Without any modesty: you won’t find another post this comprehensive about Lake Bled in Slovenia. Just kidding, come on. But it took me quite a bit of effort to manage to summarize in one article everything you can see at Lake Bled, where to sleep, what hikes around the lake, and, of course…what to eat in Bled city.
In Slovenia to Bled: the landscapes and some tips
Lake Bled is nestled perfectly in this greenery and makes for beautiful days in contact with nature. But…yes there is a but, Lake Bled is beautiful, but depending on the season you go, the perception will be different. In the summer months it gets quite crowded and the crowds, you know, do not facilitate relaxation. Visiting it in August I found it too touristy, but I am convinced that at other times of the year the situation is quite different.
First impressions of Lake Bled
The lake is definitely a tourist place. That“romantic place” magic with which it is often (and rightly) associated tends to fade if visited at the wrong time. But, undoubtedly, Lake Bled is splendid if you would like to spend a spring or fall weekend there.
The island that stands right in the middle of the body of water makes it a unique place, and the view from the Castle is priceless.
I’ll tellyou in advance: enter the castle. It costs a little something, but it’s worth all the Euros for the ticket and you’ll be able to get an overview of the lake that you won’t get from anywhere else.
Where is Lake Bled located?
We are in the north of Slovenia, just over a 50 km from Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital. You can reach it from the north and thus the Italian/Austrian border, or from the south, that is, from Ljubljana or, if you are coming from Italy, from the Trieste/Gorizia area.
In my case, I visited Bled and the lake along an itinerary between Slovenia and Croatia in the middle of August. Endless highway traffic prompted me to enter Slovenia from the north and then from Tarvisio. For this reason I want to tell you about both possibilities.
How to get to Lake Bled
To use Slovenia’s highways you will need a “vignette,” (read also: Traveling by Car in Slovenia: the Slovenian vignette) that is, that highway pass to stick on your car lasting a week or more depending on your needs.
From northern Slovenia
To get to Lake Bled via Slovenia’s northern border, you’ll need to arrive near Tarvisio. From there, in just under an hour you will be in the lake area. The road is smooth, in good condition and completely surrounded by greenery. Really pleasant. The problem is getting to Tarvisio, because it takes a really long time. I recommend entering Slovenia from this point only if you will already be in the area. Alternatively, the best choice to arrive from Italy is to proceed from Gorizia or Trieste.
From southern Slovenia
Near Gorizia or Trieste you can cross the border and reach Lake Bled in about 2 hours by highway. In this case I strongly recommend that you make a stop, even if only a few hours, in beautiful and livable Ljubljana.
You might be interested in: Best Things to Do in Ljubljana
Where to Stay near Lake Bled
More than where to sleep in Bled, the correct question would be how you would like to experience this part of Slovenia. In my opinion there are two ways:
- Stay near the shores of the Lake: a solution that has great PROs but also great CONs. It means higher costs, more traffic, and potentially even more crowds. Of course, being able to spend an evening overlooking the lake always has its appeal. CLICK HERE for if you want to view all the hotels in the area. P.s: depending on the time of year, you need to book well in advance because, of course, it is one of the most popular options.
- Sleeping a few kilometers away: that was my choice. I preferred to stay immersed in Slovenian greenery a few kilometers from Lake Bled, eat in some quaint “Gostilna“. I therefore recommend the HOUSTON RESORT in Radovljica.
Lake Bled: 6 things to do and see
The Lake Bled area allows for lots of activities: from being quiet and relaxed on some lake-view bench, to taking a kayak and reaching the iconic little island in the middle of the lake. It only takes 3 days to visit Lake Bled and the surrounding areas, so here is the list of things I recommend you do.
1 – Bled Castle
How not to start with Bled Castle, which dominates the lake of the same name from above. It is one of the oldest castles in Slovenia and its construction dates back to 1011 AD. The castle over time was expanded to its present appearance. Inside, during the self-guided tour, you will find an explanation of how it grew and what parts were added over the years.
Bled Castle may leave most puzzled. Before I walked through the entrance, reading the reviews I was not so inclined to enter it. Many called it too expensive for what it offers. How can you argue with that. Indeed, aside from running into a typical Slovenian wedding (with tourists attached), I must say that the interior rooms are quite bare.
You would think I would advise against it. Instead, I’m really bucking the trend. I think visiting Lake Bled without entering its castle is pointless.
That 13 € entrance fee is worth theexclusivity of the view of the lake from above. A glass of Slovenian wine (included in the ticket), the late afternoon lake view, the waning sun. This atmosphere fully replicates the “romantic” appellation of Lake Bled.
How to get to the castle?
You can get there by car. There is a parking lot with associated valet parking. At a cost of 3 euros you can park under the trees and then walk to reach the entrance to the castle.
Cost and entrance times?
- Parking: 3 €
- Admission Adults: 13 €
- Admission Children up to 14 years: 5 €
- Hours: I recommend you look at the -> official website because they vary depending on the season.
2 – Getting to the island on Lake Bled by pletna
The small church and the small island in the middle of Lake Bled are definitely two of the icons of these wonderful places in Slovenia. Impossible not to notice them and not to be attracted by the idea of visiting them.
How? With a “Pletna“, that is, the typical Bled boat, “born” in 1590. There are only 23 pletne on Lake Bled and it is a craft that is passed down from father to son.
By means of these special color-roofed boats that can accommodate up to 18 people, one can reach the island in the middle of the lake in comfort. The Pletna is not the only way; you can also use a kayak or canoe, which you can find at the Blagajna rental center, right below the castle.
The church on the small island of Bled
A former temple dedicated to the pagan goddess of fertility. This is what the present small church in Bled (Church of St. Mary of the Assumption) was until 735 AD. In 1465 it was rebuilt in the Gothic style, only to be renovated in the Baroque style in 1509 following an earthquake.
The bell tower is 54 meters high and has as many as 3 bells. The monumental staircase of 99 steps is also very special.
Bled Island is also associated with a special legend: the“legend of the sunken bell.”
3 – Rent a kayak
Whether you are sporty or non-sporty, it matters little. A tour of Lake Bled by kayak is worth it in a big way. You can rent it at the rental center I mentioned a few lines above. Half an hour? One hour? Your choice. Beware that time passes quickly. So, if you want to visit the little church you should assume at least an hour.
And if you have already seen the little church on a Pletna tour, well, seeing Lake Bled from such an unusual perspective as you can get from the kayak is something you should not miss.
4 – Walk the entire loop on Lake Bled
If water is not your thing, the 6 km walk around the lake will be mandatory. You can do it by bike, running or just walking and enjoying every view that the path will give you.
5 – Relaxing on the lakeshore
When traveling, it is also necessary to take rejuvenating breaks. Both this and the next point, are about absolute relaxation. Especially if you visit during the warm season, Lake Bled will provide you with fulfilling carefree moments. Sit on some benches toward the boat rental or find a shady spot to enjoy some well-deserved peace.
6 – Eat Bled cake
To call it cake is quite strange. It is a fantastic cube (7×7 cm base) of cream and custard that is somewhat reminiscent of mille-feuille. Unmissable, however beware…it is that tad high in calories. Now you can see why I recommended a kayak ride or the walk around the lake. At the end of the effort, the typical Bled cake “Blejska Kremma rezina” will be the just reward, I guarantee.
I also recommend where to eat it. The original one is said to be from the Park Hotel bakery where among other things you can also get it to take away.
Surroundings of Lake Bled: excursions
From a naturalistic point of view, Slovenia is a certainty. One is pleasantly impressed everywhere one looks. The greenery and water provide priceless moments of serenity. Here are other places with these characteristics around Lake Bled: the Vintgar Gorges and Lake Bohinj. Interesting stops should you have even more days to spend in the area, as in my case as I included Lake Bled within an itinerary between Slovenia and Croatia of no less than 16 days.
Excursion to the Vintgar Gorges
If you want to discover a really very beautiful place not far from Bled, the Vintgar Gorge is a suitable choice. But, be careful, do not make this choice in the middle of the summer season. I was there in August, and I can swear to you that on the boardwalks it was like standing in line at classic village fairs. Unlivable.
If you spend your weekend on Lake Bled in the spring or fall, however, they will be a beautiful excursion. You will be able to fully experience the beauty of being immersed in nature.
The gorges are only 4 km away from Lake Bled.
Hiking to Lake Bohinj
I don’t think you will ever be able to get bored with the views of Lake Bled, but just in case you want a change, I recommend that you “drop in” to Lake Bohinj, which is only a 30-minute drive away. It is the largest lake in Slovenia.