A FAIRY TALE TRIP TO LAKE BLED
Updated: Mar 20
We loved Lake Bled so much we're getting married here!
We arrived in Slovenia by bus where we had travelled from Budapest. We used a company called FlixBus who offer a range of cross country bus journeys. It took around 6 hours and we arrived into Slovenia's capital Ljubljana around 4pm. This was a whistle stop to collect our rental car from Sixt as we were due to return to the capital at the end of our trip.
We travelled approximately 45 minutes to Lake Bled and stayed in Bled Apartments which are a short 20 minute walk from the lake. The apartments were simple but perfect for what we needed. We often like to eat in one or two nights during our trips so a kitchenette is a must in the accommodation we look for. For our 3 night stay we paid around 220 euros.
It was late afternoon by the time we arrived in Bled and after catching a bite to eat in the apartment we headed out to explore before the sun went down. We took a gentle stroll down to the lakefront and captured our first views of Lake Bled. It was breathtaking. The turquoise water surrounded by the Julian alps with Bled Church perfectly placed on the island in the centre is really something out of a fairytale. Whilst wandering up and down the lake front we managed to take our eyes away from the lake for just a second and stumbled across a beautiful wine bar, Vila Preseren. We sat on the terrace enjoying the views and some live music. Although we ran out of time to do this, there is an option to toboggan down the Straza ski slope for 8 euros pp including 1 chairlift ride to get to the top of Straza hill. To give you a chance to see Lake Bled after dark and the twinkling lights surrounding Bled Island, the company Straza Bled also offer night tobogganing. This runs on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at 9pm in the summer months.
We woke up fairly early and after having some breakfast we headed out for a run. We jogged along the lakefront and into a woodland area where we started our ascent to the best view point in Bled - find out how to reach the viewpoint here: Velika Osojnica.
We then drove to Vintgar Gorge. Warning - make sure you take cash as they don’t accept card (approx 5 euros pp). The sun was shining and reflecting off the emerald green Rodovna river running through the centre. There are numerous photo opportunities along the way so make sure you stop along the bridges, under the waterfalls and jump on the large rocks to capture the best shots. There is just one path through the gorge with a cafe at either end so don’t worry about getting lost. You can relax and enjoy the views knowing you’re going in the right direction. We spent around 1 hour at this attraction and loved it. It is truly stunning and a definite recommendation to visit during your time in Slovenia.
Rowing to Bled Island
The afternoon was spent hiring a boat and rowing in the glorious sunshine to Bled Island to visit the church. You can either take a private pletna boat which you hire and row yourself or take a larger public boat with a driver. We opted for the private boat naively thinking rowing was a piece of cake. There are a number of places to rent a boat from around the lake and they are all around a similar price. We walked around a little to see if we could find the best deal and landed on the boat rental outside Vila Bled the boat rental outside of Hotel Vila Bled for 15 euros per hour. The row took around 15-20 minutes then we parked up and hopped out onto Bled Island. We explored the church surroundings before making our way up the 99 steps to reach the entrance. On the way there are stalls selling souvenirs and ice creams which we just had to have. I chose a flavour called “granny’s tea” it was a creamy ice cream with raspberry sauce running through it and little chunks of cake/biscuit- delicious.
We went into Bled church where the entrance fee is around 6 euros for adults. Inside you can see the gold plated alter, the statue of the Virgin Mary and a large rope attached to the bell tower. The bell is a ‘wishing bell’ and if you make a wish whilst ringing the bell 3 times that wish will come true.
We walked back to Bled Apartments for a quick shower and to change for the evening. Our plan was to head to Bled Castle and then go to dinner at Grasjka Plaza. You can eat at Bled Castle and the restaurant is highly recommended, if not rated number 1 on most websites. There is both a main menu and a tasting menu and prices range from around 25 euros for a main course and 55 euros per person for the 5 course tasting menu. Unfortunately the castle was booked up during our stay so we couldn't eat here.
We visited the castle this evening around sunset and got some beautiful photos of the views over Lake Bled. The entrance to the castle is around 11 euros pp and there are a number of different rooms to explore and learn about the history of Bled. We had a good look around and stayed for over an hour taking in everything the castle grounds have to offer. The walk up and down from the castle is also very picturesque and a bit of a steep hike at times.
Dinner at Grasjka Plaza
We ate at Grasjka Plaza which is located on the lake front and we found it easily enough as the restaurant was situated next to an array of giant inflatables to use whilst swimming in the pool next door. The outdoor seating area is pleasant and it is split into raised platforms so you can capture lake views from any seat you choose. We both had pasta dishes one with shrimps, courgettes and tomatoes and the other with beef slices and truffle cream. The food was tasty and coupled with a cold glass of white wine and some lake views there were no complaints. We finished our meal with our first taste of Bled cake.
Bled cake is the most delicious cream cake I have ever tasted. The cake is made of a fresh cream/custard mixture sandwiched in between two thin layers of flakey pastry and topped with icing sugar. It is sold only in a cube shape measuring 7x7x7cm. This cake was invented by an aspiring pastry chef in the hope of securing a job at a top patisserie. The same recipe is still used today and locals take the cake very seriously. There are plenty of disguised cream cakes around the lake so make sure you track down the original. The best place to find Bled cake is said to be at the Park Hotel.
After dinner we met up with a friend who was working in the resort for the summer. He showed us some local bars including Caffe Peglaz’n and Devil’s bar.
Next post: A mini roadtrip around Slovenia
Dinner at Restaurant Sova
After a mini road trip around Slovenia we headed out to dinner at Restaurant Sova to celebrate James' birthday. Despite a hiccup with our booking, the food was good and James thoroughly enjoyed the meal which is all that matters. We had a chicken and a fish dish with a bottle of white wine and we rounded off the meal with a melting chocolate dome dessert, yum.
Hot Air Ballooning over Lake Bled
We booked an unforgettable experience - a hot air balloon ride over Lake Bled. The weather is unpredictable in Lake Bled so it was uncertain whether the ride would go ahead. Unless the weather conditions are perfect, the hot air balloon ride won’t happen. The experience was booked with Balonarski Center Barje and we met our pilot and his lovely wife just across the road from our apartment building in a supermarket car park.
We drove to a large field where our pilot and his wife unloaded the basket, balloon, gas canister, ropes and various other pieces of equipment from a trailer. We watched in amazement as the ropes were secured and the balloon began to inflate from short bursts of hot air.
We jumped in and took off waving the pilot’s wife goodbye. Our pilot notified air traffic control who responded over a walkie talkie. We rose into the clear blue sky and almost immediately found ourselves directly above Bled castle. It was amazing to see the castle from a different angle and notice the stone work and architecture which you couldn’t quite appreciate from inside the grounds. We then drifted slowly over the lake and captured that iconic view of Bled Island with the church perfectly placed in the centre. It was breathtaking and we must have taken 100 photos and videos with every device we could find.
The hot air is blasted every so often and in between the bursts of air, the silence and serenity is bliss. As the sun was rising it really felt like we were the only ones awake and it almost felt like a dream floating around and looking down on the most perfect view of the lake. We really fell in love with Bled from this moment and knew that this wouldn’t be our last visit.
We braced ourselves and landed safely in a large green open space. We hopped out of the basket and took some photos whilst our pilot and his wife began deflating the balloon and putting the equipment back onto the trailer.
We were then invited to a balloon ceremony where we were asked to kneel before the pilot and water was flicked on our heads in the traditional balloon ceremony. This was a very unusual part of the experience but very fun. We finished by sharing a bottle of sparkling wine with our pilot and his wife and asking too many questions about hot air ballooning.
We were then taken to the Park Hotel where we sat on the roof terrace overlooking the lake and enjoyed a coffee and a slice of the best Bled cake you can find.
The hot air ballooning was a once in a lifetime experience and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The company were extremely professional but equally down to earth and lots of fun. James won’t let me look at the price so here’s the link for you to check it out yourselves - Balonarski Center Barje.
Our guides left us at the Park Hotel so we strolled back to our apartment to get packed up and check out. We then made the 40 minute trip to our next stop, Lake Bohinj.