The gateway to alpine hiking in Slovenia and a hub of outdoor activities
Lake Bled is synonymous with Slovenian tourism. Why? Because it’s an idyllic glacial lake of unbelievably epic cultural and natural proportions. Located right on the outskirts of the Julian Alps, a trip to Lake Bled offers a family holiday like no other.
The town of Bled is located an hour’s drive from Ljubljana, the greenest capital you’ll ever visit. Although finding a place to stay near Lake Bled is easy, you can always head over there for a day trip.
Bled and its surrounding area are packed with outdoor activities, the most prominent of which is hiking in the mountains.
It’s not a suggestion, it’s a polite command. The 6-km walk around Lake Bled is an activity as old as the lake itself. Cave people must have done it. Tourists have certainly been doing it for at least 600 hundred years. Taking a stroll around this magical place will give you a sense of its awesome history and culture. You’ll even pass Tito’s famous summer residence.
A thousand years before Tito, the German king Henry II had the same idea, but for strategic reasons, he placed his residence on a cliff above the lake. Bled Castle is the oldest in Slovenia and can be reached within a matter of minutes. It offers a spectacular view of the lake and neighboring mountains. Besides walking, you can always take a carriage ride around the lake and drive up to the castle, but where’s the fun in that? This is a walking holiday!
Climbing up Mala Osojnica will take roughly 45 minutes through a relatively steep woodland path. Hence the hills’ names, which translates to “shady”. Extend your walk for another 20 minutes and you get to its higher twin called Velika Osojnica. “Small and Big Shady” afford stunning views of Lake the Karawanks and Kamnik-Savinje Alps.
Ojstrica, which means “sharp peak” received its name for the obvious reason of having a sharp peak. What’s not so obvious is the ridiculously romantic rewarding after reaching it. Following a 20-min hike along a steep path, you’ll get to a solitary wooden bench overlooking Lake Bled. It’s probably one of the most hashtagged pics and the location of many a marriage proposal. You can see all the way to Slovenia’s famous Stol mountain, the Savska raven plain and the Karawanks’ ridge. Cheesy yet beautiful as anything!
Another picturesque spot is Jelovica. This plateau reigns over the south side of Lake Bled. Jelovica is a NATURA 2000 protected site, because it’s home to many endangered bird species, including the Eurasian pygmy owl and the golden eagle. Hope you’ll be able to spot some while walking across the lovely pastures.
Vintgar Gorge is the most famous Slovenian gorge. Carved by the cool Radovna River, this 1.6 km gorge lies amidst splendid vertical walls and takes you alongside pools and rapids of magnificent beautify. Scenes you’ll never forget. The trail ends with a 13-m waterfall appropriately named Šum or “the sound water makes” Vintgar Gorge was impassable until 1893 when 500 metres of wooden bridges and galleries were built for us to walk on. Thank you, ancestors!
The less known Pokljuka Gorge is located deeper in the Alps and makes for a lovely trip out of Bled. Its steep walls, natural bridges, holes and narrow passages make this 2-km trail a fantastic afternoon walk. Glacial waters carved out this gorge 10,000 years ago, turning it into nature’s time capsule. There’s also a 22-m waterfall and 24-m natural bridge that you’ve just got to see.
Not just a gorge, Pokljuka is also a green plateau, belonging to the largest forested area in Triglav National Park. Pokljuka is a popular destination in all seasons, with nice Nordic walking trails for cross-country skiing and perfect terrain for ski touring, sledding, and skiing.
Due to the plateau’s altitude and geological structure, energy points are sprinkled around Pokljuka to make your hike an even healthier venture. And from spring to autumn, Pokljuka is a great destination for cycling, hiking, and ascending to neighboring peaks, including Mount Triglav.
Overgrown with spruce and beech forests, Mežakla is an alpine plateau nestled amidst unspoiled nature. Its hiking trails are not as popular as Pokljuka’s, so if you want some utter peace and quiet, Mežakla is the place to walk. You can cross its 15-m natural bridge and skip over a multitude of ice-cold mountain streams. Historically, Mežakla was a very important place. In ancient times, it is rumoured to be home of kings, while during WWII it was the location of the first partisan hospital in Slovenia.
Bled lies on the outskirts of the Triglav National Park, making it a superb starting point for entering Slovenia’s main hiking area: the Julian Alps. You can easily visit the Soča Valley, Lake Bohinj, and a number of the highest mountains and the hundreds of hiking trails they offer.
If all roads lead to Rome, all Alpine hiking paths can certainly be reached from Bled. Be sure to check out more excellent hiking options around Slovenia.