Lake Bled has to be one of the most spellbinding places in Slovenia, if not Europe. This incredibly scenic lake near the Alps looks too good to be real. With an island church, clifftop castle, and epic mountain backdrop, you’re sure to find more than enough activities here to keep you entertained. When visiting Ljubljana, it’s easy to make your first trip to Lake Bled as either a day trip, or as a place to spend the night, given how close the two are. These tips for traveling to Lake Bled will tell you everything you need to know to have a great time exploring this fairytale spot.
Brief Background on Lake Bled
Before we get to our travel tips for Lake Bled, you’re sure to find a bit of background on the area useful. Lake Bled is found in the northwestern corner of Slovenia, nestled in between the Alps to the north, and Triglav National Park to the west. As a sub-alpine lake, it’s no wonder the lake’s water is unbelievably crystal clear even though the lake is almost 30 meters deep. Around the lake, you’ll find rolling hills covered in a combination of forest and rural countryside. As for the people, Lake Bled was first settled by the Slavs in the 7th century.
Best Time to Visit Lake Bled
Working out the best time to visit Lake Bled will mostly depend on what you want to do while you’re there and what you want the scenery to look like. Each season has its own effect on Lake Bled, but no matter what, it always stays beautiful. Due to its location near the Alps, winter in Lake Bled brings with it plenty of snow. It’s common for the lake to freeze over, which means no paddling around in boats, but Lake Bled does look like a winter wonderland with a dusting of white snow.
Summer on the other hand brings blue skies and warm days. Thankfully there’s plenty of shade within the surrounding forest and you can always cool off with a swim in the lake itself. 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 find pleasant weather, snow capped mountains in the distance, and a nice lush green forest.
How To Get To Lake Bled From Ljubljana
Slovenia isn’t a large country, so you’ll find that planning a trip to Lake Bled, even as a day trip, isn’t difficult. Lake Bled is roughly 32 miles, or 52 kilometers, from the city of Ljubljana, making it a manageable journey. To get to Lake Bled from Ljubljana, you have a number of options open to you.
1. On a Guided Tour
Since it’s one of Slovenia’s most popular and iconic destinations, a common way to travel to Lake Bled is with a guided tour. Tours typically run between 6 and 10 hours, depending on what is included, but effectively, most tours are a full day trip. Often Lake Bled tours are combined with other attractions in Slovenia like Postojna Cave, Lake Bohinj, or Triglav National Park.
If you want to visit Lake Bled on a guided tour, this Bled tour from Ljubljana comes highly recommended.
2. By Car
Driving yourself around always offers the most freedom when traveling, as you can arrive and leave when you like. The drive from Ljubljana to Lake Bled will take about 40 minutes to an hour. Once you arrive, you can park in the large public car park outside the Bled Sports Hall in the center of town, as well as in several other spots nearby.
Recommendation: If you need to rent a car to visit Lake Bled, make sure to check out Rentalcars.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their customer service is great as well.
3. By Public Transport
If you are visiting Lake Bled by public transport, your best choice is to take the bus with Alpetour which will drop you off a few hundred meters from the center of town. The bus takes 1 hour and costs around €6 one-way.
Alternatively, the town of Bled is serviced by two train stations, Lesce-Bled and Bled Jezero that are located on either side of Lake Bled and are serviced by different train lines. Coming from Ljubljana, you’ll arrive at Lesce-Bled which is around 4 km from the town centre. The journey takes 1 hour, has regular service, and costs around €7 one-way. From Lesce-Bled you’ll need to take a local bus or taxi to reach the town centre.
What To See And Do in Lake Bled
A visit to Lake Bled is not just about seeing the lake. On, around, and nearby you’ll find quite a few other landmarks and attractions that you need to visit. There’s so much more to do here than simply looking at the lake and going for a swim. You have a chance to explore the local nature, history, and culture that together make this place so memorable. So when you visit Lake Bled, these are the best things to see and do.
1. Walk Around Lake Bled
Starting off easy – a great way to get a sense of Lake Bled is by simply walking around it. With roads and trails running in a complete loop around Lake Bled, one of the best ways to see it in its entirety is by taking a lap around. The walk goes for 6 km or 3.7 miles, and while it alternates between shady forest and open areas, you’ll always have a great view of the lake.
For those with accessibility concerns, the path around the lake is mostly flat with gentle inclines, alternating between paved and gravel trails. It is important to note that while you can drive right along the lake on its southern side, the road to the north doesn’t follow the lake.
2. Row Out to the Island Church
Perhaps the attraction that Lake Bled is most known for is the small island that is home to the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria. Alone in the middle of the lake, the sight of this little island church on Lake Bled is part of what makes it such a magical destination.
Set amongst the island’s trees, what stands out the most is the church’s belfry, and the 99 step staircase down that seems to descend into the water. The church was built in the 15th century to replace a pagan temple to the local goddess of love. No surprise then that the island is home to several local legends, including that a wish will be granted if you ring the church’s bell three times.
You can easily visit the church either by taking a ride in a traditional boat called a pletna, or renting and rowing one yourself. Sitting on the boat you gently glide out to the island as you’re paddled out and then given time to explore before heading back. A return trip in a plenta costs around €15, while a small private boat for you to paddle can cost around €12 per hour.
3. Head to Bled Castle
The other major man-made landmark you need to visit at Lake Bled is the town’s epic clifftop castle. On the lake’s northern side, Bled Castle has a prime position looming 130 meters above the water below. Though a sight to see, the medieval castle is not just a pretty feature of Lake Bled, it’s also an interesting attraction to explore all on its own.
Once you’ve made your way up to Bled Castle, not only are there some wonderful views over Lake Bled off towards Bohinj, but the castle also houses a museum and restaurant. The castle is over 1,000 years old, making it the oldest in Slovenia and a treasured part of the country’s history. In the museum you can learn about the history and geography of the region, as well as what life was like here through the ages. It costs €11 for entry into the castle and museum.
4. Hike Up to the Mala Osojnica Viewpoint
Even though there are plenty of great viewpoints in Lake Bled, they often don’t quite capture all of its qualities. One of the best Lake Bled travel tips out there is to head for the Mala Osojnica viewpoint because from there you can see everything! This hill on the southwest corner of the lake offers views right over Lake Bled, including the island church and castle all the way to the Alps.
The only catch is that it’s a steep hike up the hill if you head straight up to Mala Osojnica. A gentler approach is to go from the Bled Campground up to Mount Ojstrica, and then across to the lookout. Either approach should take around one hour return from the Bled Campground.
5. Visit Vintgar Gorge
Even though it’s not located right by the lake, it’s quite easy to tack on a visit to Vintgar Gorge on your Bled trip. Just 4 km, or 2.5 miles, north of the lake, Vintgar Gorge is another one of Slovenia’s many beautiful natural attractions. This 1.6 km, or 1 mile, long gorge has the Radovna River running through it, forming pools and waterfalls along the way. While visiting, you can walk between the steep rock walls along the scenic gorge on bridges and walkways.
What To Eat in Lake Bled
Although it’s possible to experience Slovenian cuisine during your trip to Lake Bled, the area isn’t known for any sort of fancy culinary concoction. Actually, in the realm of food, Lake Bled is best known for its delicious kremšnita, otherwise known as the Bled Cream Cake. The cream cake is a dessert made from layers of puff pastry, custard cream, and whipped cream. It’ll be hard not to go back for a second for any of those who have a sweet tooth, which isn’t such a bad idea if you’re somewhere like the Park Restaurant and Cafe where they have chocolate fruit versions of the cream cake too.
Plucked from a fairytale, you won’t regret a visit to Lake Bled, one of Slovenia’s best destinations. Hopefully, these travel tips for visiting Lake Bled will help you make the most of your time there because this is one trip you’re sure to remember!