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Skiing at Gerlitzen in Austria

Guide to skiing the Alps from Bled, Slovenia

It was on my first trip to Slovenia in 2014 that I first heard about the country as a ski destination.

Most people will think of France, Switzerland, Austria, or Italy when the Alps are mentioned in conversations about European ski trips. It can be a surprise to discover that Slovenia also shares some of this magnificent mountain range, and their snowy peaks are relatively undiscovered by international tourists.

They may not be the biggest or the highest resorts, but they sure are cheaper than any of the other countries that share the Alps. A daily pass at most will only set you back 33-36 Euro (for context, a daily pass in the popular US resorts can cost about three times that much!). If you’re looking for a budget option for skiing in Europe, Slovenia should be your top choice.

Rob and I invited some of our friends from Australia and the US to join us on a week-long ski trip based in Bled, a gorgeous lakeside town positioned between snow-capped mountains in northwest Slovenia. Bled happens to be within an hour’s drive of a handful of ski resorts, which gave us plenty of options to choose from when we felt like hitting the slopes.

I can confirm that skiing in Slovenia is really a fab way to experience the Alps on a budget! If you’re interested in planning a ski trip to Slovenia, here’s my epic guide to skiing the Alps from Bled.

Views of Lake Bohinj from Vogel ski resort in Slovenia
Views of Lake Bohinj from Vogel ski resort in Slovenia

When to go skiing in Slovenia:

Ski season in the Julian Alps is generally from December to April. We used the skiresort.info website to check the conditions at each resort, including the snow cover and how many lifts/slopes were operating. You can also check snow-forecast.com to see if there has been a recent snowfall or if snow is predicted for the next 1-6 days.

Our trip was timed so that we would be skiing just when the winter season was getting into swing in late December/early January, but our timing was unlucky – the Julian Alps had a really shitty start to the snow season. There was an average snow depth of 25cm at most of the resorts and we had a light snowfall four days before we arrived, but that was it for the entire time that we were in Bled. We managed to fit in a few days on the slopes, but most of the resorts were only half open. Hopefully the conditions will have improved by the time I publish this guide!

Ski passes and lift tickets for the Julian Alps:

If you’re interested in visiting a few of the resorts, consider getting a Julian Alps ski pass. This will allow you to visit most of the popular Slovenian resorts plus a few in Italy and Austria over 2-7 consecutive days. You can buy the pass online or pick it up from the Infocenter Triglavska roža in Bled.

Buying individual passes for each resort is also an option. This is what we did and we found it very easy. There were barely any queues for tickets, though I don’t know whether this would be different at a time when the conditions are better.

Where to ski from Bled:

Ski slopes at Vogel ski resort in Slovenia
Ski slopes at Vogel ski resort

Straža Bled (Slovenia)

Straža Bled is a small ski slope right next to the town centre. The snow here is mostly artificial so it’s not particularly impressive, and the facilities are geared towards families and beginners, so this option is generally for those wanting a few casual runs (you can actually pay for lift tickets per number of runs rather than a day pass) or anyone wanting ski lessons.

Vogel (Slovenia)

Vogel is situated inside Triglav National Park and is the closest proper ski resort to Bled. We visited Vogel on our first day to do some practice runs (unfortunately it only had one chairlift operating when we were there). The resort is not huge, but it is super pretty! The gondola up to the resort has fab views over Lake Bohinj and the surrounding mountains.

Kranjska Gora (Slovenia)

Kranjska Gora is the largest ski resort in Slovenia. It’s at a fairly low altitude but it has plenty of snowmaking facilities to compliment the natural snow cover. Kranjska Gora is known for hosting the Alpine skiing world cup and is also one of the rare few resorts that has a ski village right at the base. It has loads of beginner slopes so is great if you want a casual ski experience.

Krvavec (Slovenia)

Krvavec is a popular resort because of its proximity to the capital city of Ljubljana. As Krvavec gets plenty of cashed-up city visitors, it apparently has the best facilities and has been voted the best ski resort in Slovenia a few times. It has mostly intermediate slopes so if you’re fairly confident on skis, Krvavec might be a good option.

Cerkno (Slovenia)

Cerkno is a family-friendly ski resort a little further from Bled than some of the other resorts. A local favourite, it has also grabbed the title of best ski resort in Slovenia a handful of times. The lifts are modern and some are high-speed, so you can expect minimal wait times after each run.

Kanin-Sella Nevea (Slovenia/Italy)

Kanin is the highest altitude ski resort in Slovenia, and the peak is on the border of Italy which means you can actually ski into both countries on the same day. You can drive to the Slovenian side of the mountain in Bovec, or the Italian side in Sella Nevea. We intended to spend a day at this mountain but the cable car was unfortunately closed due to high winds so we had to give it a miss.

Tarvisio (Italy)

Tarvisio is a decent-sized ski resort in the northeast corner of Italy. It’s just over the Slovenian border, so it doesn’t take too long to drive there from Bled. Our Slovenian Airbnb host in the Soča Valley said that Tarvisio is one of his fave ski destinations, so it has his recommendation! A day pass is only a few Euros more than the Slovenian resorts, so Tarvisio could be an excellent option.

Gerlitzen (Austria)

Gerlitzen is one of the few resorts that had all of its slopes open for business while we were there. It was a surprisingly easy 45-minute drive from Bled, though it did cost about 15 Euros in tolls to drive through the huge tunnel that runs under the Alps from Slovenia to Austria. It’s also worth noting that sking in Austria is generally more expensive – we paid 48 Euro (about 10-15 Euro more than the Slovenian resorts) for a day pass, though it was a bigger resort with more terrain, so Gerlitzen did seem worth the extra cash!

Sunset over the Alps at the base of Gerlitzen in Austria
Sunset over the Alps at the base of Gerlitzen in Austria

How to get to the ski resorts from Bled:

We rented a car from Ljubljana for our Slovenia + Croatia road trip which allowed us to drive to our choice of ski resort from Bled each day. Driving in Slovenia was fairly easy. They drive on the right, like the rest of Europe. The roads are fairly good, though there were some narrow passages that wind through the small towns which made me a little nervous at times!

If you don’t want to drive, there’s also the option of getting the Bled winter shuttle bus. There are daily transfers to Vogel, Kranjska Gora, and Krvavec, and to Tarvisio on Wednesdays and Sundays. Return tickets can be booked online one day in advance and only cost 10 Euro (or if you have the Julian Alps ski pass, the shuttle is free on certain days of the week).

Where to get ski rental around Bled:

My quest for a ski rental store in Bled was unsuccessful. Intersport Bled came up when I did an online search, but when I turned up and asked the staff about rentals, they told me that it’s actually just a retail store. We also stopped by the Alpinsport rental store in Bohinj (near Vogel) but for some unknown reason it was closed when we turned up. Classic Eastern Europe. It looks like Kompas Bled might be an option and it’s possible that Straža Bled also offers rentals.

In the end, we rented skis from each of the resorts on arrival. They all have at least one rental shop which is usually part of the ski school, and there’s no need to book your rentals in advance.

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