A couple of weeks ago I was headed to Ljubljana, Slovenia, for work. It’s a trip I do often and was thankful to still be able to do it during these times.
But after three weeks in gritty East London, with its usual noise and concrete chaos, I was craving some green spaces and tranquility.
Therefore, instead of staying in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana (which is very pretty especially down by the river), I opted to spend the week by Lake Bled, and commute in. It was the best decision I could have made.
Lake Bled, is a stunning glacial lake about an hour north of Ljubljana. It is seriously photogenic from every angle, but more than that is it remarkably relaxing and peaceful – just what the doctor ordered.
There’s plenty of active things to do in the area, hiking up to Mt Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain, walking the wooden bridges past waterfalls along Vintgar Gorge (Vintgar being the Slovenian word for gorge, so this translates as gorge gorge), cycling nearby, swimming in the Lake, taking a dip in the thermal springs.
I was there on a work trip so not so much time for all that, but did manage to sneak in a few walks and runs around the Lake. And wow, spending any kind of time around this lake is life affirming, it is breathtakingly beautiful. In fact, I strategically decided to walk around the lake (circa 6.5km) to take all the beautiful pictures before attempting a run around – as you just want to stop and soak up the majesty of the place when you go around every corner for the first time.
There’s a beautiful church on the island in the Lake – you can take a boat to, and Slovenia’s oldest castle dating back to 1011 atop the hills overlooking. It has a fab restaurant and wine cellar if you fancy splurging.
Velika Zaka on the North side is a popular spot for bathing and is also a great place to grab a drink and soak up the scene, it is one of the most Instagramable spots by Lake Bled by all accounts. Here’s my obligatory post from last year.
The water is crystal clear and designated excellent bathing water quality, the water was pleasantly warm when I was there around 21-22°C/ 70-72°F but apparently reaches 26°C/78°F in peak summer.
There are plenty of places to stay in the area, not all are open right now, but that’s more due to reduced visitor numbers than COVID-19 concerns. Lake Bled is definitely open for business, and you can be forgiven for thinking like is kind of normal again, aside from the appearance of sanitising stations and masks.
It was heavenly to watch kids playing in the Lake, people soaking up the sun and enjoying the outdoors together. There was plenty of people swimming, rowing, running, paddle boarding etc.
Lake Bled is usually overrun in the height of summer but the numbers are definitely reduced due to much smaller international tourist numbers and in small part to the local mayor alienating the Ljubljana day-trippers – who didn’t spend enough money to be welcome apparently, sure they’d be welcome now.
I came for work and for inspirational surroundings to aid with some creative thinking, but equally if you are looking for a relaxing, green break by the water, Lake Bled would be a great spot. It’s also super popular for weddings for obvious reasons.
Where to stay
I’d definitely recommend staying by the Lake itself and paying that bit extra for a Lake facing room with a balcony or terrace. I opted for a single room at Hotel Triglav that had a private Lake facing balcony, as I would be working from there for at least a day or two during the trip and hate being trapped indoors. I’m so glad I did. I believe true luxury travel now is about private outdoors space rather than fancy rooms.
The hotel is cute, has character, it is set above the lake with the most amazing views and is just a 5 minute walk or so down to the lake itself and a 10 minute walk to the local shop/supermarket. They offer bicycles to explore the area, have a great restaurant – I accidentally ended up staying for a tasting menu with local wines one night, the quality was exceptional and price remarkably reasonable for the quality.
The room was a decent size for one, more like a small double than a single and waking up to this view each day and being able to watch the stars at night from this balcony was incredible.
There was also a spa & swimming pool in situ and a good laundry service.
The only bugger about going to Ljubljana is a lack of direct flights, as the ex-national airline failed and direct flights to London and Spain for that matter are limited/don’t exist anymore. I usually travel via Venice and take a GoOpti transfer to Ljubljana – also available to Bled – which is a fun way to do it, the transfer last time was less than 2 hours. The cost is usually between 25-30 euros.
Sometimes, I’ve taken a FlixBus from Venice or Trieste in Northern Italy. And this time, I flew back via Warsaw on Lot Air, after checking all available connections using FlightList, as I was trying to stay in Green countries due to changing air corridors and prices back from Venice had shot up in price as Italy one of the few places left on the green list at present, like Slovenia and Poland.
There are buses to Bled from Ljubljana – for 7 Euro which I’ve taken on previous trips and run until around 10pm, so late enough to have dinner by the Lake.