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Lake Bled, with its iconic island and fairytale castle, is one of Slovenia’s most recognizable landmarks. This Alpine gem is just an hour’s drive from Slovenia’s charming capital, Ljubljana, making it perfect for a day trip.
This blog aims to guide you through your journey from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, including how to get there, things to do, where to eat, and practical information like climate and what to bring.
How to Get to Lake Bled
Several buses run daily from Ljubljana to Lake Bled. You can find buses from the Ljubljana main bus station, and the journey takes approximately 1 hour 20 minutes, costs around €7 one way.
If you are driving, take highway A2 from Ljubljana to Jesenice. They say you can’t get lost in Slovenia because the country is so small. Wherever you go, you’re never far from where you started off. The trip to Lake Bled from Ljubljana takes only around 40-45 minutes depending on traffic conditions and is pretty straightforward. There is paid parking available around the Lake Bled area.
I would recommend renting a car because the drive is very scenic and extremely pleasant with winding roads. If you do it yourself you can stop whenever you like to take photos and admire the views. If you’re feeling adventurous there are lots of activities to do including horse riding, white water rafting, hiking and rock climbing. We hired a car from our hostel and the cost was 50 euros for the day.
Guided Tours to Lake Bled
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of organising the trip on your own, you can also book a guided tour. While you won’t have as much flexibility as you would if you rent a car, it’s nice to know someone else is dealing with all the logistics.
Here are some great Lake Bled day trips available to book on GetYourGuide.
- From Ljubljana: Lake Bled and Bohinj Day Trip
- From Ljubljana: Trip to Lake Bled and Bled Castle
- From Ljubljana: Lake Bled & Postojna Cave with Entry Tickets
- Ljubljana: Slovenia Day Tour to Bled, Postojna and Predjama
About Lake Bled
Lake Bled, steeped in history, sits in the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia. This glacial lake was formed after the last Ice Age and is surrounded by a picturesque backdrop of mountains and forests. In its center lies Bled Island, hosting the Church of the Assumption — a pilgrimage site since medieval times. The lake’s shores also hold the majestic Bled Castle, dating back to the 11th century. As a symbol of Slovenia and a favorite among tourists, Lake Bled’s enchanting beauty and rich history provide a captivating glimpse into the region’s past.
Things to Do in Lake Bled
Embark on a journey to Slovenia’s oldest castle, Bled Castle, which has graced its presence on a steep cliff for over a thousand years. This architectural wonder stands at an impressive 130 meters (426 feet) above the glimmering blue waters of Lake Bled and provides visitors with a stunning backdrop for photos. The castle’s strategic position grants you spectacular panoramic views of the shimmering lake, the iconic island, and the mesmerizing surrounding Alpine scenery.
The medieval fortress is divided into two parts: the Upper Castle and Lower Castle. Each part showcases its own unique blend of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. Not only is Bled Castle a visual delight, but it also houses a treasure trove of historical and cultural exhibits. The castle’s museum showcases an extensive collection of artifacts that adeptly narrate the story of the region’s fascinating past. Items on display include weapons, armor, manuscripts, and even ancient Roman tombstones.
Make sure to explore the castle chapel, which is adorned with beautiful 16th-century frescoes, and the terraces, which offer striking views of the lovely landscape. After immersing yourself in the history and charm of Bled Castle, unwind at its lovely wine cellar and indulge in some wine tasting. You can even create your own bottle of wine complete with sealing wax and a personalized label!
Visiting Bled Castle is a must when exploring the Lake Bled area. Not only does its rich history captivate visitors, but its commanding presence above the lake offers a perspective and beauty that is truly unparalleled.
Row to Bled Island
One cannot speak of Lake Bled without mentioning its true jewel, the enchanting Bled Island, known as the only real island in Slovenia. This tiny, teardrop-shaped isle is fringed with lush vegetation and is home to the charming Church of the Assumption. To reach the island, you can embark on a romantic and traditional trip aboard a “pletna.”
A “pletna” is a traditional Slovenian wooden boat, expertly crafted by local craftsmen and distinctively gondola-like, complete with a canopy to shield passengers from the elements. To command a pletna is a respected profession, handed down through generations. These skilled oarsmen manoeuvre the boat with a special technique that involves standing and rowing, skillfully guiding you across the lake’s serene, teal waters.
The journey to the island is a magical experience in itself, as you sit back and soak in the breathtaking views of the lake’s surroundings. Upon reaching Bled Island, you’re greeted with the iconic sight of the Church of the Assumption’s slender bell tower stretching up into the sky, a sight that’s become emblematic of Slovenia.
Walking through the lush greenery, you reach the Baroque Church of the Assumption, dating back to the 17th century. Here, tradition states you make a wish and then ring the church’s “wishing bell.” This bell, according to legend, was thrown into the lake by the grief-stricken widow of an early castle resident, and it was eventually replaced and now resides in the church tower.
Climbing the 99 stone steps leading up to the church—an exciting rite of passage for newlyweds—and ringing the famed “wishing bell” is an evocative experience filled with wonder, romance, and a little splash of the magical. Don’t forget to take some time to bask atop the island, enjoying the panoramic vistas of Lake Bled and beyond.
A trip to Bled Island is not just a journey across water, but a journey through history, culture, and tradition. It’s a uniquely Slovenian experience that guarantees to leave an indelible imprint on your memory.
Hike the Ojstrica Trail
For outdoor enthusiasts and hiking fans, the Ojstrica Trail is a must-do activity during your visit to Lake Bled. Not only is it one of the best hiking trails in Slovenia, but it also offers the most picturesque and stunning panoramic views of Lake Bled, the charming island in its center, the ancient Bled Castle perched on a rock, and the extensive Julian Alps forming a glorious backdrop.
Contrary to what its remarkable panoramic rewards might suggest, the Ojstrica Trail is not a long, arduous hike. In fact, it’s an easy-to-moderate trek, suitable for hikers of almost all fitness levels. The round trip of the hike is approximately 20-30 minutes, making it a quick and accessible venture suitable for individuals, families, or groups.
Your hike begins from the southwestern part of Lake Bled. Once you find the signpost indicating “Ojstrica,” follow the tranquil wooded path that ascends through a grassy hillside and under the encompassing canopy of a charming forest. The initial stretch is a bit steep, but it soon levels out, allowing you to catch your breath while the beauty of the surrounding nature overwhelms your senses.
As you elevate higher, peeking through the trees, you’ll catch glimpses of the lake and its surroundings. As the intrigue grows, you’re led towards an area of rocks, and then you’re out from under the tree cover, standing on the viewing spot on top of Ojstrica. The sight that unfolds in front of you is absolutely breath-taking.
This iconic viewpoint situated at a height of 611 meters (2,005 feet) offers arguably the most spectacular sights of Lake Bled. The scene is encapsulating: the pristine Lake Bled framed by lush trees, the solitary island with the Church of the Assumption standing tall, the commanding Bled Castle overlooking the lake, and the towering peaks of the Julian Alps in the distance. Each element comes together in a perfect natural harmony, creating an exceptionally photogenic landscape — a paradise for photographers.
Remember to bring your camera to capture the unforgettable views and comfortable footwear for the hike! The Ojstrica Trail is a jewel that sparkles with natural beauty, intimate encounters with Slovenian flora, and a viewpoint that will etch Lake Bled in your heart forever.
Swim in the Lake
With the majestic Julian Alps as your backdrop, there are few places as serene and beautiful as Lake Bled for a summer swim. As the summer sun warms the vivid blue waters from June to August, Lake Bled transforms into a welcoming oasis ready to deliver moments of joy and relaxation.
The lake’s crystal clear water, which is fed by thermal springs, reaches a comfortable temperature of around 25°C (77°F) during the peak summer months, making it absolutely perfect for a refreshing dip. Its excellent water quality ensures a pleasant and safe swimming experience, catering to both seasoned swimmers and novice splashers.
The lake is rimmed by several swimming spots, each offering its own unique charm and amenities. The most notable ones include:
- Velika Zaka: This popular bathing area, located on the north shore of the lake, is well equipped with facilities like changing rooms, lockers, rental shops for paddleboards and kayaks, and a nearby café. Its luscious lawns are perfect for spreading out a towel to sunbathe, read a book, or enjoy a picnic.
- Mala Zaka: A bit quieter but equally delightful is the spot of Mala Zaka. It’s an excellent place for people who prefer less crowded areas, and it’s also a well-known starting point for rowers.
- Grajsko kopalisce: Located near Bled Castle, this beach offers amazing views of the lake, castle, and island. There’s a small fee to access, but it’s worth it for the fantastic facilities, including a water slide for the kids and a restaurant for when hunger strikes.
Swimming in Lake Bled is more than just a refreshing summer activity; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself literally in the natural beauty of Slovenia. As you float in the water, you’re surrounded by idyllic views: the verdant greenery, the quaint Bled island, the dominant castle on the hill, and the majestic mountain ranges. And as the sun begins to set, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink, the dwindling rays dancing on the lake surface create a mesmerizing spectacle that you have the best seat in the house to witness.
Whether you’re an avid swimmer or someone who simply loves to frolic in the water, a swim in Lake Bled is a refreshing expedition amidst nature at its best, leaving you invigorated and awash with warm memories.
Where to Eat on Your Lake Bled Day Trip
At some point during the day you’re bound to get hungry, so here are some restaurant ideas in Lake Bled:
- Bled Castle Restaurant: This elegant restaurant provides excellent local cuisine paired with breathtaking views.
- Gostilna Murka: For delicious traditional Slovenian dishes, Gostilna Murka is a great choice.
- Slaščičarna Šmon: No trip to Lake Bled is complete without trying the famous Bled cream cake, and Slaščičarna Šmon is one of the best places to taste this treat.
Things to Do In the Area
In addition to exploring Lake Bled, you may want to combine your day trip with a visit to some of Slovenia’s key attractions. Some guided tours will include these in the itinerary, or you can include these stops on en route if you plan on driving.
Bohinj, nestled within Slovenia’s Triglav National Park, is an idyllic valley renowned for its stunning Lake Bohinj—the largest permanent lake in the country. The area’s pristine natural beauty includes environment diversities such as soaring Alpine peaks, roaring waterfalls, and lush forests. Abundant outdoor activities include hiking, cycling, and water sports in summer, while in winter, it transforms into a paradise for skiing and snowboarding. With charming villages, rich culture, and the iconic Church of St. John the Baptist by the lake, Bohinj is a showcase of Slovenian natural beauty and heritage.
Slap Savica Waterfall, notably located within Triglav National Park in Slovenia, is a captivating natural spectacle. As one of Slovenia’s most famous waterfalls, it impresses with its unique ‘A’ shape, formed from water cascading down two drops – the larger one 78 meters high. Visitors can savor enchanting views by climbing up a series of steps leading to an observation deck. After rainfall, the waterfall’s roaring power is particularly impressive, making it a must-see spot in the Slovenian Alps and a testament to the country’s remarkable natural beauty.
Postojna Cave is one of Slovenia’s most captivating natural wonders. Spanning over 24,000 meters, it’s Europe’s most extensive karst cave system. Visitors can explore the stunning subterranean world, filled with cavernous halls, spectacular stalactites and stalagmites, and complex limestone formations. A unique electric train ride adds to the charm of the tour. Postojna Cave is also home to the endemic olm, or ‘human fish,’ a fascinating aquatic salamander found in these subterranean waters—an additional allure to this breathtaking underground universe.
Predjama Castle is a marvel of medieval architecture, famously built into a towering cliff face in Slovenia. Seamlessly blending nature and human ingenuity, this fortress dates back to the 13th century. It boasts a network of secret tunnels, a history rich with tales of knight Erazem Predjama, and stunning views of the verdant valley. A unique feature is its cave system running beneath, making it the world’s largest cave castle. The castle’s intriguing blend of natural and man-made structures leaves visitors entranced, while its historical tales add a layer of fascinating mystique.
Practical Information For Your Lake Bled Day Trip
Climate: Lake Bled has a temperate climate. Summers (June to August) can be quite warm, with temperatures around 25-30°C (77-86°F). Winters (December to February) are cold, often below freezing, and the lake can sometimes ice over.
What to Bring: Pack according to the season. In summer, bring a swimsuit, sunglasses, sunblock, and a hat. Comfortable shoes are a must for the Ojstrica trail hike. In winter, pack warm clothing, hats, scarves, and gloves. Remember a good-quality camera to capture the enchanting beauty of this Slovenian gem!
Currency: Slovenia uses the Euro (€). Many establishments will accept credit cards, but it’s wise to carry some cash for smaller vendors.
A day trip to Lake Bled from Ljubljana is a wonderful opportunity to explore one of Slovenia’s most picturesque locations. As you drive through the mountains, you’ll pass remote Alpine villages, green forests, and soaring peaks in the distance.
With impressive landscapes, traditional cuisine, and numerous activities to do while you’re there, this trip is one you shouldn’t miss out on!
Book Your Trip
Book your flights: Find cheap flights using Google Flights, Skyscanner or Kayak. To get travel deals sent straight to your inbox, sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights or Jack’s Flight Club. Use the Hopper app for their AI powered price change predictions.
Booking your accommodation: I use Booking.com to book all my hotels. Their Genius loyalty program allows you to earn reward credits no bookings and 10%-20% off hotel prices. You can also try Google Hotels and TripAdvisor to search prices across a variety of sites. Agoda is the best site for booking hotels in Asia.
Travel on a budget: Staying in hostels is a great way to meet people and is best if you’re on a budget. You can find plenty of awesome hostels with Hostelworld.