Slovenia’s captivating Lake Bled, surrounded by pine forests and with the resort of Bled at one end, has adorned the cover of countless holiday brochures and is the country’s number one tourist draw.

Bled sits at 1,600ft in Triglav National Park, known for its wide variety of indigenous plants. The park itself is named after 9,300ft Mount Triglav – Slovenia’s highest mountain – close by in the Julian Alps.

In recent years, Lake Bled and its surroundings have developed into a key activity centre, with boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, horse riding, cycling, tennis and golf among the attractions.

And if Lake Bled isn’t enough, tranquil Lake Bohinj – gloriously uncommercialised and free from traffic – is just a half-hour drive away.

 

Where to stay

Grand Hotel Toplice, Lake Bled, SloveniaThe Grand Hotel Toplice is a four-star lakeside hotel with 87 rooms. Its origins date back 150 years, and the hotel is named after the spring that feeds its Roman-style indoor pool.

Another elegant hotel offering grand lake views, Hotel Jadran (formerly the Hotel Belvedere) was built in 1929 and is being refurbished for summer 2007.

Hotel Jelovica is a three-star hotel with 100 rooms close to the castle in Bled’s old town with balcony rooms affording views of the lake. It has an indoor pool, whirlpool, fitness room, sauna and solarium.

 

By day

Take a trip by gondola (called a pletna) to tiny Bled Island at the western end of the lake and visit its Church of the Assumption and belfry. You are allowed half an hour to climb the steps to the church and look around – ring the bell and make a wish as thousands have done before.

Take a horse-drawn carriage to the 16th century Bled Castle, perched atop a steep bluff 100 metres above the lake – or take one of many paths that meander up through the forest. The castle has a small chapel and houses a museum of the Bled region. There is also a terraced restaurant.

A walk round the lake – which will take a couple of hours along the four-mile promenade – offers fine views of the surrounding mountains and across to the church on Bled Island. There’s a longer hike (three miles each way) to the spectacular Vintgar Gorge, where you can follow the Radovna River for a mile to the picturesque Sum waterfall.

 

By night

Dine out at Vila Preseren, a lakeside villa built in 1868. Recommended dishes include beef carpaccio, pasta with smoked salmon and sole with almonds. Claim a table on the terrace in summer and enjoy fine lake views.

Okarina, at Ljubljanska cesta 8, is an upscale Bled restaurant that counts Sir Paul McCartney among its diners. The menu is traditional, with delights such as fillets of venison and wild boar cutlet – but turn the page and you stumble upon a selection of tandoori dishes. A range of vegetarian meals and a children’s menu are also available.

Juliana Restaurant, at Grand Hotel Toplice, is an exclusive place that will satisfy the urge to splash your cash. The seasonal menu offers both international and local dishes.

 

The lowdown

Who flies there:Adria Airways flies to the capital city Ljubljana from Gatwick year-round and from Birmingham and Manchester in summer. No-frills carriers EasyJet (from Stansted) and Wizz Air (from Luton) also serve Ljubljana.
Flight time: 2 hours, 5 minutes.
Transfers: Lake Bled is a 35-minute transfer from Ljubljana airport, where all main international car rental companies are represented.
Currency: Slovenian tolar (SIT); £1 = SIT372.
Time difference: GMT +1 hour.
Weather: At an altitude of 1,600ft, the mountain climate means chilly winters but warm summers (average 26C in July and August). Late spring and early autumn are warm and good for hiking in the nearby Julian Alps.
Find out more: Slovenian Embassy. Tel: 020 7222 5400. E-mail: vlo@gov.si Website: slovenia.info

 

Sample product

Lake Bled is offered by Slovenia specialists and in mainstream lakes and mountains programmes. This selection is based on mid-June departures.

Balkan Holidays offers seven nights’ half-board at the Grand Hotel Toplice from £695 (14 nights from £1,129), with a lake view supplement of £20 per person per night. The price includes flights and transfers.

Holiday Options offers seven nights’ self-catering in the Golf Apartments from £379 twin-share (14 nights from £559) for a one-bedroom apartment. Flights and transfers are included.

Crystal combines seven nights’ half-board at the three-star Hotel Krim on Lake Bled with seven nights’ half-board at the four-star Hotel Riviera in the Slovenian coastal resort of Portoroz from £739, flights and transfers included.