After I finally plucked up the courage and booked my flights to Ljubljana in Slovenia, I knew the first thing I wanted to do once we arrived. Whilst there are so many beautiful sights and attractions in Slovenia, two were at the very top of my list. First was staying at the enchanting Kendov Dvorec Hotel in Spoonja Idrija and second was a day trip to the utterly gorgeous Lake Bled.
As soon as we touched down in Ljublana Airport, we picked up our hire car and made our way straight to the Lake. Located just 30 minutes north of Ljublana, this beautiful lake is so much more easy to navigate than I’d expected. I don’t quite know what I had in mind, but the roads in Slovenia are so well-kept and everything is sign posted. We parked our car, walked a few minutes and there it was – Lake Bled and Bled Castle.
At this point you can either choose to walk the 6km around the lake, or if like us you’re a little tight on time then get high above it for the best views and there is no better place for that than Bled Castle. Perched atop a steep cliff rising 130 metres above the glacial Lake Bled, this castle is according to written sources the oldest castle in Slovenia.
Once you’ve recovered from that steep decent (there is ALOT of stairs) and entered the castle (around 11 euros) the first thing you’ll notice (apart from the views) is a small gift shop, twelve meter deep well and a reconstructed printing shop where you can create your very own souvenir from the hand-printing machine.
You’ll also find a rather lovely outdoor cafe serving up light snacks and drinks. Treat yourself to a warm glass of mulled wine for your climbing efforts, then perch on the side of the wall and take in those views. I’d love to come back in the thick of Winter and see this place covered in snow – I imagine it’s magical.
Climb a little higher and you’ll find the best viewing point from the castle. Bring a little loose change with you too and look down onto Bled Island from the telescope and across the countryside to the mountains. The fairytale Bled Island is another place packed with history. The most recognisable symbol of the island is the Church of the Assumption which demands a 99 stone step staircase to climb. Once you arrive in the church you can even ring its famous bell yourself.
Climb even higher and there’s a whole other area to this castle you didn’t even know existed. Here you’ll find the castle forge, knights hall chapel and restaurant. The latter was closed for refurbishment when we visited but I’m told it’s not the tourist trap you may expect and actually serves up some of the best cuisine (and views) in Slovenia. I’m desperate to try it now.
On your decent back down to the castle entrance, stop by the traditional wine shop which sells some of this countries most highly regarded wines. This was my first time really getting to know Slovenian wine and their love for oranges wines, but I must say I’m rather converted now. If you ask nicely you may even be able to sample a glass or two.
And then I got the photo of my trip. The light was just right, the sun was behind me and the crystal waters of the lake seemed to have turned an icy blue. The perfect ending to our visit to Lake Bled and Bled Castle. All I need to do now is return in the Summer for a boat trip to Bled Island and in the depths of Winter when this magical place is covered in snow.