Bled and Vintgar Gorge
In late summer, when the autumn leaves start to glow, Lake Bled has a very particular charm. The 6 km long walk around the lake may then be a special feast for the eyes. Just like the crossing of the lake to the island, where you are supposed to ring the bell of the church Maria Assumption. Or like the short hike up to Bled castle, from where you have a magnificent view over the lake. Have you already tasted the Bled cream cake? For those who would like to combine culture with nature on such a visit to Bled, include a walk through Vintgar gorge, it's only a stone's throw away.
Bled has seen two periods of bloom: the first happened towards the end of the 19th century, when Vienna's aristocracy and haute bourgeoisie discovered Bled as a spa and health resort. The second bloom was under the reign of Tito in Yugoslavia. Both epochs shaped Bled's appearance to the present: there are the villas of the Bell' Epoch and the post war hotel complexes. Fortunately, Bled was spared from a sellout of all lakefront properties and thus the small town of Bled and the lake have retained a certain picturesqueness.
Also, the 2.1 km long and at a maximum 1.3 km wide lake Bled has a convenient size as well as varying landscapes and views. Already during antiquity, the island was the site of a sanctuary dedicated to Živa, a pagan goddess of love. It was rededicated during the 8th century AD to become a Christian place of worship for the Virgin Mary. Today’s church Maria Assumption was built in 1465 and remodeled during the 17th century. It has a freestanding bell tower and a staircase with 99 steps leads up to the church. Legends surround the island, its sanctuaries and its wishing bell.
Bled castle, the other symbol of Bled, is situated on a rock that rises straight out of the lake. The oldest parts of the castle date from the year 1011, and then the property of the bishops of Brixen, it was successively extended over the centuries. Nowadays it houses a museum (with documentation on excavation finds from the vicinity of Bled castle hill), several artisans’ shops and a restaurant. As the entrance fee is comparatively high - even though the view from the castle is great - this expense should be considered.
Comparatively reasonable, by contrast, is the entrance fee to the Vintgar gorge, which is only 4 km outside of Bled and yet already within the protected area of the Triglavski Narodni Park. There, over a length of 1.6 km, the river Radnova has forced its way through the mountains Horn and Boršt. The gorge is narrow, the rocks steep, the emerald-colored water boisterous. Along wooden footbridges and concrete paths, you follow the wild course of the Radnova with her numerous rapids and many small water falls. Just when you think, now the river has finally calmed down and the surrounding landscape has regained a softer shape, and when you might get a feeling that you have already seen everything worth seeing, the Radnova bursts into a spectacular finale: A 16 m high water fall!
Drive from Villach via Karawankentunnel 40 minutes.
Tourist Information Center (TIC) Bled
Cesta svobode 10, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 574 1122
Podhom 80, SI-4247 Zgornje Gorje, Slovenia
Phone: +386 31 344 053