If you love Lake Como, you’ll definitely fall for Lake Bled. A town with magical landscapes and scrumptious cuisine, which match exquisitely with local wine. Slovenia is the perfect spot for those who have fallen in love with Italy and want a similar vibe that’s a little less Instagrammed. The town of Bled is absolutely picture perfect. A display of emerald trees gathers around a fresh blue lake in front of the Hollywood backdrop of the snow-topped Julian Alps. It is mysteriously beautiful.
The journey time from London to the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is just over two hours and an extra one hour and 25 minutes to get to Bled town by train. Arriving by train is the most recommended way as not only is it cheap and practical, the views are awe-inspiring. A perfect way to tease you of Bled’s beauty as you wind around the mountains towards the lake. With activities awaiting you like paddle boarding and hiking to the most famous bench in Slovenia, here is why Lake Bled is somewhere you do not want to miss this summer.
Experience a spectacular triumph
Bled is home to the most famous bench in Slovenia. The bench is very brown and ordinary, nothing about its architecture is appealing or alluring. The view it gazes out to on the other hand is very special indeed. To reach the bench you have to hike up the hills of either Mala Osojnica (at 685m) and Ojstrica (at 611m). The locals have tried to make the trail as simple as possible. The start of the trail is at the camping site where there are two wooden signposts at a very small opening of the forest. Both points are equally as spectacular, but for that all important bench, head to Ojstrica. Depending on your pace, it takes around 30 minutes to an hour. You don’t need hiking shoes as such, but a sturdy pair of trainers are recommended. The trail has some incredibly narrow and slippery parts and there are only a few places with hand railings. However, when you reach the top, you will be rewarded with the most breathtaking view of Lake Bled.
Take a walk or a bike ride around Lake Bled
Lake Bled is a beautiful blend of turquoise, aqua and jade. From whatever point you stand the colour of the lake is unique, meaning you never experience the same view twice. The water is crisp, fresh and incredibly inviting. Around the lake, the emerald trees stand proudly, shading you from the heat of the Mediterranean sun. It takes just under two hours to walk or about 30 minutes to cycle around the lake, depending on how often you stop to soak up the magnificent views or to take a dip in the cool water, both of which are too tempting to not stop for. You can also hire bikes in many shops in Bled, they average around 10 euros for two.
Make all of your wishes come true with the ring of a bell
According to legend, a young widow Poliksena had a bell cast in memory of her late husband for her home, Bled Castle. However, lightning struck the boat in which the bell was being delivered and sunk it and all of its crew. To this day it is said to be heard ringing from the depths of the lake. The Pope gifted the island with a new bell and whoever rings this it is said to give honour to the Virgin Mary and has their wish granted. The bell is situated in the dainty Church of Assumption on Bled Island, which is small in size, but big in architecture and beauty.
The fashionable and incredibly Instagramable technique of paddleboarding that originated in Hawaii has become a popular way of travelling on the water all over the world. However, Lake Bled is much calmer than the wild waves of the North Pacific Ocean. Join in a SUP yoga class and find inner peace, using all of the elements the lake has to offer. Rejuvenate by the water of the lake, clear your mind with the freshness of the air and be kissed by the sun. This unique yoga technique works on breathing awareness and relaxation techniques, all while balancing on a surfboard to help improve your ability out on the water.
Sleep amongst the treetops
Camping is a popular venture in Bled. With sites right next to the lake, it’s a fantastic way to make your trip as close to nature as possible. However, for those who like to add a little luxury, Garden Village ‘glamp’ site is the perfect place to stay. The site is nestled in amongst the trees and is bursting with nature. Read a book by the trickling streams and sip your morning coffee on the balcony of your tree house. The studio apartments offer a massage bathtub which is the perfect way to relax and rejuvenate after a day of hiking, walking or cycling. The honeymoon tree lodge is entirely unique as is the only tree house with a tree trunk running through it. It’s situated at the highest tree point and has a liftable staircase which offers more privacy for newlyweds. The village of Bled is just a five to ten minute walk and you can reach the city of Ljubljana in 45 minutes.
The Vintgar Gorge is definitely not something you want to miss out on your trip to Bled. Approximately four kilometres north-west of Bled, the 1.6km long Vintgar Gorge carves its way through the rocks of the Hom and Boršt hills. Follow the 1600m wooden walkway which swirls and crisscrosses around the Radovna River which is surrounded by waterfalls, rapids and pools. At the end, you are welcomed by the 16m-high Šum Waterfall. TLC said to not chase waterfalls but with this half-day long adventure, we respectfully disagree.
Take the traditional route to the Bled Island
They say you cannot visit Bled without experiencing a ride on a Pletna boat. The Pletna dates back to the 16th century and is steered by a professional oarsman, who uses a technique passed down in Slovenian families for generations. This is Slovenia’s version to the Gondola, but instead of the bustling sound of Venice’s tourism, you have the cheerful harmony of a Slovenian summer. Each boat can hold around 20 passengers and is personalised with its own name. The oarsman rows from the front, using two oars and stands with his back from the direction of travelling. As you travel from shore to the island, take in views of the hills and mountains and embrace the fresh breeze. Don’t forget to look up where you’ll see Bled Castle proudly clinging onto the edge of a cliff.
Experience a fairytale-like city
With the capital city of Ljubljana less than an hour away, it would be silly to miss the city’s quaint character. The architect Jože Plečnik truly set the minimalist tone of the city with his beautiful bridges, lamp posts and pillars which makes the city look like a pretty town from a fairytale. The lush, green and leafy banks of the river truly resemble the eco-friendly vibe of the city. Traffic is restricted in the centre and it was voted the European Commission’s Green Capital of Europe in 2016. Stroll through the central market, take a walk up to Ljubljana Castle and take a boat ride down the river to take in the elegant pastel coloured architecture. In the evening, sip on a post-dinner artisan coffee or a sublime local wine at one of the restaurant or bars either in the centre or by the river. The city is un-touched, inexpensive and is truly a little European jewel.
words by Isabella Gonzaga
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