How To Take a Day Trip To Kranjska Gora From Ljubljana

Millions of people around the world are using wallpapers displaying magnificent landscapes of the Julian Alps of Slovenia and Lake Bled without even realizing what they’re looking at. Truth be told, there are times when the photos of these places look almost AI-generated, they are that beautiful.

Although a small country, Slovenia is full of these stunning natural sights, and Kranjska Gora is perhaps the most photo-friendly destination of the entire nation. Best of all, if you happen to be in Ljubljana, the capital city, you can find yourself in this wonderland after a quick one-hour drive.

I took this trip many times and here, I will give you an insight into things worth visiting, and the ones that are slightly overrated. Let’s get to it.

Is it possible to capture the essence of Kranjska Gora in a single-day trip?

Would it be possible to experience all there is to see in just a couple of hours? Of course not. However, after you get on the road and start heading toward the snow-covered mountain tops, you will immediately know that you’ve made the right decision on how to spend your day.

One recommendation that I would give is to get up early in the morning and start your trip as soon as possible. With so many things to see, the day is never long enough. That is especially apparent for the short winter days, but it still holds true during the summer as well.

Also, you might be wondering what time of the year would be ideal for this trip. Once again, this is a thing of personal preference, but most people would probably agree that wintertime is perfect, as the Alps look like a fairy tale land when fully covered in snow. Still, don’t think for a second that spring or summer fall much behind, as the lush vegetation comes alive during the warmer months.

How long does this trip last?

Fortunately, this is not one of those trips that require a four-hour drive in one direction just to reach your destination. For those going by car, it usually takes less than one hour. Best of all, you will be using highways that are pristine.

In case you’ve never been to Slovenia before, know that they are using a system of vignettes, and a 7-day electronic ticket costs 18 euros. Sure, it’s not the cheapest thing in the world, but it’s still a small price to pay for the convenience these roads give you.

Those who are going on a trip by bus will reach their destination in about one hour and twenty minutes, which is still very acceptable. There is also a train that runs from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, but the departures are not as frequent as the previous option. Ultimately, you can also take a taxi to your chosen destination, but this is definitely the costliest option and should be looked into only if everything else fails.

Option #1: Drive to your desired destination

In case you were reading about any of my previous travel ideas, you might’ve noticed a tendency; I love to drive everywhere. The comfort of my car allows for hassle-free organization of the entire trip. If I happen to run into a particular place that I like, I can always take a detour and follow my instincts. In my book, this is the best way to enjoy life.

We already mentioned the costs that come with vignettes, but another important factor for all the drivers is the gas prices. Slovenia is somewhere in the middle of the pact in this area when compared to most other countries of the European Union. Diesel is slightly more expensive than gasoline, although both are similarly priced, at least at the time of writing this article.

Option #2: Take a bus or a train to Bled

Because Lake Bled is such a popular tourist destination, it should come as no surprise why buses and trains are commuting every 15 minutes in both directions. In case you find yourself in a hurry, be careful about your bus choice, as some lines are intended for people living in smaller places who work in Ljubljana, and therefore, have quite a few stops along the way.

A return ticket will set you back about 12 Euro, but be warned that during the season it can get a bit crowded. To be sure, you can always book your ticket online ahead of time, and there are even some discounts for those traveling on the weekends. The great news about this option is that you’ll avoid the trouble of finding a parking spot, which is a big plus.

Option #3: Use a guided tour

Now, I cannot say that I would necessarily vouch for this option, having not tried it myself, but I saw quite a few people who had fun visiting Kranjska Gora with guided tours. Most of these tours include a guide who speaks Slovenian and English, and it can be a great choice for those interested in learning some more details about the history of Slovenia and the cultural significance the Kranjska Gora has on its people.

As per usual, the downsides of guided tours include visiting this destination on a pre-existing schedule, thus taking the flexibility out of the entire experience. Still, some people will find the guided tours to be more comfortable, and that is especially true for those who travel alone, or are used to these one-day trips.

Things to see and do in Kranjska Gora

Now that you know how to reach this destination, it’s time to shed light on things that make it so special. Bear in mind that you will have a hard time cramming all of these activities in a single day, but just like me, if you fall in love with Kranjska Gora, you’ll want to keep coming back to it until you check out every nook and cranny there is. I will try to write about these places in order of “importance”, but I would definitely advise you to visit as many of these destinations as possible.

What makes Lake Bled so special?

First of all, have you even seen the photos of this place? That alone might be enough of a reason to visit it, but if you’re a history buff, know that the small island has a rich heritage, as the Church of the Assumption that can be found on a small island on the lake dates back to the 17th century.

However, most people nowadays seem to only take a few photos of it before heading in the direction of some of the coffee shops to try the Bled Cream Cake, a renowned delicacy that will make your mouth water.

I have a difficult time deciding whether I like Bled more during the summer or winter months. While fun activities such as rowing small wooden boats across the lake and even swimming are available when the weather is nice, colder months allow for the best photos, with the snow-covered mountains looming in the back.

Spring and autumn are not to be underestimated as well, as nature shows its stunning colors during this time, and the moderate climate allows for more comfortable hiking and other activities. Either way, it’s a place where you can spend just a few hours before moving on to other memorable locations, or you can even enjoy an entire day here mesmerized by the beauty surrounding you.

Parking is not always easy to find, but you can always find a spot on top of a hill next to the Bled Castle if nothing else is available. Still, with the cost of 3 Euro per hour, it’s not something I would recommend. Speaking of the Bled Castle, it’s also an interesting historical sight, but the entrance fee of 16 Euro serves as a repellent to most travelers wanting to check it out. I know that was the case for my family at least. Still, with so many things to do and see in Lake Bled, I didn’t consider this a huge loss.

Visiting Lake Bled can be an active holiday as well

Lake Bled is a great option both for the people who want to enjoy a cup of coffee or a cream cake with views of the gorgeous scenery and for those who love an active holiday. If you belong to this second group, you’ll be happy to hear that Bled offers a walking path all around the lake, approximately 6km in length, which is just enough for a casual stroll.

For those who would like to visit the church on a small island in the middle of the lake, there is also an option of taking a small wooden boat and paddle across, which should definitely get the blood flowing. In case this option looks appealing to you, make sure to visit the lake during the warmer months of the year, as the boats are not available during the winter and late autumn.

Finally, one of the most popular viewpoints from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the lake is Mala Osojnica, and it’s located on top of a nearby hill. I forgot just how many steps there are to the top, but if my memory serves me well, the number is well above 100. While this might not sound too bad, the angle is quite steep, so if you do decide to give it a go, get ready for a mini-workout.

The less popular but equally amazing Bohinj Lake

Unlike its more famous counterpart, Bohinj is not as internationally renowned, but the crystal clear waters, views of the Julian Alps and absolute tranquil nature are a godsend for all the people wanting to get away from the urban noise and stress.

Despite its size and the fact that Bohinj is the largest lake in Slovenia, it’s not as welcoming to tourists as some other locations you’ll see on the list, so you can forget about the coffee shops buzzing with life and dozens of stands selling tourist memorabilia. Instead, what you’ll get with Bohinj Lake is an alpine retreat suitable for lovers of outdoor lifestyle. In my book, that’s more than I could’ve hoped for.

Untouched nature of Zgornjesavska Valley

If the idea of a small village beneath the Julian Alps and stunning nature seems like your cup of tea, the Zgornjesavska Valley has to be on your map. This alpine resort is an ideal place for all kinds of outdoor activities such as hiking, running, cycling or skiing and snowboarding. With places like these, it’s no wonder why Slovenian people love nature so much.

Even if you’re not necessarily in the best shape, you can always have a picnic and breathe some fresh air. Plenty of coffee shops and restaurants exist and are welcoming, but like with most other winter resorts, don’t be surprised if the prices are 30% higher compared to Ljubljana. Still, you can always spend a few hours of your trip here enjoying the outdoor activities and have a great time without spending a dime.

Go fishing on Jasna Lake

On the other hand, if fishing is about the most action-packed activity you’re looking for, Jasna Lake can be a great alternative to a more popular tourist destination like Bled. It’s also located near the Alps, looks stunning, is immaculately clean and well-kept and finding a parking spot is not a nightmare, even during the busiest days of the season.

Additionally, don’t think that fishing is the only activity that you can do around here. A lakeside library, which works on the principle of taking one book and leaving another one in its place always offers a great way to calm your mind.

Don’t be surprised by the size of Jasna Lake, as the two streams that make it are fairly small, but can serve as a great one-day getaway during the hottest days of the summer.

An interesting look inside the Vintgar Gorge

Vintgar Gorge is a good option for those who want to feel like explorers for a day. Located in Triglav National Park, it is also close to many of the other things mentioned here, especially the Bled Lake, but it is very specific in its right. Where else can you hike in a 250-meter-deep gorge for an entire mile?

For those who have the luck of visiting Vintgar on a day where few visitors are present, at times you can literally feel like you’re the only person in the world. It’s also a place from where you can wander at a Bohinj Railway bridge, a stone arch structure that suddenly appears seemingly out of nowhere, connecting the two surrounding hills.

A chance for some great photos at Zelenci Natural Reserve

I’m not going to lie to you, this reserve is quite similar to any other swamp-like area you might imagine. Sure, it has some incredibly vibrant colors and interesting wildlife to boast, but other than that, compared to some other entries from this list, it’s a place where half an hour is more than enough to fully experience all its charm.

Now, I will admit that this might just be my point of view, as mosquitos really trouble me, and Zelenci was a place they found particularly hospitable. If you can manage that better than I can, it’s worth checking it out. At the very least, you can always take some very nice photos of the surrounding landscape while you’re there.

There’s always the Planica Valley for adrenaline junkies

One would say that a place known for ski jumps would only be interesting to athletes who use it for what it is, but Planica is a place of exquisite beauty as well, suitable for hikers. There are lots of tracks and paths that are not especially steep, so that can be ideal for families with small children or dogs.

Although Planica Valley comes alive during the winter months and is fairly empty during the summer, you can always pay 5 Euro to get on top of the mountain for a lovely view. Those who are more daring will also try the zipline, one of the steepest ziplines in the world.  If you’re not afraid of heights and you enjoy speed, this can be 25 Euro well spent.

Make sure to check out Kranj on your way back

I intentionally left Kranj at the last spot, as this city is a perfect destination to end your day trip before heading back to Ljubljana. Kranj is the biggest city in the Slovenian Alps, giving the name to the entire region. Because this city was the birthplace of France Prešeren, Kranj is also considered a cultural center of Slovenia and you can sense it, as there are lots of galleries and music centers on every corner.

Kokra River runs through the middle of the city, and lots of parks that surround it are a great place to have a sit-down and enjoy the sunset. Kranj has that old small-town charm, and the cobbled streets and Gothic Church of St. Kancijan will serve as a fond memory you’ll want to keep coming back to. I know that I will definitely do so as soon as possible.