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Is Lake Bohinj really a must-do? Looking for itinerary advice.

My husband and I will be in Slovenia from May 11th-17th, renting a car once we leave Ljubljana, and I’m looking for itinerary advice. I’ve read through a million posts on here, and I know these are really similar itinerary options, but I think I’m just having a bout of decision paralysis.

Is Lake Bohinj really a must-do?

I know a lot of people recommend it, but I’m on the fence. I’m from the Pacific Northwest (USA) where it's very mountainous, and we have many alpine lakes that look very similar to the photos I’ve seen. The nearby waterfall looks alright (I’d go if I was there but there are lots of other waterfalls available elsewhere on this itinerary) and the Vogel cable car would be fun, but otherwise not too sure. I don’t know if I’d want to dedicate a whole day to it but unclear of how else I might fit it in.

Notes:

  • Our time in Slovenia is in the middle of a 23 day trip. We will also be spending 4 nights each in Berlin, Prague, Salzburg, and Munich. Slovenia is the only part of the trip where we’d be moving around/changing accommodations so frequently - I normally avoid that but I’ve seen many similar itineraries to this and seems a reasonable way to avoid too much driving back and forth.

  • We’re not particularly interested in any “extreme sports” like rafting, zip-lining, etc and not planning on doing any hikes that are longer than 30-60 mins ish.

OPTION 1

May 11th-12th: arrive early afternoon on the 11th, stay in Ljubljana 2 nights

May 13th: travel to Piran, stopping at Predjama Castle and Skocjan Caves on the way; overnight in Piran

May 14th: travel to Kobarid, explore Soca Valley on the way; overnight in Kobarid

May 15th: travel to Kranjska Gora via Vrsic Pass; overnight in Kranjska Gora

May 16th: explore Vintgar Gorge, Lake Bled; overnight in either Bled area or Ljubljana

May 17th: depart for Salzburg via train from Ljubljana

OPTION 2 (reverse direction and addition of Bohinj)

May 11th-12th: arrive early afternoon on the 11th, stay in Ljubljana 2 nights

May 13th: travel to Lake Bohinj, stop at Skofja Loka on the way; stay in Bohinj

May 14th: travel to Lake Bled, Vintgar Gorge; stay in Kranjska Gora

May 15th: travel to Kobarid via Vrsic Pass; stay in Kobarid

May 16th: travel to Piran via exploring Soca Valley, maybe stop at Skocjan cave en route; stay in Piran

May 17th: travel back to Ljubljana for train to Salzburg; stop at Predjama castle if train is later in the day

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Posted by
16581 posts

My only thought--which isn't really going to help you much--is that Ljubljana is a lovely place worth more time than it's getting. But then again, your trip is mostly cities except for the time in Slovenia, so I can see why you want to take advantage of seeing the lovely countryside. I think, given your origin, you needn't worry about skipping Lake Bohinj.

Posted by
3930 posts

No sight is a "must do." "Strongly recommended" maybe, but go with what feels right to you.

Posted by
16743 posts

I don't think Lake Bohinj is a must-see in your circumstance, but you do have to sleep somewhere. Years ago, I stayed there in preference to Lake Bled (while driving) primarily because it was a smaller, quieter town and had an interesting local restaurant, not for any specific hike or sightseeing. Rick may give more attention to Bled because it has more tourist services, including train station, is easier to walk all the way around, and has the cute island to visit.

Posted by
3 posts

acraven - Thanks for the reply. I definitely agree... I've been trying to think of a way to squeeze any Ljubljana day in there but haven't figured out how and only have flexibility in my Slovenia itinerary vs the other destinations. It does seem like a really great city, although you're right, this Slovenia portion of our trip has the goal of emphasizing countryside vs city. I could condense the Piran to Kobarid to Kranjska Gora into one longer day but worry it'd be too crammed?

jane - Sure, I get that. I didn't mean to phrase it in with such definitiveness, just trying to get a better sense of what people love about it so I can determine if I think I'll be missing out. :)

Laura - Thank you for the tip. Thought about that, just wasn't sure if I'd mind the back-tracking if I stay in Lake Bohinj the night before driving back to Ljubljana, but I suppose it's really not that much extra time! I will ponder.

Posted by
5307 posts

I can only agree with Jane that nothing is a must-do.

However, I also recall fondly the two or three days I spent at Lake Bohinj and how gorgeous it was there. But every trip has a different context, and I am not from the Pacific NW, so it may have struck me differently than it would you.

Kobarid and the Soča Valley are incredible, I will say that !!

Sorry not to be much help.

Posted by
4684 posts

I would consider "winging it." In May, you may get some rainy days, and it would be a shame to be locked into a rigid itinerary where you are can only explore Lake Bohinj on a rainy day. I'd rather be in Ljubljana that day, where I probably find more to do indoors.

At very least, "wing it" by not locking in an itinerary until a few days before arrival - maybe have you Ljubljana lodging lined up but not otherwise. I doubt you will have trouble finding lodging on the fly last minute, assuming you have a phone or some other internet device handy to book places.

Lake Bohinj is beautiful. I'm really not an outdoorsy type, so I didn't spend tons of time there. I took a boat across the lake and took the cable car ride up for the view. I skipped the waterfall. I hiked a little. I'm sure outdoorsy types could spend a few days there and love it. It's certainly not as built-up as Lake Bled.

Kobarid is a OK little town - I spent a night there but it was nothing special. (I did see the nearby waterfall, Slap Kozjak, which is easy to get to.) I stopped there in part for the World War I museum, which was a bit of a letdown (I'm a history buff but not a museum buff, if that makes any sense).

I loved, loved Piran (and Ljubljana). Loved the scenic drive from Skofja Loka to Bled via Jamnik and Kropa. i didn't drive from Skofja Loka to Bohinj - that might be pretty too.

Posted by
1840 posts

I loved my 5 days at Lake Bohinj, but I don't see it as a "must do" for Slovenia, especially for someone trying to maximize sites seen in 5+ days. For me, Bohinj is more of a peaceful, nature-centric base for someone who wants to relax and wants to do some outdoor activities in the area. It would be much better to make sure you see something unique like Škocjan Caves than to make another alpine stop when you already have a fair amount of alpine "stuff" on your itinerary.

Posted by
3 posts

Andrew H - Thanks, that's a good tip! I tend to over-plan so it's a good reminder to try and loosen up the itinerary a little. Lake Bohinj remains an option depending on the weather, time, etc but isn't locked in. It does sound nice if I can reasonably fit it in. I picked Kobarid only as a half-way point - Bovec is another alternative. Ultimately it will just depend on accommodations. I'm really looking forward to Piran and wish I could add another night there for more relaxation - still trying to think of a way I can add another day or two to Slovenia in general without drastically affecting other plans!

Dave - Thank you for your experience! Lake Bohinj does sound really beautiful and relaxing. I think I might try to loosen the itinerary a little to play it by ear in the Bled/Bohinj area.

Posted by
144 posts

We went to Lake Bled as part of our Rick Steves' Eastern Europe tour last year. I just looked at the pictures of Lake Bohinj, and it is gorgeous. It looks similar to Lake Bled, but it also looks less built up than Lake Bled. Although we very much enjoyed Lake Bled, if you had to choose between the two and you really like nature, then Lake Bohinj may be a better choice.

We took the train from Lake Bled to Salzburg and I was very glad that I had purchased my tickets in advance and reserved seats. The train got very crowded and a lot of people were standing in the aisle for the long train ride.

Posted by
4062 posts

I am one of the folks who recommend Lake Bohinj. I recommend it, however, as an alternative place to stay for those considering staying in Lake Bled. Bled should be seen, but I wouldn't stay there. It is tacky, in my opinion. The towns around Lake Bohinj are quieter and have good restaurants.