Discovering Lake Bled and its Underrated Surroundings

Lake Bled Slovenia

If you’ve already done a bit of research on Slovenia, chances are that Lake Bled was at the very top of your Google results list. This picturesque lake, nestled at the foothills of the Triglav Mountains and guarded by a majestic castle bearing the same name is popular for a reason. Its unique natural scenery with a small islet at its heart and a charming church towering from it makes it extremely attractive among travelers and photographers alike. After you’re done admiring Lake Bled, make sure you include a few lesser-known towns into your itinerary as well. There’s plenty to see in the area!

Discover Lake Bled and its underrated surroundings:

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled

Situated in the north-western part of the country, Lake Bled is an important natural attraction in Slovenia. The lake boasting crystal-clear waters is surrounded by lush forests and tall mountains peaks. Its waters are kept immaculate thanks to the restriction regarding motor-powered vehicles. Even though jet-skis and regular boats are not allowed (thankfully), you can still get to Bled Island or take a stroll in a rowboat or a traditional pletna boat. The latter is basically an oversized gondola, operated by a friendly, local oarsman. A return pletna boat ticket will set you back 14 euros.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

 

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

 

View of Lake Bled from Ojstrica

Right in the vicinity of Bled you’ll find two different viewpoints, both offering a spectacular panorama over the lake. Ojstrica is easier to reach and the hike upward is much shorter, albeit challenging at times. Mala Osojnica is a steeper option with a more difficult route, but from where you can enjoy an even wider view of the area. Due to lack of time and air of tiredness we opted for the first trail, which proved to be more than enough for us for that day.

Although the climb up to Ojstrica is short (about 20 minutes one-way), it’s pretty steep. Having one (or even a pair) of hiking sticks is not mandatory, but it’s more than welcome, especially on the way down. But don’t let this information scare you, because the hike is virtually available to anyone having a pair of stable legs, so just go for it!

hike up to Ojstrica for view of Lake Bled

View of Lake Bled from Ojstrica

Bled Lake, Slovenia

As you can see, the view from up there is more than rewarding. You can not only see the entirety of Lake Bled, but also can get a good glimpse at Bled Castle, Straza Ski Slope and the stunning Julian Alps serving as the postcard-perfect backdrop. And let’s not forget about that inviting little bench where you can catch your breath while enjoying the view.

View of Lake Bled from Ojstrica

View of Lake Bled from Ojstrica

View of Lake Bled from Ojstrica

View of Lake Bled from Bled Castle

For a different angle of Lake Bled, hike or drive up to Bled Castle, in the northeastern banks of the lake. The medieval castle is said to be the oldest in the country, offering an insightful glimpse at the country’s history spiced with a few souvenir shops. It also boasts quite an amazing view over Bled Island, the Julian Alps and the lake, while also providing a nice view over some quaint little villages in the area.

Bled Castle, Slovenia

Julian Alps seen from Bled Castle, Slovenia

View from Bled Castle, Slovenia

Bled Castle, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

view from Bled Castle, Slovenia

Julian Alps from Bled Castle, Slovenia

Practical Info:

Opening Times: Nov-March: 8:00 – 18:00 /  Apr-June & Sept-Oct: 8:00 – 20:00 / Jul-Aug: 8:00 – 21:00

Entrance Fees: Adults – 11 € / Students – 7 € / Children <14 – 5 €

Bled Castle, Slovenia

Radovljica and the Apiculture Museum

10 kilometers south-east of Lake Bled you’ll find the small town of Radovljica. This often overlooked village is a true gem, boasting extremely well-preserved buildings in its Old Town, which date back to the 15th and 16th century. If you’re in a hurry, it’s even worthwhile to stop and take a short walk in the city center to admire these wonderful architectural sights. If you have time, then you’ll find that Radovljica has plenty of unique attractions in store.

Radovljica Old Town, Lake Bled Area

Radovljica Old Town, Lake Bled Area

Radovljica Old Town, Lake Bled Area

Radovljica Old Town, Lake Bled Area

Radovljica Old Town, Lake Bled Area

St. Peter’s Church (Zupnijska Cerkev sv. Petra) is a lovely little attraction on its own, with meticulously-painted motifs and an inviting interior.

Radovljica Old Town, Lake Bled Area

If you wander to the outskirts of the Old Town area, you can get a glimpse of the beautiful Slovene countryside and a different view of the majestic Julian Alps as well.

Radovljica Old Town, Lake Bled Area

Radovljica Old Town, Lake Bled Area

But my personal highlight of our stop in Radovljica was the fascinating Apiculture Museum, situated right at the heart of the Old Town. I wasn’t aware that beekeeping had such a strong culture in Slovenia. In fact, apiculture is one of the oldest traditional crafts in the country, with many still practicing it today. This specialty museum gives a fantastic insight into the ins and outs of the centuries-old tradition of beekeeping. It even has a real-live hive inside, with an exit/entrance for the bees to encourage them to go out on their daily “hunt” for some pollen. All in all, visiting the Museum of Apiculture in Radovljica was a truly memorable experience, and I honestly recommend it to everyone and anyone in the area!

Museum of Apiculture, Radovljica

Museum of Apiculture, Radovljica

Museum of Apiculture, Radovljica

Practical Info:

Opening Times: Jan – Feb: Tuesday – Friday 8:00 – 15:00

Mar – Apr & Nov – Dec: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8:00 – 15:00 / Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday 10:00 – 12:00 & 15:00 – 17:00

May – Oct: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00

Entrance Fees: Adults: 3 € / Children: 2 €

Museum of Apiculture, Radovljica

Kropa and the Iron Forging Museum

If you venture further south, 26 kilometers away from Lake Bled and 12 kilometers away from Radovljica, you’ll enter the small town of Kropa. The tiny settlement with a population below 900 is another hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Kropa is set to impress with its rural flair and architectural jewels made up of beautifully-maintained country houses mixed with a few run-down homes.

Kropa close to Lake Bled

Kropa close to Lake Bled

Kropa close to Lake Bled

 

Kropa close to Lake Bled

Kropa close to Lake Bled

Kropa close to Lake Bled

Kropa close to Lake Bled

This architectural duality is what sets Kropa apart from the rest. Well, that and its long history of metalworking. Blacksmiths have been working with iron in this small village since Celtic times. As a matter of fact, furnaces have been built here ever since the 14th century! The town was known all across Slovenia as a metalworking center and has its own Iron Forging Museum dedicated to the craft. Similarly to the beekeeping museum in Radovljica, this specialty exhibit also surprised us in the most pleasant way and I totally recommend you to include it in your itinerary.

Iron Forging Museum, Kropa near Lake Bled

Iron Forging Museum, Kropa near Lake Bled

Iron Forging Museum, Kropa near Lake Bled

Practical Info:

Opening Times: Jan – Feb: Tuesday – Sunday 8:00 – 15:00

Mar – Apr & Nov – Dec: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8:00 – 15:00 / Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday 10:00 – 12:00 & 15:00 – 17:00

May – Oct: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00

Entrance Fees: Adults: 3 € / Children: 2 €

Other Attractions near Lake Bled

Located 6 kilometers north of the lake, you can spend a few good hours at Vintgar Gorge, the turquoise jewel of Slovenia. Lake Bohinj and its fabulous surroundings are a mere 30-minute drive away from Bled, offering the chance to see waterfalls and explore adventurous mountain trails.  If you’d like to venture further away, the capital city of Ljubljana will greet you with arms wide open, lying merely 56 kilometers south of Lake Bled.

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Lake Bled Slovenia

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