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I wanted to put together this guide to Lake Bohinj in Slovenia because I had a fantastic time visiting and it’s such a hidden gem compared to Lake Bled.
I understand why so many travellers only add Ljubljana and Lake Bled to their Slovenia itinerary. These are the most popular places to visit in the country and for good reason! But Lake Bled can be insanely crowded and busy these days, with accommodation costing crazy amounts, booked up months in advance!
To spread tourism around, it’s always a good idea to visit a country’s ‘second’ destination or, in this case, second lake town. In my opinion, Lake Bohinj is just as beautiful as Bled (although admittedly lacking a scenic church you can row around), but much cheaper and quieter.
Where is Lake Bohinj?
Lake Bohinj is in the Upper Carniola region of northwest Slovenia, close to Lake Bled and not far from the capital, Ljubljana. Bordered by the Triglav mountain range and Triglav National Park, it benefits from spectacular surroundings.
Bohinj is the municipality but people are usually referring to the lake, Bohinj Jezero (jezero means lake in Slovenian). Unlike Bled where the town and lake have the same name, there’s no Bohinj town: the main lakeside settlement is Ribčev Laz.
Getting to Lake Bohinj
Getting from Ljubljana to Lake Bohinj: the drive takes around 1 hour 30 minutes along the A2/E61 highway. Alternatively, catch a bus from Ljubljana’s main bus station.
Getting from Lake Bled to Lake Bohinj: the drive takes around 30 minutes or you can catch a local bus. I noticed that the bus there cost €5 and on the way back it cost €1! I believe this is due to different bus companies but it struck me as a big difference. Arriva buses are the main local operator in Slovenia.
Parking: You can only park in designated areas (or at your accommodation); there’s a board at the entrance to Ribčev Laz which tells you where and the remaining capacity. There are also Park and Ride facilities in Strednja vas and Bohinjska Bistrica where you can park and take a free shuttle bus to the lake.
Getting around Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Walk – this is the option I took as I visited without a car slightly out of peak season when shuttles weren’t running. I took some VERY long walks but it was ok – exploring on foot and soaking up the scenery is one of the best things to do in Lake Bohinj!
Drive – many visitors arrive with a car (I suggest Rentalcars.com for hiring vehicles in Slovenia) which is useful when reaching out-of-town attractions and the starting points of numerous hikes.
Shuttle bus – from July to September, there are FREE shuttle buses travelling around Bohinj and to nearby destinations like Triglav National Park. There are 9 regular routes running. If you’re driving, you can still benefit from these by parking at one of the Park and Rides and getting a shuttle to the lake.
Panoramic boat – this will take you from one side of the lake to the other.
Can you visit as a day trip / how long to spend in Bohinj?
You can, and lots of people do. Personally, I preferred to stay overnight as there are quite a few things to do in Bohinj and I think you’d be hard pushed to see them in a day.
If you do want to visit as a day trip, it’s advisable (although not essential) to do so by car so you can see as much as possible. The attractions near Lake Bohinj are fairly spread out.
Visiting as a day trip by bus?
Rather than getting off in Ribčev Laz town, you could stay on the bus to the final stop of Ukanc. From here, you can ride Vogel Cable Car OR begin the hike to Savica Waterfall. If you disembark in Ribčev Laz, you’ll have to walk for almost an hour, take the scenic boat, or board a bus to reach these Bohinj attractions.
So you may as well stay on the original bus. Then, you only have to navigate one journey back to Ribčev Laz.
When is the best time to visit Bohinj?
The summer months (June-August) are your best bet for good weather if you’re hoping to soak up the sun and swim in the lake. Of course, these months are the most expensive and crowded time to visit… But still nothing compared to Bled!
Shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) and autumn (September-October) are also good times to visit with cheaper prices and fewer people around.
Winter (November-February) is rainy and cold with many things closed for the season. Boats across the lake don’t run from November to March.
However, you should note that the weather is unpredictable around these lake towns. In May in Bled, I had the most sublime weather ever. The next day in Lake Bohinj, it was cloudy and misty. I couldn’t belive how fast it changed! At first, I was disappointed but soon realised how mysterious and intriguing the lake looks in bad weather.
Where to stay in Lake Bohinj
Budget – I stayed at Hostel Pod Voglom which is the only hostel in town and a bargain at €16 for a private room. Check availability on Booking.com.
Mid-range hotel – stay at Bohinj Eco Hotel for 4* peace and comfort, views of the Julian Alps and access to the wellness resort. Check availability from €100.
Splash-out hotel – the newly renovated Hotel Bohinj is just 100m from the lake with panoramic views of the water and mountains. Expect an upscale alpine theme, restaurant, swimming pool and evening entertainment like cooking demos. Check availability from €300.
Apartment – if you’d rather stay in a cosy apartment, check out Cvetek Apartment in Ribčev Laz. If you don’t mind a 10-minute drive, there are bargains to be had nearby such as Apartment House Jager.
Things to do in Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Most of the activities in Bohinj revolve around the lake and hiking, as you might expect for such a naturally beautiful destination. These include…
Take a scenic boat ride on the lake
The Panoramic boat station by the main bridge in Ribčev Laz is where to board a boat trip across the lake. It travels to Ukanc on the other side of the lake (otherwise an hour’s walk or a bus ride away) where you can begin the Savica Waterfall hike or ride the Vogel Cable Car.
You can opt to get the boat one way (€9) or return (€14). There are discounts for children, pupils, seniors etc (see the website for exact prices and timetables). The ride takes 25 minutes with spectacular views the whole way.
The other option is hiring a wooden rowing boat at the same location. I can’t promise you’ll make it across the whole lake but it’s a fun way to while away a summer’s afternoon.
Info about Bohinj Jezero
- The lake basin was formed by ancient glaciers
- Temperatures range from 24°C at the surface in summer to freezing in winter
- It reaches depths of 45m
- The total shore length is 11 miles
- There are 16 species of fish in the lake.
Walk around the lake
This is a nice activity if you have time. But note that only the northern shore of Lake Bohinj is particularly scenic. The main road is on the other side so you’ll be walking beside it the whole time. In contrast, the northern bank has a simple footpath and no road.
The walk should talk around 1 hour depending on your speed and how often you stop to admire the view and take photos. For me, this was every 2 minutes!
Another option is hiring an e-bike and cycling around the lake. A reputable place to borrow them is Alpinsports at the head of the lake.
Hike to Savica Waterfall
Hiking to Savica Waterfall is one of the best things to do near Lake Bohinj, firstly because it’s beautiful and secondly because the hike there is equally gorgeous.
There are several options depending on how long you want to hike. I took a slightly insane option and walked from Ribčev Laz which took about 4 hours return.
Starting from the parking area
The shortest hike option departs from the parking at Slap Savica and takes a short 20-minute hike to the waterfall. The path is clearly marked and the hike isn’t too hard, although you’ll have to climb around 500 stairs.
At the parking area, there are toilets and a restaurant. Parking costs €4 for 3 hours or €8 for the day. There’s also a bus from runs from June-September connecting the town with the parking area.
Starting from Ukanc
For a medium hike option of around an hour, start from Ukanc where the scenic boat ride (or local bus) drops you. This is a lovely walk of around 2.5 miles / 4km through the Slovenian countryside with the gorgeous Zlatorog fairy trail to follow. It took me around 1 hour to walk between Ukanc and the Slap Savica parking area.
The 78m cascade is a karst spring that’s filtered its way through the rock wall. It thunders down the cliff face beside a small viewing platform. You can’t swim or go right up to it, just view it.
Entry to the falls costs €3 for adults and €1.50 for kids (free for under 7s) in low season, and €4 / €2 from June-Sept.
In peak season, the best time to visit is early morning or late afternoon to beat the crowds. There’s just one path with a few sections of staircase so it can get quite crowded I hear. Luckily, during my visit on a misty day in May, it was quiet even in the middle of the day.
Hike in Mostinca Gorge
The other popular place to hike in Lake Bohinj is beside Mostinca Gorge. Regardless of the weather, this nature reserve is a lovely place to take a walk because it’s shaded by a forest canopy which protects you from sun and rain.
The powerful river cutting through the rock face keeps the area lush and green, similar to the better-known Vintgar Gorge near Bled but MUCH quieter.
The weather was pretty bad the day I went to Mostinca but it was still a great walk. Perhaps because of the weather, the ticket desk where you’re meant to pay €3 entry (€4 in summer) was unmanned so I got a free visit. Every little helps for a budget backpacker!
Getting there: the start point is a 10-minute drive from Ribčev Laz close to the little settlement of Stara Fužina. Because I was visiting solo sans car, I walked there which took about 45 minutes from Ribčev Laz. My daily step count was on FIRE during my Lake Bohinj trip!
If you start in Stara Fužina, check out the Gorge and head back, you can expect to spend around 2.5 hours total. Walk up on the right, and down on the left side so you see both sides. Parking costs around €3 an hour, and the parking area is about 15 minutes on foot to the gorge.
Ride Vogel Cable Car
Easily the best place to visit in Bohinj (and possibly all of Slovenia) for panoramic views is Vogel Cable Car. In the winter, it transports skiers to Vogel Ski Centre in just 4 minutes and, in the summer, it takes tourists to the amazing viewing platform.
At the top station, there’s a cafe where you can sit with a coffee and admire the views. It’s also the starting point of several hiking trails such as the Mount Vogel trail reaching 1922m. To reach these higher points, take Orlove Glave Chairlift, included in your cable car ticket.
Other adrenaline-inducing activities from the top include a scenic zip wire ride, mountain biking and paragliding!
Getting there: drive, take a bus or board the scenic boat cruise to Ukanc. There’s a small parking area that doesn’t accommodate all the people who visit in peak season, but you can park along the road nearby.
Info: the cable car operates every 30 minutes from 8am-6pm in peak season and until 4pm in low season. The return ride costs €29 return for adults and €15 for children. It’s €22 for a one-way ticket for those who want to try hiking up or down but, be warned, this is a very steep journey.
Planinska koca na Vojah (mountain hut)
This is a little-known place visit in Lake Bohinj that I stumbled across by accident after hiking in Mostinca Gorge. It’s a mountain cabin where you can stay overnight or visit simply for food, a beer or a cup of tea after hiking.
The appeal of visiting? The incredible views of the valley behind. This was some of the most spectacular scenery I saw in all of Slovenia. I didn’t get amazing photos because cloud kept creeping across the valley but, every time it cleared, I was in awe!
I sipped mountain tea made with famous Slovenian honey and enjoyed the views before hiking back to town.
Find the cabin pinned here. To get there, I hiked through Mostinca Gorge along Stara Fuzina then took this footpath pinned which ended at the cabin. It was an accidental find but a very good one!
Swim in Lake Bohinj
Although the misty and mysterious weather made my trip highly scenic, it was sadly not swimming weather! The best time to swim in Lake Bohinj is from June to September. If this timing coincides with your trip and you’re blessed with a sunny day, one of the best things to do in Bohinj is take a refreshing dip.
The best bits? The lake is so clean that the waters are crystal clear! Also, there are no motorised boats allowed on the lake so you swim unbothered.
The ultimate place to swim is the banks of Ukanc where the lake joins the river. Alternatively, join the crowds swimming from the eastern shore near Ribčev Laz.
Watersports on Lake Bohinj
To make the most of the gorgeous lake in the summer months, try your hand at some watersports. Options include:
- Stand-up paddle boarding
To hire boats and explore the lake (either solo or with a guide), head to Alpinsport at the head of the lake in Ribčev Laz. For kayaks and canoes, you can expect to pay around €12 an hour or €25 for 4 hours.
Another activity on Lake Bohinj is fishing.
See the sights of Ribčev Laz
When visiting Lake Bohinj in Slovenia, you’re likely to pass through Ribčev Laz because it’s the main town in the region. If you’re staying overnight, it’s most likely to be here. There isn’t loads to do but there are a few places for sightseeing. These are…
The Goldenhorn statue
One of the most iconic places in Bohinj to snap a photo is the statue of the goldenhorn (zlatorog in the local tongue) at the head of the lake near the boat house. The zlatorog is a popular creature in Slovenian mythology, resembling the Alpine ibex which can still be spotted in the mountains of Mt. Triglav today.
Church of St John the Baptist
The Church of St John the Baptist (Cerkev Sv. Janeza Krstnika) is the main church in the little settlement beside the old stone bridge.
With over 700 years of history, the church boasts some of the oldest frescos in Slovenia. One curious thing is that the painter of the John the Baptist fresco painted him with 6 toes on one foot. See if you can spot it!
Another notable feature is the musical Baroque bell tower, thought to be the first of its kind in the world. It plays the Slovenian melody, Oj, Triglav, my home.
Four Courageous Men statue
More hikes near Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
If you didn’t have your fill hiking at Savika Waterfall and Mostinca Gorge, there are several other scenic hikes in Bohinj which include…
Hiking to Viewpoint Rudnica: this 30-minute hike isn’t too difficult but provides some of the best views of the lake. It starts near the church in Ribčev Laz and ascends up Stara Fužina, passing through forest and pastures before arriving at a clearing with unobscured lake views. It may not be as high as Vogel but you get to see a fresh perspective of the lake from a different angle.
Hiking to Bohinj Alpine Pastures: the misty elevated pastures of Fuzina Hills (Fužinarske planine) are idyllic, dotted with shepherds’ huts and grazing cows in summer. Don’t miss the chance to sample fresh alpine cheese! To hike between 6 cheese dairies with subline views, it’s best to arrive early before the parking spaces fill up. There’s a €15 fee to pay on the toll road.
Triglav Lakes Valley Hike: if you hike this ancient glacial valley in the Julian Alps home to seven lakes, you’ll be rewarded with some of Europe’s finest scenery. The 15km circular route of medium difficulty takes around 6 hours, beginning and ending at Planina Blato.
Where to eat and drink in Bohinj, Slovenia
For once, I don’t have too many recommendations because I mainly made my own food in Bohinj. My friend and I had grazed our way around the many, many Ljubljana restaurants and spent hundreds of Euros, so my bank balance needed a few homemade cheese sandwiches!
Still here are a few places I hear good things about:
- Foksner – this is easily one of the most popular restaurants in town known for hearty burgers, tiramisu and craft beer. They also have veggie options like pasta, salads and sandwiches. It’s busy so you may want to arrive early in high season.
- Karakter Bar – this is another place for hearty eats after hiking such as burgers and fries. There are also salads and veggie options if you’re not looking to indulge. Don’t miss their homemade gin!
- Center Restaurant Bohinj – pizzas, salads and other comfort foods in a cosy, old-fashioned restaurant.
Thoughts on visiting Lake Bohinj solo
I travel a lot solo (that’s basically the point of this blog) so I was in Bohinj alone. Unlike Ljubljana and Bled which are social destinations with more tourist infrastructure, Lake Bohinj felt quiet and sleepy.
I spent two days in Bohinj and didn’t talk to anyone, something that can occasionally happen during solo travel. After a busy and social few weeks previously exploring all the things to do in Ljubljana with a friend, then staying in a social hostel in Bled, I didn’t really mind and focussed on enjoying me-time, soaking up nature, and reading my book. It can be nice to disconnect from time to time!
Just something to keep in mind if you’re travelling alone. If it’s your first time travelling solo or you prefer visiting more social destinations, you may feel a bit isolated in Bohinj.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you enjoyed this Lake Bohinj travel guide. It’s such an underrated, beautiful corner of Slovenia so don’t miss it!
Read my other Slovenia posts:
- 38 things to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Where to eat and drink in Ljubljana, Slovenia
- 2 week Slovenia itinerary
- Review of Wine Tasting Ljubljana
TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING SLOVENIA
Getting around by air – I use Skyscanner and search by month to see the cheapest dates.
Driving in Europe – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in European countries (and all around the world).
For trains, I use Trainline. The search feature allows you to compare prices, and they show live departure times on the website.
For buses, I use Flixbus. Find journeys between European countries from €1!
Use Omio to compare trains and buses in one search. It’s so handy!
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
Browse tours and activities on GetYourGuide and Viator.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!