Most visitors to the house in summer will at some point take a refreshing dip in Lake Bled. The lake is fed by thermal waters and can reach a very pleasant 24°C by September. There are two formal swimming areas, one at the eastern end of the lake (which is free but can get crowded) and the other at the foot of the castle crag. This has changing rooms, water slides, a bar and a huge inflatable iceberg for kids.
Lake Bohinj is less restricted and, if you’re brave enough to dip more than a big toe in the water, you can take an invigorating swim from any of the gravel beaches. The mountain backdrops are stunning and will take your breath away just as effectively as the cold water.
The Julian Alps are criss-crossed with paths and attract both ramblers and serious mountaineers. Many paths are way-marked so it is easy to find your own routes. Guides are available to escort you on longer treks and up the challenging Triglav – at 2864m – the tallest mountain in Slovenia. A number of short and medium length walks for occasional ramblers seeking maximum scenic reward with minimum effort are suggested in the Links and Downloads section.
Action & adventure
Summer sports tend to involve rocks, water, ropes, boats and wheels while winter fun is naturally aligned to snow and ice. If you have the experience and your own gear – go for it. If not, go for it anyway, but under the watchful eyes of mountain professionals.
Guided sports, available through the many Bled agencies, include: canyoning, caving, rock climbing and abseiling; white water rafting, canoeing and boogie boarding; pony trekking, horse riding; rambles and, of course, mountain walks.
The airfield at nearby Lesce is the home of the Slovene skydiving team and although tourist jumps are not widely advertised, you can do one if you ask. Meanwhile, tandem jumps from the cliffs at Bohinj are easily arranged. For a more sedate way to take in the scenery, take an air taxi at Lesce for a tour of the area. It is relatively inexpensive for a party of three.
Junior and senior thrills
The Funbob, a tea tray that carries you hurtling along a snaking track down the Bled ski slope, is popular with dare-devil children. Younger children will be thrilled with a trip around the lake on the road-train while the older generation will appreciate the more refined pleasure of a horse drawn carriage trip around the lake or a gondola boat ride across it.
The Bled golf course is maintained to competition standards, boats a majestic mountain backdrop and is available on a pay and play basis with pre-booking. See link for details.
The rivers and still waters of the area are internationally renowned for course and fly fishing. If needed, all the gear and a guide can be hired in the shop next to Hotel Toplice.
The ski fields around Bled are most suited to intermediate skiers, however there are enough easy runs for beginners to progress and a few black runs to test the more advanced skiers. Off-piste skiing is possible but the terrain is too exposed to attempt without a guide. Ski hardware can be hired in Bled or at the foot of most ski centres. By distance from Zasip, the nearest resorts are:
Cross country skiing
There are several prepared circuits near the village, the closest being the Zasip circuit which is within walking distance of the house on the left side of the road to Bled. Studor circuit is a flat route along a track taking in stunning views between the turning circles at each end. Pokluka is on the world cup circuit and home to the Slovenian biathlon.
Ice hockey & skating
Ice hockey is huge in Slovenia. See the Bled team at home at the arena in town or go to Jesenice to see the major league and some slap shot action. There are small ice-skating rinks beside Penzion Mlino at the west end of Lake Bled and at the east end of Lake Bohinj. In winter Bled’s ice hockey rink is open most evenings for leisure skating.
Food, drink and R&R
It has to be said that Slovenian entertainment is mostly of an outdoor nature, unless of course you are: eating, drinking, being pampered, taking in the historic buildings, shopping or gambling.
While vegetarians may find themselves on a somewhat restricted diet, the Slovene cuisine provides very well for the serious meat eaters of this world, with wild boar, reindeer and foal available on many menus.
Our favourite local restaurants include Pizzeria Jurcek on the hill behind Zasip (beware the horse radish) and the trout restaurant at the top end of the Vingtar Gorge (where else can you have deep-fried spaghetti for desert?). In Bled, Pizzeria Rustica (near the church) never disappoints and a meal at Gostlina pri Planincu, overlooking the bus station is always good. Fine dining at Bled Castle is good value and in summer it is possible to be seated on the terrace overlooking the lake. In Radovlica, Linhartov Trg (market square) Gostilna Lectar, is well worth a visit and features a working ginger-bread making museum.
Most bars serve either ‘Union’ (red) or ‘Lasko’ (green) beers of Svetlo (light) or Temno (dark) varieties. White wines tend to be sweet and reds quite sharp. Both are usually served chilled.
Schnaaps is the local firewater, it’s legal to make your own, and can be sampled at the well hidden Schnaaps Farm, the yellow house first on the left in ‘Muze’, a road just 200m downhill from the Alpine Retreat.
There are some excellent swimming pools in the area. Our favourites are those at Hotel Golf, in Bled, and The Aqua Park at Bohinjska Bjstrica, with its black-out water slide and climbing wall. The spa facilities at The Hotel Golf are outstanding and include an outdoor hot tub overlooking the lake, the castle and Mt Triglav. While there, treat yourself to a massage, some hot stone therapy or a beauty treatment.
You may chance upon a local festival or celebration. Principal villages often have a blessing of the horse parade and festival marked by a carnival atmosphere of mountain music and freely flowing beer.
The castle in Bled hosts frequent evening entertainment including displays of sword fighting. The approach to the castle is sometimes used for horseback jousting competition.
On a more sedate note, Bled also hosts an annual world chess tournament, has a festival of world music, another of classical music and to mark the start of Bled week at the end of July, thousands of floating candles are set to drift across the dark lake.
Details of events and festivals can be found at the local tourist offices. See Links.