Now that western Europe is so crowded,
Lake Bled in Slovenia in eastern Europe is a stunning
place to visit, with possibly the world's best view from the castle
overlooking the aquamarine lake that features a 16th century chapel
on the island in the middle.
You reach Lake Bled island
easily by pletna, the traditional local wooden gondola rowed in
reverse by blue and white striped oarsmen. The breathtaking
aquamarine colour of the mountain lake is similar to
Lake Louise in Canada.
Photo of cafe looking to Bled Castle
Lake Bled is just the right size as a 21st century tourist
attraction...small enough to walk around yet big enough to stay for
a week to enjoy its beautiful natural setting, with a wide choice of
quality restaurants and accommodation near Lake Bled.
Our choice of accommodation is Vila Istra, a romantic
and stylish hotel with wonderful owners right on Lake Bled.
Outside you'll find the traditional romantic pletna boats that
take you to Lake Bled's island.
Prices in Bled are very cheap, and it hasn't yet been
ruined by huge crowds like so many western European destinations.
Pilgrims have been coming to the romantic church of St
Mary on Lake Bled's island for centuries, but the
town around Lake Bled dates back a thousand years. Even then, a
Roman tower overlooked the lake from the top of a cliff,
the present castle was built in the 1011.
has had a colourful history including centuries of royalty, until
Marshal Tito commandeered it as part of communist
Yugoslavia in 1947.
Slovenia finally became independent again in
Photo of Lake Bled island from hot air
Lake Bled was popular in
the Middle Ages thanks to the pilgrims coming to
worship on their holy island. The pilgrims were replaced in the
1800s by the first tourists who discovered the health-giving
properties of the thermal waters and their minerals.
became famous at the start of the 20th century as the most beautiful
health spa in the then vast Austrian empire, attracting
European aristocrats and the elite.
These days you can
easily reach Lake Bled by flying one of the many cut-price
European airlines into the nearby Slovenian capital
Ljubljana, or into Klagenfurt, just over the
border in Austria. Our trafel tip
is to fly into Ljubljana for better connections to Bled
by train and bus.
Trains from Ljubljana take 45
minutes to Bled and drop passengers off several times a day at
Lesce-Bled Train station, where you
can take a bus the 4 kilometres into town. Or you can hitch a ride
as we did, with the lovely local Catholic priest who went
out of his way to help.
Buses take 75 minutes from
Ljubljana right into Bled and run hourly for
Photo of Lake Bled castle overlooking Lake
As you arrive in Bled, you'll see the
aptly-named Panorama Restaurant on your left, a wonderful
place to stop and take in the stunning lake, the church and the
castle. Enjoy drinking the alpine tap water, purer than bottled
water according to the locals.
LAKE BLED WHAT TO DO
Make sure you take a wooden pletna to the
island, a pleasant trip of about 25 minutes from most parts of the
lake. A round trip will cost you 12 Euros including 30 minutes on
the island to see the historic chapel and even ring its bell.
The best pletna operator is the friendly Matjaz Vidic on
+386 41881588 or email:
firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings.
Pletna boat rows you to Lake Bled island
Bled Castle is a must for that stunning elevated view,
best enjoyed with a glass of Slovenian
wine from the castle's restaurant
terrace overlooking the aquamarine lake below. The castle is
open 8am to 7pm in summer and 5pm in winter, featuring a
Romanesque wall with parapets and ramparts.
you see the small wine centre run by Andre, the gregarious
monk. For a small fee he'll teach you how to the top off a bottle
with a blade, known as sabrage. He'll also help you bottle and wax
stamp your own wine there in the cellar.
Photo of lunch with a view from the castle
over beautiful Lake Bled
You can walk
around Lake Bled in less than two hours, and if that's too
much you can take the pretty road train around the lake in 30
Lake Bled is also close to the beautiful
valley of Bohinj on the edge of Triglav National
Park. Lake Bohinj is only an hour from Bled and is
less touristy, with a background of the magnificent Julian Alps.
Here you can go canoeing, hiking and even see paragliders gliding
among the eagles over the ski pistes in this natural wonderland.
ACCOMMODATION NEAR LAKE BLED
If you want to experience local life, the
best accommodation is the stylish Vila Istra, right on the
lake with beautiful views from your room across stunning Lake
Bled. The motto of Vila Istra
is Live the Dream, and you're
certainly doing that here in this wonderful small hotel.
Owners Denis and Jura have created
beautiful rooms with stunning furnishings that make you feel as
though you've come across the bargain of
central Europe. Denis's hospitality is
superb - he's always there making sure
guests are happy and he looks after every detail, even shifting cars
around to make sure there's plenty of parking on site for his valued
Vila Istra's spacious Deluxe Family
Suite with lake views is stunning accommodation, with a
beautiful bedroom and separate big lounge to take in the beautiful
views of Lake Bled.
Vila Istra also has its own
restaurant, run by talented chef Miha who will ask you if
there's anything special he can make you. The food here is top
class, and Miha will even go into the back garden to pick
fresh organic vegetables or herbs to accompany your lunch or dinner.
The long dining table is the centrepiece of the restaurant
and a perfect palce to compare your travels with fellow guests at
breakfast. Breakfast here at Vila Istra is also fresh and
plentiful with wide variety, and is included in your bed and
Outside at Vila Istra, you'll find the
Mystic Garden, with its elevated view over Lake Bled
for sunny days enjoying the scenery. This is a wonderful place to
enjoy live music on weekends from classic bands brought in from
Slovenia's nearby capital Ljubljana.
Room with a view - stunning
views over Lake Bled
Photo of Pension Pletna's great value rooms
with balcony views over the lake
If you want something cheaper, try
Pension Pletna or you could also try the
Grand Hotel Toplice further around the lake, but you won't
get that slice of local life that Vila Istra offers in a
traditional Slovenian way.
LAKE BLED RESTAURANTS
Try the caf‚ just left of Vila Istra
for good local atmosphere and a view over the lake. In town, try
Ajda Caf‚ opposite Panorama which is always full of diners
enjoying the local dishes including fresh seafood.
you want a magnificent dining experience that ranks at the very top,
go to Vila Mangart near the foot of the castle. The
old-style Slovenian ambience here is more than matched by
the husband and wife team Dusan and Michaela, who
are food artists.
Vila Mangart restaurant with delicious
Slovenian produce including truffles
Mangart restaurant is a work of art as its name suggests.
They only serve fresh seasonal produce, so the menu varies from
local lamb to delicious duck that even impresses the most critical
LAKE BLED SUMMARY
World's Best Holidays only writes
about the world's best, and Lake Bled is an
European hot spot that will make the weary traveller's heart
Its natural beauty, friendly people and cheap prices
make it a must-see in the 21st century. And Vila Istra is
the perfect local place to stay; stylish and a very reasonable price
stunningly beautiful accommodation
near Lake Bled. Best of all, the
huge crowds of the western world haven't yet overrun Lake Bled
like so many other places.
Go to Bled while it's still
young, fresh and beautiful.
Photos of Lake Bled
Google Map of Lake Bled
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Map of Lake Bled