Our goal here was to do the gorge and the Lake Bled area in one day. This was one of the very few European vacations we’ve been on where we actually had a car. We left Ljubljana fairly early, getting to Lake Bled in just under an hour. From there to the gorge is only 15-20 minutes by car.
The weather was absolutely perfect while we were there, which was early May. Cool mornings, mild afternoons just right for walking.
The currency in this area is euros, and everyone we encountered spoke excellent English.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with this area, it is probably one of the most beautiful places you will ever visit. We managed to be there while the weather was just absolutely perfect. And little to no wind made the lake itself look like a sheet of glass, as you see in the pictures. The castle, especially from down below on the lake, has the look of a fantasy novel or fairy tale. It is probably one of the most stunning castles I have ever seen. I mean seriously, if it looks this good in pictures, just try to imagine how it looks in real life. And then repeat the experience when you’re up in the castle looking down on the lake and island.
They have these really cool boats that will take you out to Bled Island. They’re called pletnas. They’re similar to the gondolas of Venice, but bigger and covered. A guy stands up on the stern of the boat and uses oars to row while remaining standing. They are around €15 per person, round trip.
We got there pretty early and were the first ones on the boat. Got us a good seat up front, but meant we would have to wait for more passengers to arrive. They try to fill up the boat before leaving. But we didn’t mind, it was such a gorgeous morning and there were some fish swimming around the boat that we enjoyed watching for a bit.
The boat ride to the island was surreal. The water was like glass, and the only sound was the oars gently dipping into the water as we glided silently along. Sitting up in the front provided the best photo ops of the castle, the island, and everything in the area. Do yourself a favor and get the person sitting across from you take a picture of you as the backdrop is just gorgeous.
The island itself is pretty small and only has a couple of buildings. One was a cafe where we sat and drank espresso while looking down at the lake. There is also a small 17th century church with a tower. Follow the walking trail around the island and keep an eye out for the rather large fish skulking around close to the shore.
All told it took us just under two hours. Once we got back on land, we had planned to have lunch up at the castle. You need reservations, which we had, but the island took longer than we thought so we had to cancel. Which in a way is bad because the restaurant is outdoor and overlooks the lake and island.
But it’s also good because we stumbled across another jewel. Apparently this area is famous for its cream cake. But the place we settled on was where it all started, so of course we had to see what the original was like. Sinful, that’s what! And we had a seat right up against the rail and overlooking the lake. The name of it was Restavracija Panorama. It’s on the pathway that leads around the lake toward the north heading to the castle. The rest of the food was ok, and good wine, but it’s the atmosphere you’re going to enjoy the most.
Once we finished our most excellent cream cake, plus meal, plus wine, we were feeling as though we needed a good hike. Well, you saw the castle, right? A helluva hike it was! It was pretty steep, with a combination of steep inclines and stairs in some places. Just take your time and enjoy the views and you’ll be there before you know it.
Inside the castle itself was not really all that spectacular, but it is definitely worth the hike to see the views. It’s like your up on a cloud looking down on paradise. Just magnificent. Makes you feel like a Greek god or something. And of course the walk down was much easier. 🙂
We came to the gorge from Lake Bled. Driving, It only took about 15 mins to get there. If you’re not worn out from climbing up to the castle, the gorge is well worth your time, but it is also a good bit of walking. If you just wanna go take a nap or whatever, you could always come back to the gorge the next day. But we were still taking revenge on that cream cake and so decided to conquer the gorge in the same day.
But one way or the other, hopefully you can manage a visit to the Vintgar Gorge. I want to say it is just gorge-us? Haha. Seriously, it is a sight to behold. You don’t tour it from the top looking down, oh no, you are down in it! Wooden and cement pathways were constructed along the bottom sides of the gorge in the 1890’s. So you are literally walking almost right over the very river that cut the gorge. The path is quite safe and sturdy. You can see signs everywhere of fresh maintenance updates on it.
It features beautiful green water with several waterfalls. The stone walls are over 100 meters (300ft) high in some places. The water is translucent, but green. Just amazing. All told I think it’s around 1.5 meters (about a mile), so double that for a round trip. There is a €5 fee per adult to enter, and there’s a concession cabin along the way.
And by the way, that’s called the Šum, and it’s the largest river waterfall in all of Slovenia. What looks like glare in the picture is actually heavy mist from the waterfall. Have fun!