A reminder that Vintgar Gorge, one of the many attractions clustered around Bled, will soon be closing for the winter season, with the last days you can access the bridges and galleries to view this natural wonder being November 16 and 17 (2019) – this weekend. After that the only view you’ll be able to get is from the railway bridge, with the area closed until spring and the completion of any work that needs to be done before reopening, with that date usually being around the end of April or beginning of May..
Still, there’s plenty more to see in the area, including many other hiking trials, and details of those can be found on the rather slow loading page here.
Slovenia doesn’t have much of a coastline, just a small section between Italy and Croatia, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go scuba diving in the country. To learn more we got in touch with Matjaž Repnik, President of Diving Society Kisik - Oxygen (Društva Kisik – Oxygen), a PADI IDCs instructor and DDI instructor (for people with a disability), and part of the team behind watersports.si.
How did you get into diving?
My first step into diving start in 2010. It was simple – I just want to see bubbles underwater. Funny actually. Later after I finished my open water course diving become like an addiction. From that time I was driven to discover more and more and more. Over the last year I’ve been focusing on cave diving here in Slovenia.
What do you offer at Bled?
At Lake Bled we can take certified divers to a few interesting places. The lake itself in summer is lovely for scuba diving, since the water is 24°C and a 5mm wet suit is all you need for one-hour dives. Until recently Lake Bled was not on the world map of diving location, but since we’ve been offering trips there it’s become more famous, and now we get people from all over.
When you’re underwater in Bled there’s lots of catfish, pike and carp swimming around you. We have special place for diving there, very hidden, and it’s only used by divers who come with us. So far no one has been disappointed, and we get a lot of positive reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook. Night dives are also incredible there. Many small crabs are moving around, and of course big fish are much easier to see compared to diving in the day.
Some of what you can see in Lake Bled.
What if someone isn’t a certified diver?
For those we offer almost everything you need to get started. The first would be the Discover Scuba Diving program, which is actually most popular thing we offer at Bled. People visit the lake and of course they want to see what’s underwater. This program takes two to three hours, and you don’t need any previous knowledge of diving. We come with all the equipment, give a briefing, and by the end we make people wet and happy.
After that many people continue to the next level, the Open Water Diver course. Once you pass this you can become a PADI Open Water Certified Diver. This is a two or three day course, and after that you can go diving all over the world to a depth of 18m with another diver, and it’s easy to do, plus all courses are conducted by very experienced instructors. We also offer many special courses, which you can learn more about by talking to us, or telling us what you want, including technical programs for the most advanced divers.
How long have you been offering this at Lake Bled?
I was first one who start commercial operations in 2012. The idea actually came up a year earlier, at the local diving club, but no one was offering something for tourists. It’s still early days at Bled for diving, but the place has a lot of potential – it just needs the local community to realize that diving can become part of the tourist offer.
What do people need to bring?
Just a smile, water, a towel and a swim suit, the rest we can provide. Of course, if someone has their own equipment and they want to use it then that’s no problem, they just need to bring it.
What else can people do on the water at Bled?
Well, I should say that we don’t support fishing there, since there it kills too many fish, even catch and release. Sorry, in my opinion fish are nice to see, not to hunt. Swimming is possible all around the lake, and there are public beaches. You can also rent a boat or just take a ride on a pletna, the traditional Bled boat. Many people also explore the world underwater with a simple mask, snorkel and fins, but away from the shore you should always have a support boat.
How has Bled changed since you’ve been working there?
A lot, and the roads, especially in August, just can’t handle the traffic. Every year there are more tourists, and although that doesn’t disturb me it’s not so good for the people who live there. One problem, one of many, with mass tourism at Bled is it affects the water quality, as more people swimming there means more pollution, more suncream in the lake and so on, and this year there’s been a problem with green algae. There is an idea to try and develop a higher quality of tourism at Bled, not just mass tourism, but for that the area needs to offer more, and that’s something that diving can be a part of.
When is the diving season?
Business usually starts in June, and the busiest time is in August, when sometimes we just can’t serve all the people we’d like to. The traffic can be terrible then, if you come by car and not by train, so the best time to come is in the morning, for an 8am dive. For me the best time to visit for diving is in September, there are fewer people and the water is warm. People also come in the winter, when we do some dry suit specialty, TEC courses, and if there’s ice then we do ice diving and courses.
What other places do you dive?
Besides Bled we offer also diving nearby Lake Bohinj. There’s one unique and very beautiful diving place for advanced divers, in it’s a green area with lots of water and a slight current. We love it., although the lake itself is nothing special for diving, so we don’t do diving in there.
This week’s property is a home with options – a three-floor home in the village of Ribno with three apartments, great views and not far from one of the most famous and visited spots in Slovenia, Lake Bled.
While “holiday rental” is perhaps one’s first thought when looking at this arrangement – as each apartment is self-contained and fully-equipped – I have friends with older children and the same kind of property for whom this layout has served as a perfect family home, with enough space and facilities for privacy and independence, while keeping everyone close for communal meals and activities. That said, the house could easily be converted from three apartments to one large house.
Currently on the market for €360,000, the property is being handled by Think Slovenia, who describe it as follows:
Wonderful family home divided into three apartments in an elevated position and views on both sides in the picturesque village of Ribno, just 5 mins drive from Bled. This three-storey house is currently converted into three separate apartments each on its own floor, ideal for short or long term rental. The apartments are fully equipped and well looked after.
The ground floor apartments consists of a bathroom, kitchen, one bedroom and large living area. Large French doors in the living room lead out onto the large terrace overlooking the mountains, perfect for relaxing on hot summer evenings. The upper floor apartment consists of two bedrooms, bathroom, open plan kitchen with dining and living area and two balconies with stunning views over the village and mountains beyond. The middle floor apartment has one bedroom with kitchen, bathroom, living and dining area. An attractive 500 m2 garden surrounds the house and offers great mountain views. The house has been converted in a way so that if desired it could easily be changed back into a single family residence.
The village of Ribno offers various restaurants / bars and a bakery with an appealing secluded quiet atmosphere whilst being just a 5-minute drive away from the attractions and amenities of Lake Bled. The region gives opportunities for numerous summer and winter activities, from skiing and cross country, hiking, cycling, water sports on Lake Bled and Bohinj, or just relaxing, surrounded by stunning unspoiled alpine scenery. The highway is just 10 minutes’ drive, and with regard to skiing there are three resorts just 30 minutes away, while Ljubljana can be reached in 40 minutes. A great opportunity to purchase a spacious three-apartment house set up to make immediate rental income or as a permanent residence in one of the most sought after locations of Slovenia.
I’m looking for a three-bedroom place to move, and I love this one, but it's more than a little out of my budget. The high price is not because it's in Ljubljana, or on the coast, but rather in Bled, the site of Slovenia’s most iconic view, a place with fantastic holiday potential, and / or a base for an active career, as it’s still within commuting distance of Ljubljana, just 30 minutes by car and the same for Italy and Austria.
Note: the map shows the location of Bled, not the property
With three bedrooms and 1,360 m2 of land, it’s being handled by Slovenia Estates, who describe it as follows:
This is a newly renovated attractive villa in Bled with 3 bedrooms, garden, private driveway and an outbuilding. Located in a nice, open and sunny location with no immediate neighbours, the villa has recently undergone a major renovation.
Ground floor: Open plan living area with adjoining kitchen and dining area, all with terrific views across the fields to Lake Bled. There is also a WC on this floor. Access to the terrace and gardens.
First floor: Three good sized bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Air conditioned, heating by efficient Finnish radiators and pellet fireplace.
Lovely gated private driveway and parking for several cars. Older outbuilding that could be re constructed and used for gym/sauna area. Lovely gardens, and just 3 minutes’ drive to Zaka (Lakeshore) or 5 mins to centre of Bled.
You can see more of this, and many other properties all over the country, at Slovenia Estates.
June 17, 2019
Heavy traffic has become a problem at one of the main tourist destinations in Slovenia, Bled, which is why last year public transport was introduced into the area, connecting the village of Bled with Vintgar and Pokljuka.
Due to last year’s great success, an additional line has been introduced. Thus, between June 15 and September 15 (2019), green and blue lines will be in service for locals and tourists alike. A ticket costs one euro, and the ride is free for guests staying at Bled for at least three days and having a Julian Alps card for Bled.
May 9, 2019
Environmentalists warn of imminent drinking water pollution for people living in the municipalities of Bled, Gorje, Žirovnica and Radovljica, whose water source is situated at Ovčja jama water protection area in Pernik.
Water originating from Triglav National Park is, or rather, should be, among that with the best quality in the entire country. Nevertheless, water coming from Pernik now has added chlorine since contamination with faeces was discovered several years ago due to the spread of farming on Mežakla and cutting down of the forests.
This April, a passer-by noticed a loaded truck from a construction company from Kranj driving up in Mežakla and unloading what appeared to be construction waste soil into a sinkhole in the otherwise pristine nature of a protected water area.
Bled Environmental Protection Society immediately informed the relevant authorities. The same day an inter-municipal inspector managed to catch the driver in action, and prevent any further dumping of the problematic soil.
When a few days ago the camera team of the national broadcaster headed to the site to take footage of the waste, the owner of the land first almost ran over the journalists with an excavator, then jumped out and scare them away with a pickaxe. The journalists called the police while the landowner and his son allegedly spent the night in a psychiatric ward in Begunje, claiming insanity.
The inspector ordered the problematic waste soil to be removed by the company that brought it there, while special supervision of the company’s activities has also been launched.
The problematic soil, which includes plastic, plaster, adhesives, concrete, asbestos plates and asphalt, according to the Bled Environmental Protection Society, for now remains where it is. However, according to colourant marker studies, conducted by the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering of the University of Ljubljana, water from the problematic area in Mežakla can trickle down the karst floor to the drinking water wells area in a mere 13 hours.
If visitors to Slovenia go to only one place outside the capital then it’s almost certainly to the picture perfect, chocolate box location of Lake Bled, famed for the views of the church on the island, castle on the hill, and kremšnita on the plate.
While four hours is just about enough to do it all, if you move fast, a day is recommended if you enjoy walking in the open air, and two days if you really want to soak it all in and see a little more of what the site has to offer, which includes swimming in summer, skiing and ice-skating in winter, and fairlytale views all the time.
The list of essentials around Lake Bled is fairly short and obvious. You’ll want to get good view of the castle and island, visit the island, and eat a kremšnita.
When it comes to the lake all eyes are on the island, with the Church of the Assumption of Mary (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja). This was built in the 17th century and is approached via 99 steps that grooms are supposed to carry their brides up, with the island and Castle here being popular wedding spots. If no one’s getting married on your visit then do go inside and look around. You can also try ringing the bell three times for good luck, something you’ll hear others do throughout your visit.
You don’t need to pay to visit the island, so well done if you choose to swim there or bring your own canoe, but there is a fee if you want to enter the church and bell tower, currently €6 for adults, 4 for students and seniors, 1 for children, and 12 for families. Other places to explore on the island include the chaplain's house, provost's house, and a small hermitage – more than enough to make the trip across the water worthwhile, whether or not you have a wedding to attend.
The most touristy way to get to the island – not that there’s anything wrong with that – is via a traditional Pletna boat, powered by an oarsman who stands up (currently €15 return for adults, €8 for children), with these leaving from the Health Park, Hotel Park and the rowing centre (for more locations, see here). If you want to hire a kayak, rowboat or stand-up paddleboard, then Google will help, while if you come in winter the lake might be frozen, and you can simply walk or skate across (at your own risk, of course)
That said, you won’t get a good view of the island from the island, for that you’ll want to get up above the water. If you fancy a a short hike, of between 45 minutes to an hour in each direction, then three popular spots for this are the 611 m hill known as Ojstrica, or Osojnica’s two viewing areas, Mala (Small) at 685 m and Veliki (Big) at 756 m.
Source: Google image search
These are where you see a lot of Instagram shots, and you can find out how to take a picture like the ones above here. However, with about 90 minutes to two hours for the round trip you might want to find other options if just here for a short visit.
In which case, don’t worry, the view from Bled Castle is just as good. What’s more, if you’re really pressed for time then the short drive, bus ride or 15-minute walk up the hill will let you kill two or three birds with one stone – see the Castle, get the view, and eat one of those cakes, which we’ll get to, I promise.
The Castle, set atop a 130 m cliff, first appears in written records in 1011, and over the years the various owners have made their own changes to the property, making it the attractive mix of styles you’ll see today. Entrance costs €11 for adults, 7 for students and 5 for children enter (although free if you book a table at the restaurant), and inside you’ll find a museum, wine cellar, forge, printing press, chapel, knights’ hall restaurant, souvenir store and yet more impressive views of the area, which are not limited to those of the island.
Not every place has a “must eat” dish, but Bled surely does, and – as noted above – it’s kremšnita, which you’ll find everywhere. This is a truly delicious slab of custard, cream and pastry, perhaps best enjoyed with a cup of coffee. Another dish to consider, and before the kremšnita if you have enough time, would be fish from the lake.
If you’d like to make your own kremšnita, then you can see our recipe here. It failed, in part, but you can learn from our mistakes and / or simply appreciate the craft that goes into making “the real thing”.
If you stay longer, and there are plenty hotels where you can spend the night, then you can really explore the area. In this regard hikers are in for a treat, with many paths and trails offering stunning views in the surrounding hills, or you can keep close to the water and follow the 6 km trail around the lake.
Turning back to the lake itself,and season permitting, fishing is allowed, with Bled recently listed among the “ten best fishing holidays in Europe”.
While we’re on the subject of “best of” lists, golfers should note that in 2018 Royal Bled was added to the list of “best and most beautiful courses”, which is hardly surprising when you consider the views on offer as you walk from hole to hole.
Finally, if you’be spent a day or two exploring the area then consider taking a soak in one of the many spas in the town, with the water coming from the natural hot springs on the north-east side of the lake. In short, Bled offers much more than a cake with a view, and will reward visitors who choose to stay a day or two longer than most.
If you want to keep up with all the news about the area, including the things they don’t tell the tourists, then you can do that here, while if you want to visit the local tourist centre’s website to find out about the latest offers, then you can find that here.
FishingBooker, “an online community that enables you to list, find and book the best fishing trips worldwide” has released a list of the “10 best fishing holidays in Europe”, with Slovenia’s Lake Bled among the featured destinations.
As the site says in write-up of an area perhaps less known for its angling potential than its castle, church on an island, kremšnita and seasonal crowds:
Bled feels like a different world or maybe even a different century to most European holiday spots. Between Lake Bled’s island fortress, and the green slopes of the Julian Alps, the area seems almost too good to be true. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Bled every year to admire the serene beauty of this town. For anglers, Bled offers alpine, chalk stream, and freestone rivers full of four different trouts, all within half an hour of each other. And it’s not just about the rivers. Lake Bled is home to pike, carp, and even zander. All this, in one of the prettiest places in Europe.
The full list, in alphabetical order, is:
Costa Adeje, Tenerife, Spain
Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Herceg Novi, Montenegro
STA, 9 December 2018 - The lakeside town of Bled, one of Slovenia's top tourism destinations, is set to see another boom year in tourism, having broken last year's record as early as October this year.
Visitors to the Alpine resort have spent over one million nights in one of its accommodation facilities in the first ten months of the year after the one millionth mark was broken for the first time ever at the end of last year.
It was British visitors who spent most nights at Bled (177,000), followed by Germans (92,000) and visitors from the United States (67,000) and Italy (65,000).
Since many Italians tend to spend their Christmas and New Year holidays in Bled, the local tourism board expects they will overtake the Americans as the third largest group of visitors in terms of nights.
Tourism statistics are expected to improve further because Bled has also attracted many of the biathlon fans and athletes competing at the Biathlon World Cup opener on Pokljuka just above Bled this week.
Photo: Screenshot of Google Image Search
STA, 22 November 2018 - The iconic Alpine lake of Bled is to become even cleaner as the local authorities have purchased an electric vessel which will be used to clean the surface of the lake, removing leaves and various waste, such as plastic bottles and bags.
The floating electric robot has been purchased on an initiative of the rowers of the traditional Pletna boats, which are used to take tourists around the lake and to the picturesque Bled Island.
Funded from the fees that the local authorities collect from the various users of the lake infrastructure, the device is the first of its kind in Slovenia and this part of Europe, the Municipality of Bled announced on Thursday.
The vessel will be collecting various waste and debris on the lake surface and will cause no additional pollution, as it does not use fossil fuel.
Jakob Bassanese of the municipal utility Infrastruktura Bled, which will operate the vessel, said that this was yet another solution with the aim to contribute to the sustainable management of the lake, which attracts an increasing number of tourists.
The device produced by the Swiss company Grove Boats is actually a prototype, Bassanese said, adding that the vessel had arrived at Bled about week ago and that the initial tests yielded satisfactory results.
The remote-controlled vessel, whose batteries can last for two hours and which can carry rakes and nets of various densities, will be docked in the bathing area just below Bled Castle.
On Sunday, the bottom of the lake will meanwhile be inspected by divers in a campaign initiated by the organisers of the Bled Water Festival, a leading festival in the region in the field of water innovation.
Another campaign to clean up the bottom of the lake will be organised in the spring by the Slovenian Diving Association in cooperation with the local diving club.