Thoughts on Bled

Bled is beautiful.

Let’s get that out of the way first: Bled enjoys a setting that is one of the most naturally photogenic in Europe – it’s just a fact.

So why didn’t I fall in love with it?

Lake Bled day trip

The problem with Bled

The problem with Bled is that its reputation proceeds it – we’ve all seen the spectacular photos of the crystal blue waters, Alpine backdrop and charming church on the impossible island in the middle. But the fact is, because you are getting exactly what you expected, it’s hard not to feel a little bit disappointed if you arrive on an even slightly overcast day, like I did.

Lake Bled day trip

Now don’t get me wrong: I liked Bled. I really liked Bled and the weather was actually far better than forecast (which was basically heavy rain all day). And yes, after hiking, scrambling and all-but-crawling to reach the Ojstrica look-out point, I almost gasped at the view below – but I just couldn’t shake the sense of lingering disappointment that my photos wouldn’t match up to others I’ve seen.

I always try reminding myself that the one thing we can’t control is the weather but when the setting is so recognisable, I think it takes a cloudless blue sky to really wow you and leave a lasting impression.

Basically: while it might be petty, it might be a bit shallow, I wanted to take photos of the same incredible sight I’d seen a hundred times.

However, all was not lost and I had a really nice, active day.

Things I did in Bled

Cycling around Lake Bled – the whole circumference around the lake is around 4km and the path is well-suited to cycling. However, it is narrow in places, so make sure to get a bike with a bell to warn the very many pedestrians (and even with a bell, they probably won’t actually get out of your way, so be prepared to mow a few down…)

Lake Bled day trip
View from Ojstrica viewpoint

Ojstrica viewpoint – the path to this lookout point is pretty challenging, particularly near the top, but it’s well worth it to take in the amazing scenery and the alpine backdrop. Look out for signs around halfway around the lake. And be prepared to sweat as you hike, climb and crawl to the top.

Things to do near Bled: Vintgar Gorge

Vintgar Gorge – not far from Bled you’ll find Vintgar Gorge, a beautiful natural canyon with a fast-flowing river. The area was inaccessible until a German entrepreneur built a series of wooden walkways into the rockface in 1893, creating a really beautiful and unique walk through the gorge.

Things to do near Bled: Vintgar Gorge

Things to do near Bled: Vintgar Gorge

I would 100% recommend biking from Bled to Vintgar Gorge through the peaceful Slovenian countryside. It’s around a 7km-round trip through Slovenian fields and a small village. The route isn’t too challenging, but you might have to dismount at the last hill (there’s no shame in it!).

Things to do near Bled: Vintgar Gorge

I took a lot of photos of the gorge.

Things to do near Bled: Vintgar Gorge

Things to do near Bled: Vintgar Gorge

Things I didn’t do in Bled

There were a few things that I didn’t do whilst in Bled.

Lake Bled day trip
The island with the castle in the background

The castle – I’m actually a bit gutted about this one as Richard at A Bit of Culture sells it so well here. I’ve heard the views are excellent over the lake, but with the bike in tow, it seemed a bit of a stretch to hop off for a quick hike.

Visiting the island – it might seem a bit strange to go all the way to Bled to see the beautiful island in the lake and then not visit said island, but I took the advice of Jessie on a Journey here who suggested it might not be worth it.

Sampling the famous cake Kremna Rezina – I have no excuses. I should have eaten the cake.

The giant toboggan – Yes, Bled is home to a giant toboggan. You can actually see it for miles. It zig-zags down the side of a huge hill and I have to admit, looks like a hell of a lot of fun. So why didn’t I give it a go? To be honest, I was feeling a bit lonely and the activity definitely struck me as something that would be a million times more fun with a friend. *Sad face*

Yeah, this doesn’t look fun at all…

The verdict

I definitely did not hate Bled. I was disappointed with the weather, yes, but even I was not immune to the beauty of this place.

However, Bled definitely feels like a day-trip destination to me (most easily from Ljubljana). Admittedly, there’s plenty in Bled that I didn’t get time to see or do, but even so, I think you could fit most things into a well-organised day from the capital. After all, the town itself is very small and there’s no historic centre to busy yourself in.

My advice? Plan to spend a few days in and around Ljubljana/Slovenia and choose the day with the best weather to visit Bled.

10 thoughts on “Thoughts on Bled

  1. Slovenia is still on my bucket list, and the more I see photos like this the more I feel I need to get there NOW! I could probably stay there for a small eternity, looks like a real dream destination for me. Loving this, John! Greetings to all peeps in the office! 🙂

  2. Your photos are very beautiful and even though the weather wasn’t as you hoped, there are far too many photos of Bled with a clear blue sky, so yours are more special 😉 The gorge looks so awesome, I need to visit it when I go to Slovenia (whenever this will be…). I can’t see the video of the toboggan (it’s blocked at work *eye roll*), but it sounds like a lot of fun. 😀

  3. There’s no excuse for not having the cake. 😉

    I’ve been twice now – once on a perfect day trip from LJ in summer, and again for 4 nights one October. The weather was a mixed bag – plenty of rain and a couple of hot, sunny days. As Vlad says, there are too many sunny photos of Bled so it was good to see it on a grim morning too.

  4. So interested to read your take on Bled, I’ve still not written up about my trip not long after you and a little bit because of the same reasons – though we were there two nights and still wall to wall cloud! I thought it was a really nice place but somewhere that’s really weather dependent and a bit disappointing when you don’t get the weather to match all those fab Pinterest pics!

  5. Can you really do ALL those hikes, and the castle visit and the walkway around the lake in a single day trip? Seems like a LOT of miles!

    1. Definitely! I arrived at around 11/12ish midday and had time to eat, cycle around the lake, hike to the view point, cycle to the Gorge, hike along the gorge and cycle back in just a few hours. Adding the castle would be an easy addition.

  6. We went there as part of our Road-Trip. The weather was fine but everyone was tired from the ride so we let the day slip away. I had difficulties getting everyone out of bed the next morning, by the time we made it to the lake it was noon and most of us were dying from the heat. I tried to get a few of my travel companions to cycle around the lake but we ended up walking instead (which was nice!). I just wish I would have forced somebody to visit some of the viewpoints (totally missed out on them). The castle on the hill to the right side of the lake was being renovated at that time so we didn’t really get to see Bled Island from above. I promised myself next time I am here I will spend a) more time and b) be less dependent from other people. Nevertheless I enjoyed Bled a lot. I can absolutely relate to the overcast problem 🙂

    1. That’s such a shame Suzanne, it can be a nightmare travelling with people who have different priorities to you. Hopefully you can go back soon!

  7. I am glad I finally read that another person was underwhelmed with Bled. We just got back and I’ve been on a quest to find someone who wrote anything other than “breathtaking” “amazing” “must-see”. As a fellow expat (living in Germany, actually), I thought maybe I was just being snooty – being fortunate enough to see lots of beautiful places. Hindsight being what it is, I wish we would have either booked a day trip to also do the gorge and caves, or biked to the gorge or really done anything that would have spiced up the day a bit. Oh well, next time 🙂

    1. I’m pleased you agree Anna! I do think Bled is really beautiful, but it feels a bit disappointing to realise that maybe that’s all it is – nice to look at. It certainly isn’t the most beautiful place in the world like some bloggers suggest… at least in my opinion. I wonder if opinions will gradually change with so many positive things already being said?

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