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Top 10 Things to do in Bled

I bet you've seen these stunning pictures of a blueish-green lake with a picture-postcard church on an islet in the middle of it all - well, that’s Bled, and definitely one of the highlights in Slovenia. And should you doubt the pictures, I can vouch for it being as stunning in real life as it is on the pictures. I've only been to Bled this one time, but I can assure you to come back one day, because this view with the crystal-clear lake surrounded by breathtaking mountains as backdrops or the medieval castle clinging to the rocky cliff is something you will never get tired of.

A medieval castle clinging to a rocky cliff all while overlooking a beautiful lake

1. Bled Castle

A medieval castle clinging to a rocky cliff all while overlooking a beautiful lake is the first thing on the list of the top 10 things to do in Bled, this is Bled Castle. The views are spectacular from such a high vantage point. From the castle terraces you’ll have the postcard-perfect view of this emerald green lake with its iconic island in the middle of it while being surrounded by lush green forest. Bled Castle is allegedly Slovenia’s oldest castle, dating back to 1004 when the German King Henry II conferred the estate of Bled on Bishop Albuin of Brixen. At that time it was only the Romanesque tower surrounded by walls standing there. In the middle Ages additional towers were built to enhance the fortification system. In 1511 the castle was strongly damaged due to an earthquake but was rebuilt as the castle you see today. The castle and the a buildings attached to the castle are arranged around two courtyards, an upper and a lower courtyard which are connected by a staircase.

The small iconic island in the middle of Lake Bled beckons from the shore

2. Bled Island

The small iconic island in the middle of Lake Bled beckons from the shore. You can rent a boat on your own or pay someone to row you to this island, but either way, it’s a must do thing when you are in Bled. Before the church was built on the island, there was a temple dedicated to the pagan goddess of life and fertility. After the Christianization in 745 the ancient temple was replaced by a church, dedicated to the birth of Mary. In 1465 the church was renovated and rebuilt in a Gothic style. The middle of the 17th century was the period where the famous staircase was built with exactly 99 stone steps descending towards the church. We were lucky that day to witness a wedding. A marriage in the church on the island comes with a fun tradition; the groom has to carry the bride up all 99 steps. The island is small, includes a café and souvenir shop and is perfect for a lovely stroll around before you head back to the boat.

You can hear the church bells ringing

3. Ring the Wishing Bell

While you are approaching Bled Island you might already hear the church bells ringing; this is everyone ringing the Wishing Bell. The legend has it that a young widow lived in Bled Castle 500 years ago who had commissioned a bell for the church in memory of her husband. As the bell was being transported to the island a huge storm came up, resulting in the sinking of the boat, the bell and the loss of the entire crew. The widow lived the rest of her life as a nun in Rome and when she died the Pope sent out a bell to Bled which was successfully installed. The story goes that everyone who rings the bell while making a wish has their dream come true...and who wouldn't like that?

Lake Bled itself is an activity big enough to fill out an entire day

4. Lake Bled

Lake Bled itself is an activity big enough to fill out an entire day. Whether you swim in it, walk around it or row on it, the lake offers so many activities, both physical and leisurely. On a sunny day the turquoise water attracts people from all around. Especially during the hot summer days the cool temperatures of the lake are the perfect remedy to cool down while taking a swim. If you are a good swimmer or just feeling particularly adventurous that day you can swim across the lake to Bled Island, but remember if you’re going one way you need to swim the other way as well.

Bled offers so many wonderful activities - for example renting a boat

5. Rent a boat

Bled offers so many wonderful activities, for example renting a boat, which is a fun way to explore Lake Bled and a great way to reach Bled Island as well. We chose to rent our own boat to row around, simply because it gave us the freedom to choose where we wanted to row and how much time we could spend on the water. But you can also choose to hire someone to row for you if your arms are too sore from all the other activities. There are several renting places around the lake and rowing from the shore to Bled Island takes something between 10-20 minutes, depending on your stamina and muscle power. But you should not only rent a boat to go to the island, Lake Bled is such a wonderful place where you actually just want to spend the day relaxing.

Embark on the 6 km long hike on the trail that goes around the lake

6. Hike around Lake Bled

Another popular physical activity to do in Bled is to take the 6 km long hike on the trail that goes around the lake, this was most likely my favorite thing to do. Walking around the lake gives you plenty of opportunities to inhale the beautiful landscape from all sites and angles. With a total distance of 6 km it would normally take 1,5 hours but unless you will make frequent pauses, like we did, which felt like every 100 meters to take pictures or just enjoy the view, then you should probably count some more time in. The route around the lake is easy to walk as it’s mostly a flat path. On the way around the lake you will also come across some very pretty swimming spots if you are in need to cool down.

Try the Bled Cream Cake

7. Bled Cream Cake

Indulging in something deliciously new is always a great way to get to know the country and its culture. To me, food is always part of the travel experience. When you visit Bled, trying the Bled Cream Cake is not an option, it’s a must! The local specialty is a scrumptious vanilla cream with whipped cream topped with a golden puff pastry crust and a sprinkling of icing sugar. It’s a real calorie bomb, but so worth it. It’s even more delicious when enjoyed from a castle terrace overlooking the jaw-dropping lake or at the same Hotel Park where this cake was invented by confectioner Istvana Lukacevic in 1953 who worked at the hotel in Bled. The recipe hasn’t changed since then – a truly well-kept secret.

This is such a fun activity to do in Bled

8. Straza Bled

Visiting Bled between spring and autumn has its advantages. During these seasons you can go to the Straza Bled, a hill overlooking Lake Bled, to get a real adrenalin rush on the toboggan track. A gondola will take you to the top of the hill from where you take a slalom ride on the toboggan downhill. You are in control of the speed so you choose how fast it’s gonna be. This is so much fun and an activity I haven’t seen anywhere else yet to be honest. In winter time Straza Bled turns into a ski slope, so basically no matter the time of year there’s always an activity going on.

Only a few kilometers from Bled is the Vintgar Gorge

9. Vintgar Gorge

Only a few kilometers from Bled is the Vintgar Gorge, a must-see while you are in Bled. This type of landscape is a spectacular sight of clear turquoise water cutting though the surrounding rocks. It’s a 1,6 km long walk on elevated boardwalks along the Radovna River with swirling water, pools and waterfalls along high, vertical rocks -it’s such a gorgeous sight. At the end of the trail you will be rewarded with the sight of the Sum Waterfall. The track will take you back the same way you came from, but that’s not bad either since it gives you an opportunity to soak in more of the beautiful nature and see the place from another perspective.

 Time to explore the Triglav National Park - the only national park in Slovenia

10. Triglav National Park

After you have exhaustively explored every inch of Bled and even went to the Vintgar Gorge it’s time to explore the Triglav National Park, the only national park in Slovenia. Triglav National Park lies so unbelievably close to Bled that it would be a shame if you haven’t seen this one, too. It encompasses one of the most beautiful parts of Slovenia and the majority of the eastern part of the Julian Alps. The park is huge and hence diverse in its landscape since it stretches over 4% of the country of Slovenia; here you’ll find steep glacial valleys, green forests, crystal clear mountain streams and small rivers. In the very middle of the park lies Slovenia’s highest mountain ‘Triglav’ with a height of 2864 meters and evidently after which the park was named. You can of course choose to wander through the park, though I’d recommend renting a bike which gives you the opportunity to explore more of the park in one day. There are several routes with various lengths and different accessibility possibilities to choose between, so there's definitely something in it for everyone both the hikers and the bikers.


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