If Hollywood central casting were tasked with the job of finding an idyllic lake, with an ancient castle, a soaring church steeple and an Alpine backdrop, Bled would most certainly appear on the short list. Its beautiful setting made the area a destination for European aristocracy more than a century ago. In later years, Yugoslav leader Marshall Tito chose Bled for one of his summer homes (which has since been converted into the four-star Vila Bled hotel).

Since Slovenia's independence in 1991, Bled has grown more popular with ordinary travelers as well. Some choose one of the well-kept wooden boats to row about the lake, while others opt for a hike in the nearby mountains – perhaps even to the summit of Mt. Triglav, the highest point in Slovenia (9,393 ft; 2863 m). Less energetic visitors might enjoy a stroll around the scenic lake or a meal with a spectacular view.

Two of Bled's most notable landmarks are Bled Castle, set prominently on a cliff 330 feet (100 meters) above the lake, and the Church of the Assumption on the Island, set on a small island in the western part of the lake. The former is built on a site presented by German Emperor Henrik II to Bishop Albuin of Brixen in 1004. Much of the castle seen today was built during the late MIddle Ages, with additions through the Baroque era. Aside from its own charms, the castle offers magnificent views over the lake, the surrounding countryside and out to the Julian Alps.

The Church of the Assumption on the Island is also a popular tourist destination, not only for its 17th century Baroque decor, but for the "wishing bell" that dates from 1534. Legend holds that their wishes will be granted to all who ring the bell. Naturally, many visitors give it a try!