Lake Bled, Slovenia
With its magical lake, island and castle, set against a stunning Alpine backdrop, it’s little wonder that Bled is one of Slovenia’s most well-loved resorts.
The fact that so many people have no idea where Slovenia is – or confuse it with the entirely different Slovakia – merely makes it more special to those who have discovered this small but immensely beautiful country.
Located in the northernmost part of former Yugoslavia, Slovenia shares borders with Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary, with a culture and landscape that draws from all its neighbours while at the same time being distinctly Slovene.
Situated in the north western Gorenjska province, Lake Bled enjoys an idyllic setting within the Julian Alps, the famous lake with its island church framed on one side by Slovenia’s highest peak, Triglav, and on the other by the impressive Karavanke range that form the border with Austria.
The settlement of Bled, on the shores of the lake, is an excellent base for exploring the area, with a great range of hotels, pensions, shops and restaurants, including the elegant Vila Preseren with its gorgeous lakeside terrace.
For anyone keen to explore the Slovene countryside, Bled also boasts many good walking routes. To the north west of Bled, a popular (and not too taxing) option is the 4km walk to Vintgar Gorge, with its waterfalls, pools and rapids.
Meanwhile, the more energetic might consider the climb to the hunting lodge at Talez where those who make it can reward themselves with the impressive view, a bowl of hearty soup, and a bottle of Slovenia’s best beer, Lasko pivo – na zdravje! (the word for ‘cheers’ in the Slovene language.)
For those wanting to go further afield, regular and good quality local bus services make it easy to reach other destinations from Bled, among them the peaceful Lake Bohinj, the sobering Museum of Hostages in Begunje, and the town of Radovljica, with its well preserved medieval core. Slovenia’s compact and appealing capital city, Ljubljana, is just over an hour’s bus ride away. Wherever you go, you’re bound to spot the distinctive kozolec, or hayrack – a true icon of the Slovenian landscape, and one of the features that makes Slovenia such a distinctive and delightful country to visit.
Photo credit: Graham Soult
For more ideas, go to the official Bled tourism website