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Lake Bled at Christmas and surroundings (Škofja Loka, Radovljica…)

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When one considers Slovenia as a destination, inevitably the idyllic image of a glacial lake in the Julian Alps and all that spectacle of nature of waterfalls, gorges, canyons, rivers ... that surrounds the Triglav National Park around the highest mountain in the Same name, they are the immediate reference. However, on this trip to Slovenia in winter and Christmas, our passage through the area has led us to focus on the best known jewel, the most attractive places to see Lake Bled (castle, viewpoints, city, street market ...) and its surrounding villages such as the Christmas Radovljica or the medieval Škofja Loka.


The Vingtar gorge or the Soca River, Lake Bohinj, the Savic waterfall, Virje, Boca ... or the Javorca Church, Kobarid or Tolmin, are part of another summer trip that we will surely do in the future.

Planning the route of the day: Ljubljana - Škofja Loka - Bled

We return to the route by car and with it the planning of the day with all possible alternatives for you to consider when designing your own. Heitinerary of the day has been the following (click to see it on Google Maps)

Barely 24 km separate Škofja Loka from Ljubljana, which added to be January 1, we have hardly encountered traffic or parking problems. From there we have set course for Bled Castle directly in about 40 minutes To arrive around noon. Castle, other stops around and stay in our pension, we have occupied the afternoon until at dusk we have moved to the near and Christmas town of Radovljica which is just 7 km - 15 minutes, to end the day walking through the town of Bled and its markets.

Distance traveled during the day: 86 km
Car used in the trip: Peugeot 308 130 HP Diesel booked with Rentalcars With Premium Coverage in case we have a problem. You already have available the article "Car rental in Slovenia (from Venice) with comparative"
Hotel chosen to sleep in Bled: Penzion Kaps (familiar, with free parking and a few meters walk from the village promenade)
Alternative excursions to the car fromand Ljubljana: Bled Tour from LjubljanaExcursion to Bled and Bohinj from Ljubljana me excursion to Bled, Postojna cave and Predjama castle.
Circuit from Venice for those who do not want to rent a car: 8-day tour of Slovenia from Venice with guide in Spanish which includes airport pick-up, lodging, breakfast, transfers, cable car and all tickets

What to see between Ljubljana, Bled and surroundings?

Although our stops have been Škofja Loka, Lake Bled and Radovljica, wewe list in order all the stop possibilities (many do not appear even in the usual guides -With the most interesting-):

- Škofja Loka, one of the most beautiful villages in Slovenia with a medieval air of squares, bridges and alleyways
Kamnik, one of the oldest towns with its Small Castle and the Old Castle
- Velika Planina, a unique village of shepherds' huts in a nature spot
Kranj, town with very interesting medieval historical center
- Radovljica, a picturesque town that dresses Christmas in great detail.
Bled, with its lake, island, castle and viewpoints
Triglav National Park in general, with its Vintgar Gorge, Vršič Pass, Soča River, Bohinj Lake,…
Kranjska Gora, the most famous ski resort with a spectacular nativity scene in an "icy kingdom" located in the nearby Mlačca Gorge in Mojstrana

Of all this, we planned to add the Bethlehem of Ice Kingdom live with its Snow Queen in Mojstrana and its large glass room with frozen waterfalls and water jets but this year, Christmas 2019/2020, they decided to close it on 30 December when other years lengthened it until the beginning of January (consult its official Web)

Škofja Loka, the most beautiful medieval village in Slovenia

Good morning, little Olivia! Do you know what day it is today? January 1, 2019! Last night in theNew Year's Eve in Ljubljana You fell asleep 10 minutes from "the grapes" so, technically, as you open your eyes, it's your first minutes in a new year. No one is seen on the street so, after having breakfast at the large buffet offered by theGrand Hotel Union, lower the bags to the car of the same parking lot of the hotel where he has been these days (40 EUR) and check-out, just in 30 minutes we were already parking in the Bella Škofja Loka, a town that looks very well prepared for tourism, with ample parking lots and good signs so as not to saturate your old town, but that we are going to have the privilege of enjoying for ourselves and a few other early risers (and that is already 10'00)


Škofja Loka is considered to many as the most beautiful village in Slovenia and, in sight, the staging of one of the places that best preserve the Historical Heritage of the whole country cannot be better. It is located in the Selska Valley and is crossed by the Sora River on which there are several bridges that allow you some of the best photos.



In addition, this locality has the privilege of being the medieval scene of the Passion of Škofja Loka that includes the Selška dolina valley and the Poljanska dolina valley, intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO, a famous Easter procession that shows the suffering of Christ written by a Slovenian Capuchin monk named Ramuald de Standrez between 1715 - 1727.




The first writings of this population date from S.X. (others say S.XIII) and both she and her surrounding extensions were owned by the Bavarian bishops of Freising for more than 900 years before the land was exchanged between Austria and Italy. This and the fact that it was inhabited by artisans and merchants, makes A walk through Škofja Loka is one of the most pleasant experiences to enjoy in Slovenia. By the way, those looking for a romantic place "hanging" from the river, pointing the Hotel Garni Paleta.



Before crossing the river, you can still see where the stone walls that protected the city were at their peak and that predate theCapuchin Bridge, a semicircular stone passage that welcomes a Historic Center composed of churches and monasteries, school houses and private residences on a labyrinthine route of cobbled streets.



In addition to the Baroque-style Capuchin Church built in 1709 and containing very valuable manuscripts in its Library, it can be passed next to the St. Jacob's Church, one of Skofja Loka's most important historical buildings




From the Lower Square you enter an area of ​​narrow alleys of the old town where each house has a plaque of some prominent person who inhabited it and that flow into the Upper Plaza



Mestni trg is a huge rectangle surrounded by historic buildings and with the so-called Mark of Mary, three statues and an altar sculpted in 1751 from the rock. The Old Town Hall of the 16th century and its baroque frescoes, the former merchant mansion of the 16th century called Zigon House, the old Parson House or the Martin House, one of Skofja Loka's most distinctive buildings, complete this open-air museum


Another visit that can be done is the Skofja Loka Castle (also its Museum) which is reached through a steep climb but whoever looks for the best panoramic views should choose Pustal, ascending the Hribec hill, a pilgrimage route to the Church of San Cruz. There is also another nature trail that goes through the dense surrounding forest called something like "the path of the three castles" that connects Loka Castle with the Kranclju Tower and the Wild Loka Castle, even older. However, with Oli in his morning nap, we decided to take those warm coffees and usual piscolabis (2.80 EUR) in one of those moments that one appreciates in every trip as well as buy some gifts (11.50 EUR). We have done it in the Homan House or Kavarna Homan, a cafeteria that serves traditional cakes and ice cream with eggs, milk and cream from the area, located in a Gothic-style mansion in the squareOf course on your terrace.

THE TRAVEL IN VIEW OF OLI:

A trip to Slovenia is feasible by setting one (or two) bases, especially if we consider its capital, Ljubjlana. From it there are not only tours and excursions that bring you closer to the main attractions of the country but there is a good train and bus service. However, going with little Oli and because we are lovers of roadtrip, car rental has given us the necessary flexibility for this trip.

And to towns likeŠkofja Loka how can you get there if you don't have a car? Arriva is the most prominent transport company in Slovenia and has large and comfortable buses that for just over 3 EUR per person take you here buying the ticket the same day (you can check here bus schedules and prices). You also have the option of the train although in this case the station is on the outskirts and requires taking another local bus later (you can check train schedules and prices here)

To those who match the mealtime, there is a restaurant calledGostilna Kašča found in the basement of the old barn, the second most important building in the city after the castle. There is also the option of ...

Lake Bled from the castle and its viewpoints

Just 40 minutes from the previous one, we enter this area of ​​nature that is the Triglav National Park, a trip in itself and objective of many people on their trip to Slovenia. However, it is winter and we carry a small "in the backpack" so when we planned our route we knew that Vintgar Gorge, Vršič Pass, Soča River and its gorge, Lake Bohinj, Vogel Funicular (Ukanc ), the Savic Waterfall, Virje or Boca, Kobarid, Tolmin, or the Javorca Church (which only open July and August) were part of another adventure (By the way, we highly recommend the "Route by car through the Triglav National Park: Vintgar Gorge, Vršič Pass, Soča River, Motorail and Bohinj Lake"of the guys from El Mundo in Mi Cámara that we loved.) Our views, however, were going to be different ...


What Were we going to make stops in Bled? Castle, circular route with viewpoints and town

Bled Castle, a must on Lake Bled

Reaching Bled Castle by car has no major complications and has parking ready for it. We are in one of the essentials of Lake Bled although we already perceive that we are in the most tourist site of the whole trip. Here we see many people.



It is not necessary to pay the entrance fee to contemplate the views of the entire lake although we love castles, you know, so we pay 11 EUR per person (Oli already awakens does not pay - you can check the official prices here-) and we enter a kind of patio with a restaurant and terrace that must be a joy to eat (also for your pocket, haha) and two levels that are accessed by a staircase and give way to different spaces, including a souvenir shop, a cellar and an ethnographic museum in addition to the historical elements of the castle




However, what can be considered the number 1 attraction in all of Slovenia does not stand out even for its oldest part with its Romanesque tower or its moat, 16th century chapel or Renaissance buildings, but does it for its privileged location on top of a cliff over 130 meters high.



In honor of the truth, Bled Castle has lost all cultural interest to become a balcony to one of the best panoramic views in Slovenia and this has its negative connotation also because it is not prepared for seasons with a lot of people.




Time to eat Oli? Not every day one eats in a castle, right? Said and done ... and here we take our picnic that we brought from the purchase we had made in the supermarket of Ljubjlana the day we arrived

Circular route on Lake Bled with viewpoints

Again in the car, it was time to choose between all the stops that can be made at Lake Bled (there is also an option to Guided tour of Bled for those who prefer it) to admire this natural treasure of Slovenia. We do it in an anti-clockwise sense because we have started at the castle, right next to the town in that same direction:

- Bordering the lake, the next most lively area with enabled parking (for a fee) to stop is around Camping Bled (Google Maps). Here, in addition to walking, bathing or taking some photos, you can leave the car to face the ascent to the viewpoints, which is a few minutes away.



- The Ojstrica and Osojnica viewpoints are considered to have the best views of Lake Bled and so it is, with the island but also Bled Castle and the backdrop mountains




Although we tend to confuse them for what we will do an article dedicated soon "Bled Lake Lookouts", basically the main ones are Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE RISE TO THE OJSTRIC AND OSOJNIC VIEWPOINTS OF LAKE BLED:

1. The starting point of both climbs starts at this GPS point 46º 21'33.3 N 14º 05'05.3 " (Google Maps) which can be reached on foot from the parking lot of Camping Bled
2. Both are well indicated but not to be confused. In addition, the road to Osojnica is divided into two, one that leads to Mala Osojnica who is the viewpoint itself and another to Velika Osojnika where there are also good views.
3. The Ojstrica is the viewpoint of the famous bank and much less demanding (20-30 minutes) than the Bad Osojnica That is taller. Personally, I think Ojstrica's is perfect.

- There is a panoramic cafe called Café Belvedere or Kavarna Belvedere with an idyllic terrace to enjoy the typical dessert while admiring the best views of the lake. You can access it by road following that detour to the lake although, however, it only opens from the end of April / beginning of May to October so we could not verify it. We are surprised that few people mention it as such a beautiful place.

Village of Bled, the tourist center of the lake

It is where you can find the largest gastronomic offer Besides having a nice walk. It is highly recommended Park Hotel patisserie where there is an ice rink at this time of year and you can try their Bled Cream Cake (Kremšnita), an exquisite sweet, or the Slascicarna Zima pastry shop, also very famous. Watch out for these desserts because one piece arrives for two people to spare.

MORE OPTIONS AT LAKE BLED IF YOU STAY A FEW DAYS:

- Take a flat, typical boat, to the island and visit the House of Sexton, the Preboste, the Church of the Assumption and its 90 steps with its tower and bell tower, its Hermitage and the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes
- Walk along the promenade that borders the lake about 6 km away with wooden walkways included
- Rent a bike to tour the domains of the lake
- Bathe in the lake if it's summer season

As it will get dark in a while, we have decided to set course for Penzion Kaps where we stay and has its own parking although we will return to the town that has a Christmas market later



It is located in the quiet area of ​​downtown Bled which can be accessed by a staircase, it takes you 10 minutes to walk, it has only 10 rooms, and it reminds us of those small family houses in which we stay in other magical places like Hallstatt Another New Year from a few years ago.

Radovljica, the town that brought us to Slovenia

When we prepared this trip we had the original idea of ​​getting Oli to see the Nativity scene of the Ice Kingdom of Mojstrana that they say is spectacular. However, being closed as of December 30 this year, other options to take advantage of the day. Do you remember this video that we put you to explain what brought us here?

That Christmas spot created by a brand of sweets, breakfasts and desserts, was the definitive trigger that made us catch our flight so that Oli's first Christmas away from home was destined for Slovenia. The location of the ad is a town 7 km from Lake Bled calledRadovljica, the considered beekeeping and chocolate capital of the country, now well known for its sweet called Radol'ca. And here we are!




Radovljica really is a medieval town with a defense pit and views of the Karavanke mountain range and the Julian Alps, which has a series of historic buildings, museums and art galleries but claims its site during the Chocolate Festival, where chefs from all over Europe come to make this delicacy. Today it is still decorated for Christmas although its best days (and liveliest) are until Christmas Eve.



The heart of the population revolves around a Main street from Linhart Square to St. Peter's Church It breathes a wonderful medieval atmosphere, in addition to having the best offer of bars and restaurants. It also contains Renaissance and Gothic buildings and even a center where you can discover the secret history of Slovenian beekeeping, although today everything is quite lonely. It is seen that last night there was a good party.




When we decide to set our base in this area we doubt whether to do it in Bled or in the Pension Lectar here. Although the Christmas atmosphere of Radovljica is special, with hundreds of lights and it is a charming city, perhaps we would not have succeeded today so we did well to stay in Bled looking for atmosphere.

RESTAURANTS IN SLOVENIA | RADOVLJICA: Restaurant / Hotel / Lectar Museum, one of the best-kept "secrets" of Slovenia in the same pension we were staying at, a restaurant but also a gingerbread museum



It is a tradition that comes from 1766 in which you can visit how they bake gingerbread, decorate it with old machinery or by hand in the form of hearts, dolls or other types of designs and all this, dressed in traditional clothes of the 18th century



If you already visit it throughout the year (11 to 22) for 1.50 EUR, it is a very original experience, what about doing it in Christmas?

Hungry Paula? The little one is just "snack" so we are going to look for a place to have dinner but we will already do it in Bled himself

We have left the car in the parking lot of thePenzion Kaps, where by the way they are majestic, and we have gone down the stairs that surround the Rikli Balance Hotel to reach the main promenade. Before going down we took the opportunity to dine some pizzas in a nice and warm place called Pizzeria Gallus (29.50 EUR) that we found on the way on the second floor of an open leisure center. The temperature has dropped considerably but we didn't want to miss another one of the Slovenia's most famous Christmas markets, Bled's




Dozens of wooden stands parallel to the shore of Lake Bled combine holiday gift shops, crafts with hot food and drinks and they do it from November 30 to January 6 every year.



How could it be otherwise, a very original music box and the occasional gift where Paula's usual "turtle" is not missing (17 EUR all) come as a souvenir for "Casa Chavetas". As a backdrop, the Bled Castle illuminated at the top of its mountain.




The market itself is not too big and runs fast. As an alternative there is also the terrace of the Park Coffe Shop hotel where in addition to having an ice rink that opens every day until January 16 and until late, it allows you to rent seal skates for the little ones, they also have an ice cream called Sladogled that some say is one of the best they have tried. We, however, are already back in the pension because it is much more freezing than these days ago. He Nice Škofja Loka, the entire surroundings of Lake Bled with its castle, viewpoints, town and flea market and the Christmas Radovljica have been a perfect day for a New Year away from home, another. And tomorrow? To the Slovenian coast!


Isaac, Paula and Oli, from Bled (Slovenia)

EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 104.30 EUR and GIFTS: 28.50 EUR

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