Slovenia isn't on most people's tourism radar. Yet, the tiny country tucked in between Croatia, Italy, Austria and Hungary boasts scenic mountains and forests, rivers and lakes, quaint villages, a Venice-like coastline on the Adriatic Sea, classical architecture and even a gorgeous glacial lake that few have discovered.
Slovenia's most beautiful lake is Lake Bohinj, framed by the Julian Alps. It's only a short distance from its more famous cousin, Lake Bled. Both are glacial lakes that were cut off from the rest of the country for centuries because of poor roads and rough mountain terrain, but fewer people ever venture to Lake Bohinj — and that's its charm.
A hidden gem
Even though the area is now connected to the rest of Slovenia and Europe by rail and road, Bohinj still has a frozen-in-time feel. It's surrounded by pastureland where shepherds still tend to their flocks, just as they have for centuries. The villages are filled with classic wooden houses, and barns are topped with hay lofts. These settlements are scattered around the lake, but nature still dominates.
There's a modest tourism scene here, but it's mostly focused on the trails that crisscross the pastureland and foothills around the lake. The paths can be used for hiking and mountain biking. Kayaks and rowboats can be rented to get out on the lake itself. The clear blue-green water, unique to south-central Europe, is perfect for swimming in the summertime.
Slovenia's only national park
Bohinj is located inside of Triglav National Park, which is named after Mount Triglav, the highest of the Julian Alps. It wouldn't be correct to call Triglav "Slovenia's best national park" because it doesn't have any competition. By area, Triglav covers about 3 percent of Slovenia.
An information center on Lake Bohinj provides a gateway for self-guided travelers. The park also operates a cultural attraction called Pocar Farm, a museum housed in one of the oldest homesteads in the national park and one where visitors can learn about the area's architectural heritage.
The end of the world
The frozen-in-time feel and surrounding mountains create a sense of isolation around Bohinj. In fact, the name of the nearby coastal town of Ukanc loosely translates as "the end of the world." It's a fitting name for a place that is perhaps best defined by its stillness. All of Slovenia could be described as being off the tourist map, but compared to other attractions, Lake Bohinj feels even more remote and undiscovered.