Lake Bled Three Ways
The stunning views from the path around Lake Bled in northern Slovenia encourage the visitor to stay there and soak in the beauty in as many ways possible. Not only is there an emerald and turquoise lake to enchant you, but there is also the romantic castle on the cliff overhanging the lake and a picturesque abbey set like a jewel on a small island in the middle of the lake. There’s just so much beauty, it’s just downright impossible to tear yourself away from the sight. We wanted to enjoy the lake as many ways as we possibly could. The path around the lake is approximately six kilometers long, and is a relatively easy one and half hour walk, or a 45 minute bike ride, or an hour or so of rowing across the serene waters.
After driving through the mountainous regions of Austria, winding in and out of massive tunnels, we arrived in Lake Bled early in the afternoon. We were immediately awestruck by the lake’s beauty, and even though it is a very well-known tourist area, the masses of people milling around it didn’t interfere with our amazement. Checking into the Hotel Park, situated right on the lake’s edge, we started peppering the attendant with questions. Where can we rent bikes? How about the rowboats? We found out that you can circumvent the lake many different ways.
Get on Your Bikes and Ride!
First we decided to ride bikes. We rented our bikes straight from the hotel, but there is a business in town that specializes in renting bikes and a young man passing me told me that he felt those bikes were superior to the one I was riding. Considering how much effort I was putting into my ride, and seeing him glide by barely breaking a sweat, I think he probably was right. The path around the lake was rather flat, but switched between pavement to gravel a few times. The only difficult part was trying to weave in and out of the other tourists, their kids, their dogs, strollers, horse carts, you name it! Jim and I pretty much gave out and just biked on the road. This was much faster and safer, but harder to stop and take photos.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Next, we rented a small rowboat. I’ve been rowing a number of times and I was super impressed by the build of these small boats. At first we were a little intimidated by the size of the lake, wondering if our out-of-use rowing skills would make it difficult for us. We needn’t have worried. It was smooth going and a lot of fun. Typically folks row to the island, get off and explore the Abbey and ring its bell for good luck, but that wasn’t enough for us. We just enjoyed being together on the water.
A Romantic Carriage Ride
Our final lap around the lake was done in the old style; we treated ourselves to a horse drawn carriage ride in the early evening, right before sunset. First, We prepared by going down to the local grocery store where we picked out a delicious bottle of white wine made not too far from Bled, borrowed the wine glasses from our hotel, and hired a carriage. For a mere 40 Euros, we trotted around the entire lake, enjoying our wine, and smiling at the bikers and walkers along the route. Yes, it was a little splashy since a horse ride isn’t the smoothest of rides, but we loved it.
With all the ways that you can enjoy getting around the lake, the views were constantly changing and yet they were always spectacular. Even when menacing rain clouds threatened to pour down on us, the lake took on a different look, reflecting the moody atmosphere of the weather.
- Lake Bled is a popular tourist site in the Julian Alps
- The Julian Alps stretch from Northern Italy into Slovenia and were named after Julius Caesar
- Beautiful scenery and fresh mountain air have made this a popular destination since the early nineteenth century
- Aside from biking, walking, rowing, and riding in the fijaker (horse carriages) visitors can also swim or ice skate
- By law, the number of hotel beds in Bled cannot exceed the number of permanent residents, so it never get’s completely over run
- Outdoor sports like rowing, swimming and biking competitions are common; while we were visiting there was a triathlon event going on
- Other activities in the area include skiing, sailing, and mountain biking
- A hike up to Bled Castle is a must as is dinner on the battlements of this romantic castle
- Lake Bled is a great destination in every season, even winter.
- By car, Lake Bled is four hours from Munich; you’ll need to buy a Vignette for Austria (8.80 euros for 10 day pass) and another for Slovenia (15 euros for 1 week pass). Also, be aware you’ll pay additional tolls in Austria for the longer tunnels so be sure to have euro cash available (about 30 euros each way).
- By Bus, such as Flix Bus, from Munich to Lake Bled takes about six hours and costs around 50 euros.
- From Ljubljana, Bled is about 30 minutes driving time or about 45 minutes by train (approximately 10 euros one way).
Where to Stay
There is a wide range of hotels to fit every budget and comfort level, but remember, there is limited numbers of hotels in the area so booking as early as possible is advised. We stayed at the Hotel park with a lake side view that was just incredible. Our overall impression of the hotel was good. The room was comfortable and well appointed and the staff was friendly and helpful, but it’s a large hotel and it lacks a more personal touch.
Where to Eat
We really enjoyed every taste offered to us at the Bled Castle Restaurant. The menu changes with the seasons and focuses on fresh, local ingredients and modern Slovenian dishes. Make reservations early for a dining experience in a medieval castle that is hard to beat. As a bonus, you’ll get free entry to the castle with your reservation so go a little early to allow time for exploring the castle before your dinner or lunch.
Bled Castle Restaurant
Grajska cesta 61, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
+386 4 620 34 44
Have you been to Lake Bled? What was your best experience there?
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