In Photos: A (Damp) Day At Slovenia’s Lake Bled
Written by Jaillan Yehia
When we travel we always hope for picture-perfect weather, and seek out postcard-worthy images, but perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing that I visited Slovenia’s most famous lake, which has a reputation as an Alpine fairytale location, on a day when the weather was wet, and the area shrouded in mystical clouds – meaning it was almost bereft of tourists despite being high season.
So no classic holiday brochure blue skies and sunshine in these shots, but instead an atmospheric photographic journey in and around Lake Bled. If you’re still happy to come along maybe bring a brollie…
When I booked myself onto a scenic Slovenian day tour enticingly entitled ‘the Alpine fairytale tour‘ in early summer I had in my mind an idea of being blessed with blue skies and sunshine, perfect for taking photos of the emerald green storybook lake, which I could then publish here to show everyone Slovenia’s natural beauty.
But as anyone who travels knows, things don’t always turn out as planned, and on the day I visited the Gorenjska region conditions weren’t ideal for either sightseeing or photography.
Still, one of the best things about Slovenia as a tourist destination is just how accessible everywhere in the country is from the capital city of Ljubljana so I joined the small group with Roundabout Tours and took the 55 km journey to Lake Bled in the early morning, hopeful that the clouds would recede and the sun would make an appearance.
Even if, like me, you’re here purely on a city break, you can easily get a taste of the Slovenian countryside in one day, visit the country’s foremost tourist attraction, Lake Bled – and be comfortably back in the city in plenty of time for a slap-up dinner.
As a starting point on my day tour of Slovenia’s Gorenjska region, we stopped in the charming and perfectly preserved medieval city of Skofja Loka, just 25 km from the capital.
Even the wet weather couldn’t detract too much from how picturesque this old city is, and I loved the little details of lovers’ padlocks on the bridges over the Poljanska Sora and Selška Sora rivers – and found the raindrops added an unexpected moody touch to the scene.
Of course the real highlight of the day is a visit to Lake Bled itself. As the most famous tourist destination in the country it was perhaps fortunate that I visited on a damp day – the tourist hoards that usually define a popular European lake town in summer were not in attendance and myself and my small group pretty much had the place to ourselves. Well, unless you count the ducks.
In fact for a view of the birds, being lakeside can’t be beaten but the best place to get a real birds’ eye view of the lake itself, along with both the Julian Alps and Karavanke mountain ranges, is from the terraces of Lake Bled’s Castle.
Bled is one of Slovenia’s oldest castles dating back to at least 1011, but as well as giving you a decent sense of history including interactive touches like an original working printing press, the castle also has some great 21st century highlights.
On a dark and wet day, it was a welcome discovery to come across the castle gift shop with these colourful souvenirs.
And perhaps the most memorable aspect of the day was hearing the story of the Church of the Assumption on Bled Island – this unbelievably romantic church perched on a tiny island in the middle of Bled Lake is a popular spot for Slovenian couples to get married.
According to our guide Tom there are 99 steps from the water to the altar, and legend has it that if the groom can’t carry his new bride up all of them, she has the option of sleeping with the boatman.
My main thought on hearing this story was that jobs as a Lake Bled boatman must be highly prized – but I barely had time to finish sniggering or thinking up more gags about the story before we were whisked off to a traditional restaurant for a really tasty and authentic lunch.
The cheeses, fish and vegetables were all incredibly homely and satisfying – and to keep things interesting we ordered a multitude of dishes as a group and this way we were able to try a variety of Slovenian staples.
During our day exploring the region we stopped briefly in a number of pretty spots – many of which I couldn’t hep but feel would shine in the sun, but were still undeniably attractive despite the dull light.
And of course inside Slovenia’s churches the weather is of no importance, as you can see from this altar in the Church of St. John The Baptist in Bohinj.
Back on the lake, I must admit we eschewed the option to go for a boat rode on one of the undeniably pretty Lake Bled boats, mainly because we all knew from experience that a boat ride in the rain can be a rather grim experience, and perhaps also because we thought the boatmen might be grateful for a chance to rest before the next wedding and save their energy for any duties they may have there.
And I can happily conclude that weather of any description is absolutely no barrier to enjoying the best bit of a trip to Lake Bled – trying the Cream Cake or Blejska kremna rezina at Vila Preseren, which is to Lake Bled what Sacher Torte is to Vienna, and well worth the journey all by itself.
For a small and relatively newly established nations, Slovenia has a well developed and reliable tourist industry and no shortage of organised tours of the country’s highlights.
Travel Slovenia run daily half and full day tours to the Lake Bled region of Slovenia including a visit to Skofja Loka, Lake Bled, Bled Castle (entrance fee not included) and a boat trip, plus a chance to try the famous Lake Bled cream cake or Blejska kremna rezina.
The Alpine Fairytale Tour of Lake Bled starts from €39 per person for a minimum of 2 people.
The same company also runs walking tours of Ljubljana for €10, Get Your Guide runs a similar 2-hour tour of Ljubljana which I tried for myself, and if you’re on a tight budget you can try the daily and well-known Ljubljana free tour.
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