Mountains. Rivers. Lakes. Valleys. Castles. Climbing. Kayaking. Canoeing. Walking. Hiking. Biking – It is easy to see why Slovenia is known as Europe in Miniature! Travelling as a family, individual, couple or small group? Slovenia is certain to cater for all and offer all an unforgettable experience.
Famed for being the ‘Sunny Side of the Alps’, the turquoise streams refined by their limestone surroundings, flow into the glassy lakes resulting in the perfect reflection. True to the saying ‘good things come in small packages’, this small nation can really pack a punch!
Our family loved it! It was a time for exploring and adventuring without breaking the bank balance! Slovenia’s greats lie in its natural features. Therefore you can easily experience this nation whilst on a budget, or utilise every tourist service and spend much more!
Slovenia’s iconic postcard picture lies on a small island in the centre of Lake Bled. As Camping Bled was closed (being off-peak) we parked at, you guessed it, another car-park! (Long 46.362330 Lat 14.081587) Wild camping in Slovenia isn’t illegal (except in Triglav National Park) but it isn’t common practice. Here parking costs €10 per 12hr stay and overnight parking is permitted. Sounds easy, until you discover it’s a coin only machine, for 2 nights, who has €40 in coins?
The view from here however, is tranquil and come sunset; unquestionably beautiful! Camping on the lake allows you to experience the water’s changing moods on your doorstep. I definitely ruined a few people’s insta shots as I arrived on the jetty edge, complete with iphone and busy toddler!
Bled centre itself isn’t anything spectacular but people flock here for the lake. With that in mind, the 6km walk around it is perfect for a young family. Paddled steered boats are the only form of transport to the central island and once there, you can ascend the 99 stone step staircase and enter the monastery. Naturally, this is significantly cheaper off-peak than Summer season prices.
Lake swimming is a major draw in Summer season but despite the weather being beautiful, the water was Baltic! The only things capable of swimming in such temperatures are the fish and Siberians!
The largest permanent lake in Slovenia, is most definitely worth the visit. Seemingly less commercial than Bled, it is surrounded by rugged mountain peaks and tucked into the Triglav National Park. We were incredibly blessed to be able to be shown around by our good friend, and native Slovenian, who knew all the top spots! Or should that be top-less…
We hired a canoe from Hostel Pod Voglam. We definitely recommend them, especially if you’re travelling with a young family. The friendly staff are more than happy to help out and being particularly family orientated, they have buoyancy aids available for babies to adult.
With the baby looking like a mini marshmallow in her life jacket, our friend led us across the lake to one of the many shores along the bay. Ours just happened to be the nudist spot! Relieved to be the only ones there, I encouraged Paul to experience life as a local, so when in Bohinj… I’ll spare you the pictures, although swimming was involved but so was underwear!
This place is magical – although not easily accessible quickly as you’re required to skirt around the Julian Alps! A mountain train is an option and buses run from major towns / cities. Although I imagine the availability may be affected off-peak. We entered Bovec via Austria and Italy and looped back into Slovenia, down its hair-pin bends and bleak mountain passes. The roads were empty so it was a joyous albeit steep, meander. We parked at Base Camp Kanin, which allows parking for 10-days simultaneously for €15pn including water and electric (Long 46.332778 Lat 13.539255).
As a ski resort, this is a great base as it’s on-site for the cable-car into the mountains. As the baby is still tiny weenie I got my way and was allowed to keep the family at the base of the mountain! Although with Paul as their father, it’ll be only a matter of time before they’re both on skis (sigh!) Therefore we took a small stroll into the woodland instead.
Two-hours in we still hadn’t returned as there was always ‘one more trail’ to explore. I wouldn’t advise a pushchair – but we managed!
We followed the Alpe Adria Trail to Bovec. Set in the heart of the Trenta Valley, the woodland is positioned beneath the mountain summits, within its ravines and waterways. Seeing as Nabbie has become an official critic for European play parks, it proved quite the adventure for a toddler with an imagination! Fallen branches became see-saws, leaves and stones we treasure, rock-faces were climbing walls and river drains were troll-guarded tunnels! We found waterfalls, hidden churches that looked like fairy-houses, and goats grazing in the alpine meadows.
Arguably, saving the best ‘til last – explore slightly further afield and you are in the heart of the Soča valley! Its turquoise waters are all too tempting to enter and despite its freezing October temperatures, you have to at least take a step into it.
Like a scene from Indiana Jones, its pathways are connected via numerous rope-bridges. Imagine Quasimodo after a toilet accident and you have some idea of what I looked like walking across them! Hanging over the gorge, the wooden slats seemed botched together, sometimes even incomplete! Make sure you keep tight hold of your children! There are very little hand-rails, except on the longer bridges, arguably needed as the swinging motion would otherwise plunge you into the river below. However, Paul assures me they are otherwise safe (!) Yet the sheer beauty of the natural environment can’t help but distract those even momentously scared of heights (me) and the venture across, was definitely worth the sacrifice of looking like an idiot to absorb the untouched Mountain View!
From here, every tourist activity could be undertaken, although rafting wasn’t advised for us, “as the water may be too cold for the baby if it was to overturn”, hey, no kidding, and the risk of drowning isn’t a concern…?
Seriously though, if you do nothing else in Slovenia, come here! Its beauty is undeniable, perfect for anyone who can appreciate a life outdoors!
Know someone who likes life outdoors? Feel free to share our post! And, if you’ve been to Slovenia – be sure to let us know your favourite spots!