Bled Isle

Lake Bled

Journeys » Lake Bled

July 24, 2023: Scenic Lake Bled sits at the base of Triglav National Park, a less-expensive but just-as-beautiful Lake Como in miniature that has drawn vacationers for centuries.

We cannot see our reflection in running water, it is only in still water that we can see.

Zen saying

Enchanted by the calm waters and blue Julian Alps, wealthy Austro-Hungarians built villas around Lake Bled in the 1800s.  The trend continued with Tito, Yugoslavia’s long-time ruler, who had an estate there to entertain other “non-aligned” world leaders.  Today, it is a retreat for in-the-know travelers of all stripes.

After our visit to The Oldest Vine, we arrived at our stay, in the garage loft behind one of those modest old villas.  Our apartment was clean, very modern, and had great views to Mount Triglav.  We didn’t go in the main house, but I suspect our little loft was much nicer.

Our Bled Apartment
Our little white loft apartment in back

Castle Hill

Walking through town to the lake, you are greeted with a beautiful view of Castle Bled and St. Martina’s parish church just below, reflected on the calm waters.  Ducks and pletnas (traditional boats similar to Venetian gondolas) broke the glassy waters.

Lake Bled
Lake Bled reflections of the castle and St. Martina

The next day we climbed the 400’ castle hill, where the bishops who ruled the area once lived.  While the castle views were inspiring, summer haze and showers in the nearby mountains made our photos dull.  Castle access was expensive, and its museum only mildly interesting.  If you go, skip entry as the trail views just below the castle are just as fine, and free.

Bled Castle
Bled Castle, high above the lake

St. Martina’s

The real treat was St. Martina’s parish church on our climb.  The white steeple below the castle is picturesque from town, but the real treat is inside.  The modern frescos adorning the inside are spectacularly vivid.  The hike up may be penance, but the inspiration inside is a worthy reward.

St Martina Church Bled
St. Martina Bled
Modern Saints
St Martina Church Bled
The Last Supper

Bled Isle

The highlight of course was a pletna ride to Bled Isle, where the Church of the Assumption of Maria stands high above the still waters of the lake.  I made the mistake of sitting too close to the oarsman on the trip to the isle… and winced with each stroke as his oar handle came within inches of my forehead. He laughed and assured me I was safe. I winced anyway.

And I sat a bit farther forward on the return trip!

Pletna on its way to Bled Island
Pletna on its way to Bled Island and the Church of Queen Mary
Rowing the Pletna
Row, row, row your pletna

Ninety-nine steps rise from the shore to the church.  Tradition has it that if a groom can carry his bride up the steps and to the church, he’s proven worthy of marriage.  Piece of cake.  And I mean, I had a piece of traditional walnut cake at the nearby island café!

Steps at Assumption Church Lake Bled
Carrying your bride up the 99 steps…
Assumption Church Lake Bled
… to the Church shows you are fit for marriage
99 Steps Lake Bled
Jean was as light as a feather!


Between thundershowers on our last morning, I slowly ran the lake loop, testing the ankle I’d twisted in Zagreb.  The gravel and asphalt pedestrian path undulates for 3½ miles, with views of Assumption steeple high above the still morning waters. The ankle was fine, and I arrived back at our loft for coffee with Jean just as the skies unleashed a torrential downpour. All in, a pretty great morning.

Assumption Church on Lake Bled
Assumption Church on Lake Bled

More Bytes from The Central Europe Trip

The Dragon Cave

Centuries ago, monks carved the fantastical Dragon Cave reliefs high above the sea as they hid in from pirates and invading Turks.

Summer in Bol

We have seen some beautiful places in our travels, but we come back to summer in Bol again and again. It remains our second favorite place!

Baška Voda

Baška Voda is stunning, with hyper-saturated blue skies and water, and the Biokovo Massif looming overhead.  Do we maybe have a new second favorite place?


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Please rate this post.

Thank you.

Rating: 5 / 5. Votes: 2

Please be the first to rate this post.

One thought on “Lake Bled

Leave a Reply