Thanks to my work writing guidebooks and leading tours for Rick Steves, I’ve been to Slovenia’s Lake Bled maybe 20, 25 times. (I know, I’m spoiled.) And each time, it’s a treat.
Tucked in alpine foothills, Lake Bled is a magical spot. You can walk around it in about an hour and a half…or double it, if you’re a shutterbug. On one side of the lake, limestone cliffs rocket up from the water — the perfect perch for a castle.
Across the lake, a forested hill is topped by a high-speed luge ride. No motorized engines are allowed on the lake — just rowboats…and Slovenia’s Olympic crew team.
And in the middle of the lake is “Slovenia’s only island,” with a picturesque chapel. To reach it, you have to hire a local pletna boat to row you out, and then hike up a stony staircase. The local custom is for newlyweds to come out to the island so the groom can carry — or try to carry — his bride up all 99 steps…thereby proving himself “fit for marriage.”
In just a few weeks, I’ll be in the Austrian Alps and the Italian Dolomites. And frankly, I’m a little worried about the weather. I’ll be there in early May, when thick, dark clouds and persistent rain can make you wonder why you bothered to make the trip. More than once, I’ve taken a cable car up to a mountain summit…and found myself inside a cloud. No fun.
But somehow, Lake Bled is magical in all seasons and in all weather. I’ve been there in brilliant sunshine, in overcast gloom, and in torrential rain (so heavy that I watched a gutter back up and flow through the sliding glass doors of my hotel). And no matter what, Lake Bled never disappoints.
Here’s a quick photo essay of some of my favorite visits to Lake Bled over the years. As you’ll see, the scenery is never quite the same twice — but it’s always majestic.