Slovenia is a small country located in southern Europe. Small it may be but she is endowed with natural beauties that can only be described as breathtaking. One such site is Lake Bled, to the West of the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana.
With its idyllic little island in the middle, Lake Bled is the kind of place that fantasy novels are made of. Soco Valley in Bled is said to have been where “The Chronicles of Narnia” was filmed in 2007.
Today, Bled is not only a photographer’s paradise but one of Slovenia’s most visited locations. And it’s not hard to see why as we will show you in this Lake Bled travel guide.
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Why a Visit to Lake Bled is a Must
With a lovely bluish-green lake, a medieval castle that clings to a rocky cliff, picture-postcard old church on an island, all set against the Julian Alps, Bled is the country’s most popular resort. It draws visitors from all corners of the world.
Perhaps you are more attuned to nature and the outdoors? Perhaps some water sports, hiking, biking, canyoning and much more? Then you are in the right place for Lake Bled is undeniably beautiful.
Are you looking for the idyllic honeymoon hideaway? Then why not check our comprehensive Lake Bled travel guide for ideas on what to see and do in this magical Slovenian tourist destination? Hotels and guesthouses in Bled cater to every budget and taste, there are boats and bikes for hire, bathing facilities, and much more.
Best Time to Visit Lake Bled
The weather in Lake Bled makes it a great year-round destination, particularly when you consider the fact that it’s relatively warm and quite pleasant for almost half of the year. Winter tends to be rather cold but quite popular for Christmas festivities as well as New Year’s Eve.
Lying at the foot of the majestic Julian Alps at 475 meters (1,558 feet) above sea level, this is a traveller’s paradise, especially in summer.
This is the region’s high season when most visitors arrive, particularly from June to August. And guess what? You might even be lucky to catch a traditional wedding at the medieval castle!
If large crowds put you off you may want to avoid weekends for in general, they tend to be rather crowded. The best time to be in the area is during spring and autumn. The temperatures are not only slightly cooler but the crowds are thinner.
Word of caution though: Visiting during spring and autumn has its downside in that you may not find too many activities or tours on offer as you would find in summer.
Getting to Lake Bled from Ljubljana
Depending on your preference and the time in your hands, there are several ways of getting to Lake Bled from the capital.
There are no direct flights to Lake Bled as it doesn’t have an airport. Ljubljana Airport is the nearest airport to Bled. Getting to Lake Bled from the Ljubljana Airport is, however, quite easy. A bus operates daily every hour during daytime hours. This, however, is only during summer between 1st July and 1st September.
Renting a car and driving to Lake Bled from the capital Ljubljana takes about 45 minutes. This is an easy and straightforward drive along the highway. An alternative way of reaching Bled would be via the regional road through Medvode and Kranj.
Working on a tighter budget or don’t fancy renting a car? Then hop on to the bus. There are buses departing every hour (6 am to 10 pm) from Ljubljana’s main bus station. You can buy bus tickets at the station or online. Travel time is about 1.15 hours.
During winter, there are fewer bus services, so we suggest you time your visit accordingly or confirm before travelling to Bled.
2 train stations serve in the Bled area: Lesce and Jezero.
Lesce station has frequent connections with the capital Ljubljana and is about 4.5 km from Lake Bled. This means you will need the services of a bus or taxi to get to Lake Bled after arriving at the station.
Jezero is to the West of the Lake Bled and is about 3 km from Bled town, 2.5 km from the famous Bled Castle. Although Jezero has fewer connections with Bled from the capital, it offers a scenic train journey that takes you through the beautiful Soca Valley.
Train tickets cannot be bought online and you must go to the main station to buy and book. The journey from Ljubljana to Lake Bled is one hour.
Travel tip: Given the distance between both train stations and Lake Bled, we would recommend either renting a car from Ljubljana or taking a bus to Bled. It’s not only more convenient but more cost-effective.
Getting Around Lake Bled
Once you are in Lake Bled, nearly every place is easily accessible on foot. Although many of the attractions and places we recommend on this Lake Bled travel guide are neatly located near each other, you may need a more sustainable means of transportation to reach others.
Unless you plan to visit other sites outside of Bled, renting a car is not absolutely necessary. You can easily rent an electric bike, take the boat, or go for the leisurely carriage ride.
Things to Do in Lake Bled
The scenery of Lake Bled is unbelievably beautiful with great spots waiting to be explored. Whether it’s a boat trip, a visit to the castle on a cliff, the baroque church on an islet, Lake Bled is absolutely packed with amazing places to visit and things to do.
Being largely an outdoor destination, most of the places, activities, and things to do we recommend in this Lake Bled travel guide are adventure and nature-oriented.
Walk Hike, or Cycle around Lake Bled
One of the easiest things to do here is to simply wander around the lake. The island is small enough not to tire you excessively as it can take around 1-2 hours to walk around the entire place. That will, of course, depend on the number of ice cream stops or coffee breaks you decide to take.
Just let go, relax, and enjoy the wonderful views as you walk. You will love the breath-taking reflections on the water of stunning mountains that form the background. The lake has a circular trail with many nice places of interest where you can take a break or watch the traditional Pletna boats as they ride towards the picturesque Bled Island.
Love hiking? Then why not hike to the Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica viewpoints? Along the trail, you will find cosy benches and nice cafes where you can relax and enjoy the unique atmosphere only found around Lake Bled. The total distance around the lake comes to 6 kilometres.
Tip: Consider combining your Lake Bled walk with a leisurely tea/coffee break and also treat yourself to the awesome Bled Cream Cake. This is a Slovenian original and must be tasted when visiting Bled!
Watch The Sunrise over Lake Bled
Love watching the sunrise? One of the best things we did when in Bled was to watch the sunrise over the Lake. We think you should try it too. Sunrise is the best time to see the lake in its true majesty and beauty.
Tip: Because the area is very popular it can get rather noisy and crowded so the best time to enjoy the moment in peace is to get up very early in the morning and look for a secluded spot like the Ojstrica viewpoint. That may mean getting up at 4 am in the summer!
Take a Boat to Bled Island
The highlight of your holiday must be taking a boat trip on Lake Bled. You just cannot afford to miss the beautiful experience of riding on a Pletna boat. This is a traditional style flat-bottomed boat used by the locals since the 16th century. Pletna boats are recognizable because of their colored awning covering. They typically carry a maximum of 20 passengers per trip.
On a trip with these traditional Slovenian wooden boats, you have the opportunity of visiting Bled Island where a lovely baroque church waits for you.
Visit Church of the Assumption
The landmark of this area is Bled Island. There you will find the church of the Assumption that dates back to the 14th century. This will interest history buffs as it was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in the 17th Century.
If you want to go higher then visit the bell tower and marvel at the scenic view of Lake Bled and the surroundings. But there is a catch: you have to climb all the 99 stone steps. And when you get to the top, remember to ring the church bell, the wishing bell of Bled. Local legend has it that ringing the bell makes your wish come true.
If luck is on your side when visiting the church, you could be among fortunate ones to catch a beautiful and colourful Lake Bled wedding ceremony. The tradition here is that the groom has to carry the bride up all the 99 steps!
Make a Date with Lake Bled Castle
The most impressive lake views are from the ramparts of the historic Bled Castle (Blejski grad). This majestic edifice is built on a rocky outcrop and rises over 100 meters above the lake water. Dating from the 11th century, Bled Castle is one of the oldest castles in Slovenia. The Romanesque tower is Castle’s oldest part.
Its present appearance, however, is largely 17th-century. A fire broke out at the end of World War II and destroyed the castle’s upper rooms and roof. Slovenian architects started the reconstruction and it lasted for 10 years. From that time, Lake Bled Castle has been turned into a museum. Inside you find the Castle Museum packed with important archaeological finds, armoury, and period furniture.
Tour the Historic Vila Bled
On the lake’s south bank, just a 20-minute walk from Bled town, you will find Vila Bled. Set in manicured gardens, it was largely built in the 20th century by the Yugoslav royal family as a summer mansion.
Vila Bled was the summer residence of President Tito. The late President of the former Republic of Yugoslavia used Vila Bled as a retreat where he also entertained world leaders. Notable visitors to Vila Bled included USSR’s Nikita Khrushchev, Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie, Jordan’s King Hussein, India’s Indira Gandhi, and Emperor Akihito of Japan, among others.
Since 1984 Vila Bled has been turned into a luxury hotel featuring a spa and other top-of-the-range services. The restaurant serves Slovenian as well as international gourmet cuisine. If you happen to be here during summer, you can enjoy a private swimming deck plus a boathouse.
Try Bled Canyoning
Looking for some adventure sports? If so, you will definitely want to try Canyoning during your visit to Bled. Book with any of the local tours that cover both large and small canyons, waterfalls as well as the famous Soca River.
On these canyoning excursions, you get to enjoy panoramic views of the majestic Julian Alps, and much more.
Consider the Camping Sites
A nature lover? An excellent way of truly experiencing the beauty of this lovely destination is to try camping in Lake Bled. The spectacular Alpine terrain offers incredible opportunities if you love combining camping with hiking.
Lake Bled has two commercial style camping sites. Garden Village Bled offers a broad range of camping experiences. These include the unique experience of staying in Treehouses (tree lodges) or pier tents. You can also opt for the more conventional Camping Bled site.
Taste Bled Cream Cake
Our Lake Bled travel guide would be incomplete without recommending you try the Bled Cream Cake. Native to Bled, Cream Cake is without a shred of doubt the most popular local dessert — and rightfully so. At first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking these are typical cream cakes. Wait till you taste them and you are hooked!
Where to stay in Lake Bled?
The area around Lake Bled has plenty of reasonably priced hotels and guest houses where you can stay. If you are the adventurous type, you could join campsites or stay in small apartments. Some of these accommodations such as Guest House Mlino and Grand Hotel Toplice offer amazing views of Lake Bled from your room or the hotel terrace.
Lake Bled is one of the finest and most spectacular places to visit. It walks a very fine line between adventurous and melancholic, a place that we think you should experience at least once in your lifetime.