It’s funny how without even stepping outside the motorhome we knew we were going to love Slovenia from the minute we entered the country just by looking out of the windows. The landscape immediately had us transfixed with majestic mountains towering over the land below, it appeared like every inch of the countryside was covered in trees their varying shades of green evoking nature.
A visit to this lovely land wouldn’t be complete without a trip to her glorious lakes. Our first stop was at Bled – not the biggest but the most visited of the countries lakes. Words just cannot adequately describe the beauty of this place, breathtaking, stunning, beautiful, magical, they all describe it but just not well enough. Surrounded by mountains, overlooked by a castle and housing a church on an island in the middle, its picture postcard perfect.
We stayed at Camping Bled (GPS 46.360992 14.078968 – cost 19€ a night with ACSI Card) which is separated from the lake by a small road. The campsite is large and was very busy given that it was late August, but we were able to squeeze into a spot. It has good amenities including a restaurant, but the town of Bled just a few kilometres away has restaurants, small supermarkets, ATM’s etc. to cater for the ever growing throng of tourists. Although the forecast wasn’t great when we were there, most of the storms came later in the day or overnight so we were able to explore the surrounding area.
Here are some tips on must do’s and see’s
- Circumnavigate the lake: The lake is only 6km’s around so it’s easy to navigate on foot or cycle. We did it by bike stopping off for a picnic on route.
- Messing around on the water. With water temperatures of 26 degrees it’s perfect for swimming or just messing around. You can enjoy pleasure boat trips to the island, hire kayaks or stand up paddles or just dip on and out of the clear waters to cool off on a hot day.
- If you would like to spice up your visit to Bled with a touch of adrenaline, than you must visit Straža mountain. From spring to autumn you can take a ride on the sledding track that is situated on the ski slope along the chair lift and ride the toboggan. It only lasts a couple of minutes but it’s great fun.
- No visit to Bled would be complete without a walk through Vitner Gorge. The 1.6 km long gorge carves its way through the vertical rocks of the Hom and Boršt hills and is graced by the Radovna with its waterfalls, pools and rapids. Situated just 6km’s north of Bled we were able to reach it by bike, but were grateful of our electric power navigating some of the hills. There is a wooden walkway all the way to the falls which is narrow in parts, but a very easy trail to manoeuvre. Entrance is just 5€ pp.
- Witness the sunrise. Of course the best views are always most pleasurable without masses of tourists sharing them. One of the most amazing times at the lake is early in the morning to witness the sunrise. Not only will you have the place to yourselves (almost), you will be rewarded by an awesome view.
Sunrise lake Bled worth the 6am alarm
From Bled we travelled just 40kms to the larger of the regions lakes Bohinj. Here we checked into Camping Zlatorog (GPS 46.279056 13.836661). We’d heard it was very busy so arrived early and managed to squeeze into a very shady pitch under a canopy of trees. Although reception told me it was much quieter when we were there than previous weeks we didn’t see any evidence of this – I think he just meant that they weren’t turning dozens of people away. The price reflected the demand at 31€ a night so with direct access to the lake we made the most of our day getting “Kev” our kayak inflated and onto the water. Unfortunately Pauls knee had been playing up again so I left him to it during the afternoon and cycled off to the nearby waterfalls at Savica. The cycle up there was pretty steep and then there are 500 steps to navigate to the top so it’s not for the faint hearted. You’re rewarded not only by the view of the double waterfall but a beautiful vista back down to the lake below. Entrance 3€ pp.
Messing around on the water in “Kev”
The Waterfall at Savica
After receiving a couple of recommendations we made our way to just outside the ski resort of Kranjska Gora to Lake Jasna finding a little pull in just opposite the lake to park up (GPS 46.473608 13.78516). Surrounded by the tallest mountains in Slovenia, The Julian Alps the view from our parking spot was certainly spectacular. In summer time the ski resort caters for the outdoor enthusiast with mountain biking trails, hiking paths, and cycle routes. For the less active there’s always the chair lift to take you to the top of the mountain. We’d intended to head out cycling but the weather had other ideas as a mega storm set in and still hadn’t abated 2 days later. Finally we gave up and kissed goodbye to this beautiful location, putting it on our still to do list for next time instead. Slovenia is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast with endless opportunities, unfortunately as the rain bought with it a cold front, our opportunity this time was somewhat limited so our rafting and cannioning on the river Soca have also been placed on hold.
Around Lake Jasna
A drive through the Julian Alps took us through the scenic Vršič Pass, listed on the dangerous roads website as one with spectacular views. The road is open an average of seven months per year as in winter its impassable. What makes the drive so special, apart from the views and scenery, is the history behind its very existence.The Austro-Hungarian authorities decided early in 1915 that they needed a road to supply their forces who were preparing to defend their border with Italy (to become known as the Isonzo Front). The building took place using Russian prisoners-of-war as forced labour, it began in March 1915 and, unbelievably, was completed by the end of that year. The pass needed to be kept open all year so prisoners were stationed in camps to shovel the snow off the road during the winter months. In March 1916 an avalanche buried one of these camps killing around 400 prisoners and 10 of their guards. There is a small Russian cemetery near hairpin 4 and to commemorate this disaster and in remembrance of their comrades, other Russian prisoners built a beautiful Russian Orthodox Chapel on the site of the camp and this can be seen by stopping at hairpin 8. To honour the Russian prisoners the road was renamed in July 2006, as the Ruska cesta (“Russian Road”).The road is an exhilarating and spectacular drive, climbing and descending 49 hairpin bends, each one numbered and with height recorded, taking you across the spine of the Julian Alps. It is not a difficult route, but easier and more enjoyable if you’re in a car or on a motorbike and I wouldn’t even attempt it if you are towing a caravan!!! We were lucky that it had stopped raining for the duration of our drive although the pass was made a bit more difficult as the visibility wasn’t great.
At the bottom we opted for a one night stopover at Camping Polovnik in Bovec (46.336288 13.557244). Whilst Paul rested up I visited the open air war museum at Ravenik. Tucked away in the hills are some old tunnels and trenches left over from WW1. Probably not the smartest move on a showery day, as the heavens opened on my cycle back pelting me with hailstones.
The open air war museum -free to enter
Just before I got wet
With the weather forecast not set to change for the foreseeable future we looked for indoor options to keep us occupied instead and opted to make our way to the Postojna Caves. There is a designated Motorhome parking with service about 150m from the entrance (GPS 45.780495 14.203569 cost 20€ a night inc elec). Postojna Cave is without doubt one of the most diverse cave systems in the world. Its 24 kilometres of passages, galleries and magnificent halls offer a unique experience of the underground world. There’s a train which takes visitors through the 1st 3 km’s then a guided 1.5km tour on foot lets you experience the magnificent stalagmites and stalactites close up. The price tag is a little steep at almost 26€ pp but it is impressive.
When we started having porridge for breakfast, putting extra layers on the bed and switching the heating on to keep warm we decided that although we were adoring Slovenia we’d rather come back another time, so for now we’ve bid an early farewell and decided to make a mammoth drive to the south of Croatia with a view to working our way back north along the coast. Fingers crossed the rain doesn’t follow us!!!
Snow on the mountains at Bovec BBBRRR!