Lake Bled is approximately 45 minutes’ drive from Ljubljana. The lake has become internationally recognisable for its small island on top of which sits the Church of Assumption. I’ve been to Bled many times, both on day trips while staying in Kranjska Gora, as well as staying at the Grand Hotel Toplice, which overlooks the glorious lake, on three occasions.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Grand Hotel Toplice in three stages of its life. The first was some 15 years ago, prior to its renovation. The hotel was tired but there was no getting over the fact it benefited from the most superior view in town. Just over a decade ago the hotel was renovated. Everything was in keeping with the style of the hotel but its glamour had been well and truly restored. Unfortunately, my most recent visit, last year, found that some of the furniture had seen better days and wallpaper was peeling off the walls in parts. However, what hasn’t changed is that fantastic view. Free parking for guests is a great bonus and means you can take day trips to the likes of Postojna, Bohinj and Ljubljana.
The breakfast at the hotel is excellent too and will set you up for a day of sightseeing, particularly if you’re planning on doing some hiking. You can choose from various types of fresh bread rolls, cheeses including skuta (similar to cottage cheese but better), hot dishes like scrambled eggs, multiple types of sausages and very garlicky and crispy bacon. There’s even a waffle station. The fine dining restaurant is worth checking out one night too. Though there’s some excellent restaurants nearby. Restaurant Ajda does some wonderful traditional dishes included Strukli. While a visit to Bled is not complete without popping into Hotel Park for a slice of kremšnita – a layer of flaky pastry, topped with a layer of cream, a layer of custard and more flaky pastry, with a liberal shaking of icing sugar on top.
In terms of weather, if you go in the winter, expect snow and there’s potential for the lake to freeze over. In the summer days are generally warm, while nights cool down a little, so it’s good to pack a sweater. Be aware there can be some epic thunderstorms; the last time I visited one knocked the power out to part of the town. Always be prepared and carry a raincoat and umbrella. Don’t go walking in the mountains during a thunderstorm.
If you only have a couple of days, or even just a day to visit Bled, you must try to cram the following in:
1) Walk to Bled Castle and on route, stop off at St Martin’s Church
2) Take a Pletna boat to the island, climb the 99 steps and ring the bell of the Church of Assumption
3) Visit Restaurant Ajda and try their savoury strukli
4) Pop into Hotel Park for an afternoon snack and feast on the kremšnita
5) Walk around the lake (9km) and enjoy the beautiful architecture and fresh air
Useful websites for planning your trip: