I suppose I am a bit of an East European lake fanatic. I have a house by Lake Balaton in Hungary and have holidayed by the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia and Lake Palić in Serbia. Hence it is not surprising that I should decide to check out one of the most famous lakes in Eastern Europe, Lake Bled in Slovenia.
I’d been told that the Lake Bled area is particularly scenic, with wooded slopes and high peaks forming the backdrop to the crystal clear lake.
However, I was concerned that its international reputation meant that it would be packed with tourists. Retired or semi-retired Senior can often choose to visit outside the busy tourist seasons; hence my choice of October for my Lake Bled short break, in the hope that I’d avoid the crowds.
Of course a big disadvantage of an autumn visit is that the weather can be quite inclement. During my three day visit, I saw plenty of heavy rain, some very misty mornings and just one afternoon of sunshine. But not that many tourists!
The weather in no way spoilt my short break. The highlights of my visit didn’t require good weather; on the contrary, two of my highlights, Vintgar Gorge and Savica Waterfall, are more impressive after a period of rain.
Highlights of the Lake Bled area
• Cycling around Lake Bled. It is only 6km around the lake, so it’s a relaxed one hour cycle ride, with great views along the way. The hotel I stayed at (see below) provided cycles free of charge. Stop halfway around for refreshments – a cold drink in the summer, a hot chocolate suited us better in October.
• Bled Castle. If you are feeling fit, then take the steps from the lake shore up to the 1000 year old castle, with two courtyards on different levels. The museum, tracing the history of Bled from the Bronze Age, is well worth a visit.
• Rowing out to Bled Island. You can travel to the island on a gondola (€12 per person) squeezed in with 20-30 other people. I preferred to hire a rowing boat (€10 per hour) and reached the island after about 15 minutes gentle rowing.
• Vintgar Gorge – 4km northwest of Bled. A wooden walkway hugs the sides of the rocky ravine for 1.6km before reaching the 13m high Šum Waterfall. A bit slippery in the rain, but very impressive.
• Lake Bohinj – 26km west of Bled. This is a very different lake to Bled being relatively quiet and undeveloped. The scenery is superb, with views on a clear day (not when I was there) to Mount Triglav, and historic churches on the lake shore.
• Savica Waterfall (Slap Savica). At the western end of Lake Bohinj, a pathway leads via 510 steps up to Slovenia’s most impressive waterfall. Seniors get a 50% discount on the entry charge, but the route should only be attempted if you are feeling reasonably fit. I walked up in pouring rain, but it was well worth it to see the swollen river cascading down.
How to get there
I drove there from Hungary – an easy drive, almost entirely on motorways. Charges are applicable in both Hungary and Slovenia when using motorways – see my Road Travel Tips for toll details. Easyjet and Wizz Air fly from the UK to the Slovenian capital, Ljubljiana, only 50km away from Lake Bled and connected by frequent rail and bus services.
Bled has a wide range of accommodation including the central Best Western Premier Hotel Lovec, where you can get a European Senior discount rate. I stayed at the 15 room Hotel Garni “Berc”, which lived up well to its billing by TripAdviser as the number one hotel in Bled.
Where to eat
Bled has many good restaurants. The ones that impressed me most were the Mayer Penzion restaurant, serving high standard local fare in warm, friendly atmosphere, and the centrally situated Oštarija Peglez’n restaurant, with its tasty mixed meat platter.
Of course you can’t leave Bled without sampling its cream cake, Kremna rezina – very high calorie, but worth it!