If you’ve seen any pictures of Slovenia, chances are you’ll have seen Lake Bled. With its wooded shores, island church and impressive castle perched high above it, Lake Bled seems made for postcards.
First impressions of the town, reached easily by an hour and a half or so bus journey from Ljubljana Train Station, seem disappointing, as the bus leaves you on the main tourist drag, where tasteless hotels and souvenir shops cater for the annual deluge of tourists. HOWEVER don’t be put off- a short walk around the lake towards the Church leads to a rather modest Old Town- the main advantage of which being that, due to a curve in the lake, the drab new development suddenly becomes invisible, and, as many tourists don’t bother making the climb up to the castle, it can soon feel as though you’ve stumbled across it yourself.
If you come to the lake, you have to see the Church, and while gondolas go out frequently to the island, a cheaper and far more rewarding experience is to hire a boat (from the Northern shore) for around €15 an hour (as there were six of us, that meant two boats only cost us 5 each, which was good value). This way you can row out to the island, moor up, wander about and then row back. If you’re a relatively strong rower, you can there in 10 minutes, giving you a good 40 minutes on the island. We hired a boat twice that day, as we not only wanted to see the Church, but the Castle too, and, as it was just before six when we hired it, we had just over an hour with no one else on the lake. With such an opportunity, it seemed only obvious to have a waterfight- tremendous fun and a lasting memory!
Another must is the climb to the castle. Steep but short, the reward is a superb view over the lake- especially if you’re a little bit daring and climb around the side of the castle, following the path which goes out of the car park with the castle on your left to scramble up some rocks to come to the foot of the walls themselves- jutting out precipitously over the lake- NOT one for vertigo-sufferers or acrophobes!
Bled is also an excellent base for the Triglav National Park, Lake Bohinj, and the nearby Vintgar Gorge (see main blog for a description)
Plus, if you’re here- be sure to get some Blejska Kremna Rezina- an impressive, if challenging, layered cream cake, best tried in Smon (The Bear)- a traditional coffee shop and local haunt near the bus station.