Leaving beautiful Budapest behind, heading west-south-west towards the Lake Balaton and then onwards all the way to Bled, Slovenia takes about 5 hours of driving over newly build and repaved highway system of those central European nations. Breathtaking vistas, wineries, tunnels and a relative lack of traffic makes the trip very comfortable and extremely enjoyable.The destination itself – Bled is a bit of a forgotten, thus – a hidden gem. Locate only 35 miles (55 kilometers) outside of Ljubljana, tucked away in the northern part of Slovenia in Julian Alps, it is sitting right on Lake Bled, providing visitors with unforgettable views of the Alps, the lake and its surroundings. Its picturesque atmosphere appeals to those who are looking for an out of the way place to rest and relax. The hotels are affordable, yet clean and comfortable, sites worth seeing – plentiful and really attractive.
One of such places, which no traveler should miss is Blejski Grad - the Bled Castle towering the town and the lake from atop a 130 meter cliff. It has been heavily renovated since it has been built more than 1000 years. The easiest way to get to the castle is by a horse-drawn carriage from the town below. The ride is short and very romantic. You can also hike all the way up or take the car and park it right outside the entrance on a spacious lot. Inside, two courtyards, a Romanesque tower, a chapel, a drawbridge are all well preserved and open for tourists. The views from the upper courtyard towards the lake and the island seem to be the main attraction and rightfully so. The panorama is a quintessence of Bled’s spirit and charm. On the other side of the castle the view of the Triglavski narodni park – or Triglav National Park are just the icing on a cake – a breathtaking view of one of Slovenia’s most beautiful national parks. The castle houses a museum, a gift shop, and a restaurant.
Lake Bled and its only island are gem of the Slovenian Alps. Just over 1.3 miles in length and a little under 0.9 miles wide with a maximum depth of only 100 feet, the lake seems like a perfect spot for recreation. Recommended activities include enjoying the scenery, hiking the island, hiring the gondola or renting a paddle boat.
A small island in the middle of the lake is home to the Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church located where a temple consecrated to Ziva, the Slavic goddess of love and fertility, once stood. The visit to the island begins with hiking up 99 steps, where a local tradition at weddings is for the husband to carry his new bride up these steps, during which the bride must remain silent, supposedly bringing luck to the newlyweds. The beautiful church houses a bell often rung by the visitors for good luck. The sound, echoing from the nearby mountains, can be heard all the way on the other side of the lake. The best way to get to the island is by traditional Bled special gondola-like boat called “Pletna”. The pleasant trip on the lake includes a half-hour stop (or as agreed; we stayed there for about 1 hr) on the island.The boatmen are stationed and waiting for you in multiple places at the lake shore in Bled. A sensitive and very romantic alternative is renting a paddle-boat, where you are on your own schedule, enjoying privacy and some one-on-one quality time.
One local delicacy is kremna rezina or kremšnita – cream cake. Over the last 40 years they have sold as many as 7 million cream cakes. A golden crispy crust made from butter dough (mixed with butter, not margarine), a delicious vanilla cream of exactly the right consistency (with exactly the right amount of flour – if there is too much the cakes are no good, if too little, they collapse after cutting), topped with whipped cream and a crispy layer of butter dough and finally, last but not least, a good dusting of icing sugar. Heaven in your mouth! Highly recommended, everyone must try this delicious desert!!!
The town also offers plenty of nightlife activities, from pubs open well into the night, small restaurants serving local and international cuisine, beer gardens, where our favorite nighttime activity took place. After dark, we wandered around the town for an hour or two, settling for a pub with an outside beer garden, where we enjoyed a good cappuccino and a glass of local finest beer.
Staying in Bled:
Variety of hotels ranging from five stars to inexpensive two stars. Online booking is available, but we can say, from experience, that there is a good chance of getting even better deals for the on-the-spot reservations.
Most hotels include breakfast in their prices.
Located just 20 miles (35 kilometers) from Ljubljana’s airport makes Bled a perfect weekend getaway (for Europeans at least).
Bled has variety of restaurants and cafes where everyone can find something to enjoy. Make sure to ask if restaurants take credit cards; it might be a good idea to exchange some money.
Slovenia is part of European Union and currency is Euro.