Kranjska Gora: A family vacation in the Julian Alps

Kranjska Gora is small resort town in the Julian’s Alps (Julijske Alpe in Slovenian) in north west Slovenia, mere 20 minutes driving from beautiful lake Bled. It is surrounded by the mountains and the glacial lakes of the Triglav National Park are within easy reach. It is a rather touristic place that caters to winter sport enthusiast in the winter months and the slops are taken over by hikers and mountain bikers in the summer. Furthermore it is within easy reach of Austria (Villach – 23km, through the Karawanks Tunnel) and Italy (Tarvisio -22km). The Karawanks Tunnel is notorious for its LONG traffic jams during peak season.We were warned about this by our AirBnB hosts in Ljubljana before we headed to Kranjska Gora. We left the highway after Bled and before Jesenice, thank God we did, as we ended up bypassing a 15 km traffic jam.

Kranjska Gora is not a big place by any means, and you should not need more than an hour to explore the village itself. The village is best explored by strolling through its little streets.

river gorge slovenia

Lonely Planet has added the Julian Alps, as one of their Top 10 regions to visit in 2018 , I fully agree with their description of the region:[…] With the natural appeal of Chamonix or Zermatt – but with fewer crowds – the Julian Alps offer mountain bliss in an overlooked corner of Europe. Over two-thirds of the region is protected by the Triglav National Park mandate, a mechanism that not only curbs development along the summits but ensures that improvements to local infrastructure are effected in a slow and studied manner. Once suitable only for the intrepid, the Julian Alps are gently opening the door to every stripe of traveller. […]

our 4 highlights of Kranjska Gora

#1 Driving the Vršič Pass and visiting the wooden Russian Chapel

The Vršič Pass is the highest road pass in the Julian Alps (1,611m /5285ft) and it is has 50 serpentines. It is a fun (especially when you are living in the Netherlands and are used to pancake flat terrains), beautiful and slow drive starting in Kranjska Gora. Altitude wise it made ourears pop, but luckily our little one slept the whole way and seemed to have no issues. There are several mountain cabins along the road where you can stop for a drink and grab a bite to eat. On the Kranjska Gora side of the pass, you will pass by the Russian Chapel. It was built in 1917 as a memorial for all the POWs who died while working on the Vršič Pass road.  The church itself is rarely open for visitors. From what you can see through the windows it has a rather simple interior with a typical orthodox style altar. Legally it belongs to the Russian Orthodox parish in Belgrade.

russian chapel sloveniajulian alps panorama

#2 Nordic Centre Planica

Unlike most tourists we did not visit Planica for the Winter sport Museum. We went there, as my adrenaline junkie had heard about the Planica zipline. In Planica you can zipline down the largest ski flying hill in the world on the steepest zipline in the world in the mecca for the world ski jumping elite. Obviously, he needed to do it…BUT you also need to reserve in advance…and we did not…so we watched other people zip lining instead and shall return one day to go ziplining ourselves.  (Check out the video of the zipline on their website)

#3 Jasna Lake & hiking

Jasna Lake is an easy 15 min uphill walk from the village centre. It is actially 2 interconnected manmade lakes, which are popular with the locals for swimming and recreational purposes. There are 2 little huts serving snacks and drinks and it is great place to just sit back and enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains or to go for a walk. There are 2 streams connected with the lake, which are swarming with fly fishers. We enjoyed a nice afternoon hiking in the vicinity of the lakes with our little one. The road that passed by the lakes is the beginning of the Vršič Pass road.

# 4 Mountain biking in Kranjska Gora

The Bike Park is host to the IXS Downhill cup and hosted the EDC in 2015, as a last-minute substitute for Maribor. It is a park that has become more popular with the downhill mountain bike crowd in the last years. The park has 5 basic trails and of course our downhill mountain bike crazy member of the family needed to check it out. He spent a day riding, while the little one and I explored the town and lakes. Sadly, he was not too impressed with the bike park trails. It seems that at the end of the season (we visited in late August) their bike park maintenance crew had already checked out. But still a day in the saddle is always a good day for him.


BONUS : #5 Tromeja

Several other travellers and locals told us about a relatively easy hike starting in a small town very close to Kranjska Gora.  We really wanted to go, but the weather and our little explorers’ mood that day stopped us from going, hence we can only share our Top #4 and not Top #5. We promised ourselves that next time we visit Slovenia we shall be climbing up to Tromeja (aka Peč/Monte Forno/Dreiländereck/Ofen), the European equivalency of the American 4 corners. It is a triple border peak (1508m /4948ft) between Slovenia, Austria and Italy, which is easily accessible from Rateče by bike, foot and car. The views from Tromeja offer a panorama of the Julian Alps, the Gailtal Alps, the Gurktal Alps, the High and Low Tauern and Karavanke mountains.

Recommended by locals

Bad weather activity We were unlucky with the weather on one afternoon of our stay and ended up going for a swim at the Ramada hotels indoor pool. The pool area was very clean,has views of the surrounding mountain range and is kid friendly (separate pool with slide).We had a lovelyy relaxing time there, while waiting for the rain to stop.

Restaurant recommendation We stayed at a Farm stay apartment, which came with a kitchen and we did cook ourselves on the first night. One the second night of our stay the farmer’s wife recommended that we should have dinner at her favourite local restaurant: Gostilna Pri Martinu – we had a meat dish and the trout and it was delicious.

On the evening when  we went for dinner the town hosted a Harley Davidson meeting, which meant that the place was full of bikers and the windows were vibrating from the large groups of Harley’s driving past ever now and then. It put our little one to sleep and allowed us to have a quiet dinner.

The website of Kranjska Gora’s Tourism office:

Read about our holiday in  Slovenia –12 Reasons why Slovenia is the ultimate European family travel destination . 

Want to read more of our travel stories, visit our ‘where we have been’ page to see all of the travel adventures we blogged about.

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10 thoughts on “Kranjska Gora: A family vacation in the Julian Alps

  1. Vanessa Brune says:

    It looks stunning! I’ve ever tried mountain biking before but have always admired people who have the guts to race down those steep mountains! It’s certainly not for me but it’s awesome to watch 🙂

  2. Cynthia says:

    What a great village for a holiday!! I toured this area about three years ago and really enjoyed revisiting some of the sights via your post. We stayed in Bled, though, but I would have loved to stay somewhere smaller like this place – looks wonderful.

  3. Plutonium Sox says:

    Oh it’s a shame you missed out on the zipline! I would definitely go for the hiking, it looks beautiful. Unfortunate that the mountain bike trails weren’t up to scratch, but that’s useful to know. Thanks for linking up with #familytraveltips

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