A Detailed Lake Bled Travel Guide with 5 Lovely Stops and 17 Unforgettable Activities
Located in the center of the country, Ljublana is a convenient place to stay in Slovenia. From it, most of the main attractions are within a couple of hours of reach by car. For instance, it will take you around forty minutes to get from Ljubljana to Lake Bled.
This alpine lake with clear blue water and the postcard views is a definite must-see. If you only have a couple of days, it is an absolute place to visit in Slovenia. I’ve been to the country for more than five times now. During each of these stays I find myself coming back to the lake’s blue waters, peaceful greens of the mountains surrounding it, and the lovely castle. There is just something about all of it.
The only other place that I find myself more attracted to in Slovenia is Lake Bohinj…
…but I am not trying to compare these two locations. Also, if you are staying in Slovenia for a while, you might want to explore these 16 amazing day trips from Ljubljana.
This Travel Route Comes from A Slovenia Local
I am lucky enough to have a friend who lives in Slovenia and loves exploring it. I think it was during my second visit to the country (because during my first one, I just spent the entire day at the beach, unable to leave the sight) that he helped me work out a great route. It is put together to make the most out of the day in the Lake Bled area. You can regroup it in a sequence that you find the most suitable.
What’s great about this route to Lake Bled from Ljubljana is that it covers all traveling tastes. There is something to choose from regardless of whether you feel active, curious, adventurous, or lazy and willing to relax. At the same time, it helps to make the most out of the area, so that on your way from the lake you’d feel like you did not miss a thing.
Arriving and Parking at Lake Bled in Slovenia
While my experience only includes driving a car to Lake Bled from Slovenia, the spot is also accessible by public transportation. This includes buses and trains. Although, if you do opt-in for a train, you will need to then hop on a bus or get a taxi. There are still around 4 more km from the train station to the lake.
Getting to the location by car may also be a bit tricky, to be honest. While the ride from Ljubljana to Lake Bled is lovely, the destination itself is a busy place. There are traffic jams, and parking is usually crowded. Upon arrival, you can leave your vehicle at the upper parking and then take a walk down, to the lake. There is also more convenient lower parking. It is just across the road from the lake. There is only one but. It gets filled very quickly.
If this is the case, you will be stopped by the municipal workers before approaching the upper parking. You will either be asked to wait (which means that you can not stop and wait, and you will need to make a circle around the area and come back in fifteen minutes because there is no place to stop), or you will need to proceed to plan B, which is driving to either of the hotel parking scattered around the lake.
Normally, leaving a car for a day on a hotel parking will cost around 10 Euros. You will be kindly asked to pay the full price even if you plan to spend no more than a couple of hours by the lake.
Visit the Lake Bled Castle
It is a good idea to start off actively. That way, a dip into the lake afterward will feel even more rewarding. It is a short climb from the lower parking area to the castle. It will take around 15 to 20 minutes. The castle itself is the oldest one in Slovenia, dating back to as far as the year 1100.
The entrance fee is 11 Euros. The ticket will allow you to explore the two courtyards, both offering a splendid view of the lake, and to find out more about the history of the building and area at the local museum. There is also a wine-tasting cellar, and a terrace to have a lovely lunch on while enjoying the panoramic view of the waters, the island, and the church, as well as the surrounding Gorenjska region. The ticket will also provide a small credit at the local restaurant.
Save at least 2 hours for the castle adventure, if you are not in a rush.
Note: My Slovenian friend says that this is one of the most popular locations for wedding photography. Couples come from all corners of Europe to get married at Lake Bled. Being a wedding photographer, he is a frequent visitor to those courtyards and terraces of the castle!
A Couple of Lazy Hours at The Beach
You can either opt-in for a more or less civilized beach not far from the lower parking (it is actually more than civilized, I am just complaining because I could not find a changing room to conveniently hop into my swimsuit), or take a walk around the lake and find a secluded spot under one of the old trees.
Both options have their pros and cons. The beach is great due to its easy access to the water. If you move further away, you might find it a bit challenging to get into the water and out of it. On the other hand, there is also a definite plus – you will be able to escape the crowd.
I myself spent at least six hours, lazily hiding in the shadows of the old trees, diving in the clear waters of the lake, and then taking a short walk to the nearby cafes for some coffee and a local desert – the famous cream cake. It is a tempting mix of puff pastry, whipped, and vanilla cream. It is also a great motivation to have an active hike up Mala Osojnica to Lake Bled’s viewpoint afterward!
Activities Around the Lake Area
If you don’t feel like swimming, you can always opt-in for a walk around the lake. It will take you about two hours, and in my opinion, it is definitely an experience worth having. The trail is flat, with lots of spots to stop at to take pictures. There are also bicycle rentals, so you can cover the 6 km distance while pedaling.
Another activity that the lake’s visitors find very exciting is renting a boat. There are several rentals by the beach, providing boats at a cost of 20 Euros per hour. Alternatively to boats, there are paddleboards. There is a plethora of both of these for rentals, even during the high season. While being busy and crowded during summer months, Lake Bled is still not as overwhelmed as other popular European destinations.
If you don’t feel like paddling yourself, you can hire a pletna. This is a local Slovenian boat that can accommodate up to twenty people. By both of these vessels you can get to the lake’s island. The pletna will dock at the famous 99 steps leading to the Church.
Explore the Island of Bled
Located in the center of the lake, the island looks as if it was photoshopped into the scenery. It creates an absolute feeling of harmony. Situated on the island are the Church of Assumption and its iconic bell. Legend says that whoever rings the bell will have the wish come true.
You will need to pay the entrance fee of 6 Euros and to climb the 99 steps to get to the bell.
Hike to Mala Osojnica for and Alternative Lake Bled Viewpoint
For me personally, the hike to Mala Osojnica is one of the highlights of the Lake Bled experience. Its viewpoint is much more exciting than that of the Bled castle. One of the reasons is that from the Mala Osojnica viewpoint, you can see not only the lake and the island, but also that castle.
The GPS for the start of the hiking trail is 46.359508, 14.085132. It will take you about 45 minutes to an hour to climb to the top. Though you will not need any specific equipment, and it is a relatively friendly climb, we do advise to have convenient shoes on. Also, closer to the top, there will be a few steep climbs up.
Have some water and get ready to stop to catch a breath once in a while. The good news is that most of the trail is hidden in the shadow of the trees of the hill, with only a few spots out in the sun.
Once you’ve almost reached the top, there will be a lovely wooden bench with a picturesque view of all the main attractions. Most likely, there will be a line to the bench, but it is worth waiting because the end of the climb – the viewpoint itself – is surrounded by the safety fence, which causes some difficulties in taking proper pictures.
Within five more walking minutes from the bench is the main viewpoint of Mala Osojnica, which has gorgeous panoramic views of the valley. This is not the only scenic hike in the area. If you are into active tourism, then definitely check out our guide to the top hiking trails in Triglav National Park.
To Lake Bled from Ljubljana: Detour to Vintgar Gorge
Located just four kilometers away from the lake is Vintgar Gorge that offers one of the most picturesque and accessible hikes in Slovenia.
I would normally head there in the morning, or right before its closing hours. Of course, this is due to the fact that I’ve been to the place several times already, and I am not in a rush to see all of it. If it is your first time in Slovenia, then probably the morning hours are the best as there are still not that many visitors, and you’ll get a chance to take some good pictures.
The Vintgar Gorge parking is a bit chaotic but free of charge. Or at least, it was free the last time we were there. In high season, Vintgar Gorge’s opening hours are from 8 am to 7 pm. Visitation season lasts from the end of April till early November. The price for adults was 15 Euros last time I was there.
I’ve seen the gorge both during good sunny weather and the rain season, and in both cases, I’ve enjoyed the hike. How long will it take you to explore Vintgar Gorge? The length of the trail is around 3 km, which is about one hour of a slow walk till the last waterfall, and then back. The path is well-equipped and easy to move across. The promenade ends with a gorgeous view of the Sum Waterfall.
To Lake Bled from Ljubljana: Frequently Asked Questions
Weather for Lake Bled: when is the best time to visit?
I would say that this is one of those locations that are worth visiting any time during the year, depending on what style of traveling you prefer. I was here in June, and it was just the beginning of the touristic season, with fewer people by the water. The parking was packed, however.
I was also here in August, as well as at the end of September. During both of these visits, I was able to swim and enjoy the sun. It is certainly lovely here in late autumn, as the greens turn into all shades of red, yellow and orange. According to feedback from other travelers, the lake is also a great location to visit in winter, not for hikes, but for skiing.
Where to stay at Lake Bled?
If you feel like staying in the area rather than driving to Lake Bled from Ljubljana, there is a range of choices for all budgets. The key to success is, as always, to book in advance. Then you will most likely have something to choose from.
Apartment Vila Pavlovski has one of the highest ratings in the area. It is located near the water but at the same time a bit away from the road. The place offers cozy rooms overlooking the island and the church. Last time I checked, the villa also had free parking for its guests.
Old Bled House is a 4-minute walk away from the water. It offers small cozy rooms in a traditional wooden building. The vibe of this hotel is nice and authentic, and in addition to accommodations, the place offers plenty of food for breakfasts.
Central Hostel may be an option for those of us traveling on a budget. Clean rooms, friendly staff, a well-equipped kitchen and close proximity to supermarkets and a pizzeria make it worth considering.
What are some recommended cafes and restaurants in the area?
By all means, an old and iconic Cafe Belvedere wins the race as the most picturesque place to have a cup of coffee and a slice of a cake. Also known as Tito’s Tea Room, it offers lunch with The View, as you will be able to enjoy the panorama of Bled from the terrace.
Confectionary Zima, aka Slaščičarna Zima has been serving delicious pastry to the locals and visitors for a century. Established in 1880, it earned its fame due to its Bled Cream Cake and homemade ice cream.
For lunch, stop by Pri Planincu, a place known for delicious food, great pizza to go, and one of the best pubs in the area. The restaurant serves traditional Slovenian food. Alternatively to Pri Planincu, there is Public & Vegan Kitchen Bled. It is great for visitors with certain food requirements. Being a vegetarian myself, I found myself munching on their burgers quite a few times.
What are some other activities to explore in the Bled area?
Neither of these I have tried myself, so if you did, please share your experience in the comments, this would be of great help for our traveling community. Well, apparently, there is a possibility to see the sunrise during a hot air balloon ride, and had I known about it the first several times that I visited Bled, I would’ve definitely gone for it. Among other activities, there is also summer tobogganing in the area, as well as ziplining.
Written by Inessa Rezanova
I am a Kyiv-based screenwriter with 10+ years of experience in producing scripts. I love my job, and no, I did not quit it to travel the world. I see different countries in my spare time. As a storyteller, I believe that it is the emotional journey that matters the most. This is why together with my sister I started this blog to encourage everyone to travel and to do so with a heart and mind opened to adventures.
Images by Natalie Rezanova
I am a photographer based in Kyiv, Ukraine. I am lucky to be able to do what I love the most for a living. Photography is an endless source of inspiration for me. My mission on this blog is to inspire by sharing some of the favorite captions from my journeys. I also provide professional photography tips to help the readers bring home some beautiful photo memories.