When deciding where to venture for a break this summer, initial suggestions are unlikely to arrive at Eastern Europe, or more unlikely still, Slovenia. Not the most obvious destination for a holiday, yet that in itself adds to its appeal, as uncharted territory. Although most would then assume the capital Ljubljana as the only known city worth visiting, having taken a recommendation from a fellow interrailing group, we headed to the much quieter, picturesque town of Bled last summer. A popular tourist destination for Europeans, but relatively unknown to us, the prospect of bucking the trend of following the conventional route which most had seemed to take across Europe was an attractive one.
Sold to us on the premise of being ‘like the Lake District, but better‘, we arrived with the hopes of discovering an oasis of calm in which to spend a weekend, as a break between the hectic schedule of tourism and partying that we had left behind in Prague, and were to be reacquainted with in Hvar, an island in Croatia. Lake Bled certainly didn’t disappoint.
Located 22 miles from Ljubljana International Airport, the town which frames the lake is reminiscent of a medieval village, but fully equipped with modern day quirks. The appeal of the lake however, entirely eclipses the charm of its surroundings. Tranquil but impressive, Lake Bled boasts clear waters, with Bled Island sitting in the middle of the lake. Its beauty can’t be overstated. The island, upon which stands Bled Castle, a medieval church, is the best vantage point to appreciate the picture-postcard landscape, and the spectacular view. However, the island can only be accessed by rowing boat, gondola, or by paddle boarding, and so of course, we opted for the latter. Tucked away in the middle of the Julian Alps, in the winter months Bled also acts as a ski resort.
With cafes dotted along it, breakfast by the lake is a must, with the path around it providing an ideal walking route, taking just over an hour around the whole lake. Though Lake Bled served as a recuperation spot for us, the nightlife is also remarkably vibrant given the size of the town. During the summer it celebrates Bled Days, taking place around the 4th July weekend, which includes fireworks and concerts, with floating lights being placed on the lake. Hiking and watersports seem the most popular activities, with the lake being favoured particularly by rowers for its conditions, having hosted the World Rowing Championships in 2011. Lake Bled is also an access point to Triglav National Park, famous for its lakes and its romantic landscapes. Staying in a hostel, as we had done for most of our interrailing trip, had been relatively inexpensive too, though being a tourist destination, apartments and hotels are also in abundance in Bled.
So if you’re looking for somewhere a little more unusual to visit, whether it be as a detour from an interrailing trip across Europe, or just a long weekend away, you’ve certainly missed a trick by overlooking Lake Bled.