Lake and Island of Bled
The lake of Bled was formed when the Bohinj glacier receded. Its length is 2120 m, its width is 1380 m, its maximum depth reaches 30.6 m, and it extends over a distance of 6 km. During the Würmian glaciation, the Bohinj glacier naturally widened the existing tectonic shift, giving the lake its actual form. The bowl thus formed was flooded with water when the glacier melted. Nowadays, the lake has virtually no tributary of great importance, but only a few isolated sources which supply it.
To go around the lake, three options are available: a tourist train, horse carriages or on foot, the latter being undoubtedly the best option if you have at least 2 hours to spare. This will allow you to admire the lake, the island and the scenery around the banks from different angles. In addition, the train and the carriages can not operate on all the shores of the lake, unlike walkers do. All around the lake are bars and restaurants, and a great amount of places to fish or swim.
We are now going to visit the island of Bled, but we must first decide how to get there and several options are available. First of all, the most traditional (and touristy) way possible via a Pletna – a kind of large roof-boat run by a rower using two oars and only present in Bled. These boats are built and operated as a family business and can carry up to 15 passengers to the island for EUR 12.- per person (round trip), which is quite expensive, but dispenses you to deal with any kind of boat renting.
If you prefer to enjoy some freedom and organize your trip according to your own schedule, you can rent a beautifully carved, swan-shaped wooden boat. The price is EUR 10.- per hour and you can easily moor at the island of Bled, thanks to many pontoons being provided for this purpose. This solution allows you to modulate your day on the lake, but will definitely be more expensive than via a Pletna. The third method is free: swimming! Yes, it is not difficult to reach the island from the nearest shore to the sheer force of arms and legs, the crossing taking between 10 and 20 minutes depending on your physical condition and the type of swim used. Take a waterproof bag for your stuff!
We opt for the Pletna, climb onboard and slowly reach the island in about 15 minutes. Once on the island, the boatman grants you generally between 30 minutes and an hour, but this can be discussed. I take the opportunity that my guide watch over my bag to take a dip in the refreshing water, directly jumping from the dock, which is normally forbidden because of the boats. After a few minutes, I dry up quickly and go for a walk on the island.
I start by climbing the stone staircase and its 99 steps, renovated to mark the millennium of Bled. I then visit the Church Saint Mary of the Assumption 17th century which is located on the terrace at the top of the island, with a separate bell tower and some auxiliary buildings. The church, whose entrance costs EUR 3.- and includes entrance to the museum of the island, retains fragments of frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Mary: the history of Joachim and Ana on the north face, and the scene of the Visit to Mary and her adult life on the south side. Visitors who would like to make a wish may do so, since 1534, by ringing the bell of the tower whose sound can be heard across the island. In the nearby restaurant, you can eat, drink and have a rest. I therefore took the opportunity to try out another local specialty, because I must say that we still haven’t had lunch and it is 1PM! Before taking a single picture (sorry, was too hungry), I swallow a “potica”, a delicious jelly roll with nuts and a cup of tea. I continue with the visit of the local museum, followed by a nice “Bled” icecream (flavored with a delicious mix of hazelnut and chocolate) which I enjoyed peacefully seated on top of the staircase, yummy! Time to make a quick tour of the island on foot and it is time to join our boat for the return to the mainland.