In collaboration with Kranjska Gora Tourism Board
Kranjska Gora is located close to the Italian and Austrian borders, in the north-western part of Slovenia. Beautiful at any time of the year, but after visiting in Winter I can honestly say, encapsulates a Winter Wonderland that can’t be missed. As you drive through Kranjska Gora you can’t help but be in awe of this beautiful ‘hidden gem’ destination of Slovenia.
Where to stay?
Close to the center of Kranjska Gora (only a short 5 minute walk) is Penzion Blenkus. A lovely little B&B that overlooks the Alps. The place is comfortable, has incredible heating (for an Australian travelling through their first European Winter, trust me this is a big plus!) and has a lovely owner, however they can only speak Slovenian, Italian and German. Now some of you are probably like, "Jess, you’ve left out English?" No I haven’t, they can’t speak English. However don’t let this stop you from booking here because I have a few pointers below.
Anyway you could say I was a little worried about how I was going to check in, because my Slovenian is quite limited but luckily enough I was travelling with my boyfriend who speaks Slovenian (sighs with relief). The B&B also offers breakfast (between 8am - 9am), classic but simple with cereals and cold meats and if you’re worried about parking (don’t be), there is a parking lot out the front of the B&B.
So those pointers I was talking about, here they are, we’re about to get educational, plus you’ll be able to confidently say you can say a few things in Slovene (or you can just show them this and they'll understand):
- Dober dan, imam rezervacijo na ime [insert name here] - Hello, I have a reservation under the name [insert name here]
- Do kdaj se moram odjaviti? - When do I have to check-out?
- Želel bi se odjaviti - I would like to check out
For more translations to help with hotel conversations, you can go to this link.
Only a short 10 minute drive from the center of Kranjska Gora is Planica. An Alpine Valley known for their ski jumps and the Ski Jumping World Cup in March. They aren't short of activities including the world's steepest zipline. When you arrive in Planica you will find a circular building, known as the Nordic Center, where there is a viewing platform, a museum on two levels and a reception desk where you buy tickets for the ski lifts.
THINGS TO DO
Walk to Tamar Valley
Planica is the starting point for the walk to Tamar Valley. The signs say that it takes roughly 45 minutes, but if you’re like me and take photos along the way then it’ll take a lot longer. As you walk along many people with their families will be travelling on sleds, which is a fun way to be transported to Tamar, and the way I plan on travelling next time. At the end of the trail you will notice a Gostilna (Inn), offering food and drinks. There is seating inside and outside, as well as a standing area where you can enjoy a Kuhano Vino and the surrounding Winter Wonderland outside.
Watch Ski Jumpers
When you return from your walk, I would recommend taking time to watch the ski jumpers, it’s incredible to watch as they fly through the air. I would never have the courage to take up a sport like that but I take my hat off to them.
Take a Ski Lift to the top of the mountain
Right next to where you closely watch the ski jumpers is the entry to the ski lift which takes you to the top of the mountain. Remember that tickets are bought at the Nordic centre (circular building) and costs 4euros per person. There isn’t much to do at the top, expect to admire the view and take a few more photos of course.
Dinner: Lacni Kekec
Back in Kranjska Gora, located at the bottom of the ski slopes is Lacni Kekec, a snack bar that promises to not leave you hungry (and they deliver). The décor of the place gives a home-like feel, offering classic and traditional Slovenian meals. They’re best known however for their burgers and rightly so! They were delicious and the perfect place to eat when you get tired of skiing and need to re-fuel. Burgers were between 7 - 9Euros.
Walk through the Alpine Village
In the centre of the Alpine Village in Kranjska Gora is their festive lights. I would best describe them as simple yet beautiful. It’s a quiet part of town away from the ski slopes where you will find small huts selling a variety of goods, from cold meats to jewellery. There is also a life sized advent calendar with new prizes offered everyday, but you have to get there early in the day to reap the rewards of the prize. As you walk through you'll notice a restaurant 'Gostilna Cvitar' and a few cafes. You'll also notice a man roasting chestnuts, next to a burning fire, which is perfect on a cold Winter's night. There is also a little station for Smoren, which is a traditional Slovenian dish, like a pancake cut up in small pieces, which goes really well with Nutella. I don't take any responsibility if you try it and become addicted!
Concert at Vitranc Hall
The particular weekend that I was in Kranjska Gora was the Official Ski Opening, so they put on a concert with the Mambo Kings playing. It was fantastic! The atmosphere was loud and infectious. They played Slovenian and Croatian music and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. People were dancing and singing along, it was the perfect way to end a Saturday Night.
From the center of Kranjska Gora, Lake Jasna is only a 1km (30 minute) walk, or a 4 minute drive away. When you arrive, you'll notice parking on the side of the road. The Lake is picturesque in every way, with piers along the water and a 6 meter viewing platform, overlooking the lake and mountains. Only parts of the lake were frozen allowing for the beautiful reflections of the mountains to give the lake another dimension. On the opposite side of the viewing platform you’ll notice two small huts selling drinks with outdoor seating. Lake Jasna is the perfect place to just aimlessly walk around and take in it’s beauty.
Zelenci Nature Reserve
Scientist Sir Humphrey Davy and I have one thing in common, we both madly fell in love with Slovenia. After visiting Zelenci he wrote ‘There is nothing more beautiful in Europe than this’. Zelenci was officially declared a nature reserve in 1992. It can be accessed by a number of walk ways, clearly marked with signs. From the car park, which is on the side of the main road it is a 10 minute walk to reach the reserve. The peaceful and calming nature of the reserve, makes it most welcoming. There is also a viewing platform, one story high, to get a better view of the crystal clear, emerald green waters.
Lunch: Gostilna Cvitar
Back in the Alpine Village of Kranjska Gora is Gostilna Cvitar, located where the festive lights are at night. The restaurant is quite spacey offering an extensive menu, again with classic and tradition meals. I opted for the tradition meal, which can best be described as Veal stew with buckwheat polenta (telecja obara z ajdovimi zganci), the soup like meal was perfect on the cold Winters day and was around 8euros.
Parking closer to the waterfall is easier in Summer when the roads are driveable, however in this instance you’ll park around a fair way away from the waterfall. There is a harder track and an easier track to get to the waterfall. If you find yourself in the forest, finding it hard to walk because of the ice and the track looking complicated, turn around, and walk along the road (which is on the right hand side of the lake). You will see a no access sign (for cars), follow that until you find a sign for Pericnik. It’s a clear track with tyre marks to follow, however is slippery at times. If you have them I would recommend appropriate shoes, like hiking boots or something similar with grip! When you get there you have the option to walk underneath the waterfall. We didn’t get the chance, one because it was almost nightfall and two because it was quite slippery getting anywhere near the waterfall. It takes roughly an hour to get there and back.
Icy Kingdom is open to the public from the 20th of December, we were lucky enough to get access to the 500 square meter kingdom prior to the opening. I was blown away when I arrived, mostly by Pavel, who maintains the area all year long, from assembling the wooden structure to assisting the formation of the Ice, and gets up every 20 minutes to move hoses to get the structure accurate, it made me appreciate the event so much more because of the hard work he puts into this. It is so impressive. It has been running since 2002, with the story of the Nativity being acted out in the lead up to Christmas, intertwined with a modern story played right next to artificial waterfalls. This is something I would highly recommend, because you will not see anything else like this, anywhere else.
Dinner: Gostilna Pri Martinu
This was probably my favourite meal of the weekend. There was no initial plan to stop here but it looked nice as we drove by, and I'm so glad we did. The restaurant was quite busy for a Sunday night, and the aroma of the restaurant further confirmed the right decision had been made. Again I went traditional with a starter of Mushroom soup and Main of Kranjska Klobasa. Kranjska Klobasa (Kransky sausage in English), is a Slovene specialty and has geographical protection. The soup came to 4Euros and the Main totaled to 7euros.
I can't thank Elizabeta and the Kranjska Gora Tourism Board enough for a wonderful stay, and I can guarantee I will be back in Summer, to see it’s beauty in a new light.
So who's been to Kranjska Gora and what was your highlight? Who's planning to visit this Winter Wonderland?