A Complete Sightseeing Guide to Lake Bled
Lake Bled is a fairytale-like destination in the north of Slovenia. It’s a well-known tourist spot and can get very crowded, especially during the summer months. Despite the crowds, you can still find quiet places along the lake and enjoy the beautiful nature. I visited Bled on a solo trip at the end of June 2019 (the weather was perfect!). In this guide, I’m sharing all the things to do during your visit to Lake Bled.
Slovenia is the first European country that officially ended the pandemic on 14 May 2020. This means that people arriving from European Union countries don’t have to go into quarantine. People arriving from outside the EU are still obliged to go into quarantine for 14 days. Please note that precautions still apply to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Some of the places mentioned in this blog might be closed to prevent the spread. We don’t advise anyone to travel when it’s not safe. Check the website of the Slovenian tourism board for more information.
The Vintgar Gorge is a beautiful gorge not that far away from Lake Bled. The gorge is 1.6km long and carves through vertical rocks. The water, like everywhere in the area, is crystal clear and a beautiful emerald green color. The path is close to the water which makes the walk even more impressive. The gorge ends at the Šum waterfall, which is 13m high.
I arrived at the gorge on a Sunday morning at 10.30 (end of June) and fortunately, it wasn’t too crowded. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one there, so if you want to have the gorge to yourself you’ll have to go earlier (or avoid the weekend).
It’s not hard to reach the gorge from Lake Bled. It’s about an hour walk to the gorge and I used Google Maps for directions which were accurate. The gorge is not a round way walk, so when you’re at the end of the gorge you can decide to either walk back the same path or to take the forest trail back to Lake Bled. There are signs indicating the way back to Bled, but they’re easily missed. The route back through the forest is accurate on Google Maps as well. There are also buses going to the gorge from Bled but I always prefer to walk. It’s possible to reach the gorge by car as well. The parking fee is €5.
Students: €7 (I always use my student card to get discounts, it still works even though I’m not a student anymore!)
The Bled Castle is located on top of a hill overlooking the lake. Getting there requires climbing a lot of stairs as it’s pretty high up. The castle itself is very picturesque. There is a café, a restaurant, a few souvenir shops and a museum. The most impressive part of the castle is the view over the lake, which is stunning! I went there on a Sunday afternoon and it was pretty crowded with lots of groups. Fortunately, there was still plenty of space to soak up the views and get some good photos.
That island in the middle of the lake? It’s Bled Island. You can reach it either by boat or swimming there. The island is very small and there is only a church, a restaurant, a souvenir shop and an ice cream stand (most important one). If you decide to swim to the island, you can’t visit the church as you need to be properly dressed to enter the church. There are multiple stands along the lake where you can hire a rowing boat, which is €20 for one hour.
I chose to go by Pletna boat which is a traditional boat made by the locals of Lake Bled. You can take a Pletna boat from the villages Bled, Mlino and from the rowing center. I took the boat from Bled and it took 30 minutes to reach the island. Mlino and the rowing center are both closer to the island. We had 40 minutes on the island before the boat returned again. This was enough time to get into the church, climb the bell tower, have an ice cream and take some photos of the island. Inside the church, you can ring the bell yourself which is said to bring good luck. I didn’t ring the bell myself as there was quite a line. The ice cream was very good and I particularly liked the fact that some of the flavors are typical for Lake Bled, like cream cake, wishing bell and bell ringer.
The boat ride by Pletna is €15 per person. The boats leave whenever they are (nearly) full.
Entrance to the church and bell tower is €6 for adults and €4 for students.
Ice cream is €2 per scoop.
Sunrise hike to Mala Osojnica
There are two viewpoints at the western side of the lake: Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica. Ojstrica is the lower one at 611m and Mala Osojnica is a little bit higher at 670m. Initially, I planned to go to the viewpoint of Ojstrica but ended up at Mala Osojnica instead. The view from up there was stunning nevertheless. It was a bit cloudy that morning, but the light was still beautiful. On my way down I tried to find the Ojstrica viewpoint but I just couldn’t find it. I guess I missed a turn somewhere. After a while I simply gave up.
If you’re going for sunrise, remember that it’s still quite dark in the forest when you get up. The trail gets quite steep and when it’s wet, it’s slippery. So, be prepared for that. There are signs directing you to the viewpoints but they’re easy to miss (especially when it’s dark). It’s about 30 minutes to get up to Mala Osojnica and 20 minutes to get up to Ojstrica. I started the trail at this point but there is also a starting point next to the camping.
Walk along the lake
It’s about a 6 km walk around the entire lake and it’s well worth it, especially the south side. The north side of the lake is mostly obstructed by trees, but the south side offers unobstructed views of the lake. The southwestern side of the lake offers the best views of Bled Island, as it’s closest here. You’ll stumble upon many beautiful photo spots around this area.
You aren’t allowed to swim everywhere in the lake, but there are a few swimming spots where it’s permitted. The swimming spot close to Bled is the only one that has an entrance fee but there are get slides and other fun things to make up for it. There is another swimming spot at the village of Mlino and at the camping site. The camping site has a man-made beach with pebble stones and that’s the one I chose to go for a swim. It gets pretty crowded during the day, especially with young families, so be prepared for that. There is a restaurant and a supermarket, which is super convenient. You don’t have to carry lots of drinks and food, because you can just buy everything you need on the spot! I ended up staying here an entire day. The temperature of the lake was perfect at the end of June.
Eat a traditional cream cake
Everywhere around the lake you can get Kremšnita, the traditional Bled cream cake. They’re known as the symbol of Bled and they actually taste very good. I got one for breakfast right before leaving Bled at Confectionery Zima, a bakery close to the bus stop. The cream cake itself is huge and very filling. It’s a must to try one (or better yet, share one) when you’re in Bled.
How to get to Lake Bled
There are hourly buses running between Lake Bohinj, Lake Bled and Ljubljana. These places are well-connected to each other. Getting from Lake Bohinj to Lake Bled takes a little over 30 minutes by bus. Getting from Ljubljana to Lake Bled by bus takes around 1,5 hours.
There is no direct public transport line between the airport of Ljubljana and Lake Bled. If you want to use public transport, you have to transfer at Ljubljana. This will take you over 2 hours in total (excluding transfer time) to get to Bled. Fastest way to get to Lake Bled from the airport is to book a transfer. I booked a shared transfer before arriving at the airport through a private company called Zup Prevozi. The driver was waiting for me at the airport when I landed, and I shared the car with one other person. This cost €36 and the ride lasted only 30 minutes. It’s not cheap, but it saves a lot of time and you get dropped off in front of your hotel. Click here to visit the website of Zup Prevozi.
Lake Bled is easily reachable by car. It’s only a 40-minute drive from the city center of Ljubljana, a 30-minute drive from Lake Bohinj or a 30-minute drive from the airport of Ljubljana.
Where to stay at Lake Bled
They are two villages located right next to the lake: Bled and Mlino.
I stayed at the village of Bled and really loved it there. Bled has plenty of restaurants, and since the lake isn’t that big, you can easily walk to all sightseeing places. Bled is the closest to the Bled Castle and the Vintgar Gorge, but Bled Island is slightly far away. The swimming area close to Bled has an entrance fee. You can easily reach Bled by public transport.
Mlino is a small village located on the south side of the lake. It’s smaller than Bled and also has less restaurants, but it’s close to Bled Island and the swimming area is free of charge. Mlino is easily reachable by public transport.
There is one camping spot directly located at the lake. If you brought your camping gear, this is the place for you. The swimming area in front of the camping is perfect and there is a restaurant and supermarket on the campsite, which is very convenient.
I hope I’ve inspired you to plan a trip to Lake Bled. I had a great time at the lake and can’t wait to go back and show Joop the beauty of this place. Is Lake Bled on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!
Be sure to check out: