Lake Bohinj is, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful places to visit in Slovenia. “Idyllic” is the word that comes to mind when I search for an adjective that captures the essence of this gorgeous place. Keep reading to discover 10 exciting things to do at Lake Bohinj, in the summer!
Nestled in a valley formed by the Julian Alps, Lake Bohinj is the largest lake in Slovenia and a part of Triglav National Park, Slovenia’s only national park. A paradise for photographers, outdoor enthusiasts, and nature lovers, Lake Bohinj is just a 30-minute drive away from the more well-known Lake Bled, and thus an easy add to your Slovenia itinerary.
WHAT to Do at Lake Bohinj (In the Summer)
Summer, in which I broadly include late spring and early fall, is a lovely time to visit Lake Bohinj. The days are long, you’re likely to have sunny weather and warm temperatures, and the water is not too cold. Even if you visit Lake Bohinj just for the day in the summer, you can see and do a lot, because you have so many daylight hours.
Exploring Lake Bohinj is definitely one of the top things to do in Slovenia. With miles of scenic hiking trails, lots of opportunities for adventure sports, and a plethora of scenic wonders, Lake Bohinj will captivate you.
So, here are 10 exciting things to put on your Lake Bohinj itinerary!
#1 Admire the Church of St. John the Baptist
There are so many churches in Slovenia! Close to 3,000 at last count. Every little hamlet, even if it consists of just a few homes, has its own church, with a pretty bell tower. So it is with Ribčev Laz, a small community on the eastern end of Lake Bohinj, where you will find the Church of St. John the Baptist.
The Church of St. John the Baptist is an old church: it dates back all the way to the 13th century. Its setting, in the midst of all the natural beauty surrounding it, is perfect…it oozes charm from every angle.
Admire the simple lovely exterior of the church: you’ll see a mural of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, on the outside wall. The little yard with its unique fence is well-kept, and you get wonderful views of the lake from the yard and the entry way. The bell tower is Baroque.
Inside, you’ll see beautiful frescoes from the 15th and 16th centuries: quite magnificent for a church so small. The nave is Romanesque and the presbytery Gothic, so the church includes quite a few architectural styles.
There is a small fee to access the inside of the church and to climb to the top of the bell tower. The church opens at 9 a.m., and stays open until 6 p.m. in May and September, and until 9 p.m. from June until August.
#2 Visit the photo spots at Ribčev Laz
There is no shortage of great spots to take photos at Lake Bohinj, because it’s so scenic wherever you look. But there are three photo spots at Ribčev Laz that you’ll not want to miss!
The first spot is the statue of the four Triglav climbers from Bohinj. The four men successfully scaled Mount Triglav, Slovenia’s tallest mountain, all the way back in August 1778! Walk the little park while you’re there. From this part of the town, you can also get good views of the Sava Bohinjka River, which flows out of the lake at the Ribčev Laz stone bridge on the side opposite the lake.
The second must-have photo is of the Church of St. John the Baptist against the old stone bridge. This scene can be captured from several places. You can walk down the steps to the water on the side of the bridge away from the church, and take it from the water level. You can also take it from the water, if you’re on a boat. And finally, you can take the shot from the lake shore or the little pier where the tourist boat docks.
If you want to have your photo be relatively free of people, your best bet is either really early or really late in the day. During the day you’ll see lots of people on the bridge.
For the third photo, walk along the lake shore on the same side, past the tourist boat pier, and in a few minutes you’ll come to the statue of Zlatorog, the golden-horned buck described in Slovenian folklore as having its home on Mount Triglav.
#3 Take a walk on the lake shore
The walk around Lake Bohinj is about 7.5 miles, and will take you about four to five hours, depending on how often you stop along the way. For a part of the perimeter, the road runs next to the lake, and the trail, therefore, is higher up from the water. But in other parts, the trail runs close to the shore, and it’s a joy to walk.
If your time at Lake Bohinj is limited, I’d still suggest taking a short walk along the shore. Cross the bridge at Ribčev Laz, and walk along the path that starts from across the Church of St. John the Baptist and hugs the north shore of the lake. Return the same way once you decide you’ve walked enough.
Walking along the lake shore affords you beautiful views of the blue-green water. In season, you’ll see fields of wildflowers on the side of the path. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the tranquility of Lake Bohinj!
#4 Get out on to the lake!
Enjoying the beauty of Lake Bohinj from the water is an absolute must. Stand up paddle-boarding, renting a canoe or kayak, or even sailing, are all fun options to choose from.
Canoe or kayak rentals are available both at Ribčev Laz and at Ukanc, although we saw sailboats only near the Zlatorog statue at Ribčev Laz. Visit the Tourist Info Center for more information.
There’s also a tourist boat service between Ribčev Laz and Ukanc, so that’s another option for enjoying the beauty of Lake Bohinj from the water.
The boat service runs several times a day in season. You can get the schedule at the Tourist Info Center or at the boat dock at Ribčev Laz.
#5 Enjoy beach time at Lake Bohinj!
If the water is warm enough, you can swim in the clear blue-green waters of Lake Bohinj. You should generally be able to swim from mid-June until mid-September, although we saw folks in the water when we visited in early June. So be sure to pack your swimsuit if you visit in the summer! Water shoes would be a great idea as well, because the beaches are pebbly rather than smooth sand.
You can go down the steps on either side of the bridge at Ribčev Laz to the water, or you can pick one of the beaches along the shore. The beaches are a great place to relax, picnic, and enjoy the sun as well. We also saw some folks jumping off a board into the water at Ukanc!
#6 Ride the cable car to the top of Mt. Vogel
One of the most exciting things to do at Bohinj Lake is riding the cable car to the upper reaches of Mount Vogel. The cable car takes you about 5,000 feet above sea level, for panoramic views over Lake Bohinj and the surrounding mountains. It’s a thrilling ride both ways!
Vogel is a popular ski resort in the winter, but it’s super beautiful to visit in the summer as well. On a clear day, the views are just astounding. You can walk around at the top to different viewpoints, take a photo at the Heart of Vogel, and have lunch with a view on the outside terrace of the restaurant at the top. We had lunch here and my vegetarian burger with halloumi cheese was excellent.
And if you want to go even higher, to the actual summit of the mountain, there are chairlifts at the top that will take you there for an additional fee!
The lower station of the cable car is about a 10-minute walk from the tourist boat dock at Ukanc. You walk across the campground and up the road. It’s a steep walk! You can, of course, drive up to the parking lot at the station if you have a car. The regular bus and local Bohinj buses that run during high season stop near the Vogel cable car station as well.
#7 Do a hike at the top of Mount Vogel
If you want to do something active at the top of Mount Vogel, you can go for a walk or a hike! There are a number of hikes that start from the ski resort area at the top, including one that takes you to the summit of Mt. Vogel. Get information about trails at the information desk, and choose one that’s right for you on the day you visit.
Most of the hikes take more than a couple of hours, so if you do not have adequate time at the top, you can walk a part of a trail and then return. The last cable car to the bottom leaves at 7 p.m. in the summer, but check current hours when you visit. We walked a nice easy trail for about 30 minutes and then returned to the cable car station.
Of course, you can hike in other parts of Lake Bohinj as well, not just at the top of Mt. Vogel. The area is a hiking paradise, with lots of trails of varying length and difficulty. You’ll see beautiful views of the mountains and valleys and forests as you hike, with tons of wildflowers in season.
You can get a trail map and more information at the Tourist Office Info Center when you visit. Hiking season generally lasts from May until September. Make sure you are properly kitted out for hiking and practice safe hiking. You are in the wilderness and in the mountains, and conditions can change in an instant.
#8 Discover the beauty of Slap Savica
At the western end of Lake Bohinj, you’ll find one of the most visited waterfalls in Slovenia. A visit to admire the beauty of Slap Savica is a must-do! The water bursts forth from its underground prison and tumbles down in a curtain from the middle of the mountain face, splitting into a photogenic A shape a little ways from the bottom. It’s magical!
To get to the Slap Savica parking lot and entrance, you can walk a marked trail from Ukanc, which will take you about 80-90 minutes. You can, of course, drive to the entrance if you have a car. In season, you can take the local bus to the entrance. In other months, the bus will bring you up to Ukanc, and you will need to walk the trail to get to the waterfall.
From the entrance, it’s another 20-25 minute walk to get to the viewpoint. The walk is mostly uphill, with 500+ stone steps. You can’t swim in the emerald plunge pool; there’s a gate at the bottom, with a spot on the side from where you can get the best photos. The flow is powerful in the spring, but the color is better in the summer.
There’s an entrance fee to access the viewpoint. Slap Savica is a popular destination at Lake Bohinj, so in season, visit early or late in the day for a more enjoyable experience.
#9 Visit the Mostnica Gorge and Waterfall
If you’re up for another walk at Lake Bohinj, the trail to the Voge Waterfall via the Mostnica Gorge is very pretty. We couldn’t make it here on our visit, so it’s on our list for our next trip to the region.
Mostnica Gorge is about 1.2 miles long, and there are paths on both sides of the gorge. The mainly forested trail begins a little outside the village of Stara Fužina, which is located to the north of Ribčev Laz. If you continue walking for another hour or so past the gorge, you come to the waterfall.
There is a modest entrance fee to the gorge during high season. Allow about 2-2.5 hours (with photo stops) if you plan to only walk the gorge, and about 4-4.5 hours if you plan to visit the waterfall as well.
You can drive to the Mostnica Gorge parking lot if you have a car, or walk to the trailhead, a little outside the village. There is a parking fee. The regular bus as well as the local in-season Bohinj bus stop at Stara Fužina.
#10 Pick a sport (or visit a cheese museum and farm)
Lake Bohinj, with its location inside Triglav National Park, offers the opportunity for lots of adrenaline-pumping adventure sports. Whether you’re into paragliding or canyoning, mountain climbing or ziplining, river rafting or tubing (on the Sava River), you should be able to find a summer activity of your choice here!
Get more information on adventure sport opportunities on the Lake Bohinj Tourist Center website.
Fishing is popular in the summer at Lake Bohinj and on the Sava River on the other side of the bridge at Ribčev Laz. You can obtain a permit at the Tourist Info Center in town.
Not into adventure sports? Foodies can head to Stara Fužina to tour the Alpine Dairy Museum, and then walk to one or more of the cheese farms in the area to taste the local cheese and butter. Stop by the Tourist Info Center in Ribčev Laz for a trail map.
Getting to Lake Bohinj
Most visitors to Slovenia are based either in Ljubljana or Bled. Getting to Lake Bohinj from Lake Bled or Ljubljana is very easy.
By car, Lake Bohinj is about a 30-minute drive from Lake Bled. The drive is extremely scenic! From Ljubljana, the drive takes a little over one hour.
You can also take the bus from either Bled or Ljubljana to Lake Bohinj. The bus takes about 36 minutes from Bled and just under 2 hours from Ljubljana, and there are hourly departures.
Getting around Lake Bohinj
Within Lake Bohinj, a car is very convenient for efficient sightseeing. The lake is large, with many scattered little towns and places of interest at different parts of the lake. While doable using public transport, a car will help you cover a lot more if your time at Lake Bohinj is limited to just one day. There are parking lots at or near most of the sights and trailheads.
The regular bus that arrives from Ljubljana stops at different points along Lake Bohinj. So you can use it, for example, to get from Ribčev Laz to Ukanc.
In season (generally from late June to mid September), a local park-and-ride shuttle bus service is offered to points around Lake Bohinj.
Also, from April until October, a tourist boat operates between Ribčev Laz and Ukanc. Departures are more frequent in high season months. The boat takes about 40 minutes one way.
Best time to visit Lake Bohinj
Lake Bohinj is a year-round destination. If you enjoy skiing and other winter sports, you’ll want to research a winter visit: I am sure the lake and the mountains look stunning in winter.
We visited in very early June and can attest to the fact that Lake Bohinj is gorgeous in late spring! If you want long daylight hours and warm daytime temperatures, pick late spring, summer, or early fall.
Late June to mid September is considered high season at Lake Bohinj. Expect more people, especially at popular spots like Mount Vogel and Slap Savica. But Lake Bohinj is large enough that if you enjoy walking, you can find secluded spots even in high season.
Spring brings tons of wildflowers everywhere, and in fall, the changing colors of the leaves make for gorgeous photo ops.
How long to spend at Lake Bohinj
You could easily spend a week or more at Lake Bohinj if you enjoy nature and outdoor activities, or just wish to relax and soak in the beauty of the place.
In our opinion, two days is ideal if you want to not just cover all the top sights but also want to do a couple of long hikes or one long hike and one other adventure activity. Even if you use public transport, two days is long enough to do almost all of the activities I have listed above, if you start early each day.
If you only have one day at Lake Bohinj, you can still cover several of the activities I have listed above, especially if you have a car. It will be a long day, but if you start early, you can see and do a lot!
With just one day, I would suggest starting at the western end of the lake. Take the cable car to the top of Mt. Vogel. Hike for a couple of hours at the top if you wish. Then visit the Savica Waterfall. If you did not hike at Mount Vogel, spend the afternoon doing the 2-hour walk to Mostnica Gorge and back. End at Ribčev Laz, perhaps with a boat ride or a short walk along the shore, and a visit to the Church of St. John the Baptist.
Where to stay AT LAKE BOHINJ
Lake Bohinj accommodation is clean and comfortable, but no-frills, as befitting a location within a national park.
The Bohinj ECO Hotel is located in Bohinjska Bistrica, about 3.3 miles from the lake. This is the largest town in the vicinity of the lake, with more amenities than you’ll find elsewhere. Rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable. Check prices and availability!
Hotel Jezero is located right by the lake. Rooms are good-sized, some with balconies looking out over the lake. Bathrooms are modern. The hotel restaurant is convenient for dinner. Check prices and availability!
WHERE TO EAT AT LAKE BOHINJ
In Ribčev Laz, try Hotel Center Restaurant, right next to the Tourist Info Center. We had the pizza here, and it was very good. Generous toppings and nicely baked crust. They have meat, seafood, and vegetable options as well, if you aren’t in the mood for pizza.
Strud’l in Bohinjska Bistrica, gets rave reviews for its traditional offerings. Portions are large and vegetarian options are available.
Viharnik, the cafe at the top of Mount Vogel, is very good. We had lunch here, on the outside patio with its magnificent view. My vegetarian burger was delicious, as was my husband’s regular burger.
LAKE BLED OR LAKE BOHINJ?
We visited both Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj and both places are spectacular, albeit in different ways. Ideally, you would want to fit both into your itinerary for Slovenia.
Lake Bled is very romantic and elegant. Lake Bohinj has a quieter, wilder beauty. So if you would like a more glamorous experience, with really nice hotels, and a choice of restaurants, consider Lake Bled. On the other hand, if you love the unrestrained natural environment of a national park, with lots of options for outdoor activities and a get-away-from-it-all kind of feeling, then consider Lake Bohinj.
If you are on a really short visit to Slovenia and wish to have a taste of both lakes in one day, opt for a guided tour from Ljubljana.
So there you have it: the best things to do in beautiful Lake Bohinj, Slovenia! Have you visited? What did you enjoy at this beautiful lake? Comment below to respond. If you haven’t yet visited, I hope I have inspired you to add Lake Bohinj to your itinerary for Slovenia!
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