Slovenia only has 3 really big lakes, but each is world class and you would be disappointed if you did not see all three. In addition, we are blessed with lots of other Alpine, smaller and disappearing lakes, the most incredible being the 17 Disappearing lakes of Pivka, (20 mins) which are all interconnected and have their own set of stories and legends.
For many people, Lake Bled, just 1 hour away from the Lodge and located at the gateway to the Slovenian Julian Alps, is probably the best known and possibly the most beautiful lake you will ever see... that is until you go see Lake Bohinj, just 20 minutes away from Bled! (We didn't believe this statement either, especially when we saw how beautiful lake Bled is.. but wait till you see Bohinj for the first time.. it's beauty will just blow you away)!
Lake Bled has a picturesque little island in the middle of the lake with steep steps up to a church and a bell you can ring to make a wish! You can only get to the island by taking a Venetian style gondola, (Pletna) across the crystal clear lake. The walk around the lake is breath taking and can take 2 hours to all day, depending how many places you stop to enjoy the view and if you take a boat trip, hike up to the castle or just have a swim.
The Alps are all around you and as you circle around the lake and the stunning vistas of the castle on the cliff, Bled church and the island change with every footstep.
There is a lovely walk up to the beautiful castle on top of a steep cliff overlooking the lake and there are plenty of other activities to do at Bled for your day out, including biking, hiking, horse carriage riding, swimming and even all weather tobogganing down a steep hill. You should also try Slovenia's national cream cake, the "Crem Schnitta" here at the lakeside cafe with stunning vista overlooking the lake and in the shadow of the castle.
We tell our guests in the same way we were told (and also did not believe), that there is a more beautiful lake than Bled just 30 minutes further into the Alps..
Many people prefer the bigger natural beauty that is Lake Bohinj, (1 hour 20). Here you can climb up to a stunning waterfall, swim in the crystal clear water, jump on the lake passenger boat, or take a cable car up to the mountain hotel, James Bond style! The mountains rise up from the water like cathedrals and the hiking here is really amazing.
A fact that not many people know is that Agatha Christie once took a holiday in a cottage overlooking lake Bohinj, but we are certain she did not use the lake for inspiration in any of her books as she said it was so beautiful here, she could not think of murder or dark plots!
Bohinj is almost 3 times bigger than Bled and so it takes a lot more walking around, but when you get to the far end, be prepared to hang around and relax on the secret snow white coloured beach and have a swim. You probably won't find this stunning beach at first, but if you walk to the far end of the lake by the iconic wooden pier, you will see this stunning beach ahead and get an idea how to navigate back to it.
The wooden pier is also the starting point of a much longer walk to the Bohinj water falls, Slap Savica if you prefer and if you enjoy hiking then take the cable car to the top of the mountain and walk around Mt Vogel (1,922m) for spectacular views down to the lake and the Alps.
Our advice is to leave a minimum of a separate day out for each of these lakes and try to drive past them again on another one of our daytrips..
So what is a disappearing lake?
Well, Green Slovenia has the largest disappearing lake in Europe. Lake Cerknica, (35 mins), which can fill to about 40km sq in the winter and then in the summer the water mysteriously disappears! Yes, the water just drains away, sometimes violently and very quickly, leaving a wild Martian landscape (see below) with little caves and sink holes, but nobody has been able to prove exactly where all the water goes?
You can also cycle to the lake from Lipizzaner Lodge and there is plenty of hiking available too. We also offer a 4wd tour through the thick forest along stone tracks.
Depending what time of year you visit, the large expanse of water encourages a huge amount of bird life (up to 60% of all European bird species) and when the water disappears, the fertile soil provides for rich crops of wild flowers and swarms of butterflies.
There is also a small museum with a fascinating working model of the lake, so you can get some idea of how the water comes and goes on such a vast scale. (Although probably even more fascinating is to meet the lovely guy who dedicated himself to building this fantastic working model, so people could see how the lake works). (We actually call this museum "the disappearing museum", because it took us several attempts to actually find it! But don't worry, we know the way now and can tell you)!
But there is not just one disappearing lake in Slovenia.. there are hundreds and probably the most fascinating and least known collection are the 17 Disappearing Lakes of Pivka. (15 mins).
These are mysteriously interconnected, so in the space of just one day, one lake can drain and next morning the neighbouring valley lake is full! In the summer you can cycle along pretty country roads and tracks, but in the winter these turn into dead ends as the lake is flooded by the new water from Slovenia's vast underground reserves.
(Below right is just one of the caves where water gushes out to form on of the 17 lakes and equally this is where the water drains back to when the lake empties).
Another little museum that we recommend is close to Pivka (15 mins) and tells the story of the 17 Disappearing Lakes. Sadly, hundreds of thousands of tourists drive straight past the turn to this fabulous little micro museum on their way down from Slovenia to Croatia and ridiculously, the sign is only in Slovene, so who would know!
You can also learn here about local legends, for example, one of the 17 lakes is said to have claimed the lives of an entire village who were walking over the ice on the way to church in the next village and were forever swallowed up when the ice cracked open. This mini region is also rich with castles and forest, so by combining a visit to some of the lakes you could have a really great tour.
One of our local honey suppliers lives overlooking the largest of these 17 lakes and he gives great short tours to see the souces of this lake, some sink holes and a cave. He will also show you his bee hives and if you are lucky you can meet the Queen Bee!
We have also heard about a very special black lake on top of a mountain near Austria, but have not been able to get there yet and Slovenia's largest man made lake is close to the beautiful old town of Ptuj. There are beaches and lots of watersports on offer here.
And we found another of Slovenia's stunning lakes at the gateway to the Kamnik Alps. Lake Jezersko (1 hour 20 mins) is either a place to go directly for a day's alpine hiking or a lovely place to stop off at on a larger loop, but try to fit it into your schedule if you can. We have had guests drive up to the lake and go for a loop hike into the mountains, returning for a bite to eat at the lovely restaurant by the lake.. wow.
The drive up to the lake is really great as you go through little grassy villages on the way up and have the fresh feeling you are heading into the mountains.. and then you get to the lake! On the way back to the Lodge there is a very nice country road that can be taken via Slovenia's second oldest town, Skofja Loka (55 mins) for another stop off in a relaxed medieval place.