Since Covid19 hit Europe pretty hard in spring 2020, I had to cancel my Asia trip for this year. It was time to find alternatives around Austria. Italy and Croatia were not an option for me since I spent so much time there, when I was a little kid. I heard about this crazy lakes in the Triglav National Park which is only a 3 hour car ride away from my hometown. So I took 2 days off, booked a small apartment, packed my backpack and hit the road.
Slovenia is a small country with only 2 million people living there. Its capital Ljubljana is pretty much the only big city. In the northwestern region you find the Triglav National Park and if you are looking for some infrastructure and a place to stay, Bled is probably the town you are looking for.
I stayed at Bled Apartments, about 5 minutes away from the shore of Lake Bled. The town is manageable, there are some nice restaurants, one supermarket, a hand full of boutiques and some small bars. The prices for groceries are way lower than in Austria but if you want to have a nice dinner and some glasses of wine you definitely gonna need some good money.
Down at the lake you will immediately fall in love with this small city. The lake with the huge mountains in the back offers a wonderful scenery, it's almost impossible to do shitty photos there. On the small island in the middle of the lake, you'll find the gothic style church of the mother of god, built in in the 15th century. Walk up on one of the viewpoints around Bled to get the perfect view on the island.
Take your time to surround the lake, the 6 kilometre path is packed with great photo spots and wonderful little bars and restaurants. Take your chance to rent a boot to paddle to the island in the middle of the lake or just enjoy the sun at the shore.
eating out in bled
I felt in love with the "Hitri Kruhek Bakery"! They offer wonderful breakfast, good coffee and the biggest pizza slices in Slovenia. The prices are cheap, quite the opposite to the prices down at the lake. The closer you get to the lake the higher the prices. But hey, you are on vacation - enjoy your life.
One place I definitely highly recommend is "Spica". This restaurant, right next to the lake, offers amazing Mexican food served with local beers. You definitely want to try the Fajitas or the salads they are offering! The staff is one of a kind. Not only that we got the desert for free, they make sure that you are not running out of Sliwowitz (Slovenian Schnaps) at any time. Get ready for a headache the next morning!
If you are more into burgers and fries, "Promenada Burger" is the place you want to go when in Bled. This guy in his tiny little restaurant knows how to fry a piece of meat. Finish it off with a local Lasko beer or hop into the Vinoteka Zdravljica right next door.
grabbing a drink
On the contrary to Austria, Slovenia is not really a wine-country. They are more into beer, especially in their 2 local beers Lasko & Union. Wine is expensive and even more expensive if you want to enjoy a glass right next to Lake Bled. Still there are some very nice bars where I had a good glass and a good time.
The first night I hung out at Vila Preseren, kind of pricey but awesome staff and a wonderful view on the lake if you are lucky to get a table all the way in the front.
Devils Cafe offers a wonderful view on the castle. Looks like a pub but is more like a family restaurant. Good wine and nice staff.
Definitely my favorite was Bar 2000, directly at the shore on the southern tip of the lake. This place is more like a little camper van, where they sell amazing coffees, homemade iced tea and "Kaiserschmarrn" (sliced pancakes). Dip your feet in the water, enjoy an ice cold drink and watch the boats run back and forth.
Cruising to bohinj
Anytime I get the chance to rent a scooter, there's no holding back. I love cruising around, especially on scenic roads. There is a small rental shop in Bled where you can either rent scooters, mountain bikes or cars.
35 bugs for the scooter and 2 Euros for a helmet seamed like a fair price, the only problem was, that all the scooters in this area are throttled down to 25 km/h!!! The road from Bled to Bohinj is 23 kilometres, so you can imagine that this was kind of a long ride. Nevertheless, you pass a lot of beautiful fields and mountains so it is worth renting one of the slowest vehicles ever.
Lake Bohinj is even more beautiful than lake Bled. This place offers tons of campgrounds, where families spend their vacation to hike and climb the nearby mountains.
After a short coffee-break we hopped back on the scooter to drive down the 6 kilometres to Savica waterfall. Take a lunch break at the foot of the mountain before you hike up 20 minutes to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Europe. The entrance fee was only 3 Euro and if you go in the afternoon you will not be stuck in tourist-masses.
Unfortunately, at the end of the path there is a huge iron grid, so taking perfect pictures is kind of hard. Nevertheless this place is something you have to see when in Slovenia.
Probably my highlight on this trip. After a 10 minute drive from Bled "downtown" you find a huge parking lot where shuttle buses drive tourists into the Vintgar Canyon. If you wanna save up your money you better follow google.maps all the way to the entrance of the gorge. The gorge is open every day from 8.00 to 19.00 but since you'll only need about 3 hours to explore everything you might want to go there in the afternoon. Entrance fee was 10 Euro and there are 2 ways to explore this canyon.
If you are not that much into walking you might want to take the shorter way, which is only about one and a half hours. You walk all the way through the canyon till you reach an old power plant. From there it is only about 25 minutes back to the main entrance.
I decided to do the longer route and it turned out that this was a wonderful idea and the perfect ending of a beautiful weekend trip.
Carved by the Radovna River, this canyon carries water so clear, I only saw back at the Cenotes in Yucatan, Mexico. The trees and ferns on the 50 to 100 meter high walls on each side are reflected in the river so this gives the water a wonderful clean green color.
The stream has created many erosive features such as pools and offers tons of wonderful photo spots. Make sure your camera is fully charged before going to Vintgar Gorge. The path is perfect for hot summer days since the temperatures are way lower than in the city next to Lake Bled.
After about 40 minutes you reach the old power plant, where the first part of the walk ends. A small hut offers cold drinks, ice cream and handmade crafts from the local markets around Bled. Relax a few minutes before you continue your walk back.
On your way, you'll pass wonderful green fields, walk through some forests and you'll get an awesome view over the mountains around Bled.
All in all, this trip was a wonderful experience, that showed me that you don't really have to fly 10 hours to find a small paradise. Definitely highly recommend a few days in Triglav National Park.
5 things you don't wanna miss
- Enjoy mexican cuisine at Spica
- Take a walk around Lake Bled
- Visit Savica waterfall
- Enjoy a coffee at Lake Bohinj
- Hike through Vintgar Gorge