Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Back in October 2001 when I first visited Lake Bohinj in Slovenia, I have to admit I wondered what all the fuss was about. All I witnessed that brief autumn afternoon was an enormous, eerily quiet, pretty lake with no main town and little to initially attract me aside from the natural beauty of the area.
Thankfully however I returned a couple of years later as I knew I had somehow misunderstood the Lake Bohinj experience and sure enough I was proved so very wrong.
With the chance to relax and spend a couple of nights at this pretty glacial lake, southwest of Bled I soon caught the activity bug that seems to affect all those who take in the clean fresh alpine air.
Surrounded by towering mountain peaks and on the borders of the Triglav National Park, this region has a surprising number of attractions to entice healthy visitors from far and wide.
The Heart of Bohinj
The centre of Bohinj is so small that I think the term blink and you will miss it was derived here.
Opposite the main focal point – the bridge to the St John the Baptist church is a small hotel and car park plus a couple of establishments such as the Kava bar where you can grab a drink and a meal.
During the day most people you see here are walkers, bikers or cyclists who have pulled over for rejuvenating beer ice cream or bowl of pasta.
Alongside the watering hole, you will find the charming Hotel Jezero known for its wonderful local cuisine and wellness facilities. On the opposite side of the road, there are sometimes small stalls often selling the delicious “Bohinjski Sir” cheese which is carved in front of you to taste. Another sells other local produce like wickerwork or honey for which Slovenia is well known.
In the winter months, there is occasionally a small Christmas market where more stalls and an alpine atmosphere are showcasing festive songs, local crafts, food and drink.
It is important to understand that Bohinj is very quiet all year round however that is perhaps the magic of the area. If it is peace in stunning natural surroundings then this little alpine base is just the ticket!
The most iconic site in and around Lake Bohinj is the 700-year-old St John the Baptist church and bell tower. It is located just across the stone bridge from the heart of Bohinj and at the tip of the lake itself.
Inside you will discover 15th and 16th-century frescoes however it is believed that the church itself dates back to circa 1300.
The gardens around the church are immaculate and you will find many people just wandering casually around the area while lovestruck couples sit on the bridge holding hands, watching the ducks and taking in the views and no doubt whispering sweet nothings.
There are regular panoramic boat trips you can take to view the stunning area from the water. These 50-70 seater electric-powered cruisers are a peaceful and relaxed way to admire the scenery. You can get off at the other end on a one-way ticket as many people choose to walk back or you can stay on board for the round trip at a cost of about 12 euros.
Another popular photo opportunity is a statue of the Zlatorog, a Slovenian god which is a golden-horned chamois or ibex that allegedly lives in the mountains of Triglav National Park.
Sport & Activities
The main reason people descend on Bohinj is to enjoy the numerous sports on offer. There is an Alpinsport shop next to the stone bridge that hires out all the equipment for a multitude of lake-based activities such as canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.
For walkers, the area is a dream and there is an easy, flat walking trail around the entire perimeter of Lake Bohinj. The trail is 12kms long and takes about 4 hours to complete. En route it offers numerous little stretches of beach to stop at and close your eyes and just hear nothing aside from the occasional bird or the water lapping the shoreline – this is nature at its finest.
A hike from the lakeside can take you to the Voje Valley and the 2 km long Mostnica Gorge which is located just above the village of Stara Fuzina. Here it is possible to go canyoning when the weather permits.
A short ten-minute drive along the lakeside from the heart of Bohinj will bring you to the Vogel Ski Station and the cable car where you can take a trip up Mount Vogel for tremendous views of the area.
The cable car, costing about 25 euros for an adult return fare, goes every half hour and is open from 08:00 every day until late afternoon but do check the closure time! If you are a little scared of cable cars then it is a little daunting at times so take a deep breath and close your eyes – you will be at the top before you know it!
Once at the top it is considerably cooler so make sure you take some warm clothes as it would be a waste to sit in the bar the whole time although, of course, that can also have some advantages! Another tip is to take some sunblock as if it’s a blue sky day you are exposed to the strong rays on the mountain.
I have visited a couple of times during the spring and autumn and both times enjoyed the restaurant and bar facilities at the top having walked around and taken in those incredible views and fresh air.
If you want to spend the day walking up in the mountains then there are various walking trails of differing levels of difficulty available. Maps are in the shops at both ends of the cable car station.
In winter time this area is all about skiing so all year round you can expect to see signs of pistes and chair lift systems.
Continuing from the Mount Vogel cable car station along the lakeside for another 5/10 minutes in the car will bring you to the reception for the trek to the Savica waterfall. After parking up in the large car park you will find a shop for simple Slovenian souvenirs as well as a cafe for refreshments.
The walk to the waterfall is about 500 steps and on the very uneven and slippery ground so it is hard work although there are stopping points en route. I would very much recommend you grab some water in the cafe before you depart as it was a lot further than I thought as you can tell by my exhausted look in the image.
The journey takes you through the forest amid beautiful nature and although the waterfall itself was lovely the viewing zone was a little cramped with everyone vying for the same position to get a selfie.
Opening hours may vary depending on the weather and season.