Practical guide to Lake Bled
The stuff fairy tales are made of – 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”. Not convinced yet? Have a little read about this amazing spot, how to get there and what to do besides be in utter awe of it’s natural beauty.
Information about Lake Bled
Lake Bled is a glacial lake that is surrounded by a beautiful forest. The island in the middle of the lake is called Bled Island, it contains a church and a few small buildings. Bled Castle is nestled on a cliff, overlooking the lake.
How do I get to Lake Bled from Ljubljana?
There are a variety of options to get to Lake Bled, however to easiest (by far) is to take the bus.
Busses run from 06:00 to 22:00 (during the summer) and will cost you around 7€ one way. The bus leaves from the main bus statin of Ljubljana and goes direct to the main bus station of Lake Bled. The ride will take around 70 minutes.
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. The centra bus station in Bled is located 3 minutes walking distance from the lake (at the cross section of the roads Cesta Svobode and Grajska Cesta).
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.
What can I do at Lake Bled?
1. Start your day of with a delicious slice of Kremšnita – The Local Bled Cake.
I do not have a sweet tooth and usually keep away from anything that vaguely looks like cake, especially if it contains cream. That being said, I am happy to make an exception for this delicious treat: a crispy crust of puff pastry, filled with mouth-watering vanilla cream, topped with light and fluffy whipped cream and dusted with icing sugar. Convinced? I think so!
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. You are going to try the cake, go to the source: The Park Hotel.
2. Filled up on cake – Time to walk around the lake.
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.
3. Visit the castle and enjoy the stunning views.
Did you know this is actually the oldest castle in Slovenia, dating back to 1011? Who knows how many royals have sat at the windows, enjoy the stunning views that the castle has to offer. If visiting castles is nto your thing, walk up anyway and enjoy the view.
Cost: Adults €11, Children 14 and under €5, Students €7
4. Rent a rowboat and row yourself to the island.
There are plenty of rowboats available for rent. The price is about 20€ an hour and it’s a short row to the island. Many a marriage proposal has been done in these rowboats and for good reason. There is just something utterly romantic about rowing to the island. Get there bright and early and be one of the first out on the lake.
5. Ring the bell of the Assumption of Mary Church on the island
Once you get to the island, 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.
6. Grab a Pletna to the island
A 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. It costs about 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.
Things to do if you have additional time:
If you have time, make sure to check out Lake Bohinj. You can get there by bus, it’s about 40 minutes away from Lake Bled. Tickets can be bought at the local busstation.
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