Lake Bled is unashamedly picturesque, flaunting itself brazenly to the admiring visitors it attracts through its scenic lure and Alpine splendor.
It’s one of the most visited sites in Slovenia, but turn up in Winter and you’ll find it both glorious and quiet.
Over the years the lake has had its fair share of admirers, from Yugoslavia’s benevolent dictator Josip Broz Tito whose former lakeside residence you can visit , to the countless tour groups who swarm here, just for that postcard perfect photo opportunity.
But visit Lake Bled in the height of winter and you’ll find a pleasant Slovenian town, surrounded by imposing, snow capped mountains, just quietly getting on with its slow paced life. In hibernation from the mania of its summer high season, this is the most supreme time of year to pay this place a visit.
A popular tourist destination for centuries, Lake Bled knows how good it looks, and certainly knows what it has to offer too. A classic medieval castle overlooks the waters, offering views of the mountain peaks and local country villages, while a church is seemingly superimposed in the middle of the lake, painstakingly constructed upon an island in the center.
The cold wind rushing down from the mountains was biting in December, but I could stand on the castle ramparts without another soul to disturb me.
As the sun set behind the snow capped peaks the scene just looked better and better.
Despite being one of Slovenia’s most popular tourist attractions, in the colder months the village of Bled seems to simply close down. But this is just another compelling reason to visit.
You can take a boat out across the still waters to the island. There wasn’t anyone around to row in the cold though, so I intrepidly provided the manpower myself.
That magnificent building on the right below is actually Josip Broz Tito, the former Yugoslavian dicatator’s, summer getaway. Like the man himself, it seemed that everyone prefers a visit to the lake in summer. The roads may have started to ice over, but I was quite content that the tourists stayed away over winter. Thanks to Mr Tito for setting the precedent.
The only downside was Tito’s mansion was closed. Because it was winter. Obviously. This was the closest I could get to visiting a former communist dictator’s holiday home.
It’s easy to see why Tito fell in love with Lake Bled. And in winter it is still truly glorious.
And if you enjoy a tranquil piece of solitude it can be inspiring.
Only an hour from Slovenia’s quaint capital, Ljubljana, despite its highly touristic status Lake Bled’s pure scenic beauty simply means it should be an indulgence for even the most adventurous traveler. And make sure you go at the right time and you won’t even need to worry about the tour buses.
You’ll find some pretty straight forward travel advice at wikitravel.