A view of Lake Bled

Travel Guide: Discover Slovenia, the Land of Lakes

Slovenia. The official name is “Land of Slovenes.” A relatively small country in central Europe. Full of beautiful mountains and vast lakes, Slovenia is truly a sight to behold.

With just 2.1 billion population, Italy in its west, Austria to the north, Croatia to the south-east and the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia is cocooned by other European countries.

Blooming fields in spring, pleasant heat during the summers, and a freezing winter, Slovenia has been blessed with all kinds of weather. Slovenia is the definition of “the best of both worlds.” It’s the perfect tourist destination.

The territory of modern-day Slovenia has been part of many different states; the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Carolingian Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Republic of Venice, the Illyrian Provinces, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary.[1] And when you visit, you’ll see traces of all these empires scattered all across modern day Slovenia.

The majority of Slovenia’s population is Slovene, while the rest is Serbian. With Slovene as its official language, Slovenia also has Hungarian and Italian as its regional languages.

With its wide variety of natural and cultural attractions, Slovenia should definitely be one of your top destinations.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovenia


Capital Ljubljana

No matter how hard it is to pronounce, the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is a wonderful city nonetheless.

With its classic structure, amazing architecture and city planning, vast food culture, and “kalwa”, Ljubljana will definitely make you fall in love with it.

Even if the origin of its name “Ljubljana” is unclear, most of the population lives in this capital.

It is Slovenia’s cultural, political, social and administrative hub. In the middle ages, both the river and the city were known by the German name Laibach.

Capital Ljubljana
Courtesy of Unsplash

Things to do in Ljubljana

There are countless things you can do in this lovely capital of Slovenia.

Dotted with bridges of all shapes and sizes, you can simply walk over them and take pictures of a perfect sunny day.

You can hook padlocks with your lover’s name on the Butcher’s Bridge. There’s also Triple Bridge, which splits into not two, but three parts!

You can visit the Ljubljana Castel, perched on top of a small hill. The reward is a beautiful view of the entire city!

The bike tour is as cheap as 2 euros! Just walk to the nearest Slovenian Tourist Information Centre (STIC) and pick one up!

You can cycle through the narrow, unexplored areas of the city, click pictures of some unique street art along the way, and maybe pop by a Slovenian bakery for a quick carb energy boost!

Lake Bled from a distance.
Courtesy of Unsplash

Lake Bled

Located in the scenic part of north-western Slovenia, Lake Bled is a serene sight. It is surrounded by the Alps mountains and is near the town of Bled.

Lake Bled is a top tourist destination. It is easily a must visit place if you’re planning to travel to Slovenia.

The lake is located just 55 kilometres away from the capital city of Ljubljana. The short distance from the capital makes this the perfect weekend spot. “It is 2,120 m (6,960 ft) long and 1,380 m (4,530 ft) wide, with a maximum depth of 29.5 m (97 ft).”[1] But the cherry on top is the small island right in the middle of the lake.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Bled

Bled Castle in the evening.
Bled Castle. Courtesy of Unsplash.

Bled Castle

The Bled castle gives the best view of the lake. The castle is medieval style, and it is the oldest Slovenian castle to ever exist.

Many tourists visit the castle just so they can admire the view of Lake Bled from the top. The museum inside the castle displays the history of the lake.

Bled Castle
Bled Castle. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Bled Island

“The lake surrounds Bled Island (Blejski otok). The island has several buildings, the main one being the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja), built in its current form near the end of the 17th century, and decorated with remains of Gothic frescos from around 1470 in the presbyterium and rich Baroque equipment.[1]

Another interesting thing about the church is that people are allowed to get married here! The church holds weddings of people from the town of Lake Bled quite regularly.

It is a tradition for the groom to carry the bride up all the 99 steps of the church before ringing the giant bell and making a wish once they’re inside the church.

Unfortunately, not much information is available about foreigners getting permission to get married at a church. But you never know.

If getting married at a grand church located in such a scenic location is a dream of yours, it might just come true!

How Lake Bled was Formed

Lake Bled was formed from the waters released when the Bohinj glacier melted and filled the natural basin that was formed by the glacier.

Not being tributary-fed, it obtains its clean water from a number of natural springs.

While excavations have discovered there have been settlements on the island and around the lake since the 8th century, it took the foresight of an innovative Swiss doctor to transform Bled into the iconic destination it is today.

Saving the lake from being drained to extract the rich clay deposits that comprised the lake bed for use as bricks, he foresaw the possibility of taking advantage of its unique thermal springs to develop a spa resort for the European gentry that quickly gained popularity.[2]

The entire lake freezes during winter. The usual aqua blue surface is covered in ice, and this plain white area is dotted by colourful ice skaters. The lake is like an open skating rink for everyone during winter.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Bled

[2] http://www.lakebled.org/

Few people seen in Lake Bohinj.
Lake Bohinj. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Lake Bohinj

Most tourists who visit Slovenia always claim that they have never seen a lake more beautiful than Lake Bled…until they get the shock of their lives once they pay a visit to Lake Bohinj.

Known as the largest permanent Lake in Slovenia, Bohinj is a celebrated place. With its ample amount of glistening water, surrounded by tall, green trees, where the sun’s rays reflect on the surface of the water. Located inside the Triglav National Park, Lake Bohinj is truly a dream come true.

It’s a well-known fact that Bohinj is not as popular as Lake Bled. Fewer tourists go there, mainly because Lake Bled is considered to be the ideal touristic destination. But even so, Lake Bohinj is special in its own way.

What can you do here?

It is a unique place, surrounded by nature, where locals come to relax, or for a quick swim.

You can cycle here, swim here, click countless pictures of the beautiful scenery. Kayaking, boating and even horse riding are available.

If you enjoy hiking, there are countless trails that go around the lake. You can even hike up to the top of Mount Triglav, aka the highest mountain in Slovenia.

How to get there

Located 26 km southwest, and close to the capital of Ljubljana, Lake Bohinj is the perfect place for a two-night stop. You can travel there by bus, taxi or hired car.

Some people also travel here right after their visit to Lake Bled. The distance between the two lakes is only 25 kilometres. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.

Flocks of locals gather here during spring and summer vacations, and tourists arrive by April-May, when the sun starts shining and the snow starts melting.

There are frequent buses to Lake Bohinj from Ljubljana bus station which operate throughout the day.

Where to stay

While there are many resorts and hotels near Lake Bohinj. Staying at a small yet cosy Airbnb will be your best bet.

Most of these accommodations are private. Almost all of them have lake view rooms, so you can rest assured.

There is even a campsite available. You can assemble your own tents, light a camp fire, and enjoy a night under the stars.

Slovenian Trout
Slovenian Trout

Slovenian delicacies

Whenever we travel to a new place, we cannot forget the most important part of the trip. Food! It’s crucial to try new dishes at your tourist destination. So that you can get a tasty tour of the country, and what it has to offer in the food department.

And trust me, Slovenia most definitely does not disappoint in that area.

Sandwiched between Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia with a strip of the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia’s food culture is traditional and unique.

Slovenian food is a mixture of certain elements borrowed from its 4 neighbours, but with a twist of its own.

Kremna Rezina
Kremna Rezina, Courtesy of Unsplash.

Must try dishes

The most popular dish would be the Slovenian dumplings. Made from buckwheat flour and filled with either cheese, potato or pork, one bite and you’ll lose count of how many you’ve eaten.

After the dumplings, we have Kremna Rezina, a custard filled puff pastry that will just melt in your mouth. And get this, these are sold at Lake Bled, so you’ll get a sweet treat with a wonderful view of Lake Bled. Pure magic!

Slovenian trout is probably the most sought out dish during summer. You get freshwater fish from the Alpine-fed rivers that melt during summer. Trout is a must try when you travel to Slovenia. Coated in buckwheat flour and then fried on medium heat, its buttery, fresh taste will leave you speechless!

To know more about delicious Slovenian dishes, read more.

Why lake preservation is important

Now that we’ve talked about the exquisite lakes of Slovenia, let’s talk about what we can do so that these lakes will stay exquisite in the future!

Be it a man-made lake or a natural one, we cannot deny the fact that lakes are a crucial aspect of our environment. Conserving these environmental sights is our duty as humans. While lake water isn’t always consumed by humans, it still holds immense importance.

As ecologically precious water bodies, lakes need to be protected and maintained.

Traditional water bodies, like lakes, rivers, and the sea, are at a threat due to immense capitalization and urbanisation.

The most important reason why lakes need to be protected and taken care is so that they can be useful for our future generations. Having this long-term approach will help us to keep these lakes in pristine condition.

Lake Bled Clean-up Campaign

The Slovenian government has been taking necessary steps in order to preserve the pristine-ness of their lakes. The water quality of all the lakes is regularly measured by the government. This is done to ensure that the water stays fresh and clean.

Every year right before summer starts, the water quality is checked for bathing. Not only that, they even retest the water quality throughout summertime. This amount of precision and dedication by the government is applaudable.

Dr. Mitja Slavinec, President of the Slovenian Diving Federation, said the Lake Bled Clean-up was the oldest environmental campaign in Slovenia. “The clean-up is important because it considerably improves the cleanliness of Lake Bled and delivers a very important message, which is that we are all responsible for our waters. We should not use the lake as a disposal site because the divers can never remove as much garbage as people can throw in.”[1]

These environmental campaigns are necessary not just in Slovenia, but in every country around the world.

Beautiful nature pathway seen in Slovenia with Mountains in the distance and green grass to the right and left of the path.
Courtesy of Pixabay.

So, Lakes go!

For a small country, Slovenia has a lot to offer in terms of culture, tourism and cuisine. It is not only a naturally blessed land, but also quite affordable. You can backpack with friends or hire a car and go on a road trip with your family.

Slovenia is what I would like to call a “flexible destination”. You can switch up your plans in whatever way you like and still have lots of fun! In Slovenia, the possibilities are endless!
But wait, there’s more!

If in the future you find yourself planning a trip to Slovenia, you can even take a short tour up north and visit Austria. Who wouldn’t like to visit yet another beautiful, easy to get by, and affordable country full of gorgeous lakes?

Get to know more about Slovenia’s neighbour Austria!


[1] https://www.bled.si/it/l’inspirazione/blog/2021060309071207/the-mystery-of-lake-bled/

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