Day 7 of our 10-country 10-night road trip from North Germany to Italy, and we arrived in Slovenia. Slovenia is relatively small, and surrounded by four countries – Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy. It is a country of fairy tale castles, panoramic views and a beautiful old town capital city.
We thought you may like to take a look at the three places we visited – Lake Bled, Ljubljana city and Predjama Castle. This way you can decide if Slovenia is the next stop on your European adventure.
We decided to spend the first day exploring the beauty of Lake Bled. We had seen so many stunning photos of the lake, and we were excited to finally see it for ourselves. And yes, it did steal our heart.
Where to Stay – We chose an Alternative to City Hotels – Airbnb Camping
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Ljubljana accommodation in the city is expensive so we chose to stay in a village 15mins from the city centre. We used Airbnb to locate a room for us. This is the benefit of having our own transport, we can save a lot of money by picking a location less in demand. Of course, there are time we do want to stay in the city centre, so the money we save can be used in these locations.
For us, it was a chance to finally to use our tent, pitched under a large walnut tree, on the property of the host. Murphy’s Law – a huge thunderstorm in the afternoon threatened for the rest of the day into the evening. However, we were committed to the tent and we did sleep soundly under the protection of the tree.
Greg was a great host with plenty of information of what to see in Ljubljana and Slovenia in general. A shared meal in the evening had us tasting naked sausages (Cevapcici), sweet onions with a type of bean (Prebranec), accompanied by bread and beer.
The Beauty of Lake Bled, Slovenia – It Will Steal Your Heart
Slovenia has so much natural beauty, a visit to Lake Bled in the Gorenjska region should always be at the top of your list. It’s here you can experience the picturesque back drop of the Julian Alps, the beauty of an emerald lake and the access to nearby Vintgar gorge.
Lake Bled is a resort town about 45min from the city of Ljubljana and easily accessible by taking an excursion from the city. As you enter the town and see your first glimpse of the lake, it will be hard to keep your eyes on the road ahead (if driving.) It’s now you’ll understand why it is one of the most photographed places by travellers.
A couple of ways to appreciate the lake is taking a walk, a hike or even a swim.
We always enjoy a walk and the promenade along the lake edge is easy to do. If you are feeling energetic, a walk can take up to two hours if you go as far as the canoe club area.
Now if it’s a swim to refresh yourself, we found two option. Sorry folks, no free swimming in the lake near the town.
The paid option for swimming is located in the lake near Castle Bled. But if you are after the perfect spot, then the western side of the lake is best. Plus it’s also the starting point for a hike up to the Ojstrica viewpoint.
Ojstrica viewpoint is a 30min hike from the western side of the lake. The hike is up a dirt track but the viewpoint will give you some of the best photos we have seen. Absolutely breath-taking.
Unfortunately for our trip, the thunder roared, lightning struck and the rain poured. Twenty minutes later it returned to blue skies, but the trail was too muddy to continue. The pic above is courtesy of www.TravelSlovenia.org.
Tip: 1: If you decide to drive to the western side of the lake, car parking is €10 per day (no hourly parking)
Tip 2: Watch out for grass snakes, apparently harmless, just a little squishy if trodden on.
To reach the island and the 17th century chapel, one option is to take a ride in a Pletna. The Pletna is a traditional flat bottom wooden boat dating back to 1590. While you enjoy the ride, the oarsman stands at the stern of the boat using two paddles. The pletna can take up to 20 people.
Now if you prefer to row your own boat, then this is also an option. With no motor boats allowed on the lake, it’s either you rowing, paddling a kayak, or taking a pletna to get you to the island.
The legend of the island tells of the groom carrying his new bride up the 98 steps of the tower to ring the bell. This will grant a happy life. Today the tower is closed to the public so this is another option.
Tip 3: Pletna is €12 per person
Tip 4: Row boat is €15
Sitting atop of a Castle Hill, Bled Castle is one of the oldest castles in Slovenia, dating back to 1011. It is an impressive structure with fantastic views of Lake Bled, Bled Island church and the mountain ranges of Karavanke and the Julian Alps.
The walk up to the old roman defence gate tower entrance is a little steep. But what you will find are panoramic views, some even from the window of the souvenir shop. Make sure you visit the small museum. It is very informative about the castle and the development of the Lake Bled area. Here is a short clip of the view down to the lake from Bled Castle this is from our YoutTube channel.
Tip 5: Car parking at the sports ground near the castle is only €2 per hour
Tip 6: Castle entry is €5 per adult
Bled Train Station
While people do come for the fantastic views of Lake Bled, you may be surprised to learn it was once the rail connection between the big European cities. It was the main line from the Hapsburg monarchy to Trieste, Italy.
The Karavanke-Bohinj Railway was a major feat of engineering built between 1900-1906 bringing tourists to the lake until WWI. The rail line is 6,327metres long with many tunnels and bridges on a steep terrain.
Tip 7: Parking here is free
The Beauty of Lake Bled, Slovenia Will Steal Your Heart and if you want to learn more for a visit then take a look at this website from Bled Tourism.The beauty of Lake Bled, Slovenia with its backdrop of the Julian Alps, the hillside Bled Castle and an emerald lake, will steal your heart.Click To Tweet
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