SLOVENIA LAKE BLED - Is It Worth Visiting Lake Bled?
Lake Bled is such a popular tourist attraction that, to be honest, we had our doubts as to whether visiting could possibly be worthwhile or live up to the hype. In the end, Lake Bled completely blew us away with its beauty and charm and now we know just why it attracts quite so many visitors!
Generally speaking, Slovenia has been an absolutely wonderful revelation and one of the countries we most enjoyed during our 2018 Europe Campervan Trip. It is a country filled with natural beauty far beyond the few well-known tourist attractions. The people are friendly and it is generally somewhat cheaper than its neighbouring countries. Our two weeks spent in Slovenia were definitely not enough and we look forward to returning to explore more of what Slovenia has to offer.
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Without perhaps even knowing where it is in the world you've probably already seen many pictures of the oh-so Instagrammable fairytale beauty of Lake Bled with its island church, a medieval castle hanging onto a rocky cliff and some of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps and the Karavanke as backdrops. Located only 35 km from Ljubljana International Airport and 55 km from Ljubljana City, almost every tourist to Slovenia makes Lake Bled a stop on their itinerary. And we suggest that you do too! You can even reach Bled easily by bus or train from Ljubljana, so there is no excuse to miss out.
LAKE BLED - How To Make The Most Of Your Visit
The town of Bled itself can be overpriced and is usually swarming with tourists particularly in the months of July and August. We were here at the beginning of September which meant somewhat fewer tourists, but it was still busy. If you can, try to visit in the off-peak months and also during the week, when the town is slightly less busy.
A great way to appreciate the natural beauty of Lake Bled is to walk the 6km long path all around the lake. The path is level and it's easy to enjoy a leisurely stroll with plenty of places to stop and rest along the way. It's up to you if you want to join the queue for the famous heart photograph, but there are plenty of other photo-taking opportunities! There are also lovely grassy areas suitable for picnicking and we found the best place to access the lake for swimming to be around the 'grandstand' area towards the West of the lake. Here you will find a promenade and beach area where even the locals hang out.
Before visiting Bled Island or the lookout point at the Castle, we highly recommend that you prioritise making your way up to one of the Western mountain viewpoints. There are a few different routes leading to various viewpoints so you can take one route up and another route down. The easiest way to find the start of the trails is to make your way towards Camping Bled, right at the West of the Lake. From the path, you should see signs indicating the way to the two most famous viewpoints: Ojstrica (the lower viewpoint) and Osojnica (the higher viewpoint). The Ojstrica viewpoint is fairly easy to reach while the Osojnica viewpoint is a somewhat more challenging hike, but absolutely worthwhile if you are fit and able. Be sure to check out our video of the Lake Bled Hike to see these stunning views for yourself.
Once you have made your way back down, you can cool off with a swim in the crystal clear water, or take part in a few other water activities from the lakeshore.
Bled Island is best known for the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria, which is often used for weddings. Before a wedding couple enters the church to ring the bell and make a wish, the groom will usually carry his bride-to-be up the 99 steps in front of the church for good luck. You can reach the small island by boat, stroll around the island, visit the church and even watch many tourist couples trying to emulate this good luck tradition!
Bled Castle, or Blejski Grad, is an 11th-century medieval hilltop castle overlooking Lake Bled. Although the castle contains a museum, restaurant and lookout point, personally we think looking up at the castle perked on the hill is more impressive than looking down from it!
When visiting Lake Bled and the small town of Bled, you simply have to try the famous (and delicious) Bled Cream Cake. Now, of course, you can treat yourself to sitting down at a fancy restaurant to enjoy this treat or you can simply pick up a piece from the local supermarket (for a fraction of the price) and enjoy it at your leisure at the water's edge or, as we did, up at the viewpoint! Bled cream cake is decadent: a thick layer of vanilla custard cream and an ever so slightly thinner layer of whipped cream sandwiched between two layers of crispy and flakey butter dough crust and topped with icing sugar.
End your day by watching the sunset from the banks of Lake Bled, as the town slowly comes to life for the evening. We were lucky as there was a food festival in the town which allowed us to also try some local delicacies and enjoy the festive summer atmosphere.
SLOVENIA - VISIT VINTGAR GORGE AT LAKE BLED
Less than 5km from Lake Bled is Vintgar Gorge which, although having attracted tourists since it was discovered in 1891, today seems to hide in the shadow of the popularity of Lake Bled. Vintgar Gorge is a natural work of art and is well worth including in your visit to Bled. The best time to visit Vintgar Gorge is around midday when the sun finds its way through the towering cliffs to illuminate the azure waters. We made the mistake of visiting in the late afternoon hoping to miss the tourist crowds, but this unfortunately also meant that there was limited sunshine.
You can easily spend a few hours walking along the sometimes slippery paths and crossing multiply wooden bridges along the1.6km long route that takes you to various viewing platforms, waterfalls, crystal clear rock pools and splashing cascades. Don't expect to be alone, but do try to take the time to find a peaceful spot and appreciate the absolute beauty of nature of Vintgar Gorge.
LAKE BLED - Where To Park Your Campervan In Bled, Slovenia
There is no shortage of tourist accommodation in the town of Bled. When it comes to parking areas for Campervans, however, there are very few options.
To the West of Lake Bled, there is a simple parking lot which, depending on the season, is sometimes only accessible to Campers for overnight parking from 8 pm to 8 am. You will also find Camping Bled, an actual campsite with a prime location, but you will have to reserve your spot well in advance!
Just East of Lake Bled, on the outskirts of the town and adjacent to the Autobus parking lot, there is a very functional Camper Parking Area known as 'Punto Sosta Camper'. There are no facilities and the price is rather steep, but water and electricity are available and the parking area is conveniently located nearby to two supermarkets. This is where we stayed. If you make your way here, take the direct route through the town and don't try to navigate the back farm roads as we did - we almost ended up getting stuck with our camper and not being able to turn around on the tight, woodlands back route that Google Maps suggested!