In North West Slovenia nestled in the Julian Alps, and just 35km from the capital Ljubljana lies Lake Bled. A fairy-tale city of mountainous peaks and vivid glacial lakes that should be high on your bucket list.
During a long weekend in Slovenia, I visited both Lake Bled and Ljubljana, and having only a small taste of Slovenia I’ll soon be visiting back for the lush greenery in the Soča Valley.
From the second we arrived in to Lake Bled we were swept off our feet – no surprise as folklore says the lake was created by fairies! And despite its size, we found activities in abundance, so here are six things you must do during your stay.
1. Get a Honey Massage
Home to the Carniolan honey bee, beekeeping is a long-held tradition in Slovenia. Having earned the reputation of ‘the land of beekeeping’ you can bet that honey plays an important role in Slovenian society. The healing properties of honey are world-renowned, so it’s no wonder Slovenia has adopted it into its wellbeing practices – known as apitherapy methods.
Or visit a local apiary
If you’d like the full bee experience, local beekeeper Blaž Ambrožič has built an apiary in Selo pri Bledu. Just a short twenty-four minute walk or five-minute drive (according to google maps) from Lake Bled, you can learn all about this Slovenian form of agriculture.
2. Bathe in the Thermal Waters
This leads me nicely on to the second must-do activity in Lake Bled – taking a dip in the thermal pools. I’ll admit I didn’t actually know Lake Bled was brimming with health resorts, but with thermal springs leading to the Grand Hotel Toplice and the Živa Wellness Spa you really won’t want to miss this. A dip in the pools is said to treat stress, exhaustion, neurovegetative disorders and age-related fatigue – overlooking unspoilt mountain climate, I can certainly understand why.
You can also enjoy smaller pools in Hotel Bled Rose and Hotel Kompas.
3. Eat As Much Cream Cake As Possible
When I wrote this article about Slovenia, you’ll notice I was a little excited about the Kremšnita. But honestly, it’s like a Gregg’s custard slice – only better! You’ll find them available all around Lake Bled, but the original can still be found at Hotel Park where it was first conceived. Bled’s famous cream cake is made with puff pastry, custard, whipped cream, puff pastry and icing sugar.
4. Ride on a Pletna Boat
I covered quite a lot about the origins of the Pletna Boat here so I won’t go on repeating myself, but I will say that it’s not an experience you’ll find anywhere outside of Lake Bled. A tradition dating back to the 16th century, the position of oarsman for a Pletna Boat is passed down from generation to generation.
5. Swim in the Lake
Probably saved for the more favourable temperatures of the summer months, Velika Zaka is the best spot to take a dip in the lake. Located on the North Side of the lake – close to Camping Bled – the grassy area makes it a popular haunt with tourists and locals alike, but you’re warned the lake itself is awfully pebbly! Oh and there’s a small pier for you to take a leap of faith.
6. Watch the Sunrise
One of the best experiences we had in Lake Bled, was braving a 4am wake-up call, for a twenty-minute uphill hike – but my goodness is it worth it! Watch the sun come up over the Bled Island is like something out of a dream, and captures the beauty of the Lake if it was even possible for it to be more beautiful. Ojstrica is the favoured viewpoint, and you can find more details on how to reach it here.
Practice the Rilki Method of Wellness
If you’ve indulged in a honey massage, taken a dip in the pool, jumped in the glacial waters, hiked for the sunrise or pottered around the lake – you’ll have unknowingly embraced the Rikli lifestyle. According to the famed Swiss hydropath Arnold Rikli, the Rikli lifestyle means getting up before sunrise, drinking fresh Bled water on an empty stomach, walking barefoot in the meadows covered with morning dew, enjoying light meals, swimming, sunbathing, and taking lots of walks in the fresh Alpine air.