It’s been a while but I finally got around to compiling my second post about my trip to Slovenia in June (so many photos, so little time). After a couple of days in Ljubljana I took the bus to Bled, which I soon found I had mixed feelings about. The lake is breathtakingly beautiful and that is an indisputable fact, but the town is pretty touristy and the number of loud 19-year old backpackers around did start to get to me whenever I was in the town.
The trick is to zone out all the touristy rubbish and find the quiet spots it hasn’t quite reached yet. The real magic of Lake Bled is in the roads less travelled, the understated restaurants and the footpaths you’re not sure anyone else has found yet, and I want to share my tips for discovering them.
Get off the beaten path
One of the most surprising things to me about Lake Bled is how many people go there supposedly to enjoy the great outdoors, and then spend the whole time in the town or on the path that circles the river. There are several incredible viewpoints that you can reach via walking trails that are clearly signposted and not that difficult, but I can promise you that if you seek them out you’ll be one of the few who do. I spent a whole day hiking around the trails in the forest by myself and barely heard a human sound all day – walking into the noise of the town in the late afternoon felt like a shock to my senses.
When I was in Bled the weather had not been great, and rain had left the paths muddy and slippy. I half-ruined my Converse getting to the Ojstrica viewpoint (yes, it’s easy enough to do in Converse) but it was so worth it – I didn’t know this in advance but Ojstrica is where you capture that iconic photo of Lake Bled from above. Do you want to know how many other people were at this viewpoint when I got there? 6. And the two viewpoints I visited after this one I had all to myself.
Pick your restaurants
Slovenian food is delicious, but as far as I could tell when I was in Bled the town has gone the way of the tourist trap in terms of mediocre restaurants, so take the time to ask for recommendations or at least check TripAdvisor. I had a good pizza at Pizzeria Rustika with a glass of wine for about €10, but my favourite place was Grajska Plaza, a grill down by the lake that had gorgeous food, friendly waiters and perfect views. If you need somewhere to stop for breakfast, go to Slascicarna Zima, a cafe near the bus station that does great coffee and huge pastries and desserts.
Go on day trips
A lot of people just come to Lake Bled for a day from Ljubljana, or spend several days chained to the lake, but there are so many beauty spots to go to nearby. I spent 3 days in Bled and went somewhere different every day! The most well-known example is Lake Bohinj, just a 40-minute bus ride from Bled but a lot less busy and arguably even more beautiful. You can also visit Savica Waterfall, an incredible falls where the spray can hit you from 50 feet away.
On my other day trip I went on 3glav’s Emerald River Adventure into Triglav National Park, where the water is an incredible deep blue-green colour and in places clean enough to drink! I went on a full-day trip that featured mountain hikes to see the peaks of Italy, white water rafting on the Soča river, and a ride back to Bled on a car train from the most archaic train station I’ve ever seen.
Stay on the edge of town
The centre of Bled Town is a bit chaotic – it’s where all the big hotels are and there’s a main road running along the lakefront that’s busy with traffic throughout the day. The edge of the town, best classified at the area up the hill from the bus station, doesn’t have as much through traffic and feels much calmer, even though there is sometimes a bit of noise at night from the backpackers staying in the cluster of hostels. There are lots of cute houses that make it feel more like where the locals live, and it has the quickest route to Bled Castle. Don’t be put off by the phrase ‘edge of town’ – it’s only a 5-minute walk to the main centre.
Have you been to Lake Bled? Share your best tips in the comments!