A Picture-Perfect Paradise at the Foot of the Julian Alps
The town of Bled, situated just 45 minutes from the capital city, Ljubljana, at the foothills of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps by the fairy-tale like Lake Bled, is just as charming in real life as in the photographs. Being Slovenia’s most popular resort, it offers breath-taking romantic scenery, natural beauty and a wealth of outdoor activities ranging from hiking, biking, water sports and so on. You name it, they have it.
Bled’s greatest appeal undoubtedly is the emerald-green lake, the symbol of the town. It offers a magnificent backdrop together with the Julian Alps for the 6km-long walk around it. The water has a pleasant 21-24°C from June to September, due to the several mild thermal springs in the north-eastern part of the lake that warm the water; thus making it one of the warmest Alpine lakes and a perfect spot for swimming and all kinds of different water pleasures. In the north-east part, the thermal springs are led into the swimming pools of a number of hotels situated there, where you can also avail of different kinds of massage and spa treatments.
There is a tear-shaped, captivating little islet situated in the middle of the lake, the only natural lake island in Slovenia, with a pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary built at the end of the 17th century and decorated with the remains of Gothic frescoes from around 1470 and a gold altar. The Church of Assumption has a 52m-high tower with a monumental Baroque stairway of 99 stone steps, called the South Staircase (Juzno Stopnisce), leading up to the top. Weddings are held regularly in the church, and it is considered to be good luck for the groom to carry his bridge up the steps on their wedding day. Another key feature of the church is the wishing bells installed in the early 18th century. As you ring the bell, you can make a wish and, according to legend, the wish is then granted.
Provost’s House, also situated on the island, is home to a gallery and an excellent souvenir shop, and on the 1st floor, there is an exhibition space with temporary exhibitions.
The island can be visited with no charge, except for an admission fee to enter the church (which includes entry to the Provost’s House as well); otherwise you can freely wander around. It can be reached by rowboats or riding a “pletna” – the Slovenian version of a gondola, which is a real thrill.
Sitting atop a steep cliff, overlooking the lake from more than 100m above, Bled Castle is the perfect example of a medieval fortress, just like the ones from fairy-tales and story-books with ramparts, moats, towers and a terrace offering magnificent views.
The Castle, the oldest one in Slovenia dating back to the early 11th century, is built on two levels, arranged around two courtyards, which are connected with a staircase. There is a small chapel in the upper courtyard, built in the 16th century and renovated around 1700, when it was also painted with illusionist frescoes. The castle also has a drawbridge over a moat.
It also houses a museum, located in the baroque rooms of the Castle, demonstrating Bled’s eventful history from earliest times to its development as a resort in the 19th century. The museum’s exhibition also features a large collection of armours and weapons, and jewellery found at the early Slav burial pits of Pristava.
The Castle has a restaurant and a wine cellar that can be visited for wine-tastings and there’s also a demonstration of wine bottling from oak barrels.
The Castle also hosts numerous medieval and renaissance events and festivals throughout the year.
Walk around the lake – there is a 6km-long path running around the lake, which offers a nice walk during which you can take in the mind-blowing scenery around you while relaxing on the benches, feed the ducks and swans and entertain the kids on the playground facilities.
Go summer-sledging – have fun and a bit of adrenaline rush while enjoying beautiful panoramic views of Bled Castle and the lake.
Go mountain/rock climbing – Bled is an ideal starting point for such activities because of its close proximity to the Julian Alps.
Go cycling – it is the best way to discover Bled and its surroundings. There is a detailed biking map available.
Go swimming in one of the warmest Alpine lakes and cool off from the summer heat in this beautiful natural swimming pool. Other water sports available are diving, row-boating, kayaking, adventure rafting and fishing.
Bled in Winter
Bled’s location gives an ideal base for a variety of winter sports as well, including skating on the lake, skiing and snowboarding. There is an easily accessible nearby skiing resort, called Straza Bled, where cross-country skiing enthusiasts can choose from different routes.