We have discovered that Sundays are very much still a traditional day of rest in a lot of Europe and Slovenia is no exception. Even with tourists about, the streets are quieter until past lunchtime, when locals begin to emerge, if they choose to at all. It’s nice, the city seems more peaceful, nobody is in a rush and everyone gets in some much deserved rest and recreation time after a busy week. Shop fronts are dark, because retailers also take Sundays for resting, and with a little sense and planning, you can purchase everything you might need from those shops, on Saturday. We try to take it easy ourselves, a set resting day is something we are completely on board with… Until one of us wakes up on Sunday morning, when we’re about to put a big tick on the bucket list, with a splitting headache and no where to buy any f***ing paracetamol!
Nevertheless, we persevere because the pharmacists and shop keepers are still tucked up in bed while we’re boarding a bus from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
After stumbling upon the fairytale-like scenery of Lake Bled during a holiday inspiration scour a year or so ago, we haven’t been able to get it out of our minds. So I wasn’t about to let a little headache stop us on our expedition. I rested up on the bus trip and concentrated on the scenery of mountains, pastures and adorable townships along the way. The pain seemed dull enough by the time we arrived at the lake so we went straight for the castle. We took the route which begins by the lakeside, it was an easy 15 minute trek up the cliff to 130 metres above the water, where the castle entrance is. Having arrived bright and early, we basically had the whole place to ourselves. We perched on the wall of the castle that over looks the lake and beyond. The views were just as we had imagined, beautiful. Though it seemed the climb and persistent breeze had bought the throbbing in my head back, and with a vengeance!
Feeling like crap, fearing the day ruined and on the brink of tears, Kieran came to the rescue just in time. Shuffling me into the castle restaurant to get us warmed up turned out to be the biggest success of the morning. We ordered green tea and a large slice of the famous Bled cream cake – like a custard square, only next level with the addition of a thick layer of cream – and it was absolutely divine! We had planned on sharing a slice on the lake, but this was just as lovely. There is probably some sort of rational explanation for the sudden departure of my headache after scoffing it down, but turns out tea and cake work absolute wonders when you’re feeling ill (feel free to reference this article if you ever need a reason to drink tea and eat cake more often). With a renewed spirit and excitement for the day we explored the museums, galleries, tower and wine cellar inside the castle before following the trail back to the lake.
Our absolute must do was to hire a rowboat and spend some time out on the lake. We chose the boat rental closest to the castle path, it is furthest from the lake’s island, but since you have to pay for at least an hour on the water anyway, the extra distance meant we made the most of it. There were less than a handful of other boats out, the air was so peaceful (except for the squeaky oars), and Kieran was buzzing, completely in his element after being off the water for so long. It felt like a scene from The Little Rascals movie, but the cheesy romance of it all had me smiling from ear to ear. It took about 20 minutes to row out to and around the island, the view of the cathedral from the water was enough for us, but you can dock your boat and explore the island if you like. We even had time to bathe in a little sunshine in the middle of the lake. Luckily for us, the weather held out and we only had the lightest sprinkle of rain as we were rowing (when I say we, I mean Kieran) back to the boathouse.
After a hearty lunch, washed down with local ‘Union’ beer (which is as cheap as cola) at the Vegan Public House, we still had enough hours in the day for a stroll around the lake. By now, a lot more people had come out to enjoy the fairly good weather and fresh air. Being off season, it was mostly locals and their adorable dogs! We took it very slow, wandering off the path, admiring the early spring flowers, taking the opportunity to get some great shots (the best photo stops are at the far end of the lake where you are closest to the island, looking back towards the castle and town), getting stones out of our shoes and just generally enjoying the scene for everything it was. We made it around in about 2 hours, but those with longer attention spans could probably walk it in an hour or so!
To end the afternoon the right way, we took the obligatory lake bled love heart photo, found a spot in the sunshine at the water side, and watched people (and dogs) go by until the sun disappeared behind the mountains. Perhaps a bit cheesy, but that seems to be our style! And who doesn’t love a little cheese? With that pesky headache creeping back and the chill of the evening air setting in, it was time to head back to Ljubljana to see where the evening took us. And in case you’re wondering, I managed to get my hands on some paracetamol after we landed back in London the next day…
Lake Bled Must Do’s
♥ Visit Bled Castle
♥ Eat Bled Cake
♥ Hire a rowboat
♥ Take a walk around the lake
♥ Snap some photos in the infamous Bled love heart
Bled is perfect for a romantic weekend, but would also be fun with friends or solo, there is something for everyone. It’s super accessible by public bus or train, you can even get a shuttle straight from Ljubljana airport. Depending on when you visit, you can go skiing or tobogganing on the near by mountains, plus there are loads of walks and hikes around the place. We missed Vintgar Gorge as it was closed for winter when we visited, but we will definitely be back during summer to explore that one.
Did you know Slovenia is the green capital of Europe? It might just be our new favourite place! Share your Slovenia tips and experiences with us so we can plan our next visit and check out all our best snaps from the trip in our Slovenia gallery!