Whenever there's an ad or a story about travelling in Slovenia, Lake Bled always seems to be in the spotlight. And I don't blame them. A turquoise lake with crystal clear water, an island in the middle with a church on it, the Julian Alps around, and a medieval castle overlooking it all. What's not to like?
The castle, the church, the Vintgar gorge, water sports, hiking, and just relaxing in the utmost beautiful surroundings. That's Lake Bled in a nutshell.
The lake is perfect for walking around, not too big or too small. It takes about an hour or two and the road is comfortable all the way. There are restaurants, cafés etc. along it, and the view to the lake is always good.
The town Bled is located on the east side of the lake. It's very small, the town centre is just a shopping center and some streets around it. But it was surprising how many different stores there actually was. No need to go elsewhere if you need something.
But it's still not a place to sit in cafes and watch people go by. The lake is the thing in Bled, not the town itself. A good selection of restaurants though, even fine dining.
Where to stay
Most of the hotels are located in Bled on the east side of the lake. And that's the area with most of the stores, restaurants, bus station, castle, etc.
But the best areas for swimming are found on the opposite side of the lake, so if that's the main reason for going to Lake Bled, perhaps an accommodation on the south or west side of the lake would be more appropriate. Unless you want to use the public lido on the north side, which is a paid area, then it would be best to stay in Bled.
There is a camping area on the west side of the lake.
Things to do in Lake Bled
Bled Castle is rather small, but spread across two levels: upper courtyard and lower courtyard. There's a cafe and a restaurant and stunning views around the area. And of course a museum etc.
More about them here: blejski-grad.si
Or this pdf gives you a good idea of the castle: blejski-grad.si
The walk up to the castle is not too long, but it's pretty steep. There are several starting points to get to the top, zoom the map above to see where the routes go (green dashed lines).
The admission fee is 11 Euros for adults, there are no free areas.
The most famous thing in Lake Bled must be the Church of the Mother of God on the Lake, standing on a tiny island with a bell tower next to it. You can see it in half the pictures in the gallery above. There are some other building as well in the island.
There are a few places around the lake, where you can buy a seat in one of the Pletna boats, that take tourists in and out of Bled Island.
There are several places around the lake where you can go swimming, but no real beaches. The closest thing to a beach is a small pebble beach in the southwest corner of the lake (picture 15 on the map).
Most of the grass areas suitable for swimming and sunbathing are found on the south side of the lake. There are also a swimming and sunbathing pier as well as a sidewalk by the water in the southwest corner.
There is also a public lido close to the town Bled and under the castle. They have a lot of services, but it's not free to enter. For more information: Public Lido
The list for summer sports activities in Lake Bled and in the vicinity is long, all 27 options can be found here. Some sports, like Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP), are not even mentioned in there. All motor vehicles are forbidden on the lake, so it's a good place to enjoy the more slow-paced activities.
Viewpoints around Lake Bled
There are several viewpoint around Lake Bled, but three of them rise above others, so to speak.
- One of course is from the Bled Castle, picture number 3 in the gallery below was taken from there. The problem with that spot is, there is no viewpoint outside the castle, so you have to pay 10 euros to get inside.
- The other two, Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica, are located close to each other on the southwest side of the lake.
The road to those two spots goes through the woods, and it begins very close to the picture 8, that is marked on the map above. If you walk to that spot, you will see a crossroads and signpost pointing to Ojstrica and Osojnica. That number 6 is the route number, I think.
It's quite a comfortable path to walk, but steep at times. And near the closer one, Ojstrica, it feels almost like rock climbing towards the end.
After maybe 10-15 minutes of walking there is a signpost: Ojstrica to the right, Osojnica straight ahead. If you go to the Ojstrica viewpoint, it's very close, but takes a few exhausting minutes to get all the way up to the top.
If you continue to the Osojnica viewpoint, which is further and higher, it's a longer walk, but there is no sudden rise in the end. It's more comfortable that way, even though it takes a longer time to reach. At some point there is a sign pointing Mala Osojnica to the left, Velka Osojnica straight ahead. Mala (meaning small) Osojnica is the one I took pictures from, and so do almost everyone else, so I never went to Velka Osojnica. At the viewpoint there are three benches and more flat area than in Ojstrica.
When you leave the spot, there is a signpost (in the image on the right) pointing to Bled, and it's a different, shorter way. I took that one down and I wouldn't recommend it. It was way steeper and more uncomfortable than the one going through the woods.
How to get
- Bus from Ljubljana to Lake Bled. Takes about 1 hour 20 minutes and there are several buses every day: ap-ljubljana.si. The main station in Ljubljana is Avtobusna Postaja and it's right next to the train station.
- Train from Ljubljana to Lake Bled . Trains run often, but there is no train station in Bled town centre. The nearest station is Lesce-Bled. The distance from there to Bled is about four kilometers and bus is a good option for that part. Timetables for trains: slo-zeleznice.si
- Bus from the Ljubljana Airport to Lake Bled. There is no option for public buses directly from the airport to Bled, only via Ljubljana city, but one company arranges direct economy shuttles etc.: zup-prevozi.eu
Even though it seems in the weather reports that Lake Bled has a lot of rainy days, they are often afternoon showers or even thunder storms. The chance of constant rain for days should be very small, unlike in some other places in the Alps.
In June, July and August it should be mostly warm or even hot days with a lot of sunshine, but the climate can change rapidly to worse and again back to better.
Pictures were taken: June 2017
Information updated: March 2018