Lake Bled is among the most beautiful lakes in the world. Visiting this area, one can understand at first glance why. An idyllic landscape surrounded by verdant mountain slopes and in the center the beautiful lake with the island, which looks taken out of the pages of a fairy tale.
A few words about the city
Lake Bled is the pride of the homonymous city and is located in the Illinois Alps of the upper Karniolan region of northwestern Slovenia. It is a mixed glacial and tectonic Lake, which has a length of 2,120 m. and a maximum depth of 29.5 m.. It is surrounded by mountains and forests, and has become world famous for its small island, located in the center. The etymology of the name of the lake and more generally of the town of Bled remains unknown, though it is believed to be derived from the country's name, Beldi. The population of the wider region amounts to 8,171 inhabitants, who make a living mainly from tourism. So I will try to introduce you to the top places around Lake Bled, which you should definitely visit if you find yourself there for the first time.
Let's not be fooled, the reason why Lake Bled has become known worldwide is the small island (Blejski otok), which exists in it. The reason is, of course, that it hosts a church of Gothic architecture with a rich history, The Church of the assumption (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja). The first building on the island was a temple, dedicated to the pagan goddess of life and fertility; however, after the spread of Christianity in 745, the ancient Slavic temple was replaced by a church dedicated to the birth of Mary. The church was renovated in 1465 and rebuilt in Gothic style, while its present baroque form is due to the interventions that took place in the middle of the 17th century, when it was actually built from the beginning. Inside you can admire exquisite frescoes of the 17th century, while you should not miss the towering bell of 52 meters. To reach the islet there is only one way and that is to rent a boat from the dozens of points along the lake. The options are essentially two, either to paddle yourself or go with a local guide. Prices range from 10 to 16e depending on the company and the way you choose. Bear in mind that the boat companies are closed in winter, while during the remaining periods they do not rent equipment after the afternoon and when the weather is not good.
Next attraction worth visiting in the area is the Bled Castle (Blejski Grad). According to written sources, this castle is the oldest in Slovenia and dates from 1011 AD. It is "perched" on a cliff, 130 meters above the lake, offering panoramic views. Inside there is a museum, where visitors are taken on a journey into the rich history of the city, from the time when the first settlements appeared in the area until today. The easy solution to get to the castle is, of course, by car, since there is parking right outside, but if you do not have a means of transport, then the climb on foot is one way. This is a demanding path with escalators, but it is worth walking, since the view from the top will compensate you. Admission costs 11e.
Župnijska Cerkev Svetega Martina
The church dedicated to St. Martin (Župnijska Cerkev Svetega Martina) is one of the two temples on Lake Bled. The first Chapel on the site of the church was built before the year 1000, followed by many Christian temples in exactly the same place. The church as we see it today dates back to 1905 and is built in a neo-Gothic style. It was originally designed according to the plans of Professor Friedrich von Schmidt, architect of the town hall in Vienna, but the interior of the temple was completely changed by Josip pl. Vancaš. This unique temple is of particular architectural interest, since it bears various styles from various periods. It is therefore worth visiting to admire its full frescoed interior (1932-1937), by Slavko Pengov, its impressive garden, crafted by the famous Slovenian architect, Jože Plečnik, as well as the preserved walls of the church, dating back to the 15th century and reminding us of the era of the Turkish invasions. Admission is free.
Triglavski Narodni Park
The National Park Triglav (Triglavski Narodni Park) is the only National Park in Slovenia. It spreads almost throughout the entire Illinois Alps and has taken its name from the highest mountain in the country Triglav (2864 m.). It attracts tourists from all over the world, since it is ideal for hikers and nature lovers, as well as for those looking for adrenaline. Rafting, mountaineering, bugging jumping and zip line are just a few of the activities you can try there. Also, your eyes will not get enough of natural landscapes and impressive images. Steep glacial valleys covered with green forests, blue waters in the fairy-tale Soca Valley, numerous ravines and beautiful gorges (Vintgar, Mlinarica and Mostnica).
The most beautiful of the above Gorges is the Vidgar Gorge (Soteska Vintgar). This is a extremely impressive gorge, created by the Radovna River. Has a length of 1.6 km and a depth of 250 meters. There you will have the opportunity to walk among the green vegetation, gaze at the towering rocks that surround it and face the highest river waterfall in Slovenia. This point can be reached either by your own car (parking there costs 5e) or by an organized excursion. Entrance to the park costs 10e.
How to go
Obviously there is no airport on the lake, so you will have to reach it either by train or by bus, from a nearby town. I would suggest the bus as the train stop is relatively far from the centre. The city that is most convenient is, of course, Ljubljana. As we have seen in a previous article, your transition options are two. The first is to get to the city through an intermediate combined flight by air. The best option comes from AirSerbia, i.e. a flight to Belgrade and from there fly to Ljubljana (Jože Pučnik Airport), where with proper planning one can find tickets from 216€ round trip. You can also fly to another nearby country, such as Croatia, Austria or Italy and from there reach the lake by train or bus, since the distances are small and the prices low.
Where to stay
The truth is that accommodation on Lake Bled is relatively expensive, always compared to the rest of the country, as it is one of its most touristic places. However, it would be prudent to stay in this place and not have a view of the beautiful lake. My suggestion is Penzion Vila Prešeren, a four star hotel that offers good value for money and of course great views.
How to move
Being in such a natural landscape, it will be a pity not to walk it. Distances are very short, since the leading attractions are concentrated around the lake. If you need a means of transport, you can use the local buses or hop on hop off buses, the tourist train that takes you around the lake or rent a bicycle.
What to eat
Bled's cuisine is not much different from that of Ljubljana, how can it be contrasting since they are only a few kilometers away. So you will find many soups, sausages and pork in many versions. But what you will try only there is the famous Kremsnita. This is a fluffy cake with layers of cream and puff pastry, which is strongly reminiscent of the classic millefeuille. It is so popular in the city, that you will hardly find a store that does not serve it. According to the "code" of the area, if you sail by boat paddling to the island in the center of the lake, the one who pulled the paddle is entitled to a piece for free.
In Slovenia we travel with a passport or a new type of Police ID, where the details are indicated in Latin characters.
In Lake Bled the language used is, of course, Slovenian. The majority, however (especially young people), speak English, so ask for clarification in English.
The currency of the country is the euro.
Lake Bled is an hour behind Greece (GMT +2).
At Lake Bled there is no Greek embassy or any Greek consulate, so if you need anything you should contact the nearest one, which is located in Ljubljana at 14 trnovski Pristan Street and its phone is + 3861 4201400.
The bus stop in Bled is quite close to the lake, so you can easily reach it on foot, admiring the wonderful scenery by getting more nearby.
Lake Bled is a purely spring-summer destination, so be sure to choose it this season. Otherwise you will find yourself surprised, since most shops, restaurants, cafes and any attractions are usually closed.