Saturday, March 24, 2012

Essential Travel Destinations # 2 - Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled is without doubt one of the most picturesque locations in Slovenia, if not in all of Europe. The shimmering lake surface, cliff-top castle, island church and backdrop of towering mountain ranges form a view that is certain to take up a lot of memory space in your camera.

Given it's relatively accessible location from the capital Ljubljana (a little over an hour by bus), the lake sees a steady stream of visitors all year, but especially in the high summer season when many come to take part in activities like hiking and horseback riding in the surrounding mountains.

The most enjoyable way to experience the lake and its stunning backdrop of mountain peaks is to take a ride in a pletna (a small rowboat of a design which is unique to the Bled region) to reach the small island in the centre. A church has stood on the island since the 9th century and archaeological evidence suggests it was the site of stone-age burials long before. The appearance of the current Church of the Assumption dates from the 17th century. It is traditional for visitors to ring the church bell and make a wish; this means that in the high summer season the bell is kept ringing almost continuously.

It's possible to walk around the lake in about two hours, allowing you to see the island and clifftop castle from every possible angle. Making the hike up to the Osojnica lookout for knockout views of the lake and surrounding countryside is also highly recommended. For those who would prefer to comfortably ride around the lake, a wheeled tourist train operates in the summer months. Willow branches reach out over the water at many points along the shore, providing shady spots that draw huge schools of fish looking for cooler temperatures in the summer months.

The first written record of Bled dates from the year 1004, and visitors have been making the pilgrimage to see the island church ever since. Towards the end of the 19th century the lake became a popular spa resort for the upper classes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who came to drink its supposedly curative waters.

Several socialist-era hotels line the shore of the lake near the town of Bled, though luckily they aren't prominent enough to detract from the lake views. Leader Josip Broz Tito enjoyed visiting the lake so much that he had his summer residence built there, a grand villa where he entertained many famous guests. The Slovene national poet France Prešeren praised the beauty of Bled in his verses, calling it a 'second paradise of Eden'.

It's possible to visit Bled as a daytrip from Ljubljana (about 1 hour and 15 minutes on one of the frequent buses from the main station in the city), though there are plenty of hotel and pension options for those who would prefer to stay the night and have the chance to experience the lake when it is peaceful at dusk and in the early morning. Buses also run regularly from Bled to Lake Bohinj (one hour), another beautiful alpine lake with clear views of Mt. Triglav.

2 comments:

  1. its very informative please post more blogs........

    Beautiful Bled a tourist attraction place in Slovenia attracts traveler with its natural beauty surroundings. Hire rental mini shuttle bus, shuttles, for bled trip in Ljubljana.

    slovenia tour

    ReplyDelete
  2. i am really inspired by seeing ur blogs......its very interesting

    Bled, the Slovenia’s number one tourist attraction is located in the beautiful and mountainous northwest of Slovenia. With less

    than 1-hour drive from Ljubljana and 1.5 hour from Koper it’s easily accessible and perfect for a half day trip.

    Ljubljana travel

    ReplyDelete