written by Rebecca Svetina, January 2019
I quite enjoy the start of the new year in my (now) hometown of Radovljica. The hype of the holidays has faded and we can enjoy the frost-kissed landscape and snow capped mountains, which makes the fairytale town of Radovljica even more idyllic.
The Christmas decorations and lights are disappearing. All the presents have been opened. We’re all on cookie-and-chocolate-detox. Yesterday my 2-year-old asked me where the Christmas tree went. He was upset all the decorations were in boxes, but I tried to explain we can still go sled riding, build snowmen, and drink hot chocolate.
Winter sunrise over Radovljica and Lesce, photo: Rebecca Svetina
Whether you prefer getting outside or cuddling fireside with a cup of coffee – Radovljica is your cup of tea. (And tourists will appreciate the off-season accommodation prices.) The following suggests different places to take your family ice skating, skiing, sledding, walking, and hiking. In the event you’ve had enough of the January weather, there are also some indoor suggestions to warm up and enjoy your time together in Radovljica.
In the center of Radovljica’s sport park is a bustling, covered ice rink. The playgrounds may be closed this time of year, but do not fret! Radovljica’s ice rink is free to all those under 18 years old and only 2 EUR for everyone past their 18th birthday. Skates are also available for rent. Look for the little penguins that help the youngest beginners find their balance and learn to skate! More information
Radovljica ice rink, photo: Gregor Kofler
If you are particularly lucky, during an exceptionally cold period in Slovenia, you can walk on Lake Bled! It has only frozen over maybe 3 times in the 10 years I’ve lived in Slovenia, but it’s really a sight. Especially if you book a scenic flight at the local Lesce airport In this event, ice skating is at your own risk – it’s not organized and you’ll have to bring your own skates.
When my daughter was born last January, my parents came to visit for 2 weeks. We were snowed in, and with a newborn and 2 retirees, our winter activities were few and far between. But no one wants to be cooped up inside all day – even if you’re not an ice skater or skiier, Radovljica and the area offers some lovely walks.
Šobec is one of my favorite places to walk, especially when I was pushing a stroller since it’s a flat path. It’s a campsite between the towns, Lesce and Bled. In the winter the parking and entrance is free. The campsite is closed in the winter, but you can use the playgrounds and walking paths. You can even grab a warm drink or perhaps lunch at the restaurant. You can weave your way through the campsite to the Sava River and back to the manmade lake. There’s a large playground in Šobec, which is possible to use for brave kids with gloves and snow pants.
A family walk in Šobec, photo: Rebecca Svetina
With a young family, you’re constantly juggling nap times and mealtimes. Throw in frigid weather conditions, and hitting the hills seems like mission impossible. Luckily the foothills are at Radovljica’s doorstep.
A hike to Sv. Peter (Saint Peter’s Church) and Sankaška koča (translates to “sledding hut”) is our go-to hike. It’s a small hill above Begunje na Gorenjskem. At the base, in Krpin, is ample parking and a playground. There are several trails up, but it’s quite hard to get lost. When in doubt, just ask someone on the well-traveled path. At the church you can enjoy views of the villages below. A few more minutes up the path you come to the hut where you can find picnic tables outside with views of the distant Lake Bled and Triglav (Slovenia’s tallest mountain @ 2864 m.), or warm up inside where it’s cozy and rustic. The hut offers hot food and drinks Wednesday–Sunday throughout the year. ...but the highlight for a my kids? – the 2 big slides outside the hut.
Winter hike to St. Peter, photo: Tina Sotler
Check out the equivalent short hike to “Lovska koča na Taležu” (translated to “Hunter’s hut on Talež”). We like seeing the goats and small animals there. You can also find a picture-perfect view on Ojstrica (611 m.) in Bled. And if you want to get more altitude, here are a few more suggestions. The winter is the best time to get a chance to hike above the clouds!
Slovenes tend to put their kids on skates and skis as soon as they can stand on their own two feet. If it’s cold enough, local ski slopes make their own snow. If it’s a particularly snowy winter (like last year) you’ll find kids with sleds on every hill and locals cross country skiing in the fields.
Check out these spots in the Radovljica area:
Kamna Gorica is a nearby village with a small ski slope ideal for young families. When it’s cold enough, they make snow for sledding and skiing. It’s also beside a cross country skiing trail when weather permits. Hours are limited to the weekends and holidays before dark, so be sure to check for more information.
Young families also like Straža in Bled (15 min. away from Radovljica by car), which has lights for night skiing. And my husband taught me to ski in Mojstrana (about 25 min. away from Radovljica by car).
Kamna Gorica ski slope, photo: Kaja Beton
I previously suggested Sankaška koča (translates to “sledding hut”) for hiking, but as the name suggests, when it snows enough it’s great for sledding! The best spot is in Krpin at the base of the hill, beside the playground. Bring your own skis and sled, and be prepared to walk back up to enjoy the thrill down, because it’s not an organized ski slope. But you can enjoy a drink afterwards at the cafe (open 4-11pm on Mon.-Wed. and Fri.; closed Thurs.; 1-11pm on Sat. and Sun.). And you’ll still find locals sledding after dark with headlamps!
Tea break after sledding below Sv. Peter, Photo: Rebecca Svetina
For ski and sled rental, your best bet is to inquire with your accommodation. Many family-run B&B’s will have something for you. Otherwise, the Bled Tourist Information Center rents skis, and Kompas travel agency in Hotel Krim (+386045727501, email@example.com) has all your winter equipment.
When there’s still grass poking through a dusting of snow, the best place to find sledding and cross country skiing is on the forest plateau, Pokljuka (about 35 min. away from Radovljica by car) You can find your way to the Pokljuka Šport Hotel, where you can find all the winter activities. My family’s favorite spot, though, is just past the sport hotel at Jelka Hotel. There’s an organized ski slope for beginners and a sledding hill with a long run. The hotel is at the top of the hill and offers hearty food and warm drinks inside or outside.
Once your fingers are numb and your boots need to dry, Radovljica offers several indoor activities for the family. My family’s favorite, ironically in the winter, is swimming. Slovenia has several thermal spas and indoor water parks across the country. Just in Radovljica you can go to the Olympic-sized covered pool. If you’re looking for a baby pool, our favorites in the area are in Bled at Živa Wellness, which has a great view, and in Bohinjska Bistrica at the Bohinj Aquapark, which tends to have a bit warmer water.
Radovlijca is sprinkled with several interesting museums. The Elan Alpine Skiing Museum is perfect for the season. You can even “make” your own skis and test them in the ski simulator! Also, young children may enjoy the Bee Museum (Museum of Apiculture) and Gingerbread Museum (Lectar Workshop and Museum) in Radovljica’s old town.
If you have older kids, bowling is always fun, located at the roundabout between Radovljica and Lesce. Call ahead in case you need to reserve a lane!
In the winter months you’ll also find local families at the local theater and the library. The theater (Linhartova dvorana) has a full program each month, but be sure to check if the movies are English. Most cartoons are dubbed in Slovene. The library (Knjižnica A. T. Linharta Radovljica) also has a full schedule of events for all ages including puppet plays and storytime.
Unfortunately the library’s website and program are also only in Slovene, but I am certain there’s an English story time every Monday at 4:30pm through 2019 for kids 1-6 years old, because I’m organizing it. I hope to see you there!
Be sure to stop into the Radol’ca Tourist Information Center (TIC) to ask about any other events in the area. The town is buzzing with activity – even when the bees are sleeping in the winter.
Written by Adele Gray, january 2018
Though, in truth, I will never be a lover of winter and snow, since moving to Slovenia in 2007 I have learnt that in winter in the area where I live – Radovljica, in the northwest i.e. the alpine area - snow is a fact of life and, to some extent, have learnt to embrace it!
A small ski piste in the Lipnica valley that is ideal for families with young children. Next to the ski piste there are also cross-country ski trails.