A lucky competition winner and her travel buddy take a tour in the Slovenian mountains. In the first part of this four part series we journey to Bled for the start of a trip. So join us while we tackle snow, sweets and cycling in Slovenia.
The trip – A lakes and cities cycling tour of Slovenia from Bled through the Triglav National Park to Ljubljana including overnight accommodation in each location, cycling equipment and a map. Wish us luck!
Bled was first on our Slovenia trip list. This alpine hideaway is a real visual treat with the town sloping down the valley to the iconic lake and island. Bled Castle sits on high to one side, a silent guardian of the Slovene haven. This 11th century beauty is reachable by bus or the climbable steps and comes complete with a restaurant and history centre as well as its own wine cellar, forge and printing works. You’ll find an expert housed in each location around the castle, knowledgeable and happy to tell you a bit about each craft.
Bled was originally put on the map as a spa town after Arnold Rikli opened a retreat here in the 1800s and you will soon be able to see why. In a region long favoured by those who claimed the pure mountain air relieved their symptoms, the village has since reaped the benefits of the tourism industry, yet remains largely unspoilt. There is so much history here, but Bled still has the look and feel of an ancient town, and that for me is a big part of its charm.
Taking a wander around the lake will use about an hour and a half of your time (without rushing) and rewards you with some fantastic views of the island and central village. There is a rowing centre here and you will likely see rowers making their way across the lake as well as the pletnas that ferry visitors to the island, home to the bell tower and monastery. It truly is a stunning viewpoint.
Bled is the perfect place to unwind and the Slovenians take great care of their guests. One of the pleasant surprises was the use of produce locally available to each region for the creation of food and drink, meaning there was a new signature dish and drink to sample in every place we visited on our tour. Bled liqueur is one drink of choice and comes in a whole range of flavours – blueberry, pine, fig and honey, pear. They are all delicious, perfect for warming up weary bones after a day of exploring outside. Bled cake is the other dish to try. The portions are generous so unless you are an absolute cake fiend, consider sharing a piece with a travel bud.
Arriving by transfer into the lakeside town of Bled, the prettiness of the wooden chalet surroundings struck us as much as the mountain scenery. Bled is a sleepy town at each end of the tourist season and we got to experience the joyful feeling of having the town mostly to ourselves as we explored. The weather was unexpectedly cold for April and patches of snow still lingered in some sheltered spots. Never the less we found Bled to be as enchanting as its reputation, with the townspeople welcoming and proud to tell you all about their hometown.
Favourite moment? Due to the time of our visit there were very few around in Bled. As we first wandered around the lake, I remember a moment’s pause to admire the island. The bell tower rang out from the quiet. The smoke rose from the chimneys of the buildings there and the feeling of happy and simple life happening around us while we stood still in that pause of our busy busy lives, was so humbling.
Other things to do – Nearby Vintgar Gorge was closed due to the weather, but I understand is a worthwhile hike up to visit. There are also a whole host of caves, waterfalls and other natural hotspots to see and you can book day trips and transport from the tourist offices in town.