Top seven things to do in Bled


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Lonely Planet describes Lake Bled as a magical place, one that everyone should visit at least once. I’d go one step further – with its fairytale lake/island/castle and mountains setting, it’s so magical everyone should visit at least once a year. Walking around the lake is a given, but once you’ve done that follow these seven tips to make the most of heavenly Bled.

1. Row, row, row your boat

Slovenia’s only island is located in Lake Bled – you can hire a boat from various places on the shore to row there. If, like me, you’ve never rowed before, expect achey arms the morning after, and parking (if that’s the right word?) the boat is one of the hardest things you will ever do on holiday.

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The island is tiny, but is home to the Baroque Church of the Assumption of Mary which is worth a wander around to get your breath back for the return row to dry land. Ringing the church bells is supposed to bring luck, so there is a constant pealing noise as visitors hope for the best.

The less energetic can be taken to the island in a pletna – a wooden gondola that carries up to 20 people. A return trip,with 30 minutes on the island, costs €12.

If you want to see how rowing should be done, watch the athletes from Bled Rowing Club in action when they come out to practice around 5pm. Lake Bled hosted the World Rowing Championships in 2011 and it looked absolutely stunning.

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2. On your bike

There are a few places on the main street (Ljubljanska cesta) where you can hire bikes and see the best of the countryside around Bled – we chose 3glav Adventures at number 1 for good quality mountain bikes.

It’s a gentle 6km ride around the lake on the flat and mostly pedestrianised path- keep an eye out for the tourist train which trundles past every hour. If you fancy something more high-octane, get a map from the tourist information office and head to Lake Bohinj, 20km to the west. There is no cycle path, so you’ll share a busy road with some very fast and inconsiderate drivers – just about worth it for the views on the way.

A more cycle-friendly route takes you from Bled to the towns of Lesce and Radovljica to the east.

3. King of the castle

Bled’s 11th century castle is perched 100m on a steep cliff directly above the lake shore. It looks pretty good from ground level, with its red-roofed watchtowers and ramparts, but is well worth the €8 fee to get up and inside it, across a moat.

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There are several numbered walking trails around the lake, and number 9 takes you to the castle (Grad in Slovenian). It’s not an easy walk through the woods – at times it’s almost vertical – so wear some decent shoes and take a bottle of water with you.

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Once there, the views are amazing of the teardrop shaped island in the lake, surrounded by lush green forest with the mountains of the Julian Alps in the background. Do yourself a favour – give the museum a miss and try to grab one of the tables on the terrace overlooking the lake.

4. Say cheese

God knows how casual photographers coped at Lake Bled in the pre-digital camera era. The place is so photogenic, I took literally hundreds of photos on my last visit there, all safely stored away on my memory card. Would I have been so snap-happy in the days when every compact camera needed a roll of film that could take 24 or 36 photos? Too right – and I’d have spent a fortune getting all my pictures developed at Snappy Snaps!

There at last

5. Gorgeous Vintgar Gorge

One of the best half-day trips leaving from Bled is the five kilometre up-hill hike north to Vintgar Gorge, one of the most beautiful spots in Slovenia. Here, the River Radovna cuts through sheer limestone cliffs creating rapids and waterfalls, while a rickety (and slippery) wooden walkway criss-crosses the river for 1.6km. Entrance to the gorge is €4, and it takes around 45 minutes to get to the end of it, which is marked by the spectacular Sum waterfall.

You can then retrace your steps and head back to Bled the way you came, or go through a deserted forest and climb a steep hill called Hom from where you will see the lake and the castle below you.

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6. Have your cake and eat it

After all that activity, you deserve something sweet and calorific, and that is something Bled does well. The town is famous for its Kremna Rezina, or cream slice – thick layers of vanilla custard and fresh cream, sandwiched between two crispy layers of puff pastry and covered with a dusting of icing sugar.

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The Park Hotel’s cafe claims to have made the first cream slice in Bled in 1953, but now you can see them in every bar, cafe and shop. We became Kremna Rezina connoisseurs after a few days, and found the best ones at Slaščičarna Šmon – a magical little cakeshop tucked away in Bled’s quiet Old Town streets. Šmon’s slices are sweeter, crispier and have tastier vanilla custard than its rivals – it’s well worth hunting down if you’re in town.

7. Bed down in Bled

Bled gets its fair share of daytrippers from Ljubljana (the capital is only an hour away by bus or train), but so few of these stay over. I’d definitely recommend you stay at least one night here to see a different perspective of the lake and to enjoy the chilled-out nightlife.

There’s a variety of accommodation choices ranging from a campsite and hostels to luxurious five star hotels, such as Vila Bled. This was the summer palace of the dictator General Tito when he ruled Yugoslavia, and is where we’ll stay next time we’re in town (assuming we’ve saved enough pennies). On the opposite side of the lake to the resort centre, it has its own private gardens, fine-dining restaurant and prices to match.

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We stayed at the 4* Best Western Lovec (www.lovechotel.com;Ljubljanska cesta 6) on the main drag, where doubles with breakfast and balconies were around €65 a night. There’s a pool and jacuzzi in which to relax and recover from your exertions, before hitting the bright lights of Bled for a night out.

There are some pretty good restaurants in town – we liked the look of the food we saw at the Panorama when we had a cake there, so went back for some tasty local trout. And the restaurant opposite it (Ostarija Peglez’n) is always busy – a good sign – so we booked up there for our next night and had an excellent John Dory dish.

After 9pm, most of the elderly visitors to Bled have gone to bed, so you’ll have the lake almost to yourself if you fancy an after-dinner stroll (although watch out for the daring swans, who sleep on the grassy areas by the footpath and don’t like to be disturbed). You will not believe how peaceful it is here at night.

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Bled has a fairly large student population thanks to its Management School, so there are a smattering of bars that stay open into the small hours. We fell in love with the huge Devil Bar at Svobode 15, with its big screen football, selection of scrumptious Slovenian wines and 4am bar.

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Categories: SloveniaTags: , , , ,

69 comments

  1. I can’t believe how beautiful this place is, it reminds me of Bavaria! Looks like you were blessed with terrific weather too – feeling very jealous right now! 😀

  2. Great post and another great memory nudge – thanks. I visited this place twice – once in Summer and once in Winter – Summer was best! I also have a spookily similar picture displaying boat navigation ability – http://anotherbagmoretravel.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/ljubljana-a-rowing-boat-on-lake-bled/
    I was Interested too by your paragraph on photographs – I made a similar observation in my travel journal and speculated on just how many pictures there must be of this place!

  3. Lovely photos,, wish I was there.

  4. A great post of an amazing place! My best friend was there last year and since then i wanted to visit this place.

  5. I initialy read that as 7 things to do in bed!

  6. Brilliant and usable guide to the best of Bled. I can see many people being inspired and using this to plan a trip to Slovenia.
    The rowing boat is superb. I loved it. Like you, I hadn’t rowed so it took me ages to get the hang of it, but it is a really romantic thing to do with someone special. And those cakes are amazing- is there somewhere in the UK that sells them?

  7. Lake Bled is just wonderful – You are so lucky to see it under the blue sky!

  8. Great pictures, it reminds me of my stay in Bled, we didn’t take the time to hire a boat, but it is definitely a lovely place!

  9. Impressive rowing skills! I visited Lake Bled as well but took a pletna and had the rower take me across the lake, ha.

    shershegoes.com

    • Beautiful place isn’t it. When we went it was too hot to be rowing so I’m jealous of you in the pletna. An adventure company rents out SUPs (stand up paddle surfboards) so you can now get to the island that way if you have the energy!

  10. I definitely want to see the gorge after reading your list. Thank you for sharing!

  11. We first visited in winter and tried to walk up the hill to the castle – it was a case of one tortured stride forward, three metres sliding back. Can I add a suggestion to your list? The summer toboggan is great fun – it’s situated on Straza, where skiing takes place in the winter months, and it’s tremendous fun to fly down the hill on the little toboggan (runs along a rail about two feet off the ground, you steer it yourself) while catching some fab views of the lake.

  12. Hello friends, pleasant piece of writing and nice arguments commented here, I
    am in fact enjoying by these.

  13. What beautiful photos! I’d love to visit this beautiful country!

  14. I was in Slovenia briefly with work a few years ago and we visited Bled – your lovely photos brought it all back. We also had a tour of Tito’s former summer residence – you were right that it would make a great place to stay. Thanks for the tips for a future visit.

  15. This guide is amazing! Even better than the actual guide itself! Thank you very much for promoting Slovenia! Visit us again soon!!

  16. Wow, Lake Bled is quite gorgeous and includes a castle on an island. Really amazing.

  17. I so want to go to Bled! We only had a day trip last time, I was 3 months pregnant and surprisingly less fit than I am now 25 years later! Right off to check out some hotels in Bled for next year 😉

  18. I need to revisit Bled. Your photos are terrific. Thanks for liking my blog.

  19. I am really glad you enjoyed your stay in Bled. It really is a gorgeous place and it does not matter if you stay here for a few hours or for a few days you will simply fell in love with it 🙂 Beautiful photos btw!

  20. Glad that you enjoyed Bled! It’s always been close to my heart (seeing as my family is Slovenian). The first time I ever went was on a family trip in 1994. We stayed at a hotel overlooking the water, and that particular weekend, all of the chefs from the hotels and restaurants around the lake had saved up their eggshells from the week’s meals. They filled them with wax and a wick and floated them all out onto the lake at dusk! One of the most beautiful light displays I have ever seen!

    Thank you, also, for the like on my website! If you didn’t see, I have some Bled photos from this year as well. http://toothontheloose.com2014/08/23/back-to-school-again/ Cheers!

    • Wow, sounds like an amazing free light show! Has the place changed much over the twenty years?

      • Yes, it has changed, mostly in that the level of tourism has skyrocketed. In 1994, there was still fighting going on in many of the former Yugoslav countries, so (from what I could tell) tourism in Bled was mostly local, or at least regional. No multiple-language tourist menus, to say the least ;). I was dumbfounded while visiting Slovenia this year at the sheer number of backpackers I saw. In 2000 and 2001 when I took summer school classes in Ljubljana, that was definitely not the case.

        Also, I just noticed that the link i provided above has an error: there should be a backslash between .com and 2014. Sorry about that!

  21. I’d loved to have headed that way in the 90s – Europe is chock full of tourists these days. Prague, especially, in the early 90s must have been very different (and a lot cheaper) to how it is now.

  22. You brought back memories of a visit to this beauty. Makes me want to return. Thanks for viewing and liking my latest post.

  23. Your trip to Bled is almost identical to mine! We didn’t make the Vintgar Gorge this time but will definitely be back again. I laughed at the part about trying to park the boat – we had one of the gondola guys shouting at us for getting in his way as we couldn’t steer to where we wanted to go. He ended up jumping over into the boat and parking it for us himself!

  24. Thanks for liking talesandtravel.com -Barcelona post. Loved your Bled postr.

  25. lol, I first read
    ‘Top seven things to do in Bed’
    😉

  26. Thanks for the follow ( I suspect it has something to do with my Cornish posts 😉 ) thought I’d drop by and look at this post which appeared in the email I received as I have also visited Bled. What an amazing place and funnily enough we wrote about almost the exact same things! Except for the rowing. I don;t do rowing 🙂
    https://smallbluegreenwords.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/a-quiet-corner-in-slovenia/
    Jude xx

    • Cheers for the link. Bled is probably my favourite place on earth, if you ever go back I’d recommend the Best Western – great views of the lake but nice and quiet. That was the first and only time I’ll ever row!

      • I’d like to go back, but with so many places I still want to visit it probably won’t happen any time soon. Although I have said I’d like to visit Ljubljana for the Christmas market, so maybe 🙂

  27. When all else fails begin at #1 again!! 😉

  28. Sitting in our AirBnB in Bled now with a bottle of local wine! 🙂 Got a couple of bikes hired and plan to explore around the lake tomorrow and possibly row out to the island. Thanks for the information!

  29. so, how did you like the Bled Cream Cake?;)

  30. Your write up is lovely. I’ll reblog. Thank you.

  31. Reblogged this on A Style Blog for the Forever Sweet Girl and commented:
    Here’s a lovely write up on Lake Bled.

  32. Thank you so much for sharing this. We are going to Slovenia this summer and your blog is definitely of great help.

    • Glad I could be of help. You’ll love Bled and if you’re there in summer, there’s one thing I’ve not listed here that will be open – a toboggan ride down the hillside overlooking the lake. Enjoy!

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