A walk to a mountain lake is seen by many as a perfect getaway from routine and obligations, which keep us firmly trapped in our everyday surroundings.
We often dream of leaving the city behind and spending a few days in the picturesque environment where the harmony of man and nature makes sense and takes the best possible forms.
Lake Bled in Slovenia serves as a fabulous destination for all the people fond of nature, fresh air, and active recreation. Located at the foot of the Julian Alps, Lake Bled is surrounded by emerald-green mountain hills and blanketed by the deep azure skies. Within a hand’s reach, there is a medieval castle perched on the cliff side. But the real icing on the cake is a miniature islet right in the center of the lake. This beautiful spot is rightfully called one of the most outstanding tourist jewels on the whole continent. If you are interested in seeing Lake Bled with your own eyes, get onboard and let’s plan your unforgettable holidays in Slovenia together.
Legendary Lake Bled offers unforgettable holidays in Slovenia
Tectonic and glacial processes have shaped Lake Bled and destined it to become a tourist gem in the northwestern part of the country, adjoining the eponymous town with less than 9,000 inhabitants. Still, the number of annual visitors exceeds this population by many, many times – so popular and admired Lake Bled is! In 2011, it hosted the World Rowing Championship, which gave the regional development a second wind.
As the legend goes, instead of the lake there used to be a valley with a rocky hill in the middle. The valley was beautiful, and the mountain fairies would come to dance there at night. During daytime, shepherds brought their herds of sheep to graze in the valley. Of course, the fairies did not like the effect that the animals produced on the grass and the terrain, so they asked the shepherds to put up a fence and keep the sheep inside. The shepherds disregarded this request, and one day the most beautiful fairy broke her leg while dancing on the uneven ground. The fairies got furious and came up with a very extraordinary plan of revenge. They turned to the mountain brooks and springs and pleaded them to fill the valley with water. All that was left was the rocky hill in the middle, which became an island. The fairies could still dance on its top, but the sheep have been away from that valley ever since.
This cannot be said about travelers who have been flocking to the wonderful lake in great numbers. Lake Bled offers entertainment to every taste, and we definitely recommend hiking, visiting Bled Island and Bled Castle, climbing the hill to the viewpoints at Mala Osojnica and Vintgar Gorge, taking the Straza chair lift and enjoying a toboggan slide, paddling a rented boat and swimming in the waters of Lake Bled.
Rowing across Bled Lake is a must-do
Why don’t you rent a rowboat and get an unforgettable experience paddling to Bled Island in the middle of the lake? A boat will cost you not more than €20 per hour. This is exactly as much time as the whole visit to the islet and back takes. By the way, if you prefer not to paddle, there is an option of getting onto a larger traditional flat-bottomed boat, pletna, which admits up to twenty people and costs only €12. Pletna boats are steered by oarsmen, who descend directly from the families of the first local oarsmen designated by Empress Maria Theresa in person to ferry religious pilgrims to Bled Island back in 1740. The profession has been preserved since then, but the pilgrimage across Lake Bled is seldom done for religious purposes these days. As you can imagine, the oarsmen can tell a lot of jaw-dropping stories during the trip about the local traditions and the days long gone. Enjoy your time, breathe the air, and admire the surrounding landscapes.
Have a pilgrimage to Bled Island and the local church
Once you get to the island, dock and tie your boat opposite the staircase with 99 steps and start exploring the land unknown. The island has just a few buildings, so it will be a quick acquaintance. The main attraction here is the Assumption of Mary Church which literally shapes the contours of the whole islet. The church originates from the mid-17th century and is known to have been decorated with 500-year-old Gothic frescoes.
Even as you approach the islet, you will hear the church bell ringing all the time. It is busy for a reason, and this reason is explained by another legend. The legend says that about 500 years ago there lived a widow, who asked for a bell to be made in loving memory of her late husband. Despite the storm and all the obstacles, the bell was put up in the church as if showing how powerful a human wish could be.
Since then, it is called the Wishing Bell, and every tourist feels obliged to ring the bell and make a wish. Climbing the 52-meter Baroque bell tower is an additional treat which costs €6 and is surely worth the price. The Assumption of Mary Church is a popular venue for wedding ceremonies, and it is believed to bring good luck if the bridegroom carries his fiancé up the church steps.
A walk around Lake Bled will make your day
Active recreation naturally means lots of walking, so the best thing you can do is to finish a lap around the lake and explore every bit of its shores. The whole stroll is only 6 kilometers long and takes less than two hours even if you stop frequently. The views are absolutely fascinating, and the secluded swimming spots are plentiful. The western side of the lake is a hiking trail, sheltered from the sun and remote from all roads, cars and people. According to a popular opinion, the views of Lake Bled are the best here.
A stunning panorama of the lake from Bled Castle
Your holidays in Slovenia will be incomplete if you fail to visit Bled Castle. It has been sitting on the cliff for more than 1,000 years much to the delight of lonely travelers and guided tourists. Bled Castle is dubbed to be the oldest citadel in Slovenia. It not only offers a stunning view of the lake, but also hosts a museum with priceless exhibits, and boasts the best wine cellars in the area. The on-site Bled Castle Restaurant is a perfect venue for fine dining where you can replenish your energy and relax after an emotion-filled tour. Visiting the Bled Castle premises costs €11 for adults and half the price for kids.
Mala Osojnica is the greatest viewpoint for hikers
This option for active pastime requires a bit of hiking. The trail is not difficult and can be covered by children and senior tourists. This quick route will take you to the top of the mountain and will reward you with a splendid aerial panorama of Lake Bled. The starting point of the hike is in the western part of the lake and is marked with a sign stating the GPS coordinates. Up you go from this spot, step by step, until you reach the viewpoint. Most of the time, you will be protected from the sun by the rustling leaves of the trees. The most difficult parts of the trail are additionally equipped with wooden steps or metal staircase and chains for the comfort and safety of welcome visitors. This is where the route is getting somewhat strenuous, so it is an absolute must to have comfortable shoes on. In our opinion, special hiking shoes are not needed. As you reach Mala Osojnica, you will get a chance to sit down on a bench, recover your breath and pluck up some energy to descend the hill. Yet you should not be in a hurry. Enjoy this minute of freedom and calmness for you will see the whole valley underneath your feet. The view is truly breathtaking. This is not the end of the trail, and experienced climbers will continue to explore the area around the lake. If you are unsure of yourself, you can turn around and get back to where you started. The whole hike will take you about an hour – a very reasonable price to pay for the beautiful view.
Straza Bled delivers joy to both kids and adults
A toboggan ride at Straza Bled is a perfect opportunity to entertain your kids if you are having family holidays in Slovenia. There is some magic about visiting a toboggan track and even in the way of getting there on a chair lift. During the ride, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the lake and the mountain landscapes.
A short trip to Vintgar Gorge is never to be forgotten
While you are visiting Lake Bled, and especially if you are visiting it by car, you can arrange a little side trip and take a 10-minute drive to an iconic spot on the map of Slovenia, Vintgar Gorge. This is a 1.6-kilometer walk along the Radovna River, taking you up to another viewpoint overlooking the gorge and offering a scenic panorama of the surrounding mountains.
Lake Bled is home to a very special pastry dessert
At the lake front, you will find a lot of small cafes where one can have a quick bite, watch the calm surface of the lake and taste one of the best local delicacies, Bled cream cake. According to a popular opinion, this dessert is absolutely fantastic! The Bled cream cake is a culinary specialty, recognized and protected at the state level. Slovenia is widely known for numerous recipes of amazing cream pastries of the Habsburg era. Even though Bled cream cake is much younger (its official recipe is less than 70 years old), it already has its annual festival.
Lodging options at Lake Bled
Selecting the best place to stay at Lake Bled for a few days may prove to be a difficult errand for just one simple reason – there are too many excellent housing options in the area. Bled is popular among tourists, so you can enjoy every type of accommodation, stay there overnight, relax and discover everything about Lake Bled from A to Z.
At your disposal are hotels, B&Bs, villas, guesthouses, hostels, and campsites. Hotels vary from very luxurious to very affordable. Guesthouses are all nice, clean, and safe, and their owners are very hospitable. The most popular wallet-friendly ways to stay at Lake Bled are B&Bs and hostels where you can get either a bed in a dorm room or a private room. Renting a room in a private apartment or a house is yet another low-cost opportunity to get all the necessary conveniences.
If you feel like staying outdoors for the night and the weather is good enough, opt for a campsite of which there are plenty. Families with children choose farm stays increasingly often, benefitting from access to domestic animals, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Things to consider before visiting Lake Bled
Most tourists come to Lake Bled for a few days. It depends on how busy they want their itinerary to be. Such a trip necessarily involves other nearby destinations such as Lake Bohinj, Vintgar Gorge or Savica Waterfall.
Lake Bled is ideal to visit by car or even by public transportation. There is a train station in about 3 kilometers from the lake, and an hourly bus from Ljubljana makes the area even more accessible. Lake Bled is only 35 kilometers away from Ljubljana and the international airport of Slovenia. Trips to the lake can be easily planned from Zagreb, Trieste, and many other popular destinations.
Lake Bled is good to visit any time during the year, but you have to remember that you are visiting a mountainous region, so weather can be capricious irrespective of the season. Summer is the best (and busiest) time around Lake Bled. Winters are traditionally cold here, and there are fewer activities, although the views of frozen mountains and magical!
Taking these things into consideration and planning your holidays in Slovenia accordingly, you will surely get the most of Lake Bled and have a memorable tour.