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Lake Bled has been the biggest surprise of our travels so far! The town of Bled is located in the northwest of Slovenia amidst the Julian Alps. This gorgeous place really put Slovenia on the map for us and subsequently became one of our favorite destinations!
Because it’s home to one of the most beautiful glacial lakes in the world, stunning mountains and tons of outdoor activities, this place definitely belongs on your bucket list!
Here’s what you’re gonna get with this blog:
- Top things to DO in Lake Bled
- Day trips from Lake Bled
- How to get to Lake Bled
- Where & how long to STAY in Lake Bled
- Tips for visiting Lake Bled
- & more!
Where is Lake Bled?
Lake Bled is in the Julian Alps in the northwest of Slovenia. It’s about 35 miles from the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, and 16 miles to the Austrian border near Villach, so it’s accessible from many surrounding hubs!
Things to do in Lake Bled
- Go hiking
- Walk around the lake
- Row a boat
- Go swimming
- Visit Bled Castle
- See Bled Island
- Try the original Bled Cream Cake
- Go on a Slovenian day trip
Lake Bled hikes
Because there’s really nothing like it, hiking in the gorgeous mountains surrounding Lake Bled is a must. Not only is it great exercise and all that jazz, but you are rewarded with the most breathtaking and iconic views of the lake!
We did the Ojstrica hike at sunrise and it has to be one of the most breathtaking moments of our life. The hike itself is pretty moderate in difficulty, and since we measure our hiking experience by view quality divided by effort, this one is off the charts!
The hike is stunning at all times of day, as the water changes color with the different position of the sun. It gets pretty crowded later in the day, though.
Tips for the Ojstrica hike:
- GPS coordinates for the trailhead are (46.361271, 14.083106)
- Since it’s easy to miss the sign to turn for the Ojstrica viewpoint and keep hiking up (we know from experience), here are the coordinates for where you turn for this view! (46.359070, 14.078566)
- The hike only takes about 20-25 minutes up and is pretty moderate in difficulty
- Wear tennis shoes or hiking shoes! Even though it’s a short hike you definitely need proper footwear since it can get pretty slippery, especially after it rains!
- There is a parking lot at the campsite nearby that costs 3 euro/hour. Many things we read said it was free prior to 8 am, but we did not find that to be the case.
- If you want to keep hiking beyond Ojstrica, go back to the main trail and continue going straight up. After about 15 minutes you’ll encounter a sign that will point you towards Maja Osojnica (25 minutes further than Ojstrica) & Velika Osojnica (30 minutes further than Ojstrica).
Walk around the lake
One of our favorite things we did in Lake Bled was walk around the lake. There are a series of walking paths and/or docks around the entirety of the lake which is 6 km in total.
The walk is pretty flat and it’s magical to see the lake from all angles. There are also restaurants all along the perimeter to pop into during your walk, places to swim and tons of photo ops!
Along the walk between every tree there are a majestic views of Bled Island or Bled Castle (or both) and if you’re anything like us you’ll want to snap about a million pictures! Make sure you start your walk with ample room on your memory card!
Rent a row boat
Rowing on the river was a total blast! We loved spending our afternoon on the water, seeing the town from a different vantage and staring at the unbelievable color of the water!
You can take the boat out just for a spin around the lake or row to Bled Island, which is the iconic island in the center of the lake that’s in all of the pictures! If you row to the island there are places you can dock your boat and go explore the island – that’s what we did and it made for a great afternoon!
Pro tip: There are quite a few places as you walk around the lake where you can rent a row boat, kayak or paddle board. Most places around the lake charge 20 euro for the first hour and 10 euro for every hour after. But if you walk to this spot you can get it for 15 euro!
Go for a swim
Bled can get pretty warm in the Summer, and there’s nothing more refreshing than jumping in the lake! There are quite a few designated swimming areas around the lake where you can jump in as you’re walking around the lake or after you finish a hike.
Around these areas there are also lawn chairs you can rent for the day if you’d like to just chill and lay out! We saw most of these going for a daily rate of 10 euro for 2 chairs and a table.
Overall the swimming areas are super lively and were giving us all the summer vibes!
As we mentioned above, Bled Island is the iconic island in the center of the lake that you see from pretty much everywhere as you walk around.
While it’s pretty small, it’s definitely worth a short visit. On the island there is the ‘Church of the Mother of God on the Lake’, the “wishing bell” and a pendulum clock, along with a couple other buildings including a gelato shop of course!
There is an iconic staircase of 99 steps leading up to the church, and tradition is that to get married in that church the groom must carry his bride up all 99 stairs.
You can get to Bled Island a number of ways – paddle boat, kayak, swim or “Pletna” boat! A Pletna Boat is like a gondola with a canopy covering that takes groups of people to the island.
You can grab a seat on a Pletna boat at any number of locations around the lake, especially towards the south/southwest side. They take off many times a day, it costs 12 euro per person roundtrip, and they give you 30 minutes to explore the island.
If you row your own boat there are docks where you can attach your boat while you see the island. If you swim you can treat yourself with a gelato on the island for the hard work, but do note that you won’t be able to enter the church.
Tips for visiting Bled Island:
- It is FREE to visit Bled Island, but if you’d like to go inside the Bell Tower & Church it is 6 euro per person
- You only need about 20 minutes to see the whole island
Bled Castle is a gorgeous medieval castle that’s thought to be the oldest in Slovenia. Since it’s built on a 130 meter high cliff overlooking Lake Bled, it provides gorgeous views of the area.
Inside the castle there is a museum, chapel, blacksmith shop and restaurant, not to mention two stunning courtyards and beautiful views overlooking Bled.
Tips for Bled Caste:
- The entrance fee is 9 euro per person
- Since the castle is one of the most popular attractions in Slovenia, be prepared for crowds. Try to get there as early as you can to avoid the tour busses!
Try Original Bled Cream Cake
While you’re in Bled the Original Bled Cream Cake, or Kremna Rezina, is a must-try! The cake consists of puff pastry with delicious cream and custard, and it dates back to the 18th century. Because it’s served at most of the restaurants in Bled and is such a traditional treat, you absolutely can’t miss out on it!
Lake Bled Day Trips
The capitol of Slovenia is just 35 miles from Lake Bled and is one of Europe’s coolest capitol cities! Certainly head into Old Town for a pedestrian-only area where you can walk along the river, admire the colorful architecture & hop into a number of delicious cafes and restaurants!
Only 30 minutes (15 miles) from Lake Bled is the adorable town of Jamnik, which is home to the stunning Church of St. Primoz on a hilltop with 360 views of the Slovenian Mountains. It’s truly an incredible site and therefore it’s definitely worth a stop between Ljubljana and Lake Bled!
Note: don’t use “Church of St. Primoz” in Google Maps since it will take you to roads you aren’t allowed to drive on. Instead, follow the GPS to (46.273969, 14.207993) where you can park along the road at the trailhead. Then it’s just a short walk to the church!
Also 30 minutes away from Lake Bled is Lake Bohinj! Known for it’s gorgeous blue/green water, it’s the largest lake in Slovenia. This is a great place if you’re in the area for a while or want to escape the crowds of Lake Bled!
2 hours from Lake Bled is the stunning Soca Valley. The water is absolutely breathtaking and it’s the perfect place for any outdoor activity you could imagine – hiking, biking, ziplining, white water rafting, paragliding, fishing, you name it!
How to get to Lake Bled
Lake Bled is super easy to access via driving. We felt very safe driving through Slovenia and the roads were great! Here are some of the drive times from major hubs nearby:
- Ljubljana, Slovenia – 45 minutes away
- Trieste, Italy – 1.5 hours away
- Zagreb & Rijek, Croatia – both 2.5 hours away
- Graz, Austria – 2.5 hours
- Vienna, Austria – 4 hours
Note: you must get a Slovenian Vignette pass at a gas station as soon as you enter the country which costs 15 euro and allows you to drive on the highways in Slovenia for 7 days. The fine for not doing so is apparently very hefty!!
There are also a ton of options to get to Lake Bled via bus! Since we always like to know our bus/train options, we search using the Omio app which will give you all the options for both. For example, here are a few bus routes we found:
- Ljubljana to Bled – 1.5 hours, local bus prices (not on Omio)
- Trieste, Italy to Bled – 2.5 hours, 9 euro
- Zagreb, Croatia to Bled – 3.75 hours, 15 euro
- Rijek, Croatia to Bled – 4.5 hours, 13 euro
Lake Bled from Ljubjlana
Because getting to Lake Bled from Ljubjlana is super simple, it’s easy to have a home base for your trip in one or the other. The drive is only 45 minutes between the two cities, and it takes 1.5 hours by bus.
Where to stay in Lake Bled
Location is key in Lake Bled because parking can be difficult. Above all, try and snag a place that’s within walking distance to the lake!
Lake Bled Airbnb
Since we love feeling at home when we travel, our favorite way to travel anywhere in Europe is staying in an Airbnb. We stayed in a beautiful Airbnb in Lake Bled, which had a perfect location, free parking & a lovely host. In other words, it has to be one of our favorite Airbnb’s to date!
Note: If you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, check it out! You can rent anywhere from a room in someone’s home, to an apartment to a multi-bedroom house, so it’s a great resource for travel! Get $40 off your first booking here!
Lake Bled Hostel
Though we didn’t stay here, the Jazz Hostel came highly recommended by our friends and looks like it’d be a great hostel option for where to stay in Lake Bled!
How many days in Lake Bled?
Visiting Lake Bled for 2-3 days is a great amount of time, and while a day trip is doable, we would’ve definitely left wanting more! If you want to do day trips to other areas, plan on spending 4-5 days.
Tips for visiting Lake Bled
- As a result of its growing popularity, try to visit on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowds. Also, it could be a great place to visit in shoulder season – think May or September!
- If you find a parking spot – grab it! Parking can be hard to come by if your accommodation doesn’t provide it, so if you find a parking spot we’d recommend grabbing it and then getting around town via walking.
Kylie & Scott
(Want to know more? Comment below! And make sure to follow along on Instagram @LoveHardTravelOften)
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