Lake Bled has to be one of the most spellbinding places in all of Europe, let alone Slovenia. This incredibly scenic lake near the Alps looks too good to be real, with its island church, clifftop castle, and epic mountain backdrop. You’ll find more than enough activities here to keep you entertained.
It’s easy to make your first trip to Lake Bled as a day trip or an overnighter while you’re visiting Ljubljana, given how close it is. These tips for traveling to Lake Bled will tell you everything you need to know to have a great time exploring this fairy-tale spot.
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Brief Background of Lake Bled
Before we get to our traveling tips for Lake Bled, let’s cover a bit of background for the area. Lake Bled is in the northwestern corner of Slovenia, nestled near the Alps to the north and Triglav National Park to the west. As a sub-Alpine lake, the water remains unbelievably clear despite being 30 meters deep. Around it are rolling hills covered in a combination of forest and rural countryside. The area has been settled since the Slavs first came to the region in the seventh century.
Best Time to Visit Lake Bled
The best time to visit Lake Bled mostly depends on what you plan to do there and the scenery you want. Each season has its own effect on the lake, but it always stays beautiful. Given its location near the Alps, winter brings plenty of snow to Lake Bled. It’s common for the lake to freeze over, which means no paddling around in boats, but it looks like a winter wonderland when dusted in snow.
Summer brings blue skies and warm days to the lake. Thankfully, there’s plenty of shade in the surrounding forest, and you can always cool off with a swim. Of course, this is when Lake Bled is at its busiest. The happy middle ground for sightseeing is late spring and early autumn, when you’ll get pleasant weather, snow-capped mountains in the distance, and a perfectly green forest.
How to Get to Lake Bled From Ljubljana
Slovenia isn’t a large country, so planning a trip to Lake Bled isn’t difficult, even as a day trip from Ljubljana. Lake Bled is roughly 52 kilometers (32 miles) from the city, making it a manageable journey. To get to Lake Bled from Ljubljana, you can take a guided tour, a car, or public transport.
1. On a Guided Tour
As it’s one of Slovenia’s most popular and iconic destinations, a common way to travel to Lake Bled is with a guided tour. This is effectively a full-day trip, as tours typically run six to 10 hours, depending on what else they include. Lake Bled tours are often combined with other attractions in Slovenia, such as Postojna Cave, Lake Bohinj, and Triglav National Park.
If you want to visit Lake Bled on a guided tour, we highly recommend this Bled tour from Ljubljana.
2. By Car
Driving yourself around on a trip usually offers the most freedom, as you can arrive and leave whenever you like. The drive from Ljubljana to Lake Bled generally takes 40 minutes to an hour. There’s a large public parking area outside the Bled Sports Hall in the center of town, as well as several other parking spots nearby.
Recommendation: If you need to rent a car to visit Lake Bled, check out Rentalcars.com. This aggregation site searches and displays prices and availability from hundreds of car rental companies, helping you find the best car for your budget.
3. By Public Transport
Your best bet to visit Lake Bled by public transport is to take the Alpetour bus, which will drop you off a few hundred meters from the Bled town center. The ride takes an hour and costs around €6 (about $6.50) each way.
The train is also an option. Bled is serviced by two train stations, Lesce-Bled and Bled Jezero, which are located on either side of Lake Bled and serve different train lines. Coming from Ljubljana, you’ll arrive at Lesce-Bled, which is around 4 kilometers from the town center, so you’ll need to take a local bus or taxi to reach it. The journey takes an hour and costs around €7 each way.
What to See and Do in Lake Bled
Of all the travel tips for Lake Bled, the most important takeaway is that it’s not just about seeing a lake. You’ll find quite a few landmark attractions on, around, and near the lake that offer a lot more to do than just swimming and taking pictures. If you want to understand what makes this place so memorable, don’t miss the chance to explore the local nature, history, and culture when you visit Lake Bled.
Walk Around Lake Bled
A great way to get a sense of Lake Bled is by simply walking around it. You can see it completely by taking one of the roads or trails that run a complete loop around the lake. The 6-kilometer walk fluctuates between shady forest and open areas, but you’ll always have a great view of the lake.
For those with accessibility concerns, the walking route around the lake is mostly flat with some gentle inclines, alternating between sealed and gravel trails. You can also drive right along the lake on its southern side, but the road to the north doesn’t follow the lake.
Row Out to the Island Church
Perhaps the attraction Lake Bled is most known for is the small island where you’ll find the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary. Floating alone out in the middle of the water, this little island church is part of what makes Lake Bled such a magical destination.
The church was built in the 15th century to replace a pagan temple to the local goddess of love. Standing out among the island’s trees are the church’s belfry and the 99-step staircase that seems to descend into the water. Local legend has it that your wish will be granted if you ring the church’s bell three times!
You can gently glide out to the church in a traditional boat called a “pletna.” A round-trip ticket for the pletna ride costs around €15, or you can rent a small private boat to paddle yourself for around €12 per hour. The paid ride gives you time to visit the church and explore the island before heading back.
Explore Bled Castle
The other major man-made landmark you need to visit is the epic clifftop castle on the lake’s northern side. Bled Castle is over 1,000 years old, making it the oldest castle in Slovenia and a treasured part of the country’s history. Looming 130 meters above the water, this medieval castle is not just a pretty feature of Lake Bled, but also an interesting attraction in its own right.
Once you’ve made your way up to Bled Castle, you’ll get some wonderful views over the lake toward Bohinj. The castle houses a restaurant and a museum, where you can learn about the history and geography of the region, as well as what life was like here through the ages. Entry to the castle and museum costs €11.
Hike to the Mala Osojnica Viewpoint
There are plenty of great viewpoints around Lake Bled, but they don’t all capture its many features. One of the best Lake Bled travel tips is to head for Mala Osojnica, because that’s where you can see everything! This hill to the southwest offers views right over the lake, including the island church and Bled Castle, all the way to the Alps.
The catch is that it’s a steep hike if you head straight up to Mala Osojnica. A gentler approach is to go from Camping Bled up to Mount Ojstrica and then walk across to the lookout. Either approach takes about an hour.
Visit Vintgar Gorge
Just 4 kilometers north of the lake, Vintgar Gorge is another one of Slovenia’s many beautiful natural attractions. The Radovna River runs through this mile-long gorge, forming pools and waterfalls along the way. With a €9 ticket, you can cross the bridges and walkways between the steep rock walls when the gorge is open (for safety reasons, it’s often closed to visitors in the winter).
What To Eat in Lake Bled
While you can experience Slovenian cuisine during your trip to Lake Bled, the area isn’t known for any fancy culinary concoction. In the realm of food, Bled is best known for its delicious kremšnita (cream cake), a dessert made from layers of puff pastry, custard, and whipped cream. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll probably want a second helping – which isn’t a bad idea at the Park Restaurant and Cafe, which also has chocolate and fruit versions of the cake.
Where to Stay in Lake Bled
Many people visit Lake Bled on a day trip from Ljubljana but just in case you’d like to stay longer in this charming lake area, we have listed some places to stay for you below.
You won’t regret a visit to Lake Bled, one of Slovenia’s best destinations and a scene straight out of a fairy tale. We hope these travel tips for visiting Lake Bled will help you make the most of your time, because this is one trip you’re sure to remember.