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?
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.
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…)
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.
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.
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!).
I took a lot of photos of the gorge.
Things I didn’t do in Bled
There were a few things that I didn’t do whilst in Bled.
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…
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.