You’ve all seen that iconic picture of the beautiful church sitting atop its own little island surrounded by still water and snow capped mountains. This was the only reason that I wanted to visit Lake Bled in Slovenia. Then I started researching the area and I soon came to realise that this gorgeous piece of the Earth has a lot to offer. Let me show you why Lake Bled is the real life fairytale place….
We arrived quite late after driving from Venice to Lake Bled. It was late afternoon and the sun was starting to go down and the light was becoming soft and beautiful. We decided to head straight to the lake for the iconic shot of that church. Lake Bled is a small town so it wasn’t hard to find the lake or a car park. We jumped out of the car and raced around the lake back to the spot that I wanted to capture. We watched in awe as the top of the snowcapped mountains turned pink as the sun dipped behind them and the clear blue sky reflected on the calm waters of the lake.
It was such a calm and peaceful afternoon with lots of people walking around the lake and enjoying the view and the mild temperatures.
Once the sun was gone and the sky turned dark we headed off to check into our hotel in town and then ventured out for some dinner. We were recommended to visit Union Hotel for dinner where they grill meat and vegetables on an open fire. I had the turkey breast with mushroom sauce and it was absolutely delicious. The staff were super friendly it the place has a warm and inviting atmosphere. It reminded me of days spent by the open fire when I lived in the country as a young child.
The next morning we headed back to the lake for sunrise. It was another clear day so there was a beautiful pink glow in the sky again. After the sun had risen we found a bakery and got some pastries for breakfast. Bled is known for the best best vanilla and cream pastries. I was making the most of being able to eat pasteries for breakfast while being in Europe. It’s kind of a weird thing to eat for breakfast for us Aussies!
Then it was time to explore the amazingly beautiful Vintgar Gorge. I had seen pictures of this place about a week before our trip and was so excited to see it for myself.
We drove through some gorgeous little villages before finding the carpark at the start of the track. Being the start of winter it was a quiet time of year and there was only one other car in the parking lot. We virtually had the whole place to ourselves. It was also free to get in as Vintgar Gorge closes for the winter but you can still access the gorge quite easily.
On first sighting of the place I was in awe! The trees are covered in thick green moss, the leaves were still a gorgeous orange Autumn colour which were scattered all over the forest floor and the water in the stream was aqua blue.
The path through Vintgar gorge leads along wooden bridges that are built into the side of the gorge wall beside the rushing Radovna river. The river flows over cascades and rapids, and in clear pools it finds peace for a few moments. The Vintgar gorge ends at the delightful Šum waterfall, the highest river fall in Slovenia at 26 metres high. The gorge is 1.6km long in total and one of the most picturesque gorges I have ever seen.
The track can get a bit hairy in some spots due to the heavy snowfall that this area receives in Winter. Boards come loose and you have to balance your way across beams if you want to continue downstream.
Halfway down the track there is a beautiful bridge way up in the sky for the trains to cross the gorge. Right below it is a dam which is overspilling with water and creates a unique looking waterfall.
Further towards the end of the track there are gorgeous views of snow capped mountains in the distance.
And once you reach the bridge at the end of the track you can walk across the river to the other side and down a well worn path to view the gorgeous Sum Falls.
We were visiting Vintgar Gorge at the start of Winter. I can only imagine how stunning this place would be in Autumn, Spring, Summer and the dead of Winter covered in snow.
After lunch we took a drive to Lake Bohinj which was also beautiful. I’m sure during summer this place is absolutely stunning and full of people enjoying the crystal clear water with magical views of snow capped mountains.
Everywhere you drive in this country, the views are just stunning!
We decided to head back to Lake Bled before sunset as I was wanting to capture the lake looking amazing. There is a hike that takes you to the top of Ojstrica mountain which overlooks the Lake so of course I had to see that view!
To find the start of the trail, on the west side of the lake on the main road there is a wooden sign pointing towards Ojstrica mountain. It looks like a driveway but just walk up it. It’s quite wide at the start and then narrows down to a thin track. It is a really steep hike and turns rocky towards the top but it only takes about 20 minutes and the views are so worth it!
The view from the top is a magical place for sunset or sunrise. Again it was a clear day but there was another gorgeous pink haze as the sun drop behind the mountains. The walk back down is quite fun if you are there in Autumn or the start of winter. You can slide down on the massive amount of leaves that are covering the hiking trail.
There are also lots of gorgeous little bird that flitter amongst the trees and sing there beautiful songs. Keep an eye out for them.
Church of the Assumption of Maria
The next day we were up early again for sunrise. Again back at the lake trying to capture that perfect shot. Finally there was some beautiful cloud around and the sky went nuts with all shades of pink, orange, purple and blue. It was spectacular and I was so thankful to capture this amazing sunrise in this particular spot!
A little bit of history about the church that resides on the island in the middle of the lake. It is called The Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria and dates back to the 17th century. According to local legend, a young widow who once lived in Bled Castle had a bell cast for the chapel in memory of her husband. During the transportion of the bell a terrible storm struck the boat and sank it together with the crew and the bell, which to this day is said to ring from the depths of the lake. After the widow died, the Pope consecrated a new bell and sent it to Bled Island. It is said that if you ring the bell a wish comes true.
There is a massive castle that sit atop a hill and overlooks Lake Bled. Apparently these are some of the best views over the lake and mountain range. Its is 5 Euro to enter the castle but apparently the view from outside is just as good so don’t bother paying to get in. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to see Bled Castle. I will be adding it to the list for the next time I go back to Slovenia. There is a secret lookout to the right of the castle so don’t miss that if you are there.
To sum up my time at Lake Bled, I absolutely loved it and can’t wait for the next time I visit. It really is as pretty as you see in the pictures. The people are lovely and friendly and its a cheap place to visit also.
It was a complete surprise to me how beautiful this country is and I am keen to explore more of it.
Have you visited Lake Bled or Slovenia before? What was your experience like? I would love to know, so leave a comment below!