FAQ BLED 2011 (updated 2017!)
Q: Where can I stay in Bled?
A: As we all know, the costs of international travel have been going up significantly for years. Consequently, many of you may be looking for ways to cut some costs on your trip to Bled. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to do this. The main thing you can do is to stay somewhere besides the conference Hotel, Hotel Kompas.
The conference rate for 2017 is 90 Euros per night for single occupancy; 52 Euros each for double occupancy(104) Euros. More about special rates in Hotel Kompas.
Bled is full of inexpensive but comfortable pensions and apartments for rent. These range from a simple room with a bed and closet to full apartments with a small kitchen and separate living area. Prices will, of course, vary accordingly. However, you can find comfortable lodgings in Bled for as low as 35 Euros for one person, with breakfast included.
I recommend that you go to www.bled.si to search for a place to stay in Bled. There are links there to quite a few hotels and pensions in Bled, and most have web sites with pictures and lists of current room rates. But even better, many of the listings tell you where they are located on a map of Bled. You click on the text telling you which grid location they are in, and the map pops up. To help you get your bearings, the conference hotel is in grid F5. Any place in the nearer half of an adjacent grid is easy walking distance to the hotel. (My own feeling is that everywhere in or near downtown Bled is walking distance to the conference hotel, but not everyone is as happy to walk as I am.)
Bear in mind that many of these places do not accept credit cards. You may need to plan to have enough cash when you leave to pay your room bill. In my experience, the proprietors of these places are happy to communicate with you via email, so feel free to email them if you have any questions about the accommodations.
Another web site I recommend is http://www.3glav-adventures.com/index.html. If you go there, you may find my recommendation strange at first. This is the web site of a company that sells “adventure tours” in sites around Slovenia. However, they have a link on their front page called “LINKS,” which takes you to a page of links to lots of useful information about Bled. If you scroll down to the bottom, you will see on the right a list of links to local pensions. Back at the top are some other useful links for those who are trying to travel cheaply. For example, there is a link to Easyjet, which offers cheap flights to Ljubljana, from which Bled is a relatively short bus ride. There are also links to sites at which you can look up train schedules for trains throughout most of Europe, and even buy tickets online in some cases.
The company, 3glav Adventures, has an office in downtown Bled. It is easy to get to, and the people there are extremely helpful and knowledgeable about the local accommodations. If you are having trouble finding a low-cost place to stay during the conference, I recommend contacting them. And for what it’s worth, their Emerald River adventure is fantastic!
Finally, many of you may be familiar with the website tripadvisor.com. This website collects consumer reviews of hotels all over the world. It can be very helpful in trying to settle on a place to stay in a city with which you are unfamiliar. Their page on Bled is here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g274863-Bled-Vacations.html.
Q: Where do I get information on Slovenia?
A: There are now quite a few English‑language guidebooks dedicated to Slovenia. A quick search of “travel Slovenia” on Amazon.com yields at least half a dozen. I cannot offer any personal recommendation, other than that I have found Rick Steves’ Slovenia and Crotia extremely helpful in the past. As you would expect, there is also lots of information about Slovenia, and about Bled, online. One obvious place to start would be http://www.slovenia.info/. But, again, a quick google search on “travel Slovenia” will give you more websites about Slovenia than you could look at in a year. For information about Bled specifically, you can look here: http://www.bled.si/en/.
Q: How do I get to Slovenia?
A: You have several options.
Option 1. Fly to Ljubljana. The only true international airport in the country is the Ljubljana airport, which is not in Ljubljana proper but in Brnik, 21 km away. You won’t be able to fly directly to Ljubljana from the U.S. There are direct flights of varying frequency between Ljubljana and the following cities: Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Istanbul, London, Moscow, Munich, Paris, Skopje, Tirana, Vienna, and Zurich. Many but by no means all of these are with Adria Airways (http://www.adria-airways.com/en/index.cp2), the Slovenian national airline. When I last checked on http://kayak.com (1/29/2011), flights to Ljubljana from Chicago were around $1500, from LA were around $1700, and from NYC were around $1200.
Option 2. Fly to another European city and rent a car or GoOpti.
Very good, quick (and not very expensive) option when travelling from your airport to Bled is the GoOpti service. The prices vary based on when you reserve the service (the earlier you reserve, the cheaper the fee); however, they are usually as follows:
- From Ljubljana (Slovenia) airport, it will cost you approximately 12 euros to get to Bled (one-way), and you will get to Bled in around 30 minutes.
- From Trieste (Italy) airport, it will cost you approximately 25 euros one-way, and you will get to Bled in a little under 2 hours.
- From Munich (Germany) airport, it will cost you approximately 50 euros one-way, and you will get to Bled in around 3 hours and 50 minutes.
- From Zagreb (Croatia) airport, it will cost you approximately 35 euros one-way, and you will get to Bled in a little over 2 hours.
- From Venice (Italy) airport, it will cost you approximately 25 euros one-way, and you will get to Bled in around 3 hours.
A previous organizer, Mylan Engel, preferred to fly into Munich and rent a car to drive to Bled. This FAQ has a couple of entries regarding the rules and requirements of driving rental cars in Slovenia.
Option 3. Fly to another European city and take the train to Slovenia.
On one of my previous trips (2007), I flew to Munich and took a train from there to the Jesenice train station in Slovenia. It is very easy and convenient to get from the Munich airport to the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) by train. The S1 train (S-Bahn) goes directly from the airport to the Hauptbahnhof. From there you can get a train to Jesenice, and it is a short bus ride from Jesenice to Bled. The train ride is beautiful, going through a section of the Alps. It has the added advantage of freeing you from having to navigate and drive in an unfamiliar place (if, indeed, Germany and Slovenia are unfamiliar places to you).
For more information about the train connection between the Munich airport and the Hauptbahnhof, go to the Munich airport website here: http://www.munich-airport.de/en/consumer/anab/bahn1/index.jsp.
You can get more information about the train from Munich to Jesenice, and possibly even book your tickets, here: http://www.bahn.de/international/view/en/index.shtml
Obviously, there are other European cities that you can use as an intermediate destination and from which you can either drive or catch a train to Slovenia. Munich simply happens to be the city that two of us have used.
FlixBus might also be an option.
Q: Once I’m in Slovenia, how do I get to Bled?
A: The best information about this that I know of can be found here: http://www.inyourpocket.com/slovenia/bled/Arrival-and-Transport.
Q: Do I need a visa to enter Slovenia?
A: Americans, Canadians, Australians, and UK citizens need a passport but no visa. EU country citizens need only whatever they ordinarily need to cross into other EU countries. Anyone else should consult their consulate.
Q: What should I do about money?
A: The Slovenian currency is the euro. For current exchange rates, go to www.xe.com.
Credit cards are accepted widely in Slovenia, and you can generally count on being able to use them in most shops and restaurants, at least in Bled and Ljubljana. ATMs are also widespread, and there are several in easy walking distance of the conference hotel in Bled. For more information, see this FAQ.
Important: If you plan to make extensive use of your credit card in Slovenia, it is a very good idea to let your credit card company know in advance, so that they don’t freeze your card while you are there.
Even if you plan to use credit cards for most purchases, you’ll want some local currency for in-country transportation, small items and the occasional business that doesn’t take credit cards. If you fly in, you may wish to change a fairly substantial amount at the airport bank. As in many places around the world, banks in Slovenia offer some of the best exchange rates for foreign currency. ATMs used to be the best option, but most issuing banks seem to have caught on and now charge fees for letting you withdraw foreign currency. The hotel will also change money (though they will probably charge a commission.) You can change money at any post office, almost any bank or hotel, at bus and train stations, and at private shops; look for signs saying “Menjalnica” or “Wechsel”.
You’ll pay double fees, of course, if you change dollars to euros and then back again, so try to avoid changing more than you’ll need.
Q: How will I communicate?
A: Communication is seldom a problem, even if you haven’t a word of Slovene. English is widely spoken, especially by young people. In the unlikely event of a desperate linguistic bind, latch onto the nearest high‑schooler to interpret for you. A bit of German or Italian may be useful but isn’t essential. Bus conductors seem to know more German than English, but in any case you can get by with nothing more than place-names and gestures. In hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, you can almost always use English.
Q: What sort of weather should I expect?
A: Unpredictable. The weather in June might typically be as follows: warm, clear mornings, followed by a brief, cooling afternoon rain, with skies clearing again by late afternoon. Temperatures are usually pleasant during the day but often nippy in the morning and evening. I advise bringing a warm sweater or jacket. If you plan to hike in the nearby mountains, bring warmer clothing.
Like all weather forecasts, this one should be taken with a heap of salt. One year the whole week passed in rainless heat; another year we had chilly rain almost all day, every day. So, to be on the safe side, bring clothes for chilly weather and clothes for very hot weather. A compact travel umbrella is also a good idea.
Q: Is Internet access available?
A: The conference hotel does provide wireless access to the Internet. It is free for everyone affiliated with the conference, whether you stay at the hotel or not. You may have to ask at the desk to get a login and password.
Q: What is there to do in and around Bled?
A: Bled and its surroundings are beautiful. The area is an alpine hiker’s paradise; not far from Bled is what’s alleged to be some of the best hiking in Europe. There are charming villages to explore nearby. There’s a castle and a church worth exploring, both medieval, right in Bled, and more of each are in nearby towns. Ljubljana, about an hour away by bus, has wonderful architecture from medieval to modern, art galleries, and cultural events of all kinds, as well as a thriving cafe scene.
Also within an hour of Bled—and in some cases right in the town—you can rent mountain bikes, canoes and kayaks for either flat- or whitewater, and even paragliders (along with instruction in their use). For more information, I recommend the website of a local “adventure tour” company in Bled itself: http://www.3glav-adventures.com/index.html. They run a bunch of guided walking/biking/canoeing/etc. tours. Even if you do not want to take one of their tours, they will have lots of helpful information about how to do this sort of thing on your own.
There’s also a casino in town, for all you game theorists.
I always try to schedule one afternoon off in the middle of the conference week so that participants can explore Bled and surrounding environs, though you can see and do a lot more by arriving early or by staying an extra day or two after the conference. Many past participants have expressed regret, after seeing a bit of what the area holds, that they didn’t schedule free time before or after the conference to explore. Plan accordingly, and don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you want specific recommendations, let me know what interests you.
Q: How’s the local cuisine? Will vegetarians starve?
A: Omnivores will find plenty to eat—flesh of every sort, good breads and a variety of cheeses. Fresh salads are ubiquitous. Vegetarians and vegans will have fewer options, but will typically find a few dishes they can eat in almost any restaurant. One restaurant in Bled, the Okarina, provides a welcome exception to this rule with an impressive selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes, though the service at Okarina can leave a bit to be desired, especially for large parties. (Don’t go to Okarina if you are in a hurry!! But do go, if you want a delicious, relaxing, unhurried meal.)
FAQ from www.slovenia.info
This has lots of useful information about travelling in Slovenia.