A lake hut and pier on Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Recently we took a trip to this most underrated country and couldn’t have been more surprised.

Over the years I had never really heard much about Slovenia. You would occasionally see the odd shot of Lake Bled but nothing had really piqued my interest enough to make a go at visiting.

We were on a road trip down to Croatia with just our trusty Skoda, our dog Niko and a tent. Having to go through Slovenia anyway, we decided to spend a few extra days there to see what it had on offer.

We weren’t disappointed.

Cue the Triglav National Park

Driving to Kobarid through a narrow, winding road, we passed a great deal of Slovenia’s Rafting + Kayaking tour operators. We pulled over and walked down to the river to see what all the fuss was about. Out of the mist snaked a beautiful, turquoise alpine river that spans 137km known as the Soca river. In complete contrast to its moody surroundings, it looked like someone had re-routed the Caribbean – and chilled it. The mist lifts just as a group of kayakers appear, clearly stoked on today’s adventure.

Rafting tour operators taking people down the Soca River
Rafting tour operators taking people down the Soca River

Not really on the tourist route yet, it seemed the only people who are visiting Triglav National Park are those rafters, hikers and the occasional skydiver eager to make the most of this incredible environment.

Not only does this area offer you stunning hikes and photo ops along the Soca River, but if you do your research you will find may a hidden gem along the way. The area is famous for its abundance of waterfalls and β€˜swimming’ holes. The colour of the water in here is just incredible and thankfully not overrun with visitors meaning you can take in these natural wonders in all their glory.

Hidden gem lakes in Slovenia
Hidden gem lakes in Slovenia

Choosing Bovec, one of the little towns scattered along the Soca river we set up camp and head into a family run restaurant next door for dinner. Here, as in most places in Slovenia, two hearty, delicious meals along with drinks for two will only cost you about 20E. From here we hatched a plan. To follow the Soca river up the 206 to Kranjska Gora where we would hook a right, past Lake bled, to Lake Bohinj.

Man and his dog on lake pier in Slovenia's Triglav National Park
Man and his dog on lake pier in Slovenia’s Triglav National Park

We set off the next morning, stopping briefly for a picnic breakfast on the river edge. Winding our way up the gorge we begin to realise that this really is the Canada of Europe. We keep our eyes peeled for bears but no luck! As we reach the top of the pass we must give way to a flock of sheep that have decided to have a rest a touch too close to the road. However, it seems to be a perfect place to stop and take in the incredible view from where we have just been.

Stopping to grab a quick lunch on the shores of Lake Bled, we muse over whether or not we could swim from one side to the other. It always seemed a lot bigger in the photos. With Lake Bohinj only a 30 minute drive away (a touch too cold to brave the water), we decided to forge on, away from the tourist hot spot.

Another turquoise hidden gem in Slovenia
Another turquoise hidden gem in Slovenia

They always say leave the best for last, and this wasn’t even planned! Lake Bohinj, bigger and quieter than its neighbouring Lake Bled, is absolutely picturesque.

Woodland surrounding the lake is broken up by small white sand beaches. Above, rolling hills and steep cliffs descend straight down into the lake. All of this mirrored to perfection in the still water, only broken by the wake of a few canoes out for an evening fish.

The beauty and expanse of Lake Bled
The beauty and expanse of Lake Bled

Once the mist rose from the campsite in the morning we rented a yellow canoe and paddled off to take in the full beauty and stillness of this place. Then after a quick swim, it was time to hit the road again in the direction of the Croatian border.

Our only regret?Β Not being able to stay longer.

We left Slovenia with wide eyes, a full heart, and a hankering to return soon.

A resident of the French Alps village of Chamonix (and a native Kiwi), Sally holds a wealth of sustainable travel experience sharing her musings on nightslides.com about. Sally focuses on the benefits of clean eating and mindfulness through yoga to keeping a healthy mind.

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