Slovenia: Lake Bled
Bled is Slovenia's most popular resort, appealing to everyone from honeymooners lured by the over-the-top romantic setting to backpackers, who come for the hiking, biking, water-sports and canyoning possibilities. The lake is located 35km away from Ljubljana airport and 55km away from Ljubljana city. The beautiful lake is in some places up to 30 metres deep and quite popular amongst divers.
Another important feature of the area are the thermal springs on the east side of the lake, which have been put to use by the local hotels, which offer spa procedures in the mineral waters. Activities in the area include a 6km walk around the lake or horse-drawn carriage riding. A must-do is taking a pletna boat to the island with the church in the middle of the lake. The charming church of the Mother of God has been built in 1142 and features a monumental staircase with 99 steps from the lake to the church entrance.
There is a local legend of a church bell purchased by a widow after her husband's tragic death that was supposed to be transported to the island. However, a sudden storm sank the boat that was carrying it and the bell fell in the dark waters to the lake bottom, never to be found. Local people are convinced that you can still hear the bell ringing on a clear night, reminding of the widow's tragedy.
Bled can be overpriced and swarming with tourists in July and August, but is equally captivating in all other seasons.