Lake Bled is a beautiful part of Slovenia that has been on my list for a while. This little gem is situated in the mountains with its own island in the middle and a cozy lakeside town. The lake itself is fairly small and you can walk around it in a day, but there is so much more to do.
My girlfriend surprised me with a two day trip here over new years, which for me added something a little more special. We had been hoping for snow after seeing many of the winter pictures on Google, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case. In fact, even with temperatures averaging -8 Celsius, a local told us that this was a mild winter this year and normally you could walk out to the island as the lake was usually frozen. The only snow we found was the ‘fake’ snow being spread along the ski slopes; close enough I guess.
Getting to Bled is actually very easy, whether it be by car, bus or train. You don’t need to drive through treacherous mountains to get there as it’s not far from a motorway, but remember if you go during winter you will need to either have winter tyres fitted or snow chains on board. You will also need to purchase a vignette but these are cheap and can be bought on weekly or monthly tariffs depending on the duration of your stay.
If you choose to fly, the main airport is in Ljubljana, and you can catch a bus pretty much every hour from the main bus station and will cost you about 7 Euros for a one way ticket. You can also take a train, but the nearest station to Bled is Lesce which is a 4.5km walk into the town.
There are plenty of places to stay in Bled no matter what your budget, from hostels to 5 star hotels on the lake, and even a campsite. It all depends on what you can afford, and what you want to get out of your trip here. If you want to bring your furry friend, most hotels are very accommodating so just ask, or you can use the handy filter on Booking.com to search for places that allow pets; you’ll be surprised how many do.
We stayed at a place called The Garden House Bled, which was a small hostel with a rustic look and feel, kitted out with pallet style furniture, cosy double rooms each with their own balcony, and a shared kitchen with a traditional wood fire stove. The staff here were very friendly and helpful; on arrival we were shown a few good places to check out during our stay, and on new years eve we were invited to join the other guests for a toast around a bonfire. Rooms here usually go for around 20 Euros a night, but as it was new years, we paid a little more.
Things to do and see
As a photographer I did a little research before coming to Bled for good photo spots and things to see and do, so I already had a few things in mind. You can of course just leave everything to chance and explore by yourself, but there are a couple of places you absolutely must see.
This is where most of the ‘postcard’ pictures are taken from, as the view is spectacular. To get here you need to follow a trail which is signposted, but not obvious, and isn’t too difficult of a hike but there are some steep verges, and if you are like my dog and have a fear of heights, you may need to be carried. Poor guy. There is another view point not far from Ojstrica called Mala Osojnica, but it is pretty much the same view from higher up. For the location of the trail have a look at this website.
Set on the top of a steep cliff is Bled castle, the oldest castle in Slovenia, dating back to its first mention in 1011. Here you can stop and enjoy the stunning view from the café in the beautiful surrounds of the castle courtyard. There is also a restaurant and a wine cellar where you can taste and bottle your own wine.
There are two ways to get there, by taking the steps up the side of the cliff if you are feeling energetic (it’s a fair way) or driving to it, and ticket prices are 10 Euros each for adults.
A wonderful new years getaway
As we went over new years the Christmas market was still there. Set up along the promenade, you could find many stalls selling hot mulled wine and local food, with live music and open fires to keep you warm, which is something you would never see in the UK.
When midnight hit we watched a colourful firework display over the lake, and reflected on what had been a beautiful new years getaway.
Before heading home we decided to visit another lake nearby called Bohinj; a serene mirror-like lake set in a valley only 20 minutes from Bled, reffered to by the locals as ‘the end of the world’ because there is no way out other than back the way you came. This being said, my sat-nav took this as a personal challenge and managed to find us a way out on what it thought was the fastest route home. A word of advice, head back to Bled before doing this, we ended up in the mountains and although it was fairly scenic, roads were pretty icy and it took us longer than the sat-nav anticipated. Live and learn.
When you first see the lake, there is parking at the side of the road where you can get out and walk onto the shore, which is a fantastic photo spot.
Further along the road you can find a cable car which takes you to the top of a mountain where you will find a restaurant and ski slope, and the view from there is unbelievable.
You can also take a small hike up to Savica waterfall, which you do have to pay for, but not a lot. It is the third most visited attraction is Slovenia, but you are probably better off seeing this outside of winter as the main waterfall is not flowing and you can only see the smaller one, but pretty none-the-less. It’s only a 45 minute walk there and back so if you have the time and energy then take a look.
A beautiful part of the world
Slovenia overall is a beautiful country, but seeing these two lakes has to be at the top of your list if lakes and mountains are your thing. It truly is a beautiful part of the world that you need to add to your travel bucket list.