Bled, Slovenia

Photo: Mirci (Bled lake, Slovenia  Uploaded by Sporti) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Mirci (Bled lake, Slovenia Uploaded by Sporti) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
You’ve spent the last few days exploring enchanting Ljubljana. You walked through Old Town, hiked to the castle, people watched in Tivoli Park, and crossed romantic bridges. You’re enchanted, to say the least. So it’s time to see what else the charming country of Slovenia has to offer. First stop: Lake Bled.

Lake Bled might be the most gorgeous lake you’ve ever seen. It’s that stunning. The spring-fed lake, which was created at the end of the Ice Age, seems emerald green or cobalt blue depending on the sun’s position. The clear water looks like a mirror, reflecting the picturesque surroundings that include snow-capped mountains, deep pine forests, hillside vineyards, and a single ski slope. A solitary island, Bled Island, sits in the middle of the water. Carp, catfish, and pike call the lake home. While a path around the lake meanders around old hemlocks, happy dogs, and little gelato stands.

The lake is in the Upper Carniola region of northwest Slovenia, only 35 miles outside of Ljubljana. The area was once part of Yugoslavia; it became the summer home of their leaders in the early 20th century. Today Lake Bled is known as a relaxing vacation spot and a starting point to hikes in nearby Triglav National Park.

Photo: Garden Village Bled
Photo: Garden Village Bled

After your own slow walk around the lake, board a pletna—a traditional, flat-bottomed wooden boat—to take you to Bled Island. It’s a smooth ride over the calm water; no wonder the World Rowing Championships are held here so frequently. The closer you get, the more features of the Assumption of Mary Church you see. The white and red church was built in the 17th century. It has a 170-foot tower, Romanesque ramparts, and Gothic frescoes. Climb the 99 stone steps that lead to the church. Ring the bell for good luck. Visit the 9th-century Slavic cemetery. Taste sparkling wine that a monk opens with a saber. And enjoy the view from the terrace.

In such a unique location, no ordinary hotel room will do tonight. Garden Village sits on the lake’s southern shore. Instead of rooms, the hotel has treehouses and glamping tents. The treehouses—with hammocks and suspension bridges—look cool. But you opt for a more luxurious glamping tent with an outdoor heated tub.

Sit in the Finnish sauna by the stream. Pamper yourself with an outdoor massage enhanced by the calming sounds of rushing water and tweeting birds. Visit the greenhouse and the organic shop for just-picked veggies, homemade jam, and freshly squeezed juice. Eat a picnic-like dinner surrounded by mighty trees and planters full of grass. Share your stories from the day with other guests around the open fireplace. Then watch for shooting stars from your tub. Your wish is obvious: to see the rest of this beautiful country.

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