Last July we went on a family holiday to Slovenia. We spent a week in Slovenia before we headed off to a week in Venice. Even though we had all been to Venice before, none of us had been to Slovenia. None of our friends had been there either so we hadn’t got any recommendations of where to stay or what to do. Also the children were at an age (11 and 8) where they are quite hard to please as everything is so boring, therefore I had quite a challenge to keep everyone happy!
After intense internet research I decided that the best place to stay in Slovenia for us was Lake Bled. The pictures on the internet of the lake were stunning and it looked as though it wasn’t too far from many of the excursions and activities that we could do there. I decided to book the only 5 star hotel that was directly on the lake called Grand Hotel Toplice.
Grand Hotel Toplice
The hotel was in a great location, a few minutes walk from the centre of Bled. From our room, which was a junior suite so the children had their own space, the views of Bled Castle from our balcony were breathtaking, even more so than the pictures on the internet. The hotel itself was comfortable and clean but is probably in need for a bit of a renovation, although this did give it character!
We were on a half board package, which worked out really reasonable compared to bed and breakfast, so every evening we ate in the main restaurant from a four course menu. The children really enjoyed having the choice and being able to pick and choose what they wanted from the menu every night. The food was a very good standard. Our waiter for the week was from the town and had worked at the hotel for over 30 years. You are allocated a table and ours over looked the lake, so we were able to see the sunset every evening. Stunning!
The hotel had an indoor thermal pool (that was freezing) so we didn’t use that but they have a deck outside by the lake. It took a while for me to summon up the courage to get into the lake as it was so cold too but I did go in a few times. Some more of the hardy guests thought this was quite funny as they were able to dive straight it whilst I was still hanging onto the steps! Sam, our son, loved the diving board into the lake and constantly jumped into the lake from there! No fear!
Lake Bled Activities
There is so much to do in Slovenia that we ran out of time. One day we just hired some bicycles and rode around the lake, stopping for lunch and picture opportunities on the way. Another day we decided to row to the church in the middle of the lake. Rowing across the lake was harder than expected, even though I thought it was going to be easy and Stuart and I took it in turns. Stuart was much better than me much to the children’s delight, especially as I had boasted at how good I was at rowing!
When we got to the Island we went up the church tower that had great views of the lake and stopped for an obligatory ice cream.
We also spent an afternoon at Bled castle. It’s a long way up some windy steps so we managed to get plenty of exercise that day! There is a gentler route up a slope that unfortunately we only found out about after we had come down! Again the views were amazing and we took plenty of pictures. They also had a shop there that made products from honey so the children and Stuart had taste them all and buy some!
Still walking distance from the hotel, up a gentle hill, we had a great day at the tobogganing and zip wire centre. In the winter the slope is used for ski jumps but in the summer the slope is converted into a toboggan run. The children had a great time here, even though it was a bit scary! At the zip-wire centre, there were many different routes to cater for, beginners to experts. Clear instructions were given and I felt they were very safety cautious.
Another day we took a trip to the Postojna caves. This is the top tourist destination in Slovenia and so it was really busy. We were organised into language groups and taken into the cave by a train. There is a lot of walking once you get in the caves but the formations inside were fascinating.
That afternoon we also took an excursion into the capital, Ljublijana which is a beautiful city, and on the way back from the caves. We walked along the river and stopped at a restaurant for lunch. After lunch we took a cable car up to the castle. There isn't much to see in the castle but the views of the city were good.
One of the best excursions we did was a tour of the Juilan Alps. The scenery was stunning.
On the tour we saw the Planice ski jump centre, which the children enjoyed imagining brave ski jumpers coming down the mountain, the Soca river, Kranjska gora and Bovec.
On our last day we took a drive up to the Vintage gorge, which is a turquoise lake running through the hills. We walked along the river and stopped for a drink before turning around and walking back.