One of our favourite things about skiing holidays is finding that “hidden gem”. The run that’s perfect after a fresh dump of snow, the restaurant that serves the Strudel with the vanilla cream, or that après bar that shoots Jäger from the ceiling. And so on.
In a new series, we’ve decided to talk about some of our favourite hidden gem resorts. These are the resorts that may not be as well known as a St. Anton or a Tignes, but will still give you a holiday you’ll never forget.
The neighbouring lakes of Bled and Bohinj are two of Slovenia’s most famous sights. Both are renowned for their beauty, and they’re also proud to share the surprisingly decent Vogel ski area.
Set in the Triglav National Park, overlooking Lake Bohinj, is 22km of unspoilt, un-crowded piste to suit beginners and intermediates. Just take the gondola up to 1800m, where the snow is consistently good.
New to the idea of sliding down mountains? Vogel is the perfect place for beginners to learn how it’s done. The superb ski school will supply you with all the tools and tricks you’ll need, and the wide, sunny slopes will soon have you cruising like a pro.
For skiing veterans, there are still plenty of chances to hone your skills, including a 9km run, a huge snow park and miles of off-piste slopes.
If you want to slow things down a bit, the 20km long Pokljuka plateau is Slovenia’s most popular cross-country ski area and even hosts World Cup Biathlon events. The trails aren’t too long and they offer some of the most stunning views of the valleys below.
If you need a break from skiing, there are plenty of other winter activities to keep you busy. Have a go at dog sledding or snowshoe walking – or go really extreme and try tandem paragliding.
Away from the mountain, Bled and Bohinj themselves have loads to offer.
Lake Bled is a scenic 30-minutes bus drive from the ski area. Smaller than Bohinj, the lake is home to the most photographed sight in Slovenia – Bled Island. Formed thousands of years ago, the tiny island is now home to a church and a 17th century baroque clock tower. Don’t miss your chance to visit the tower, ring the bell and make a wish.
Lake Bohinj, the largest permanent natural lake in Slovenia, is directly below the ski area. A popular swimming and boating venue in summer, the lake freezes over in winter and, if you’re feeling brave, you can even walk across the surface. Small villages are dotted around the shore, and the larger town of Bohinjska Bistrica has plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to explore. If you’ve got some time spare, wander around the lake’s 12km circumference to really take in the scenery. And don’t forget to grab a photo with the famous golden-horned Zlatorog, a creature of legend in Slovenian culture.
In the evenings, both Bled and Bohinj have a lot to offer if you’re not after banging nightlife– and prices are pretty cheap too, with a beer costing as little as €2.80. Both towns have loads of restaurants where you can sample local treats, including the famous Bled cream cake, or just sit back with a drink. If you’re up for a bit of a night out, head towards the old town and visit the Irish Pub, Pri Planincu Pub or Devil’s Bar.