I must start by saying that Bled was my favorite city we visited in Eastern Europe, and Slovenia was my favorite country! Bled has an absolutely stunning landscape and peaceful small town atmosphere! Plus, there are many nearby excursion opportunities for hiking and bicycling. Slovenia is a very environmental country, with more than half its total area covered in forest. The lonely planet guidebook on Eastern Europe also touts Slovenia as one “of the greenest countries in the world.” Slovenia was the first place in Eastern Europe where we saw “No Smoking” signs, which was a nice reprieve, since many Eastern Europeans chain smoke. There were also recycling bins! If you’re looking for a romantic get-away destination with gorgeous scenery, outdoors activities, and hospitality, we highly recommend Bled, Slovenia.
Arriving in Bled
We arrived in Bled on June 5th in the late afternoon, having taken the bus from Ljubljana. We had a little difficulty figuring out how to get into our room at Hotel Astoria 2. We found the address, but there was only a gated residence, which didn’t look at all like a hotel. We found Hotel Astoria a bit up the road and the first receptionist didn’t even know what we were talking about when we said we had a reservation for Hotel Astoria 2. Luckily, the other receptionist on duty knew and gave us a key to our room, which was across the street at the address where we had thought it was located. Apparently, Hotel Astoria 2 is rented out to students during the school year and tourist in the summer. It’s more like renting an apartment, as it comes with a kitchen, and you don’t get to use the amenities at the main hotel. There was supposedly free WiFi in the apartments, but no one at the hotel reception knew the password.
We found our room, and then went to take a quick look at the lake.
Once we got back to our apartment George wasn’t feeling so well from the cold sleepless train ride we’d taken the night before, so I went alone to the grocery store up the street to find something to cook for dinner. I stopped off at Hotel Astoria along the way for directions, and was told that the store had already closed for the night and would be closed the next day as well, since it would be Sunday. I still went to check, and thank goodness the store was still open for one more hour! I was able to find makings for chicken noodle soup and orange juice. After a hot meal it was time for some much needed rest.
Walk Around Lake Bled
The next day, June 6, 2010, George had his energy back and we were off to see the sights! We started off at the tourist information office, where the staff was very friendly and helpful. After getting some maps and suggestions we grabbed kabobs from a stand near our apartment to eat by the lake, before starting our walk.
The lake, which is the focal point of Bled is breathtakingly beautiful! We finally had some bright clear weather, which made it all the more gorgeous! I’d be happy to sit for an afternoon just admiring the lake, with it’s little church topped island, castle on a hill, graceful swans, and adorable ducklings. But we’re not the type to sit around in a new city, so off we headed on the 6km walk around the lake, starting with the south side of the lake.
We skipped taking a gondola ride to the Church of the Assumption on the island since the ride cost 12 Euros per person. Instead we enjoyed strolling around the lake and viewing the church from all angles.
When we reached the southwest side of the lake we ventured off the main road to find the Osojnica Viewpoint. Our first attempt was unsuccessful and I realized we must be on the wrong path when it turned into a dried up creek bed.
Back down the hill to the main road, and on attempt two, we got it right. Follow the signs pointing the the left and walk up past the Sobe (guest house).
We met another couple coming down the path who said the view was well-worth the hike. So up, and up, and up we went. The hike only takes about twenty minutes, but it is very steep and strenuous.
As we came upon a sheer rock face near the top of the hill I wondered how we’d be able to get to the top, until we discovered a steep stair case leading up the rock. And then we reached a bench at the top, with a panoramic view of Lake Bled.
After taking some photos of the view we continued our walk around the lake.
We passed by a small beach and sun-tanners on floating docks on the the west side of the lake.
Then we walked along the north shore, until we found a path leading up to the castle.
It’s a short walk up the hill to the Blejski Grad (Bled Castle). If you have a car, you can also drive to the castle.
We bought our tickets for 7 Euros per person and entered the Castle. The view was nice, but not at good as the view from Osojnica Viewpoint. There was also a small museum, but our feet hurt too much to really enjoy it. After taking some photos we went to the restaurant on the lower level to get a drink, but the restaurant had just closed :(.
There is also a fancier restaurant that’s open for dinner on the higher level.
Overall, I thought paying to go inside Bled Castle was a waste of money. The castle is better viewed from a distance. It’s only worth it if you’re going there for dinner or there is an event going on. There had been a Renaissance festival in the castle earlier that day, but it was over by the time we got there. After the castle we had pretty much looped back around to our starting point. The Lonely Planet guidebook says that you can walk around the lake in two hours, but we took it very leisurely and made a half-day out of it. There is also a tourist train you can ride around the lake if you don’t feel like walking. But you’ll miss the viewpoint!
And then we were back on the East side of the lake, where we started.
More about Bled in the next post! You can also find useful tourist information on the City of Bled website.
What do you think of Bled, Slovenia? What’s your favorite city or country? Please share in the comments.
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