountain. In both summer and winter Vogel Mountain has something to offer. The gondola takes you up 1,535 meters to Brown Rock, where in summer you can continue on to other trails via the four-seater cable car through the landscape of the Julian Alps. You can also paraglide from here and get the best views of the lake.
In winter, the ski resort of Vogel Mountain offers all the winter activities such a gear rental, ski school, a children’s park and winter paragliding.
The Bohinj area offers many places to climb and the book, “Bohinj Climbing Guide” by Andrej Pikon and Andrej Podlipnik guides you through 476 routes if you are experienced or climbing with a guide. If you want to learn, Pod Skalco at Ribčev Laz, offers rental equipment, guides and training.
• Lake Bled is the most popular tourist lake in the area with its island and church placed photogenically in the centre. To get here you can rent a gondola type boat or rent paddle boards or canoes if you are feeling adventurous. The medieval Bled Castle also is worth a visit.
• Vintgar Gorge is another popular tourist attraction. 1.6 kilometers of boardwalks crisscrossing over the clear, sometimes turquoise green, river. The boardwalk is an easy one-way walk (due to COVID restrictions) but the return walk, either short or steep or longer through the woods, can be a little more energetic.
Book your tickets here beforehand as this place has timed entrance and can get busy.
• Triglav National Park is Slovenia’s only national park and worth a drive, especially if you love switch-back roads. With plenty of trails, climbing, and history (World War I saw many offensives fought in these mountains, it’s well worth a visit.
The area is quiet, so your selection of restaurants is reduced.
But we found some great spots including:
• Foksner in Ribčev Laz was our favorite, with the best burgers ever!
• Restavracija Kramar ~ lakeside with great views and good local food.
• Karakter Bar in Ribčev Laz ~ street food and great beer. Definitely a favorite spot.
• Hotel Bohinj restaurant ~ more upscale, but great local food.
The three locations to find accommodation are
• Ribčev Laz, which has two large hotels – Hotel Jezero and Hotel Bohinj – and accommodation to rent;
• Stara Fuzina a short walk from the lake, which has several smaller hotels, such as Majerca Hotel, and accommodation to rent;
• and Ukanc, which offers high-end chalets, such as Chalets ALPIK.
If you are looking for something less expensive, there is a large campsite at Ukanc and Hostel Pod Voglom is based along the lake road.
Lake Bohinj has so much to offer, both winter and summer, and is yet to be swamped with the large tourist crowds that Bled experiences … so shhhhh, don’t spread the word!
Photographer/writer Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a long-time expat, she lived in Boston for 12 years and in the Netherlands for the past 10 years.
Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.
Contributing to Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.
She also covered the Women’s March Amsterdam.
She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.