Lake Bled, Slovenia

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Lake Bled is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Slovenia. And, if you ask me, there’s a good reason for that.

It is a green lake with a beautiful small island in the middle of it. But Lake Bled would definitely not be the same without its breathtaking surroundings: Slovenia’s oldest castle, lush vegetation, and the Alpine Mountains.

Also, a bit of geography: this small country is located in central Europe. It borders Croatia, Austria, Italy, and Hungary, all of which are excellent tourist destinations (and I’m not saying that just because I was born in Croatia).

Precisely, Lake Bled’s fairytale is located in the Julian Alps, 475 meters above sea level. Or, simply put, it’s 45 minutes by car from Ljubljana, the country’s capital city.

Another thing you should know is that here in Europe, we don’t write “Slovenia”; we write “sLOVEnia”. Don’t worry; you’ll realize why.

Island on Bled Lake. Photo by Canva
Island on Lake Bled. Photo by Canva

Lake Bled: Slovenia’s Only Natural Island

Walking along the circular path around the side of the lake is one of the most beautiful free activities on Lake Bled. The trail is 6 kilometers long, and the walk will take 1.5–2 hours. Of course, if you don’t stop every few minutes to admire the natural beauty around you, and you will.

Lake Bled is approximately 2.1 km long and 1.4 km wide, with a maximum depth of about 30 meters. It is glacial in origin, but it is warm enough because it contains water from thermal springs.

Thus, the water temperature rises to 25 degrees Celsius in the summer, so bring your bathing suit. If swimming isn’t your thing, swan-watching on the shore of Lake Bled is a great option too.

Lake Bled. Photo by Canva
Stunning views of Lake Bled. Photo by Canva

The Origin of Bled: The Revenge of Fairies

Also, here’s something interesting. According to legend, Lake Bled and Bled Island were created as a form of revenge by the fairies. 

Once upon a time, there was a meadow with lush grass where fairies would dance during the night. But when the shepherds brought the sheep to graze, the fairies asked them to fence off their “dance floor” so the sheep wouldn’t eat all the grass.

They did not do this, so the fairies flooded the meadow, creating a small island for themselves that the sheep could not reach. That’s how we got the stunning Lake Bled.

I mean, have you ever heard of a more beautiful revenge?

Boat on Lake Bled. Photo by Canva
Boat on Lake Bled. Photo by Canva

Take a Boat Ride to Bled Island

Of course, you want to see the fairies’ “dancefloor,” so take one of three options: a row boat (which you can row yourself), an electric boat ride (which has a schedule of departures), or a Pletna boat (a wooden boat that resembles a Venetian gondola).

Whatever you decide, enjoy the ride and prepare for something truly special: a small island that fulfills your wishes. Are you curious about how?

Island on Lake Bled. Photo by Canva
Island on Lake Bled. Photo by Canva

Bled Island: The Island That Fulfills Wishes

If there is one thing that represents Lake Bled, it is the stunning Bled Island, Slovenia’s only natural island. It was once used for pagan rituals, then for burying the dead in the 9th and 10th centuries, and now it is a fairytale that may grant your wish.

It seems that drastic changes are indeed possible, ha?

In the center of this small island, in the middle of the lake, is the 12th-century Church of the Assumption. There is also a 54-meter-tall bell tower, the bell of which was built by the Pope in 1534.

He blessed it, which is believed to be the source of its magical power.

However, the legend states that if you ring the Wishing Bell three times with a single pull of the rope, your wish will come true. Of course, nothing is free today, including the fulfillment of wishes: a tour of the church and the bell tower costs 12 euros for adults, 5 euros for children, and 24 euros for families.

However, if you do not believe in the Wishing Bell and do not want to pay the entrance fee, visit Mala Osojnica. It’s a viewpoint that provides a much more stunning view of Lake Bled. 

It will be free; you will only “pay” with a short hike (less than half an hour).

If you decide to ring the bell, let us know how many times you’ve done so. Of course, with a single pull.

Lake Bled views. Photo by Canva
Lake Bled views. Photo by Canva

Bled Island’s Stairs: 99 Steps to “Happily Ever After”

Needless to say, couples adore the romance of Bled Island. So don’t be surprised if you see a couple celebrating their big day here.

You’ll most likely see them on one of the 99 steps (from the 17th century) leading to the Church of the Assumption of Mary. If you do, feel free to show your support for the newlyweds.

Because, according to the legend, if the groom successfully transports the bride over all 99 steps, they will live happily ever after. No pressure, groom!

Bled Castle at sunset. Photo by Canva
Bled Castle at sunset. Photo by Canva

Bled Castle: The Oldest Castle in Slovenia

The impressive Bled Castle stands 130 meters above the lake on a steep, rocky cliff. You won’t have to look for it; it’s impossible not to notice it. By the way, it is Slovenia’s most famous and oldest castle, dating back to the 11th century.

Before entering Bled Castle, pay attention to the 400-year-old vine; it is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest vine still producing fruit. At this point, you will be rewarded with the most stunning views, as well as even more spectacular ones from the castle’s lookout points.

If you get dizzy from the height, relax with a glass of wine in the Bled Castle and visit museum attractions like the reconstructed Gutenberg’s printing press.

Bled: A Former Hit Health Resort

Nature and water truly heal, and the European aristocracy of the 19th century understood this. So, Bled used to be a popular spa and resort for wealthy Europeans, who began building villas around the lake. While strolling around, you will come across a few of them.

There will also be numerous cafes and restaurants where you can rest and recharge. But what should you try? How about a unique recipe that you can’t find anywhere else in the world?

Bled Cream Cake. Photo by Canva
Bled Cream Cake. Photo by Canva

A Recipe You Won’t Find Anywhere Else: Bled Cream Cake

It would be a shame not to try Bled Cream Cake, the city’s gastro-star.

This unique 1953 recipe can only be found in Bled. The cake’s dimensions are 7x7x7 cm, and it is characterized by a crispy crust and a soft cream.

Also, here’s a fun fact: 16 million Bled Cream Cakes have been sold in Hotel Park alone, which is considered the birthplace of the original Bled Cream Cake. That is enough to build an 8.25-meter-high wall around the entire Lake Bled. Crazy, isn’t it?

Postojna Cave in Slovenia. Photo by Canva
Postojna Cave in Slovenia. Photo by Canva

What Else Can You Do?

This part of Europe is truly blessed with natural beauty. Slovenia is a small country, so you will have plenty of time to see everything, as well as to visit nearby countries, which I guarantee are worth visiting.

While in Bled, make sure to visit Vintgar Gorge, Lake Bohinj, and Triglav National Park, as they are close by. I also recommend Postojna Cave, the most visited cave in Europe. It was a great surprise for me.

If you decide to take day trips to nearby countries, consider beautiful Montenegro; stunning Croatia and its DubrovnikAustria and its urban Vienna; or even Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is also rich in natural beauty.

Family-Friendly Lake Bled

If you’re visiting Lake Bled with children, here are some ideas for how to keep them entertained. If it’s summer, consider the Grajska swimming area at the foot of Bled Castle. It includes pools filled with lake water, as well as pools and slides for children.

However, you have to pay for Grajska, and if you want a free option, simply choose your favorite spot while walking around the lake.

Your children would also enjoy summer sledding and visiting an adrenaline park. If they enjoy animals, you can visit the nearby Zoo, Slovenia’s largest reptile zoo, where they can help feed the animals.

For younger children, there is a Dino park with large dinosaur models and a playground. And I believe that will be enough?

Lake bled in the summer. Photo by Canva
Lake bled in the summer. Photo by Canva

Finally: What’s Ringing at Lake Bled’s Bottom?

During your visit to Lake Bled, listen carefully for the sound of bells from the lake bottom.

But for you to understand what I’m saying, I have to tell you another legend. Hartman Kreigh, who was unpopular among Bled residents, managed Bled Castle around 1500.

One day, he disappeared.

Polixena, his wife, was upset; she had all of her gold and silver melted down to make a bell for the church on Bled Island. However, during the transfer, a large storm sank the ship and bell.

After that, Polixena moved to Rome and joined a monastery. After her death, the Pope ordered a new bell, which is now housed in the island’s church (Wishing Bell).

According to legend, the Pope’s bell now grants wishes, and Polixena’s bell can sometimes be heard at the bottom of Lake Bled.

Slovenians really do know something about tourism, don’t they?

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Katarina Marjanović

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