Our first real trip with a baby has finally happened! We spent a long weekend in Lake Bled, Slovenia and were absolutely blown away. I don’t think this would have been on our list of places to go had we not lived in Europe, but now this is definitely a place I will recommend to everyone. The water is so incredibly blue, and the water plus the mountains plus the castle made for an incredible view. But the food – wow I was so in love with the food – and the hospitality of the people there made this the perfect first trip out of lockdown.
Where We Stayed
Hotel Park – Absolutely recommend! It’s right on the lake, and waking up to that view every day was amazing. Perfectly located, so we never had to walk too far to get to any dinners. Plus, breakfast was included. The spa was lovely, the pool had great views, and this hotel is where the famous Bled Creme Cake was invented! The hotel’s outdoor restaurant/bar is across the street with amazing views of the lake. Go here for a slice of cake and a glass of champagne!
What To Do in Lake Bled
Walk around the lake
Of course one of the best things to do is walk (or run) around the lake. There are plenty of places to stop for a glass of wine, take some photos, or dip your toes in the water. Favorite lake walk drink stops: Vila Bled, Caffe Peglez’n (pictured below), and Cafe Belvedere (it was closed when we were there).
The hikes to the top are pretty intense, but the views definitely make it worth it. There were two right next to each other – Mala Osojnica or Ojstrica. Mala had some stairs and was 30 minutes long. Ojstrica was 20 minutes. We took the shorter route. Not sure if it was shorter because it was steeper, but the view was amazing!
One of the iconic views of Lake Bled is the Church of the Mother of God on the Bled Island. Take a row boat or a pletna (Bled’s version of a gondola) there. There are multiple places around the lake to rent a boat.
The church is really pretty, and you’re supposed to ring the bell and make a wish! Tickets to the church include access to the clock tower. There is a gift shop and a small cafe on the island as well. On the far side of the island, there are some steep stairs. The tradition is that the groom is supposed to carry his bride up the steps! We saw this happen (and wow those are a lot of stairs)!
Of course you have to visit the castle! To get there, you have to walk up a lot of stairs, or you can drive. There is an entrance fee to get inside, but there is plenty to do. Take in the views, visit the chapel, go to the museum, eat at the restaurant, and have a wine tasting in the cellar. You get a free glass of wine with your entrance ticket. Typically (pre-COVID), you could bottle your own bottle of wine and take it home with you, but that wasn’t happening while we were there.
Pro tip: If you want to go into the castle walls for free, go after 5pm when the castle itself is closed but the restaurant is open. It looked like an amazing restaurant and had a tasting menu!
There are plenty of places to rent paddle boards and row boats around the lake. Below the Hotel Toplice you can rent paddle boards and they’ll let you jump off their diving board after. There is a “swimming beach” on the far end of the island where you can sunbathe and walk into the water. Fishing and biking are also popular along the lake. There are also of day excursions for canyoning, rafting, and ziplining around the area.
Arnold Rikli brought spa/health tourism to Lake Bled, so spas and outdoor activity are a big part of the culture. The pool and spa at Hotel Park was amazing – definitely recommend, even if you don’t end up staying there!
Where To Eat
This was the perfect place to have our first dinner because it has a wonderful view of the lake. The wine was great, the service was excellent, and the food was good too. We ordered a bunch of food and had our first long lovely European dinner in a long time.
WOW this restaurant is an absolute must if you are in Lake Bled. Make sure to get the beef cheek and the grilled pork! We had one of my favorite meals in a long time here. You can also get a tour of the 500-year-old wine cellar. Again, excellent service, amazing wine, and a happy wine countryside vibe. Definitely, definitely recommend!
Another absolute must! The octopus with truffle was so perfect that I am still thinking about it. The outdoor patio has a great view of the lake, and made for the perfect lunch after our steep hike. Also, the chocolate souffle was amazing.
It’s not what you think! The chicken burger is so completely delicious…that we went back for lunch the next day to get another one. To be fair, we only had a ¼ of the burger the night before, and were still thinking about it the next day. The beef burger was also amazing. Whatever cheese and sauce that they use is absolutely divine!
Restavracija Vrtnarija (aka the Garden Village Restaurant)
This was a delicious farm to table restaurant that is part of a cool resort. For dinner, the menu changes each night and is a three course meal. You can choose your main, but the appetizer and dessert is included! It was lovely and fresh, had great wines of course, and even had a playground for the kids.
Overall, we had an absolute amazing time in Lake Bled! It had the perfect mix of outdoor adventure, amazing cuisine, delicious wine, and the greatest people. We can’t recommend a trip to Lake Bled, Slovenia enough!
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