Take a trip through time with a visit to the charming, well-maintained village surrounding famous Lake Bled. The town of Bled is built encircling Lake Bled. This charming area offers much more than just another beautiful Slovenian castle. Visitors can walk around the cobalt colored lake, making stops at any of the numerous bars and cafes that line the waterfront. The paved paths around the lake make up 6 kilometers of mostly flat walking. On the opposite side of the lake from the castle, before the lakeside villas, there is an area of higher terrain which has some fantastic views. Once warm enough, people can swim in the lake.
The first time I was on Lake Bled was the day before lockdown, so most everything was already closed. When the government opened the country again on May 1, 2020, we decided to make a return trip. We drove forty-five minutes north from Ljubljana to see the beautiful Slovenian town again.
Be sure when visiting to take a boat trip to the nearby island which features a historic church and a fantastic view of the entire area. This tiny island sits in the middle of the lake, and is only large enough for the church that was built there. Visitors can take a boat to see the 17th century Church of Assumption. Wooden flat boats called pletna boats have been rowing guests to the island since the 12th century. Families of oarsmen pass their rowing craft down, generation after generation.
A walk up the hill to the castle in town also offers mountain views to the north and the beautiful water below. Views from the castle include the Julian Alps and mountain ranges of the Karavanke. The castle walk is uphill, which is a bit more challenging than the lakeside walk. The Bled castle is the oldest castle in Slovenia, featuring Romanesque walls and Renaissance buildings. The site is beautiful from all angles.
The castle dates back to 1004, when German King Henry II donated the estate to the Bishops of Brixen, which included the gorgeous and commanding Romanesque tower erected to protect the wall. The bishops built the first castle as a fortress in 1011. The castle was their residence for eight centuries. Then was passed on to the Hapsburgs in 1278.
Around 1500, the castle administrator was Hatmann Kreigh. He was an unpopular leader, and as a result, the farmers rebelled against him. One day, he disappeared, and no one knows for sure what happened to him. There are many who believe the farmers had their way with him.
There is a legend of lost treasure surrounding his reign and demise. After Kreigh’s disappearance, his wife took all the gold and silver from his chests and hired craftsmen to melt down the metals to create a small bell for the chapel on the Bled island. During the transport of the bell, a storm broke out and the boat sank. It is believed that the bell fell into the lake, and it was never found. When the Pope heard the story, he melted a new bell and had it sent to the island church.
Virtual visitors can explore the castle terrace and one courtyard online. Today the castle hosts museum visitors and boasts a famous wine cellar. The cellar provides tastings of fantastic wines from the area as well as demonstrations of bottling from the wine barrels.
During the summer months, Bled Castle hosts cultural events in the courtyard including a medieval historical reenactment. The terraces and cafes of the town are filled with costumed actors and excited people chatting and enjoying themselves and the beautiful area.
Bled is famous for the Bled cream cake Kremsnita, a vanilla cream-filled dessert topped with whipped cream. The gibanica is also a notable dessert in Bled, a layered cake made from walnuts, poppy seeds, cottage cheese and apple held together by filo dough and served with caramel sauce. Try it at Café Belvedere, which has the best views of the lake, church, and castle.
Wine Bar and Restaurant Sova also serves delicious foods with a fantastic lake view.
Get to Bled before noon to allow time to take a boat to the church island. The boats stop running at 5 pm.
Visit the castle at night for free. Bled Castle information can be found on the Blejski Grad website. There is also a restaurant on the terrace.
Bring hiking boots and a rain jacket because there is a lot of fantastic hiking to do, but it is a damp climate and rain falls regularly in the mountains.