While most visitors to Slovenia focus their time on the capital city of Ljubljana and the tourist hotspot of Lake Bled, it is Bohinj that wins the prize for best adventure destination in Slovenia.
Located sixteen miles (25 kilometers) to the southwest of Bled, Bohinj is home to what is arguably Slovenia’s most beautiful Lake. Sure, Lake Bled is extremely picturesque with its castle and island church, but it’s also more or less a resort destination. If you want nature and the outdoors, the Lake Bohinj region is where you need to be.
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First, let’s take a step back and look at Bohinj as a whole.
Bohinj is a rectangular-shaped basin in the Julian Alps. It is made up of two main valleys, the Upper and Lower Valleys, that are separated by a small mountain range. Bisected by the Sava Bohinjka River, Bohinj’s main natural feature is Lake Bohinj.
The entire basin is flanked on three sides by the tall mountain ranges of the Julian Alps. On the fourth side, the basin leads toward Lake Bled. Bohinj encompasses more than twenty villages, the largest of which is Bohinjska Bistrica, where one of the local visitor centers is located.
There is one in Stara Fužina and Ribčev Laz at the visitor centers—you can obtain information about everything from cultural highlights to hiking trails and the area’s best restaurants.
Accommodation suggestion: Hotel Tripič in Bohinjska Bistrica
Bohinj Has Everything
Because of its setting at the foot of towering mountain ranges, surrounded by alpine meadows and pristine lakes, Bohinj is an active holiday enthusiast’s dream destination. We’ll get to that in a little while.
Besides spectacular nature, there’s also a wealth of culture available if you’re interested in that. Some of Bohinj’s villages are heart-achingly beautiful, featuring onion-domed churches, wooden-beamed farmhouses, and stone bridges.
This is one of Slovenia’s most authentic destinations. It’s by no means overrun by tourists, which is why it has managed to keep its local charm. People still live their lives quietly in a rural setting; farmers still spend summers high up in the mountains with their cattle or goats, restaurants still serve traditional, hearty, local dishes.
Triglav National Park
A part of Bohinj is also a part of Triglav National Park. The region and the park basically overlap in the Lake Bohinj area. Triglav National Park is Slovenia’s only national park, but what a park it is!
It comprises Mount Triglav, the tallest mountain in the country and the national symbol. This three-peaked mountain—hence its name—is featured prominently on the Slovenian coat of arms. Slovenia, incidentally, is one of only a few countries globally and the only one in Europe with a mountain on its coat of arms. Mount Triglav is also featured on the Slovenian flag. It’s said that every Slovene has to climb Mount Triglav at least once in their lifetime.
The mountain is literally the centerpiece of the park. It’s surrounded by lesser mountains, deep valleys, fast-flowing rivers, mountain lakes, meadows, and forests.
This is, of course, a landscape that is ideal for hiking and adventuring. The park is home to many miles of hiking trails, including a few epic long-distance trails. It’s also a popular destination for mountaineers, mountain bikers, and campers. Whitewater rafting and kayaking are much-enjoyed activities as well.
In winter, Triglav National Park is home to one of Slovenia’s largest ski resorts. The Vogel Ski Center lies on a high plateau overlooking Lake Bohinj and the Bohinj valleys. It’s reached by cable car from the lake’s edge, which is a strongly recommended thing to do in both summer and winter. The views are phenomenal.
Don’t miss Savica Waterfall, Vogel Cable Car, Mostnica Gorge, Lake Bohinj, and Pokljuka Plateau.
Unique Cultural Features
Bohinj is home to something unique in the literal sense of the word. When driving, hiking, or biking around the basin, there is one thing that is clearly distinct to the region. And that’s the double hayracks. While hayracks are used to dry grass pretty much all over Europe, these double hayracks are found only in this corner of Slovenia. They dot the farmlands between the villages.
When visiting Bohinj, definitely also take the time to see some of the local restaurants. They serve traditional Slovenian fare, often made up of plenty of meat, cheese, and grains. It’s absolutely ideal fuel if you’re heading into the mountains.
Restaurant suggestions: Restaurant Francka – Pri Hrvatu in Srednja vas or Chalet Merjasec at the Vogel Ski Center.
It’s also impossible to miss the many churches and chapels in Bohinj. Every village has its own church, usually with a striking bell tower. There are several interesting churches, but make sure to visit the Church of St. John the Baptist on the shore of Lake Bohinj in Ribčev Laz. This one is more than 700 years old and probably the most photographed spot in Bohinj. Other pretty churches are the Church of St. Paul in Stara Fužina and the Church of St. Martin in Srednja vas.
Don’t miss: Church of St. John the Baptist, double hayracks, Alpine Dairy Farming Museum, and local food.
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Traveling to Bohinj
- Air. An airport bus from the Ljubljana Airport can take you to Ljubljana or Kranj, and from these destinations, grab a bus or taxi to Bohinj.
- Bus. From Lake Bled, a 30-minute bus ride will take you to Bohinj, and from Ljubljana, a 1 hour 45-minute ride can be expected. If visiting Croatia, a bus from Zagreb to Bohinj is also available.
- Car. If renting a car, follow signs from highway A2/E61 toward Bled (exit nr. 3), and within 30 km of this exit, you will reach Lake Bohinj.
- Train. While the least practical option, trains can be used to reach Bohinj. The connections are Ljubljana to Jesenice to Bohinjska Bistrica Station. Once at the station, a bus, taxi, or walking will be needed to get you further on to Lake Bohinj.