Bled, Slovenia, 3rd March 2019

April 10, 2019
Written by: Rob Slusar

After a day enjoying Ljubljana, we decided to head out to Lake Bled. You may remember we went here last summer, so decided a spring trip was worth it. I’m not going to lie, my intentions were purely photographic in nature.

Lake Bled

Bled is a well known alpine lake. Characterised by its clear waters, island church and mountain top castle, it is very much a tourist hot spot.

Last year we only really did a short flyby as were drove through the Ljubljana. This time however we were more touristy and enjoyed a long walk around the lake. We also took a boat out to the church in the centre of the lake, something we decided against last year.

It was a stunning day. It was warm, but not too hot. The skies were clear but not too bright. The mountain tops had snow on them, but the foliage was fresh with the greens of spring. It was the perfect day to have a wander around.

Unlike last summer, it wasn’t full of people out for their weekend break, so our whole time there was chilled and relaxing.

This time I was well prepared. I had my wide angle, my tripod (now replaced) and my ND filters. Wife’s blessing I was able to spend some time being a photographer rather than snapping away like a tourist. This yielded some pleasant photographs. Here they are.

The snowy mountains and the clear skies gave me a wonderful background all day.

The only thing that disturbed the water was the odd duck.

I was able to try some long exposure shots to soften the water. I have since upgraded my filter system.

Still waters and clear skies meant endless reflections.

The trees also provided natural framing for some of my shots.

Bled Island with Bled Castle in the background.

Bled Island

Located in the centre of the lake and accessed by traditional flat bottom row boats is Bled Island. Bled Island is the home of a church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and has historically been a location for pilgrimage.

The current church and its other buildings are believed to date back to the 17th century, reusing early Gothic frescos possibly from the 14th century.

After ascending the 99 steps leading to the church, you are invited to go inside (for a fee) to ring the bell and make a wish.

We picked up one of the boats at the lake side and were taken over in a small group where we spent an hour wandering around the island.

Bled Island as we approach on the boat.

The tower of the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria.

99 Steps as you get to the island. Tradition states that a groom should carry his new wife up the steps and into the church to ring the bell as it brings good luck and grants wishes.

A closer shot of the bell tower.

Inside the church.

A wider view of the pews, alter and pulpit. Not going to lie, ringing the bell was satisfying.

As we returned I snapped this shot of the island and one of the traditional boats.

Bled Castle

Bled Castle is a medieval castle perched on a precipice above the city of Bled. First mentioned in 1011, it is believed to be the oldest castle in Slovenia.

The oldest part of the castle is thought the be the Romanesque tower, with the other towers being added later. There are also a number of courtyards linked by steps and walkways.

This castle like others in Slovenia has undergone a lot of refurbishment. Whilst this refurbishment has been done tastefully externally, it has lots its charm internally, and this is where it lost me.

Most of the rooms have been re-purposed into shops. It really does feel like a money grab wherever you step and after having paid quite an expensive entrance fee it was thoroughly disappointing.

As a result, of its refurb and redevelopment, there wasn’t a lot to take pictures. Here are the ones I managed to take before i got fed up with it.

Bled Castle above the lake.

The view down from the castle courtyard.

The castle chapel. the only part which felt authentic to me.

The internal paintwork was stunning.

Final Thoughts

Lake Bled is one of my favourite places in Europe. It’s scenic and a wonderful clean and fresh area to take a walk around. It is however not cheap.

Parking for us was 5 Euro (10 in the summer), the trip on the boat was about 15 Euro PP, with the church entry being another 6 Euro PP. To be fair, that’s not grossly expensive in terms of a holiday trip, but the trips over to the island are rather short and outside of the church there really isn’t much to see. There is a small art gallery, but the art is an acquired taste.

The Castle for me was a real let down. As mentioned above, it has had it’s soul ripped out of it and replaced with money making ventures. It is a complete contrast to Predjama Castle, which is a great example of how a historic castle can be cared for without losing it’s history. If you go to the castle, you are only really going for the views. Everything else isn’t worth the entrance fee.

That said, Bled in itself is a wonderful place to go. Going to Slovenia and not going would be a massive miss in my view. Just Remember to take your wallet. I would also suggest trying their local cake. It is like a custard cream slice… it’s amazing.

This is my last report from Slovenia. I have some reports coming up, and an upcoming trip to Portugal, so keep your eyes peeled for reports.

Thanks for looking.


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