Lake Bled is definitely the most famous attraction of Slovenia, and if you didn’t know it, it may possibly become a name on the list of places you’d like to visit in the future.
When you arrive in Bled, the town next to the lake, you don’t see anything special. I mean, yes, the Slovenian houses are nice, but you will just find more houses like others you have seen on your way there, hotels, some restaurants, and some stores. The thing is, as your eye catches the first glimpse of the lake, you will feel you are entering a world of magic and fairytales. Surrounded by the mountains, a castle, and with a small island with a charming church on its center, it will delight the eyes of anyone. It is sure one of the most picturesque lakes in the world. If you visit it, don’t forget to bring a camera. Even Tito, ruler of Yugoslavia from 1953 until his death in 1980, had one of his houses overlooking the lake.
What to do
One of the most special views requires a small hike to the top of a hill, but it’s good exercise, and if you are a morning person, it’s even more enjoyable because you will see the sun rusing. We didn’t make it on time, but that view with the colors of the sky, and the sun rising behind the mountains, with maybe with some mist over some parts of the lake, is something money can’t buy. The place is called Ojstrica, and it’s divided in two climbs, both as good. Remember that if you get to the end of the path, where the viewpoint is, not to continue to the top of the hill as there is nothing special to see from there due to the trees.
There is a path and roads that you can use to walk around the lake, which can be done in less than 2 hours at a normal pace. You will see it’s full of life, finding ducks, swans and plenty of fish.
Walk up to the castle that overlooks the site. The castle itself and the museums are nothing really special, but the views are worth it, specially if you sit on the terrace of the cafe. If you go in summer and want to eat at the restaurant, you have to make a reservation. A tip if you are driving there is that parking is free of charge if you eat there. Going inside the castle costs 10€ per person.
If you enjoy sweet, try the Bled creamcake. Typical from the town, you can eat it at the castle restaurant, but also in most restaurants or cafes in Bled.
Accessing the island is a must do. The best option is renting a rowboat which is fun and will save some money, costing 15€ an hour for two people. The other option, if you don’t want the exercise, it taking one of the traditional Pletna boats for 20 people (12€ per person).
If the weather is good, don’t forget to bring a swimming suit to get into the lake.
Nearby, it’s posible to do plenty of other things, like visiting the less touristic but still beautiful lake Bohinj, walking the 1.6km (1mile) Vintgar Gorge trail, hiking to different waterfalls in the Triglav park, or doing plenty of activities that are offered in the area.
How to get there
By car. It’s the definitely the easiest way to travel in Slovenia. We arrived from Villach, in Austria, using the motorway, for which you have to get a vignette (7 days cost 15€ and a month 30). It can be bought at the border, in any gas station in Austria on the way there, but also in some gas stations in Germany close to the Austrian border (In Austria you also need a vignette). If you’ve rented a car in Ljubljana or come from the south, the motorway that goes to Villach, Austria passes around 5 kilometers (3 miles) right next to Bled.
Once in Bled, there is plenty of space to park, but you have to pay. As it’s such a touristic place it can be hard parking during summer weekends, but not the rest of the time. Most parking lots cost 10€/day during peak season, but off season you will find it at half the price. The cheapest place you can park is right next to the train station (Bled Jezero), where it costs 4€ a day during summer.
By bus. If you are not using a car, it’s definitely the best option from Ljubljana. During summer, form the main bus station in Ljubljana, there a bus every hour from 6am to 10pm, costing 7€ one way. In winter, there’s still a bus but the schedule changes, having less departures.
By train. From Ljubljana, the train to Lesce is very frequent, but it’s 5 km (3 miles) away from Bled. The train station Bled Jezero, north of the lake, can be reached from Jesenice.