Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia: Not Just Another Lake

Derek Slovenia 57 Comments

Lake Bled, Slovenia
Beyond the city of Ljubljana, that city to which I confessed my deep love last week, the tiny nation of Slovenia offers a significant range of other interesting destinations that every traveler to the region would be wise to consider visiting. In fact, many of you pointed out this very fact in the comments of my previous post about this country.

In my case, due to my somewhat limited time in Slovenia, I ended up taking two day trips during my stay, both of which took place with my new friend, Matija, a local Slovenian who worked at the fantastic Vila Veselova hostel I stayed at in Ljubljana. Matija offered to become an unofficial ‘guide’ of sorts and was always willing to load a few people into his trusty van and drive them to various parts of his country.

ALL THINGS BLED…A LAKE, A CASTLE AND AN ISLAND

The first trip we embarked on brought us to what is one of the more well-known sites in all of Slovenia…Lake Bled. Now you might think that a lake is a lake is a lake but I challenge you to visit Lake Bled and then tell me that this location does not offer a setting so inspiring that you immediately want to turn your one day visit into a week-long, or even longer, stay.

It’s not just a lake. It’s a splendidly deep blue lake, with the medieval Bled Castle perched atop a limestone cliff near the shore and the small Bled Island sitting ever so majestically in the middle of the glistening water, with the pastel pink color of its 600-year old Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary elegantly glowing against the backdrop of strikingly green forest-covered mountains.

Enough of the poetry, you get the idea. Spec-tac-u-lar!

With more than enough activities to keep us occupied, our small group spent most of the day at Lake Bled, climbing up a rarely used forest trail that led to a lookout point at the back of the castle and then hiring a clunky old rowboat (a big thank you to fellow traveler Christopher for doing all the rowing!) so that we could visit the island as well.

And considering that there were not so many other visitors in Bled on this particular day, we strolled along the paths, contemplated swimming in the cool waters, ate at a local restaurant in the village and just sat down and admired what has to be one of the most beautiful countries on this planet, all in peace and quiet.

While, as we all know, my photos are never going to win any awards, here’s a selection that I consider to be the best of the bunch so that you get a better idea of Lake Bled…

Lake Bled, Bled, Slovenia

Bled Castle, Slovenia

Bled Island, Slovenia

Bled Island, Bled, Slovenia

Church on Bled Island, Slovenia

Bled Castle, Bled, Slovenia

BOHINJ…ONE MORE LAKE TO VISIT

After the visit to Bled, we jumped back in the van and Matija drove us westward along a narrow mountain road until, about forty-five minutes later, we arrived at Bohinj just in time for sunset. Bohinj is a municipality located in the midst of the Julian Alps and is home to another impressive lake, Lake Bohinj, which is also surrounded by mountains but, unlike Bled, does not have a town, or much activity, on its shores.

Lake Bohinj is nature at its best and for those with more time to spend in the region, this area offers endless opportunities for hiking, kayaking, bicycling and climbing during the summer as well as skiing and ice skating during the winter months. It also offers endless opportunities to go for a refreshing swim, which is exactly what the handful of other visitors to the lake were doing when we arrived. Of course, almost everyone in our small group followed suit, stripping down to their underwear or swimsuits and jumping right in as well.

For those who may have read my post a few months ago about my visit to some Mexican cenotes this year, you’ll already know that there was no way I was about to get in that freezing water myself. Instead, I placed my towel on the ground, and with my two jumpers zippered up nice and tight, I sat, shivering slightly, as everyone else splashed around in the lake.

But believe me, disappointed I was not as I spent the next hour or so glancing all around me, stuck in a state of disbelief that I was actually in Slovenia, this speck of a country that other travelers had written so positively about before me and whose stories and posts laid the foundation for my desire to witness such phenomenal nature for myself.

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Comments 57

  1. Julie

    Going this Summer for a couple of days at the end of our European trip. I have not been before and already looking to book for New Year. Any advice on Year Year in Bled?

    Thanks
    Julie

  2. Pam

    Your pics are not going to win any award, but they’re good!!!! 🙂
    I’ve been to lake Bled earlier this month, oh that lake stole my heart!!

  3. Andy Carr

    Slovenia itself is amazing but Lake Bled is up there with the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I only went there as a last minute decision to meet a travelling friend but I’m so glad I did. I would recommend Slovenia to anyone, the people are friendly and the scenery is stunning. Must process some more pictures and get my write-up online!

  4. Anne Standing

    It’s so great to find someone blogging about Slovenia! I went to this very lake back in 2006. Me and my friend hired a rowing boat, which was great fun. I remember there was an amazing spiral staircase inside the cliff castle too. Where did you stay whilst you were there?

    1. Earl

      Hey Anne – I could blog about Slovenia all year and I wasn’t even there for very long! I stayed at the Vila Veselova guesthouse in Ljubljana and then took day trips from there all around the country.

    1. Earl

      Hey John – I don’t know for certain but that does sound familiar. I believe I did hear that during my time there. And I did not eat horse while I was there but yesterday while here in Bucharest, I noticed some horse meat for sale in a shop so maybe I’ll try it one of these days.

  5. Nic Freeman

    This post has me so excited Earl. Thanks again for sharing. I’m heading to Slovenia again next year as part of my 2012 adventure through Europe (http://wp.me/p12XwO-c7 ).I had a brief Slovenian experience last year – sitting on the train platform at Zadani Most looking across a glassy river reflecting mountains. It was one of the most peaceful moments of my trip. http://wp.me/p12XwO-1n I can’t wait to go back and explore Slovenia properly.

    1. Earl

      Hey Nic – That’s excellent that you’re heading back again next year! Seems like many people have several amazing moments while traveling in Slovenia 🙂

  6. Marko

    Great post once again!
    I think your photos are actually quite great. Photoshop can obviously do wonders if you are such a horrible photographer as you say. 😉

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  8. Vasja

    Bled sure is beautiful, but I like Bohinj more. Lets put it this way, if you want to take your girlfriend/wife for some pampering – carriage ride, row to the island, feed some swans, take a long walk, watch a sunset and have a fancy dinner, then Bled is the place. If you want to switch everything off and do some exercise, then Bohinj is better.

    This summer I swam in both lakes, in Bled I almost got “run over” by one of the tourist row boats 🙂
    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/56726900

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Slovenia.

    1. Earl

      Hey Vasja – Bohinj was spectacular as well, with plenty of activity for those looking to spend some quality time outdoors. And I must apologize on behalf of all tourists in the row boats as we almost ‘ran over’ two locals who were swimming in the lake as well 🙂

  9. Leah Downs

    (@barebrancheshvn on twitter). Your photos of Lake Bled are stunning…I lived in Europe for 3 years, Asia for 2 and traveled throughout…Lake Bled remains a standout. My grief is that we were in Europe pre-digital camera era (OK, we are LATE adapters and snobbish about our ginormous and expensive camera…thinking digital was, well…you get what I mean). Anyway my photos are not the best and I’ll need to scan them all at some point (and am re-living vicariously through yours!). I’m getting ready to read your post on Ljubljana to Zagreb, because after Bled, we hit Ljub, then on to Zagreb!!! (though we did it by car not rail).

    I’ve a funny story about Ljubljana…we were caught there without ANY cash over a Christmas/New Year’s holiday…we arrived in town on a Friday as banks were closing, hit the ATM, but it didn’t seem to work; we tried 3 times using our password until it finally ate our card. After a careful examination of the machine we realized their numbers were “upside down” with 1-2-3 being on the BOTTOM line, not the top, as it is in the States. We were accustomed to just punching the keys positionally, not looking at numbers. In any case, though we had a visa card, in E Europe, especially in early 2000s there were many places that didn’t accept VISA, particularly the fabulous outdoor markets and street vendors. We did manage, though it was a bit frightening to be traveling through there with no way to exchange currency…but it makes for a great story.

    I look forward to reading your blog.

    1. Earl

      Hey Leah – Thanks so much for the comment and reading through my blog! And that’s funny about the ATM as I made the same mistake the first couple of times I tried to take money out. I went to three different ATMs before I realized my mistake. Glad that your story ended well, as did mine, and as do most that involve travelers visiting the beautiful city of Ljubljana!

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  11. Jeff Titelius

    Beautiful photography my friend. Don’t be so hard on yourself…they’re stunning and you captured the essence of both your journeys for all of us to relive your experiences! I keep reading about Lake Bled and how beautiful it is and after seeing your castle perched clifftop, it’s moved up on my bucket list, that is certain! Thanks for your sharing your journey and your lovely pics!!

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  13. Marina Reede

    Your pics are great to me 🙂 Thanks for writing/sharing…this was very breathtaking! It reminds me of a few places…Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan…the baroque cathedral in Einsiedeln Switzerland and the little rickety bridge you can take fabulous photos from of Neuschwanstein 🙂 Excited to hear more about your European trip! Thanks again 🙂

    1. Earl

      Thanks for that Marina. I’ve never been to the places you’ve mentioned so perhaps I need to check those out and compare. Of course, there are indeed many places on this planet that offer such rewarding experiences!

    1. Earl

      Hey KC – Slovenia is not such an expensive place at all. Nice rooms can be had for about $60 USD per night and excellent, filling meals are available in small local restaurants for around 5 Euros ($6.50 USD). It’s not as cheap as other countries in Eastern Europe but it’s much, much cheaper than Western Europe!

  14. Elizabeth

    I loved visiting Lake Bled! Such a beautiful place. Did you get a chance to try out canyoning? I think Blad is famous for their adventure activities and that was one of the best.

    1. Earl

      Hey Elizabeth – I did not try any canyoning unfortunately. It was near the end of the season and the area was quite quiet. Even most of the places that rent out rowboats were closed! But there is definitely a great deal of adventure to be had in the area, especially during summer months.

    1. Earl

      Hey Sylvain – I would have loved to visit Soca but unfortunately I didn’t have time and I’m now in Serbia, heading into Romania tomorrow. But it just goes to show how much this country has to offer. Every valley, town, region….they all seem to have some special place that travelers fall in love with!

  15. Eric

    Ah man, I had one photo from Lake Bled that was my desktop background for probably two and a half years!

    Slovenia rules. I’m glad to see, via the comments here and on previous posts, that a lot of others have discovered the same.

    1. Earl

      Hey Eric – I’d say that almost any photo taken at Bled would be desktop background worthy and I might have to consider doing that myself! And I agree, it is nice to see that so many people have such positive experiences to share about their time in Slovenia as well!

    1. Earl

      Hey Dean – That’s exactly what happens to most visitors to Slovenia so make sure that when you do visit, you have an open-ended itinerary!

  16. Vishal

    Hi Earl,
    Looks like an incredibly beautiful place, indeed. I have to admit that I glanced over the pictures before I started reading and was surprised at how greatly your photography skills have improved. But, alas, no! Anyways, thanks for a helpful post.

    1. Earl

      Hey Vishal – Well, a little cropping here and there and a few minor adjustments with photoshop do help make those photos look a little better 🙂

        1. Earl

          Hey Rea – That place looks unreal! I didn’t even hear about it during my time there…but it shall be on my itinerary the next time around. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Will - Gap Daemon

    Amazing photos and great write-up Earl! I knew next to nothing about Slovenia before reading this – it looks a bloody lovely country. Shame you didn’t go for a swim, bet the others could have done with a nice bit of the E-man!

    1. Earl

      Hey Will – Slovenia definitely doesn’t get much attention so I’m happy to know that these posts are helping a few people see that this country is well worth a visit. And while it is a shame I didn’t go for a swim that day, these days, if the weather isn’t 30 C or more, I know there’s no chance of me getting in any lake, ocean or swimming pool!

  18. Michael Bruner

    Really enjoy seeing other people have the chance to visit Lake Bled. I proposed to my wife on a balcony overlooking the lake in 2009. Such a beautiful setting!

    1. Earl

      Hey Michael – Wow, that must have been quite a proposal! I’m not sure I can think of any better place to do that than at Lake Bled. It’s as perfect as it gets!

    1. Earl

      Hey Ellen – That’s an excellent question and I just think that it is because Slovenia is so small and in reality, you don’t hear much about the country in general if you live in other parts of Europe or North America. It won’t remain a secret for long though!

  19. Jeremy Branham

    Lake Bled is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. Even though I only spent a short amount of time in Slovenia, I loved this country and can’t wait to see more of it. There is so much to see and incredible diversity in the Slovenian landscape. Even though it is a small country, it shouldn’t be overlooked!

    Love the photos of Bled. Some of them look like photos that I took! Eerily similar! 🙂

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