Idyllic Setting around the Julian Alps
On our second part of this weekend trip in Slovenia after a nice experience in Ljubljana, the country’s capital; we visit what is perhaps the most known and famous natural landmark of the country, Lake Bled with its little island in the middle. Surrounded by castles, hills, pristine forests and lakes this area seem perfect for a fairy tale. And luckily the weather gave us a break with the sun shining and full clear skies for most of the day, something we cannot say from the rainy day before.
We rented a car upon arriving in Ljubljana airport the day before as we knew we would need it for our day out trip to the lakes and mountains. Reaching Bled via public transportation is not difficult in any case although it’s time consuming. Also remember that it is not only about this lake, but the many others and the nice mountains and landscapes you can only reach if you have your own transportation to be fully flexible.
After Bled you can head towards Bohinj, another beautiful lake surrounded by high mountains around. And other than this, unless you want to continue exploring mountain villages, other lakes and overall nature, you can head to Trieste in Italy, not far away anymore.
That’s what we “tried to do”, and thankfully did. As mentioned in Ljubljana travel guide, I describe here our “almost dead experience”. Well, basically after Bohinj, we set the navigation system to guide us to Trieste. It automatically got the shortest route in order to reach the motorway. Easy to say, but that was a dead end trap. It took us higher and higher into the Julian Alps where the snow kept appearing more and more until we eventually came to the point where a huge wall of snow and ice was blocking the road stranding us with no space to manoeuvre. On the left side the mountain wall, on the right side a massive cliff, ahead of us a wall of snow and on the road, ice. Adding to the situation, the outside temperature of -13! Where down below from where we started to ascend was +15 Centigrade.
How to turn the car was the scariest part. The car started to slide backwards because of the ice in the road. Just centimetres to spare in the road then the vertical drop of some hundreds of metres. Moments of panic, we took off our seat belts, open the doors just in case we needed to jump out for safety, and millimetre by millimetre turning the car. Around half an hour or even longer is what it took to finally completely turn the car around. All in, and back the same way we came. Night falling ahead of us, rushing to get down as quick as possible, but we managed it. Reset the navigation system for the longest way, and 3 hours behind schedule we arrived into Trieste. Just in time to have one of the best pizzas ever! After such a scary experience, food came from heaven.
For further information about Bled visit Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Slovenia’s currency is the Euro (EUR). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Bled and Bohinj
- Bled Castle Perched on a hill overlooking the lake is a nice place to go and get great views of the lake and nearby area.
- Bled Lake and Island On an idyllic location is the landmark site in this area and one of the most famous tourist spots in Slovenia itself. You can reach the island by small wooden boats from the pier in the lake but beware they will quote you very high prices and boats do not even leave until enough people is inside. Once in the island you can climb the 99 steps up to St. Martin’s Church. We opted not to take the boat as we were the only tourists wanting to go for what they quoted us a ridiculous high price. Instead we drove around the lake getting much better views of the island.
- Bohinj Lake Not far from Bled is this smaller lake, absolutely deserted from any tourist. The whole beauty of the place for your own, but don’t take my words literally. I can imagine during high season months this would be totally different story with people even bathing in the crystal clear waters.
Hourly buses, on the hour, depart from Ljubljana bus station, taking approximately 75 minutes to arrive in Bled. It costs around 8 Euros per way. Another option is by train, but the train station in Bled is 4km away from the lake, for which you will need to take a local bus between the train station and the lake costing 2 Euros per way.
Depending on public transportation means that you will only be able to visit Bled Lake and nothing else. I would not even know how can you move between Bled and Bohinj and back and then having to come back to Ljubljana and all in one day. It would be too long time consuming, while if you have a rental car you are free to explore not only those place but the many more nearby.
Our base was in Ljubljana therefore we cannot recommend any place in Bled. Yes, surely there is a large hotel by the lake where we had a nice cake but do not expect it to be any cheap nor competitive in price. From the location, facilities and the lack of other hotels nearby that says everything. Prices are high in this area no matter if during the low or high season. But in the other hand, if you are a weekend traveller, why would you want to spend the night here where you have nothing else to do?. The best choice with difference is to be in the capital city. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.