When people talk about vacations in the Alps they often mean Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France or Italy. But few people remember tiny Slovenia where the the Alps are if not superior but at least not inferior in beauty to more "promoted" brands. At the same time, it is much more economical to spend vacations in Slovenia, and the similarity of the Russian and Slovenian languages and the ability to easily navigate the signs and understand a little the language will be one of the pleasant bonuses. But not the only one.
Mountains and lakes
Perhaps it's worth starting with Bled - with its fantastic postcard landscape: on the surface of the lake stretching in the bend of the mountains, there is a small island with a pointed church bell tower. This view is as good in reality as it is on the brochure. But unlike a static photo of the lake water, depending on the season, weather and time of day, like a chameleon, it changes its color, shimmers with all colors, becoming either bluish-black, then pale green, then transparent emerald or turquoise. The majestic Alps seem to soar over the lake, giving this place even more mystery.
The best view of the lake is from the medieval castle of Bled, where you can walk while enjoying the breathtaking alpine landscape. Equally enjoyable are walks along the beautiful paths around the lake - on foot, by bike or rollerblade. The entire route around the lake is about six kilometers long. Many take such walks twice a day - as part of the morning and evening exercise.
But not only walks and clean alpine air attract tourists here. In summer, the clean and soft water of Bled heats up to a comfortable swimming temperature, and in winter the resort also becomes a skiing place. The main treasure is the thermal springs bordering the eastern part of the lake for the sake of which this Slovenian resort is worth visiting at any time of the year.
Those who lack privacy and closeness to the real untouched nature of the Alps in Bled can get all this in less than an hour's drive - on Lake Bohinj, located in the center of the Triglav National Park. Mount Triglav itself (which has three peaks - "three-headed") is the pearl of the mountain range, and its image is adorned with the Slovenian tricolored flag - exactly the same as that of Russia, white-blue-red.
You can climb the mountain, but climbing 2864 meters requires good physical shape and involves at least one overnight stay in a hut along the route. But there is an easier way - to take the funicular to the Vogel ski center at an altitude of more than 1500 meters, from where both the lake and the mountains are visible at a glance.
Unlike in Bled, there are no crowds of tourists in the vicinity of Bohinj; silence and birdsong reign here. The water in Bohinj is cooler than in Bled, and the lake is deeper. You can also bypass it, but the path will no longer be six, but 12 kilometers long, and about a third of the route will pass along steep and rocky areas. But in splendid isolation you will only occasionally meet some ecotourists. By the way, meeting someone on the route you’d better say hello - in English or Slovenian «Dober dan!»
For lovers long walks and hikers this is a real hit. All routes are mapped, the map is available at the information point.
On the shores of Bohinj there are real Alpine chalets, and Alpine cows and even the Museum of Alpine Milk! And, of course, fish restaurants and taverns with barbecue, sausages, schnitzel and stewed cabbage - the proximity of Austria and Bavaria manifests itself.
By the way, in summer, an old train runs from Jesenice near Bled. It lies past both lakes, crosses a tunnel, passes through alpine meadows with picturesque villages visible in the distance.
Sea and waterfalls
Another beautiful place and also very close to Bled is the Vintgar gorge with the turbulent Radovna River and the Shum waterfall. Wooden footbridges that run right along the cliffs and overhang the swirling stream form a well-equipped 1.5-mile route. Another waterfall no less famous here - Savica - reaches almost 100 meters and is located closer to Lake Bohinj.
In these places, there are many rugged mountain streams, caves and waterfalls that you want to visit and explore. But if your summer vacation is primarily about the sea, then a trip to Bled and Bohinj can be easily combined with the beaches of Koper, Izola, Piran and Portorož - cozy Slovenian towns in the Italian style inherited since the times of the domination of Rome and Venice. To get from Bled to the Adriatic coast it will take you no more than two and a half hours by car.
The Slovenian coast is very small. They joke that if you lie with your head on the Italian border, you will rest your feet on the Croatian one. In fact, such proximity, if desired, will allow for one trip to embrace not only the beauties of Slovenia, but also to enjoy Italian Trieste and Croatian Istra.
Even longer routes can be carried out by train - via Ljubljana to Vienna or by boat - from Trieste to Venice. Tempting, of course. But I do not advise you to rush to leave Slovenia: in this small country, indeed, there is everything you need for a full-fledged active vacation.