Lake Zbilje: where Tchaikovsky and the good old days meet

by Mateja Gruden

Let’s make a cocktail. Shake lots of water with some Tchaikovsky’s talent and spice it up with »the good old days« flavour. Voilà!

Why water? Because we are talking about the lake here. Why the famous Russian composer? Because of the many many swans swim in the lake and that makes it somehow – a Swan Lake. Why "the good old days"? Because I guess the times of the wooden boats and the paddles are mostly gone.

Artificial? But it looks so natural

Mostly. Obviously, since I was sitting in a wooden boat just a couple of days ago trying to find out the most efficient way to paddle … We rented a boat in the village of Zbilje near Ljubljana, a popular spot for the sunny afternoons and weekends with its natural beauty, cafés and restaurants, the children's playground and a nice path for strolling along the lake.

  • zbilje 1,2
  • zbilje 1,2

An artificial Lake Zbilje was created in 1953, when the Sava river was dammed to provide water for the hydroelectric power station in the nearby town of Medvode. It provides an important habitat for numerous bird species but I guess visitors notice mostly the swans (there should be around two hundred of them swimming in the lake). After all, these elegant white birds with long slim necks attract attention wherever they are. (Plus they’ve been well advertised by the prominent men as P. I. Tchaikovsky and H. C. Andersen whose fairy tale The Ugly Duckling still brings tears in our eyes even when we’re adults.)

Take your time and enjoy

You can hire a boat for seven euros per hour. It costs another euro if you’d like to buy some corn to feed the swans. We didn’t want to attract too much of their attention; we were more like: "Dear swans, could you please be so kind to stay away from the boat so we don’t hit you with the paddle?" It was enjoyable enough just to watch them sailing smoothly or flutter with their long wings from time to time. We took the slow pace (truth to tell, we would exhaust ourselves totally if we’d try to rave!), taking time to enjoy the flourishing green that surrounds the water and the peaceful atmosphere in the remote parts of the lake.

We were cruising on the lake for an hour; it takes much more time (and physical strength) to explore the entire area. And let me remind you to take the sun cream if you choose to go on the lake on a sunny summer day!

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  • zbilje 3,4

There are also other possibilities for water adventures on Lake Zbilje: in a boat hire outlet where we rented our boat you can also rent a SUP or a funny looking »fat bike« or you can experience the lake with the electric boat. If you’re a SUP fan there’s a bigger SUP outlet at the end of the walking path that strolls along the lakeside.

Climb to the old castle above Smlednik

How to get there? The easiest way is by car. If you drive to Zbilje from Ljubljana take the road that leads you through the settlements of Tacen, Vikrče, Zavrh and Smlednik. There’s Mount Saint Mary (Šmarna gora) on the way, the popular hiking spot, you’ll pass the Golf Course Smlednik with the nice views of Kamnik-Savinja Alps and you might make the stop in the village of Smlednik to climb to the ruins of the old castle (Stari grad) that represents the conception and development of the medieval castle of Central Slovenia in its purest form.

The views from the castle are amazing: hills and the mountains all around. There’s also the calvary (Kalvarija) with picturesque frescos of the crucifixion of Jesus.

  • smlednik 1,2
  • smlednik 1,2
  • smlednik 3,4
  • smlednik 3,4

Mateja Gruden

Tourism and outdoor. Two crucial parts of my life. I try to combine them as often as possible – at work and in my free time.

More about Mateja Gruden

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