The most well-known of the Slovenian lakes, between Austria and Italy, Lake Bled’s emerald-green waters create a magical and dramatic landscape at the bottom of the snow covered Julian Alps. A truly breath-taking site.
A majestic 16th century castle stands on a steep cliff. We were fortunate enough to spend the afternoon on tour of the castle with the major of Bled Janez Fayfar, full of interesting stories about the British royal family and life in Bled. My lips are sealed haha.
Once at the top, head for the wine cellar and meet the drunk monk. He’s great fun and will keep on topping up your glass until you can take no more. I can think of worse ways to spend the afternoon.
The only island in Slovenia is located in the lake. Take a boat out to it, enjoy the church and piazza and take in the perfect view from a whole new perspective.
Lake Bohinj is another beauty, one of Slovenia’s most scenic and pure lakes. It is Slovenia’s largest and the perfect setting to discover on foot the sights of Mount Vogel, the Sava Bohinjka River and my personal favourite the Savica Waterfall. The power of the water and air when you reach the summit is immense and makes you feel small, as you wonder at the power of the universe.
When the weather gets hot there are beaches along the lakeshore for a spot of bathing.
The lake has a number of openings with a series of reservoirs and caverns, some of which are above lake level in the surrounding hills. In the autumn, when the rainfall is slight, the lake is entirely emptied into the reservoirs lying below its level, and its bed covered with rich vegetation. With the returning downpours, the surrounding higher reservoirs are full and releases water back into the lake, so it speedily recovers its original volume. At times it has been known to flood parts of the village.
The lake lives its own life, changing at will.
To experience Cerknica in all its forms you would need to spend a whole year at the site, and even this would not be enough considering that the processes change from year to year and can be unpredictable.
When we visited, the lake was empty of water apart from the manmade area where fish live, but a colleague had been there a few months before and showed me a completely different picture of a filled lake on her iPhone.
To get an idea of the power of Cerknica head to the Jezerski Hram Kebe family run museum www.jezerski-hram.si. When I first heard about the model of the lake that shows its function through every season I thought it impossible, but the demonstration of the model in action, watching the water coming up from the bottom of it was quite astonishing. It must have taken some serious work to complete and some seriously waterproof paints, at the hands of a genius.
There is also a multimedia film that takes you on a journey through all four seasons.
Check out the wooden shoes that they wear on the frozen lake in winter and if you’re there at the time be sure to have ago. Gutted that I didn’t get to have ago.
Šmartinsko Lake is only a few minutes away from Celje centre and where locals head at the end of the day to relax and hang out with friends. It is becoming increasingly popular with tourists and day trippers.
At weekends in summer the lake come alive with picnicking parties and cyclists following the tracks around the lake.
There are some interesting myths about the fish in Šmartinsko Lake. Imagine catching an enormous catfish up to two metres in length. Rumour has it that they have been known to steal the odd small dog swimming on the surface.
Fishing has always been popular, but remember to buy a permit, the penalties can be costly if you don’t.
Velenje is man-made due to the excavation of coal. The large lake is a real pull for various sporting activities; sailboat, sail boarding, and parachuting are all extremely popular. A new sport worth having ago at is supping (stand-up paddling on a giant surfboard). It’s a lot of fun if you have balance and if not sit down, paddle and enjoy the views.
Two years ago the Velenje beach was added for sunbathing. It’s a nice destination to put up your feet, rent a sun lounger and enjoy a beer and a snack at the Čolnarna Bar at the boathouse.