Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Day 3: A lake, a gorge and an engagement

There are not enough superlatives for the beautiful Lake Bled, a delightful lake in the mountains about an hour away from Ljubljana.

There's a lake! With a church on an island! With a castle on the hill! You guys, Slovenia was already inching its way to the top of my favorite list, and then Lake Bled sealed the deal. We had a day and a half for Lake Bled and its surrounding areas (Vintgar Gorge), and again, we were very sad to leave. Can we just live there?!

It was overcast for almost all of our time in Slovenia, except for an hour our first morning in Bled. Still a bit jet-lagged we are waking up earlier and were lucky enough to catch beautiful light for reflection. When I woke up and saw the light, I scrambled to put on enough clothes to be acceptable and ran out to the lake. Then the clouds came and we never got such clear reflections again. I have to remind myself of this story, because if you want a picture, don't wait until later! You might not get another chance if the conditions are perfect then.

After breakfast, we took out some bikes around the lake.* The path around the lake is 3.5 miles, so it is walkable but I'm glad that we had bikes. As the day wears on, the pathway around the lake gets increasingly crowded. So if it is peace and quiet you want, start early.

* Our hotel offered free bike rentals but there are plenty of rentals around the lake.

The island is just cute. I snapped way too many pictures because just look at it. You can set foot on the island by a non-motorized ferry with a group, or row yourself. We rented a row boat by the campground (bring a lock if you are riding bikes) and rowed across the smooth waters.

It's free to visit the island but you have to pay 6 euro to get inside the Church of Assumption which allows you to ring the bell by pulling on the rope, you know for luck or something. Not sure what I was expecting of the bell ringing experience. A spiritual experience? A good story? Honestly, it was neither and I wish we would have saved our money. Live and learn, right?

However, I was glad we got on the water somehow, so that I would recommend.

After we finished our romantic row (I mean, look at my man and island views), we finished our bike ride, grabbed some allergy meds (forgot mine...) and visited a nearby gorge.


In the countryside near Lake Bled is the beautiful and easy to access Vintgar Gorge. You can drive or hike up to the gorge. Since we are always short on time, we opted to drive to spend more of our time at the Gorge.

Vintgar Gorge (Veent- gahr) is a mile-long hike through a mountainous gorge. The hike is more of a stroll over wooden bridges that crisscross over the river. It is cool and wet, so bring decent shoes and a light jacket just in case.

The trail ends with a waterfall where there are bathrooms and a snack bar. This easy hike is good for anyone of all ages and was pretty mellow.

My last two goals in Lake Bled were to find a good view and eat Bled cake. I found both.

We hiked Ojstrica which was a moderately steep climb with some sweeping views of the area (ALPS!!!). It had recently rained so the hike was a bit muddy so keep that in mind. It is on the west side of the Lake and parking is available near the campground if you don't want to walk. 

I captured a sweet moment of that couple in the bottom right-hand corner getting engaged! We saw them later at a restaurant, and while they were busy being romantic, I was busy stuffing my face. 

We had dinner at one of the restaurants near the east side of the lake. We were feeling adventurous and ordered the seafood platter. Which could have fed a party of 6. So many tentacles. 

We washed down dinner with a delightful piece of Lake Bled cake which is as light, moist and creamy as you would expect.

And with that, we said goodbye to Lake Bled. Next up, the Julian Alps! 

Tips from Lake Bled

  • Experience the lake somehow. Either walk or bike (my preference) around the perimeter and/or get on the water. I would recommend renting a personal boat instead of the ferry (it's cheaper and you can go wherever you want). 
  • Get above for a view! We chose to hike over visiting the castle only because the hike was free and I was told the castle's interior wasn't that impressive. However, if it was a clear day, I would have paid to get the views from the castle. 
  • Lodging: we splurged a bit and stayed in a hotel on the edge of the Lake and I'm really glad that we did. It offered great breakfast and free bike rentals.
  • Visit the surrounding areas. Vintgar Gorge was a fun diversion and I wish we had enough time to visit Lake Bohinj. 
  • Eat Bled cake. That is all.

Traveled May 2015.

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