Practical guide to Lake Bled Slovenia
Few places in the world speak to the imaginations as much as Lake Bled Slovenia does. The lake holds all the elements of a real life fairy tale – sunshine reflecting off the crystal clear water, a bevy of swans swimming in front of paddle boats filled with couples, under the watchful eye of one of the most beautiful churches on the planet which on top of that is said to contain “wish-granting properties”.
Lake Bled is undoubtaly one of the top tourists attractions in Slovenia, and one of the easiest daytrips to take from Ljubljana. Aside from its natural beauty, there are plenty of things to do in Lake Bled: Hiking, swimming or indulging in a spa retreat with a view over the lake.
In short Lake Bled should absolutely be on your bucketlist, and this guide will help you navigate the various activities ensuring you have the best experience!
Things to do in Lake Bled
According to ancient folklore, Lake Bled was created by fairies. The mythical story associated with Lake Bled seems to have appeared straight out from fantasy fiction. Although no written fiction associated with the land seems to be available in print, the folklore is popular around. If it were written down and edited by one of the Fantasy book editors for hire then it might become more popular and attract more tourists.
The legend goes like this – the area that contains the lake used to be grassland. The grass provided a soft under footing for the fairies to dance on at night, and turned into their favourite hangout. During the day, the grasslands were frequented by shepherds and their sheep – the sheep would eat the grass.
The fairies were worried about losing their dancefloor to the sheep and asked the shepherd to build a fence around their dancefloor. The shepherds flatly refused and the sheep munched away, until no grass was left for the fairies to dance on. The fairies were so angry that they flooded the valley and kept a little patch (Bled Island) of greenery for them to continue their nightly escapades on.
And so the magical Lake Bled in Slovenia was born, nestled in the heart of the Julian alps, with a little island in the middle for the fairies to frolic on at night. If you are lucky, you might catch of glimpse of the fairies if you keep your eyes open.
Aside from fairy hunting, there is a surprising amount of things to do in Lake Bled Slovenia, perhaps the delicious cuisine might tempt you!. Consider spending a few days in and around the lake before heading back to Ljubljana or the rest of Slovenia.
Indulge in the famous Bled Cake (or Kremšnita as it is called locally)
One of the sweetest things to do in Lake Bled is to try famous Bled Cake. The cake can be found all over Slovenia. Locals agree that the best place to try the cake is in fact at the source: At one of the many cafés and restaurants on the lakeside which offer beautiful views over Lake Bled.
What exactely is a Kremsnita or Bled cake? Think a crispy crust of puff pastry, filled with mouth-watering vanilla cream, topped with light and fluffy whipped cream and dusted with icing sugar.
The treat dates back to the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 18th and 19th century. A variety of this dish can be found in all the countries that were under the Habsburg reign. This specific recipe was coined around 60 years ago and stems from the Park Hotel in Lake Bled. The hotel has a large terrace and is well accustom to visitors popping by to try a slice of Bled Cake.
Visit the Lake Bled Castle
Belly filled with delicious cake, its time to visit the Lake Bled Castle (Blejski Grad), the oldest castle in Slovenia. Sources say it dates back the the 11th century and started off as the administrative centre, a function which to this day it still holds hosting functions for high ranking statesmen.
Bled Castle can be seen from the lake, in fact it sits on top a rock towering 130 meters over Lake Bled Slovenia. Who knows how many royals have sat at the windows, enjoy the stunning views that the castle has to offer!
The castle grounds hold a museum as well as a restaurant. If you do decide to have dinner at the restaurant, the entrance fee to the castle is free.
How to get up to Bled Castle
Hike up from the shores of Lake Bled. The hike is steep and will take around 15-20 minutes. Simply follow the well-indicated signs that are dotted all around the lake.
Bled Castle Opening Hours: Summer 09.00-19.00
Bled Castle Ticket: Adults €11, Children 14 and under €5, Students €7
Lake Bled Hikes
The town of Bled is one of the entry points for Triglav National Park which offers some of Slovenias best hikes. The Lake Bled hikes are a lot less strenuous than those you will find in the national park, sweeping views over the lake are never far off and should keep motivation high for this activity!
Walk around Lake Bled
The lake is about 6km long and it will take you 1.5 hours to walk around. The walkway is car-free, aside from the occasional carriage coming by. Walking around the lake offers you stunning views of the castle & the island. In addition it gives you the opportunity to move away from the hordes of tourists.
Hike up to the Castle Bled
A short 20 minute hike from the shoreline of Lake Bled will lead you all the way up to the castle. The hike is well-indicated by wooden signs making it impossible to get lost. Under footing for this hike is earth so make sure to wear proper shoes.
Ojstrica (611m) and Osojnica (685m)
Lake Bled hikes are not just about hiking around the shoreline of the lake. In fact, both the best hikes and views can be found from the hills surrounding the lake like for example Ojstrica and Osojnica hill on the west coast of Lake Bled. Hiking up to the top will offer you the iconic view over the lake as seen on social media. Hiking up Osojnica hill is slightly more challenging but very much worth it to see Bled Castle, Straža, Dobra gora, Kozarca and Obroč in all their glory. The hike is around 2,4km and will take one hour to complete.
If you are a little less keen on hiking up a steep hill your best bet is to hike up the Osjtrica hill instead!
Rent one of the Lake Bled Boat and row around the Lake
Time to get those muscles pumping and get on the lake! There are various ways of exploring the lake itself, one of the more active options is to rent a rowboat. Many a marriage proposal has been undertaken in these rowboats!
When walking around the shoreline of the lake, you will undoubtedly come across one of the many places that rent out rowboats. It is noteworthy to mention that during high season (summer) the rowboats all tend to get rented out and you might have to wait a little while before you get access to your boat.
Boats are rented by the hour and will set you back €20/hour.
Take one of the typical Lake Bled boat across the island (Pletna)
As you might have noticed, there are plenty of active things to do in Lake Bled, but perhaps you just want to relax? The Lake Bled Pletna or a traditional “communal” rowboat is an excellent alternative for those who do not feel like rowing themselves. It takes about 15 minutes one way; the boat will dock at the steps leading to the church. Expect to pay €14 per person there and back.
If you purchase a two-way ticket, the boat will drop you back off at the starting point. You can choose to take a one-way ticket and purchase a return ticket for a different pletna on your way back, ensuring you get dropped off at a different spot on the lake.
Visit the Lake Bled church and ring the bell for good luck
If you have only a very short time, the number one thing to do in Lake Bled is visit the island and ring the bell of the Assumption of Mary church! Once you get to the island via boat, walk up the 99 steps that lead up to the church.
There are two legends that are widely spread about this little island and its church. The first one says it is good luck for a groom to carry his bride up the 99 steps and ring the church bell three times. The bride has to stay totally silent.
The second one is a story about a widow who had the bell made in memory of her late-husband 500 years ago. During transport across the lake, the boat was struck by a storm resulting in the boat, the crew and the bell sinking to the bottom of the lake. A new bell was made and consecrated by the pope, and this time was successfully transported and installed in the church. When you ring the bell three times nowadays, you are showing honour to the Virgin Mary and your wish will come true.
Take the bus and explore the nearby Lake Bohinj
Lake Bohinj is set in the beautiful Triglav National Park and is a mere 29km away from Lake Bled. Expect to find a cute village, emerald green water and a pituresque bridge as well as a whole lot less tourist!
Getting to Lake Bohinj from Lake Bled is relatively straightforward: Hop on one of the direct busses! The busses run hourly from the main busterminal in Bled and take 40 minutes to arrive. There are various stops made around Lake Bohinj, providing you with plenty of flexibility to get off wherever strikers your fancy.
Tickets can be bought at either the local busterminal or on the bus itself if the busterminal is closed. When purchasing tickets on the bus, you will only be able to pay in cash.
Winter in Lake Bled
Most tourists visit Lake Bled in the summer. It would be wrong however to think that Winter in Lake Bled is uneventful! As the snow hits the Julian alps and Lake Bled slowely freezes over, Lake Bled becomes even more magical.
There are quite a few things to do during Winter in Like Bled: Ice skating on the frozen laken, go skiing on Straža Hill, strap on a pair on snowshoes at Pokljuka, wine tasting, visit the Bled Christmas market, try out ice climing. The options are really endless!
Ljubljana to Lake Bled
Bus Ljubljana to Lake Bled
There are a variety of options to get to Lake Bled, however to easiest (by far) is to take the bus.
Practical details to for traveling from Ljubljana to Lake Bled by bus:
- Check out the schedule before you leave – Busses run hourly between 06:00 and 22:00 (in the summer months)
- Costprice: €7 one way
- Trip time: 70 minutes
- Starting Point: Main busstation of Ljubljana
- End station: 5 min walk from Lake Bled ( (at the cross section of the roads Cesta Svobode and Grajska Cesta)
The clerks at the bus station speak English and are more than happy to help you out to buy a ticket and show you were the busses leave from.
Tip: Tourists start coming it at around 09.00, so try and grab and early bus if you want to have the beautiful lake all to yourself.
Train Ljubljana to Bled
There is a possibility to take the train from Ljubljana to Lake Bled. The route will take you around 90 minutes, slightly longer than the bus. The journey is very scenic and relaxing! Ticket prices are around €5.
Accomodation Lake Bled
It might be tempting to visit Lake Bled as a daytrip from Ljubljana. The chances are high that you will be sharing this fairytale lake with a lot of other daytrippers. So why not take a peak at accomodations in Lake Bled, just to cover your basis.
There is nothing quite like catching the sunrise over the lake, as it starts to warm up the water ensuring the rolling mist from the Julian Alps starts to dissipat, giving you a first glimpse of the church tower.
- Adora Luxury Hotel: If you are in the market a treat, this 4-start lakeside villa might be what you are looking for. With sweeping views over the lake and all the modern amenities you could wish for, it is a true princess dream.
- Vila Bled: Located right off the shores of Lake Bled, in the middle of a lush park. This 4-star vila and spa is the former summer residence of President Tito. Aside from sweeping views and a well equiped spa you can enjoy delicious Slovenian cuisine in the restaurant.
- Private Beach House on Lake Bled: Not interested in the fuss of a hotel? Why not look into booking your very own private beach house, right next to the lake. A romantic wooden chalet with a private deck that gives out on the Lake, nothing short of a dream! Particularly good for couples.
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