When you ask people what they know about Slovenia, most people will think of the little blue lake with the island in the middle. This wonderful place is Lake Bled. If you are heading to Slovenia, then a visit to Lake Bled is a must. It is easily accessed from Ljubljana with regular buses and trains.
The area of Bled is incredibly picturesque. It sits on the edge of Triglav National Park so it is surrounded by mountains and the lake itself is stunning because of it’s emerald colour and clarity. Coming from the Lake District in the UK, I’m used to the seeing scenic tarns and bodies of water, but there is something magical about Lake Bled. Perhaps it is the hype and popularity of it, but it does live up to it’s fame. Our first visit to Lake Bled was with our best friend Hollie who was visiting us on her interrail trip. We parked slightly out of the town of Bled so had to take a short walk past some gorgeous Slovene houses, (which I assume will be worth a fortune, just like the houses on edge of Lake Windermere) then we finally got to see a glimpse of the glittering blue lake in the distance. Despite tourist attractions being super popular and having read about them in the Lonely Planet, I still get really excited to these iconic places with my own eyes.
We started our day with a walk around the lake. There is a footpath all the way around which is suitable for cycling, skating and running too. The area seems so exercise friendly and I love the fitness vibe. It’s a small lake with a circumference of only 6 km, so it doesn’t take that long to walk around it’s entirety. However, we were stopping every 15 minutes to take photos and to marvel at the lake and there are some interesting sights to spot along the way. The splendid Vila Bled was built in 1947 and was one of President Tito’s private residences before it was turned into a luxury 4* hotel. You also get to see the little ski resort that boasts bright grassy slopes in the summer. The main town of Bled has a slightly dated feel and the shopping arcade area looks a bit tired but it does contain some decent cafes such as the Vegan Kitchen. Other sites along the way include the most recognisable. The pilgrimage Church of Assumption sits on the the tiny island in the middle of the lake and Bled Castle perches majestically on top of a rocky cliff overlooking the lake.
We stopped off at Hotel Park café in Bled town for a very specific reason. The pastry chefs at Hotel Park claim to have invented the original Bled cream cake 60 years ago. The gorgeous kremšnita cream cake is famous to the region but you can buy it in good bakeries around Slovenia too. To celebrate it’s 60th year, Park Hotel invented two new flavours; chocolate and fruits of the forest which I am yet to try. The cream cake is absolutely delicious; custard and cream are set perfectly between two flakey layers of pastry and sprinkled with icing sugar… yummm! It is surprisingly light textured, yet hard to eat in an elegant way as whole thing falls apart. It is a real treat though and probably enough calories to sustain you for two days.
The lake is perfect for swimming even as early as May as the spring temperatures begin to rise. Swimming areas are technically restricted to certain zones and there are frequently no swimming signs around the lake which some people ignore anyway. My favourite place to swim is the Velika Zaka Blue Flag beach which is located at at the western edge of Lake Bled, next to the huge Camping Bled site. You can rent SUP boards or rowing boats from here too. There is a designated bathing area beneath the castle which opens from June and has a paid entry system. For this you get access to slides, sun loungers and a laned outdoor swimming pool.
After visiting Bled a few more times with family, we have discovered some free parking above the rowing club, next to Bled Jezero train station. There is also paid parking (€1 an hour) at the car park right next to the campsite, Camping Bled and at the rowing club itself.
Lake Bled is a relaxing, stress free day out, perfect for a picnic and a swim. I think the ideal time to visit is the earlier summer months as the crowds are slightly thinner. The drive from the Soča Valley to Bled is really scenic too and only takes 1 hour and 45 minutes passing through Italy and Kranjska Gora.
(Some photo credit goes to my Mum who is evidently better at taking photos than me!)