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Travel guide to visiting Lake Bled, Slovenia! Romantic castle & island near Ljubljana, Slovenian cuisine at Tito’s Palace.

lake bled medieval castle

I’ve been asked: as a travel blogger, do I get jaded about traveling? Does going to new countries become boring at some point?

The short answer is no. Every time I visit a destination, especially one I know little about, I end up finding unexpected gems.

This was exactly my experience at Lake Bled in Slovenia. Who knew that this unassuming country would have a lake and castle straight out of a fairytale? 

slovenia famous island on lake

Photos of Lake Bled are stunning enough, but the views are even more impressive in the flesh.

It’s the definition of picture perfect: a tiny island with a white church, in the center of an emerald lake. The isle surrounded by the lush green Julian Alps, and Medieval-era Bled Castle.

lake bled tourism, slovenia

You’ll recall from my introduction post that Slovenia is a tiny country, which makes it easy to travel around. From the capital of Ljubljana, it’s less than an hour’s drive to Lake Bled.

lavender purple hair, disturbia dress

That day, I wore my new blue tie-dye dress by Disturbia, the Goth and alternative fashion label that is one of my favorites.

My sheer Sailor Moon jacket is perfect for warm weather. I got it in Hong Kong, and love how the color is neutral, and the wands and crescent moons are subtle (but Sailor Moon fans will understand the references!)

Shop more fashion from Disturbia by clicking the pictures below 

slovenia oldest castle, bled

Bled Castle is the oldest in Slovenia, and one of the country’s proudest attractions. Since it’s easy to access Bled from Ljubljana (there are also buses and trains), many visitors take a day trip to the lake.

beautiful slovenia scenery

I walked around the towers of Bled Castle, imagining that I was a European princess. Inside, I saw the silver armor of knights, spooky bones and other relics from the Middle Ages.

There’s a crazy Medieval toilet in one room: the hole is a precarious drop down below, like the Vale’s Moon Door in Game of Thrones.

slovenian landscape

Bring your camera. There are outstanding views of Slovenia, from the castle windows and terrace.

lake bled castle, attractions

It’s obvious why Lake Bled is a favorite destination for romantics. The location also leads into Triglav National Park, where you can take part in all types of outdoor adventures.

row boat ferry to lake bled

Time to explore the little island on Lake Bled. The traditional way to get here is by pletna, or a gondola with paddles.

As you can see, it takes a lot of muscle to row, row, row the boat! 

bled island, Church of the Assumption

The Church of the Assumption is the focal point of island. Excavations revealed a chapel that dates back to 9 AD, but the current one was built in 1698. Inside, there’s a “wishing bell”: you pull on a long rope, and it rings the bell at the top of the steeple.

lake bled rowboats

Lake Bled is not one of Europe’s most known attractions, and this is a good thing. You’ll feel as if you stepped into the olden days, and the experience doesn’t feel commercialised.

slovenia gondalier, pletna boat

The same well-muscled fellow took us back to the shores. He does hundreds of back-and-forth rows per day – what a workout!

slovenia tourism, lake bled tourists

I was glad to have the pletna to myself. We shot a 360 degree virtual reality video on the boat, which we will release soon.

lake bled travel guide, tips

I looked back, and the island faded into the distance. Many Slovenians get married here. According to local tradition, if a husband carries his new bride up the 99 steps to the church, then a happy marriage is guaranteed!

slovenia nature, flowers

But even if he crashes and burns, romance is in the air, with pink flowers and picturesque frames like this.

lake bled lunch, restaurant

Even though I didn’t do any rowing, I was ready for lunch. At Lake Bled, dining comes with a 5-star view.

tito dictrator palace vila bled entrance

Our guide Ales took us to Vila Bled, which used to be Tito’s palace.  President Josip Broz Tito lived here, during Slovenia’s time in Yugoslavia. He was known as a “benevolent dictator”… perhaps the beauty of Lake Bled kept him from harsh ruling!

yugoslavia soviet communist art

We walked through Tito’s decadent palace. One of the rooms had a giant Soviet-style mural, featuring hardy workers waving red star flags and sickles.

vila bled menu, slovenian food

We sat down at a table in his courtyard — you can’t beat a view like this. My filmmakers and I started with fresh juices, asparagus soup, and a feta and vegetable souffle. Even the simple brown bread, dipped in Slovenia’s best olive oil, was beyond this world.

ravioli with shaved parmesan

As I mentioned in my Portoroz post, there are lots of Mediterranean influences in the local cooking. This starter, a ravioli with parmesan, was executed with as much finesse as anything I’ve eaten in Italy.

slovenia trout, top restaurants

If you’ve been following me on Snapchat (@lacarmina), I’m sure you were drooling at the food we ate that day. Trout is outstanding in Slovenia, and I ordered it multiple times during my journey. As you can see from the stamp above, Vila Bled’s version was moist and colorfully presented with fresh vegetables.

slovenian wines, wine

Everywhere we went, Slovenian food was outstanding. At Gostilna pri Mari in Piran, an older local couple brought out plate after plate of incredible seafood. We started with octopus and squid carpaccio, moving on to squid ink risotto and penne with cuttlefish, and an entire grilled seabass.

Although you rarely hear of Slovenian wines, the local varietals are as complex and delicious as the ones produced in neighboring Italy and Croatia. I’m holding one of their dry, white wines from the Littoral region.

Vila Podvin, slovenian bed and breakfast

From Bled, we drove to Vila Podvin in the village of Mošnje Radovljica. This was a bed and breakfast inn to remember: the owners are proud of their heritage, and display Slovenian crafts in the lobby. We relaxed in clean and quaint rooms, then went downstairs to the garden — to experience their award-winning Slovenian restaurant. 

Vila Podvin restaurant, slovenia

At Vila Podvin, the dishes are “New Slovene” masterworks by Chef Uroš Šteflin. He reawakens forgotten Slovenian recipes, with modern and creative techniques. We started with a unique soft boiled egg appetiser, followed by either lamb or trout in nuanced, naturally-flavored foam. One of the best meals of our entire trip.

We even woke up early for the breakfast at Vila Podvin, a mix of homemade thick yogurt, fruits, farm eggs and other European delicacies.

slovenia lake bled castle

Like Elaine on Seinfeld, I don’t like to use the word “breathtaking”… but for Lake Bled, I’ll make a happy exception! Although my film team and I have been to many beautiful places around the world, this under-the-radar destination took our breath away… awayyy…

(All photos by Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann of Borderless Media).

travel tourism influencer campaigns, top travel blogs

I wave goodbye with the national flag of Slovenia. The coat of arms is a shield with the image of Mount Triglav, the country’s highest peak. Below are two wavy blue lines representing the Adriatic Sea and local rivers, and the colors go back to Medieval times — like the castle where I’m standing.

Had you heard of Lake Bled? Wouldn’t you like to visit?

bat sweater, skull leggings

PS: Shopbop is having a major sale right now – only til Oct 14th at midnight Pacific time! You can just enter code “MAINEVENT16″ for up to 30% off. My favorites are above: a leopard skull sweater, Goth skull print leggings, and this bat sweatshirt that is perfect for fall.

PPS: If you like what I’m wearing, shop more Nu Gothic fashion from the same brand (Disturbia) with a click below. And I’ve added new items to my online shop, including h.Naoto, Banana Fish, rocking horse Lolita shoes. Come see it here.

SHARE & COMMENT

26 Comments

  1. Posted October 13, 2016 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful <3

    • Posted October 13, 2016 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

      A Breathtaking day! Glad we did it together!

  2. Posted October 14, 2016 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    That fellow is a Hell yes!

  3. Posted October 14, 2016 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Lake Bled is beauty.

    • Posted October 15, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      So much beauty

  4. Posted October 14, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to Slovenija!!!

  5. Posted October 14, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    wowowow

  6. Posted October 14, 2016 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Love this look x

    Millie x

    • Posted October 15, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      ❤️❤️❤️

  7. Posted October 15, 2016 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    . I want to go to Slovenia now.

  8. Posted October 15, 2016 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Love your hair!

  9. Posted October 16, 2016 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    Saturday – just right for ride on Bohinj Railway from Bled Jezero to Nova Gorica.

    • Posted October 17, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Now I must come back..

  10. Posted October 16, 2016 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Pefect Saturday plan

  11. Posted October 17, 2016 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    Two years ago I hadn’t heard of Lake Bled, but now I hear about it everywhere! Such a gorgeous place, really looks like straight out of a fairy tale! Totally going to my bucket list ;)

    • Posted October 17, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      I’m so glad, Sara! It’s truly worth the trip.

  12. Posted October 17, 2016 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    straight out of a fairytale.

  13. Posted October 17, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Omg! I want to travel to Slovenia.

  14. Posted October 17, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Cool!

  15. Posted October 18, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful post! you captured really excellent photos . I like your post and photo

    Thanks for sharing
    http://www.travelomatrix.com/airlines/air-canada-flights/

  16. Posted October 18, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    If you like nature in Slovenia, I also recommend to see Zelenci reservat, Ski jumping resort Planica and Tamar valley, Vrsic and Soca valley…..

    • Posted October 18, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the fantastic tips , I really want to come back !

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