A fairytale location is ever there was one, the green waters of Lake Bled with its baroque church island and looming clifftop castle is Slovenia’s most famous attraction.
Set amidst the snowcapped Julian Alps less than an hour from Ljubljana, the emerald lake is small enough to walk around on foot. The beautiful Church of the Assumption, sitting on an islet, dates from 1698. According to local tradition, one who can ring the bell loudly enough will be granted a wish and a husband who can carry his new bride the 99 steps up from the dock into the church will be ensured a happy marriage. With the waters off limits to motorised craft, the island is reached on pletna boat – a huge gondola type vessel – or by rowboat. Sodden and brave wedding party guests are also not unheard of.
Watching over the lake is the imperious Bled Castle. The oldest part of the medieval castle is the Romanesque tower while other buildings were constructed in the Renaissance style during the the 17th century.
The sublime walkways of Vintgar Gorge are close by and Bled also serves as wonderful base from which to explore the stunning Triglav National Park, popular for its hiking and outdoor adventure sports such as rafting on the Soca River. It’s also home to Slovenia’s largest lake, Bohinj, a fine place for a boat trip before taking a cable car up to 1,535m (5,036 feet) to admire the view out to Triglav’s three peaks and beyond.
When to go
The weather is most reliable during the summer months, but the mountains here can look particularly striking in the quieter spring and autumn seasons.
What to do
- Boat across to Bled's island church
- Hike in the Julian Alps
- Rafting on the Soca River
- Ascend Mount Vogel's cablecar