Ahh, Slovenia. We love you so! There were many nooks and crannies of the country we had yet to discover, so we made our last trip to Slovenia count. On our list was everything from our tried and true favorite spots to the cities, mountains, and coast! Over the course of 10 days we criss-crossed the country and logged all sorts of steps. This is the first chunk of the trip…
Our first stop was in the northwest region of the country at Pericnik Waterfall. This “slap” is especially noteworthy in the region as it is the only one you can walk behind! The hike was fairly easy, taking us past several terrific viewpoints all around the 52 meter cascade, including behind it on a drippy wet path! It was well worth it. Beau decided he wasn’t comfortable with the narrow path behind the waterfall, but the girls joined us and it was awesome! We also had plenty of time to play around at the Triglavska Bistrica river nearby, where the kids worked to make another tiny dam. To learn more about this and the other wonderful water features of Slovenia, check out my blog highlighting my favorites here.
We stayed in a little town just outside of Lake Bled called Lesce, nestled in the surrounding Triglav mountains of the Julian Alps. The kids had an awesome time at the little apartment playing with our host’s children (who only spoke Slovenian) and making friends with the animals – ducks, chickens, kittens, and even a hedgehog! From the backyard of the apartment we could see Bled Castle – it was a great location.
The next morning we got up early and made our way to Vintgar Gorge, a special hike along the Radovna Valley River. This well known walk takes you along rushing waters on sturdy wooden paths and platforms. In the early morning hours we had the place all to ourselves. The fog was slowly lifting, and it felt like we were in a magical fairy forest surrounded by steep, mossy covered cliffs and greenery.
Near the end of the gorge hike is a waterfall crowned with a big arching bridge. From there it is possible to take different trails back towards the parking lot, so we chose the “scenic route.” It is longer, but very rewarding with views!
We took a fun hiking trail through the forest that promised to spit us out by St. Katherine Church. It wound through awesome trees that reached up to sky but were skinny like toothpicks!
When we emerged from the forest there was a little cafe and playground at the top of the hill near St. Katherine Church. We rested for a bit while the children played, and then continued on the narrow trail that cut through the hillside of a grassy valley. What marvelous vistas overlooking Lake Bled and the surrounding mountains!
After our hike, the kids were ready to take a dip. The weather was holding out for us, and even though it wasn’t especially hot, after a hike in that humidity, we knew the water would feel really nice. Derek hadn’t been to the far side of Lake Bled before, so he was happy to see such a lovely area for swimming. Until then we had only swam at the strand under the castle, but for that one you have to pay. This evening we went to the free strand, and it didn’t disappoint! The kids loved jumping off the wharf into the clear blue waters and pointing out fish. Believe it or not, our kids were showing less skin than some of the other kiddos swimming! We are in Europe, after all…
It is a long hike back to the main parking areas on the east side of Lake Bled, but the kids were good sports. It had been a long day (we walked over 9 miles!) and we were spent! More hiking and swimming was planned for the next day, so we grabbed dinner to go at the bakery and headed back to our little apartment in Lesce for bed.
We got another early start, making a quick stop at our favorite bakery (we did this every day – sometimes twice!) and arrived at Lake Bohinj when the Stara Fuzina parking lot was relatively empty. We had been to this spot several times before to hike the Vogar viewpoints, but hadn’t taken the Mostnica gorge hike before.
The Mostnica Gorge is a lovely hike along the Mostnica River with routes of various distances depending on how much time you have. It is possible to walk part of the way up the gorge without paying, but for only around $3/person, it is well worth going a bit further. The most rewarding part of the hike is from the little payment hut, walking up the right side of the gorge to the bridge where it is possible to cross the river and hike back on the other side. This takes around an hour or two depending on your speed and how many stops you make to climb around the rocks along the water’s edge.
From what we read, it isn’t worth continuing on the trail another hour one way to see the waterfall. The most beautiful section of the trails is this middle section and in our opinion, it is well worth it! the trail is easy for everyone, and the varying terrain and views made it especially fun for the kids. Wear sturdy shoes – amphibious if possible! Considering we wanted to get down to Lake Bohinj to spend the afternoon swimming, we didn’t want to waste extra hours on an extended hike that everyone on google said wasn’t worth it.
There were many places to stop and peer deep into the gorges as the water rushed by. It reminded us of parts of the Soča Valley! The most famous attraction in the gorge is the Elephant Rock (seen below) that forms a beautiful archway in the cold, green water. It would be really fun to swim through! But I don’t believe it’s allowed…
From Mostnica Gorge we made our way to our very favorite spot on the lake to swim. We couldn’t believe that at 11:00 in the middle of the summer it wasn’t busy. We thought part of that was due to the pandemic of course, but also part of it may be because the roads had newly installed wooden barriers so cars couldn’t park illegally along the road. These barriers also prevent people from seeing through the trees to where “our spot” is, so anyone who doesn’t know it is there could easily miss it. Either way, we felt really lucky!
It had been a year since we had been back to swim here when Grammy visited last summer (although I brought friends in October, it was too cold to swim) and it had been over two years since our very first visit where we fell in love with this magical place. I wanted to mark the occasion by recreating one of my favorite photos of the girls – and they had a great time! We had such perfect conditions and stayed at the lake all day. We also realized a powered blow-up device for the floaties would work a lot better for our lungs! HA! So we picked one up for the next day.
The next day we went straight to Lake Bohinj in the morning, about 30 minutes from Lake Bled/Lesce where we were staying. We stopped at the bakery to grab a bag of baked breakfast and lunch treats of course – there’s no better way to make trips affordable than using grocery stores and bakeries as the main source of sustenance! We were there early, so we had it all to ourselves at first. Eventually others found their way to this sweet spot but it never felt crowded. With all of our floaties and SUP blown up this time, we were able to use the water as an extension of the space and it was a truly memorable last day at Lake Bohinj, Slovenia.
There is just nothing like the clean, clear, green, glacial waters of Bohinj. We swear it feels healing to swim here, knowing it’s just us and the fish. Boats and floats are not allowed to have gas motors, so most are powered by paddles, making the water especially pristine. Bohinj (Bo-heen) is a swimming spot that will remain in our hearts forever!
We finished up in the late afternoon and headed back to our apartment to clean up. We were pretty wiped after a full day in the sun and water, but I was determined to go check out the views from a nearby church up on the Lesce area mountains.
Sv. Peter nad Begunjami
So in spite of initial resistance, the family rallied. We grabbed Bonsai and headed up the hill to a parking area and hiked the rest of the way up to the church. It was steep, and in some places tricky with footing, but we made it and even Bonsai did a good job! We were rewarded at the top with some gorgeous views overlooking the Radovljica and Lesce valley in one direction and the Julian Alps in the other. We also happened upon another group of paragliders – a happy discovery for the kids as we watched several of them launch! Beau said he would really like to try that someday!
We were planning to head straight to Logarska Dolina the next day but the weather there was threatening thunder storms, so we decided to make the most of the beautiful weather in Bled and let the kids have one last swim at their favorite strand right under Bled Castle! As doggies aren’t allowed in that (paid) area, I stayed outside and did some reading and relaxing on the grass, watching passersby and nearby fishermen catch and release an enormous carp! It was really something! The kids had a terrific time – especially on the blow-up obstacle course – and got their fill of swimming before we hit the road to Logarska Dolina.
Bonsai living her best life…
Finally it was time to say goodbye to Lake Bled. The kids were wet and worn out and ready to nap on the journey west. One final stop at the bakery and we hit the road to our next destination: Logarska Dolina! That and more in Roadtrip Slovenia Part 2 (coming soon)!