An Insider's Bled Alternatives: Enjoy the Silence
The first "alternative" destination is Zasip, a village a few kilometres to the north of Bled. From there, you can reach one of the area's highlights: the Vintgar gorge, a remarkable and well-maintained natural sight where the Radovna river has found its way through the hills. A trip to Vintgar can take a whole day if you decide to walk from Zasip over the St. Katarina hill. You will easily recognise it by a church on its peak. You can also drive around but if you decide to walk it will only take you some 15 minutes. From there, you can enjoy an excellent view of Bled and its surroundings, along with a drink or a meal at the nearby restaurant. The Pokljuka gorge is another underrated sight. It is accessible from the road leading to Pokljuka. After six kilometres, make a right to Krnica village, followed by a left to Hotunje. The way is marked but it is probably best to ask the locals because the road towards the gorge meanders among the houses and fields. Once you've decided to take the trip, make sure you go all the way up or at least to one of the most breathtaking points, where a narrow opening, leading to a vast space; it is like the entrance to the Eden. The hike is not a very difficult one but isn't easy either, so good walking shoes and a basic level of fitness are highly recommended. If you still feel like hiking, there are the Mala and Velika Osojnica hills some 200 metres above the lake, accessed from the Zaka camping ground. It will take you an hour but your efforts will be rewarded by a "classic view" of the lake; many of the pictures appearing in catalogues and books were taken from there. If you continue a little further, the vistas of Bohinjska Bela, a village under spectacular rock cliffs, will open before you. Another hill is Straza, just above Bled. With its "summer sledding" course, it is easily recognisable. The access is right from the town centre. Walking in nature is among the favourite activities in Bled. A trip around the lake is a must but, at the same time, the road can get very crowded; there are two alternative options. The first one is a six-kilometre round trip from Bled towards the villages of Ribno and Koritno and back to Bled. Ribno with its picnic area and a restaurant can be a destination in itself. The other option is just out of Bled. You can start near the graveyard and take a public trail, leading to the fields: no crowds, guaranteed, with views matching or beating those in the more frequented locations. One more insider's tip: don't miss the St. Martin church. Together with the castle and the island, it is Bled's landmark. With a good hundred years, it is not very old but it is beautifully decorated. If you decide to attend the Sunday morning service (10 o'clock), the local priest will be happy to do part of the service (the first or the second reading) in your language, if it is English, German or Italian. The choir's singing alone is worth coming for, not to mention the organ player. If you ask him, he will be glad to play a Bach or H"ndl classic after the service: a very spiritual experience.