Bled is one of the most picturesque locations in Europe. From the emerald coloured lake, island church and clifftop castle, it is truly magical.
I don’t need to sell it to you – I’ll let the pictures do the talking!
How to get there:
Buses run to Bled direct from Ljubljana more or less every hour, every day. See here for schedules.
To reach Lake Bled from other countries, you will need to travel to Ljubljana and change to the line to Lake Bled. The only direct routes internationally is from Zagreb which runs from mid June to mid September, or from Munich during the summer which takes 5 hours.
How to get around:
Bled is very small and easily walkable, however you’ll need to catch local buses to reach the outer regions for day trips. Schedules can be found here.
For something different, drop by the tourist information office right on the lake and hire a bike to zip around the lake and nearby areas. €3 will get you three hours or €11 for the day.
Where to eat:
Budget restaurants are not particularly common in Bled, so staying in a hostel with a kitchen is highly recommended.
Gostilna Pri Planincu
This is the oldest pub in Bled, operating for over 100 years. They have a great selection of traditional meals as well as a pizzeria for a cheap meal on the go.
Grajska Plaza Restaurant
Located on the lake edge, this restaurant offers a great variety of meals ranging in price starting at €12. They also serve up Lake Bled’s famous Kremna Rezina or cream slice – a must try while you’re in Bled. Thick layers of vanilla custard and fresh cream, sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry and covered with a dusting of icing sugar. Holy wow delicious.
Where to stay:
Bled Hostel was a great choice, with a well-equipped kitchen, friendly and helpful staff, a pumping bar downstairs and they even have a washing machine for free use. Located only 1 minute walk from the bus station, it was perfect for those early morning day trips. Oh and did I mention it was only €6 a night?!
Example Daily Budget
€30 per day
- Hostel: €6 per night
- Breakfast made in hostel: €2
- Vintgar Gorge entrance: €5
- Lunch at Pizzeria: €5
- Hostel cooked dinner: €6
- Beers at bar: €5
How long to spend here:
3 days will allow you enough time to explore this incredibly beautiful town and surroundings.
What to see and do:
The 6km long trail takes you around the lake in around 1 hour and 20 minutes, however you’ll be stopping every few minutes to take a photo – there are no bad angles or times of the day here. Every time you reach a new break in the trees surrounding the emerald lake it’s almost impossible not to stop and stare in awe. Allow yourself plenty of time to soak it all in.
The main drawcard to Lake Bled is of course the picturesque church sitting in the middle of the lake. Because of this, it is a little more expensive to get to but definitely worth it. You can either jump on board one of the traditional ‘pletna’ boats leaving from several spots around the lake regularly, which is rowed by a friendly local who will give you plenty of history and knowledge about the area, or hire a boat and row to the island yourself.
The return boat ride costs €14, with 20 minutes travel there, 30 minutes in the island, then back to the shore, and to hire a boat costs around €12 per hour.
Once on the island you’ll notice how very small it is. The island is naturally created and is home to the Church of the Assumption of Mary dating back to the 1400's. It is quite a popular location for weddings and is customary for the groom to carry the bride up the 99 steps leading up to the church. Admission is around €6. It is also customary to make a wish and ring the bell, which has been tolling since 1534.
Hike Osojnica & Ojstrica
If you want that postcard perfect shot of Lake Bled down below, you definitely have to hike Osojnica & Ojstrica. It is essentially the same hike, one view point is just slightly higher than the other, and while it only takes 40 minutes to reach the top it is quite steep. The trail begins on the opposite side of the lake to the town – near Camping Bled. Check out my hiking guide for more details.
This is one of the most stunning sights in Slovenia – I cannot recommend this higher. The 1.6km journey through the windy canyon takes you along narrow walkways clinging to the sides of the gorge and over torrents of impossibly clear water rushing underneath. Once you’ve arrived at the impressive Šum Waterfall at the end of the gorge, you can turn around and return the way you came or follow a marked trail through the forest back to the carpark. Entrance into the gorge is €5 and is open from 8am – 7pm. The gorge is officially closed during winter.
There is a bus service during the peak season every hour to Vintgar Gorge however you will still need to walk a kilometre or so from the stop. I highly recommend walking to the Gorge, it is a leisurely 4km through neighbouring small towns and is very well signed.
Misty Mornings at Vintgar Gorge
It was a misty autumn morning, and I woke at 7am to walk from Lake Bled to Vintgar Gorge. While this considered is a national park, there are opening times and an entry fee at the gate.
This lake is like Bled’s less famous sibling. Located only 40 minutes by bus from Bled, Bohinj is just as beautiful but with a quarter of the tourists. While it doesn’t have the picturesque church in the middle of the lake ala Bled, there are plenty of hikes to nearby waterfalls which start in Bohinj.
Bled Castle (Blejski Grad)
The mighty Bled Castle stands atop a rocky cliff 130m above the emerald lake. It is said to be the oldest castle in Slovenia, dating back to 1004. The Bled Castle is now mostly an exhibition area, showing the ancient history of Bled from the first excavations. Visit the official Castle website for current prices and opening hours.
For something a little more novel during your trip, check out Straža Bled. From spring to autumn you can take a ride on the sledding track that is situated on the ski slope along the chair lift, and zoom down the slope controlling your speed yourself. A ticket for the chairlift up and riding the toboggan down costs around €9.