I knew it was beautiful. A friend of mine recommended Lake Bled back in November and ever since seeing photos of his trip, I knew I had to go.
But I didn’t know I would fall in love with the lake and that it would be my hardest goodbye. On my most recent trip, it was easy to leave every place except Bled, and for that reason, I know I’ll be back soon.
With a similar lake culture to the Adirondack mountain lakes in New York or the Wisconsin Dells, Lake Bled is Slovenia’s top tourist destination. Despite this, it’s not overrun by soccer moms in fanny packs, nor is it full of university boys only there to drink. Instead, it’s a small village (so small that I could make friends and say “hey I’ll see you at the lake later” and it be true), full of families and couples there to relax and enjoy nature. Here are 5 reasons why you must put Lake Bled, Slovenia on your travel bucket list.
- The Lake. Perfectly clear and warm enough to swim in the spring and summer, Lake Bled provides endless beauty to the town. While there is technically a swimming area that costs 6E for the day, there are endless spots where it’s free and shallow enough to take a dip — see if you can find the rope swing 🙂 Fishing (with a special license) is also a summer activity. The 1.5 hour walk around the lake is there year round and from every angle the views of the island and surrounding mountains are beautiful. I suggest heading left around the lake — this is opposite from what my hostel suggested, but the path is much closer to the water and better for wading/swimming on the this side. Watch the sun rise or set over the water, check out how it changes when a thunderstorm rolls through, sit and read or write on one of the benches that are found along the path. I could have spent whole days taking my time walking around the lake and dipping my feet in when I got warm.
- The gorge. When you get tired of Lake Bled, the Vintar Gorge is just an hour’s walk away. The walk there takes you through another small town and up a mountain (so wear good hiking shoes!). There’s an entrance fee of 6E (4 for students) but then you get to follow wooden bridges that crisscross the gorge that’s rushing with clear turquoise water. Great for photos and beautiful in the sun. The way there is signed well and is one of the major tourist attractions so is on every map. There are shuttles from Bled that go to the gorge for between 5 and 10 Euros, but it is walk-able as well depending on your wish for a day hike.
- The overlook hikes. Don’t mistake these for a nice after dinner stroll. Real, uphill hikes take you to breaks in the trees where you can see the whole lake and the island, nestled beautifully into the mountains of Slovenia. Outlook point Ojstrica is the one I hiked and is the traditional view, although there are higher ones and different angles situated all over the lake. Trail beginnings are marked on the path that rings the lake and any tourist map you pick up will have the points marked. These points give you photos that are exactly what you’d find if you googled Lake Bled. Check them out at sunset or sunrise, or in foggy weather.
- The “other” lake. Lake Bohinj was actually my favorite part of Lake Bled! A 40 minute and 3.60 Euro bus ride away from Bled (schedules posted outside the only bus station in Bled and tickets bought on board, it’s super easy), this lake is the biggest in Slovenia and has a path around that is about a 4.5 hour hike (although be careful and follow a map, because the river feeding the lake can be hard to navigate around…or through). Again, perfectly clear — I saw my shadow on the bottom of the lake and screamed because I thought it was a fish — the lake isn’t touristed and when I was there, it was almost deserted. When it’s warm, it’s wonderful to swim in. If you’re in Bled for more than 2 days, definitely spend a day here.
- The cake (okay, all the food). Slovenian food is a wonderful mix of meat and potatoes, an eastern European style with some Baltic twists thrown in. Bled is famous for it’s Cream Cake, a pastry almost like a French Napoleon or mille-feuille but in different layers that taste as heavenly as the lake itself looks. A slice goes for about 3Euros and is best eaten with a napkin handy for when the sticky goodness goes everywhere.
Do Witzenia, Sarah