In my opinion, Slovenia is one of the most underestimated tourist places in Europe, at least when talking about natural heritage. It has everything you need for an active vacation/trip: majestic mountains, beautiful lakes, historical cities, sunny beaches at the seaside… But, in this article, I will mostly talk about lake Bled and the places around. For me, Bled is one of the TOP places to see in Europe! Do you ask why? It is located in the heart of the Julian Alps and there is a cute small island in the middle of the lake. What’s more, there is a church on this island that makes this place really magical.
It is surprising how much less known is Slovenia in comparison with its surrounding countries such as Croatia and Italy. We’ve visited Bled in spring 2018 and spent there 5 days. I will try to describe everything important you need to know about this place and also what to do and see at lake Bled.
I am also attaching a map at the end of the article, where you can find all the places mentioned.
Location and transportation
Bled is situated in the northwest part of the country, on the corner of Triglav national park and 54 km from the capital – Ljubljana. The surroundings of the lake belong to the East part of Alps, called the Julian Alps. Another well-known lake Bohinj is just about 25 km from Bled. Of course, the easiest way how to get to the lake Bled is by car, but it has also a very good bus and train connections, especially with Ljublana. The capital is actually the closest big city to Bled. On one side of the lake, you can find a town called Bled with supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, Airbnb’s, etc. All the buses from surrounding cities are arriving in this town. The train station is outside of the town, so be ready for a walk (as you can see on the map)
Weather and the best time to visit Bled
Since lake Bled is situated in the mountains, you can feel there always fresh air which is a bit colder than in big cities. In the winter, the temperature can decrease to 0 °C or even lower, in the summer it’s usually between 22 and 26 °C. So, when is the best time to visit it? we definitely vote for summertime and spring. There are dozens of things to do at Bled when it’s warm outside! On the other side, I would recommend traveling to the lake Bled in winter just to those who are big fans of skiing and snowboarding. There are several smaller Ski resorts in the Triglav national park.
One warning for you: if you decide to visit Lake Bled in May and want to go hiking in the mountains, firstly make your homework and find out if there is already no snow up in the mountains. Don’t be surprised finding 1-meter deep snow just a few kilometers from the lake even when it’s already 20 degrees at the lakeside! By this, you will avoid the same mistake as we’ve made 🙂
Camping at lake Bled
You can choose from several hotels, Airbnb’s and probably also hostels around the lake. Yet still, we recommend you to choose one of the camps as your short-term home. Sleeping in a tent or in a van here is a truly atmospheric experience that you will remember for a long time! After some research, we chose Sava Camping and we didn’t regret it even for a moment. It is an appropriate place for vans, tents, cars, etc. The hygiene of toilets and showers is on an exceptional level and for a small fee, you can have also electricity. Moreover, there are amazing people working at the reception, ready to help with anything (at least it was like this when we spent our time there). From the camp to the lake, it’s around 50 meters. At the lakeside, you can find also one decent looking restaurant (we didn’t eat there so I cannot say anything about the real quality) and a small grocery. Like a really small one… Don’t expect that you buy there food for the whole trip.
Church in the middle of the lake
The little cute island in the middle of the lake is the main symbol of Bled and it’s probably the main reason why this place looks so magical, like a fairy tale. It’s essentially on all the pictures made at the lake Bled! There are 3 options on how to get to the island:
- going by a group boat/ferry – this is the cheapest option. Yet still, count with the fact that you will not have privacy on the boat and the boat goes just to the island and back, there is no option to enjoy the lake for a longer time
- renting a small private boat – definitely recommended! In this case, you need to row the boat by yourself but it has many pluses. You have privacy, you can chill for as long as you want and enjoy the amazing views… If you are a guy, your girlfriend will enjoy this romantic experience a lot! There are several companies renting boats. The prices vary from 15 to 20 euros per hour for 1 boat. Sometimes, they even include a picnic box full of food in the fee. Just be careful, if you stay just a bit longer than 1 hour, they will probably charge you for 2 hours. The lake is quite small so you can manage to get to the island and back even in 1 hour, but I would recommend renting for 2 hours.
- swimming to the island – this option is just for real athletes 🙂
The island is quite small so you don’t need much time to walk around. The entrance fee to the church is 6 euros. What I definitely recommend, is to try the ice cream that they sell there – it’s super tasty. And the rest of your time on the island you can for example just be pleased by the amazing views all around! Luckily, at the time we were there, we didn’t meet many tourists, it’s still not such a well-known place.
What to do and see at Lake Bled?
Just this one topic would be probably enough for 1 more long article. So I will try to be as brief as possible. I have already mentioned renting a boat so this one activity will not be included in the list of things to do at Bled. Let’s start with activities at the lakeside and then continue with farther options:
Can you swim in the lake Bled? Hell yeah! There is one official bath, situated under the Castle (I will write about the castle a bit later) close to the town. But there are also dozens of unofficial beaches all around the lake where you will find usually fewer people. One of them is directly in front of the camp I mentioned earlier. In May, when we were there, almost nobody was swimming. It isn’t that surprising when you imagine that the water is still very cold (brrr). The best months for swimming are July and August but there is even a competition in swimming in the winter.
Personally, we didn’t try it, but fishing is a popular activity at the lake Bled. Why not? Sitting at the lake and fishing with such a view on the mountains… It sounds like pure happiness! If you are interested, check out the official website of lake Bled.
3. Hiking on smaller hills
There are a few hiking roads starting basically at the lakeside. The place that we definitely recommend to check out, is called Mala Osojnica. It’s a bit harder hiking to this place but it’s worth going there, just look at the picture that we took. It takes around 30-60 minutes to hike there (depends on how fast you are hiking). At the end of the hike, you can find a bench with one of the nicest views you can imagine! We went there early in the morning (so no people except for us) and had breakfast on that bench with the view.
4. Walk around lake Bled
Up to Wikipedia, the whole lake has just 1,45 km2 and if you want to walk it around, be ready for something like 6 km of walk. Easy peasy! What’s better, there is a walking path around the whole lake. Trust me, it’s a very nice and chill walk!
5. Cycling around lake Bled
In case walking is too boring for you or you like to be more active, you can also go by bike around lake Bled. There are some bike rental companies in the town of Bled in case you don’t have your own bicycle. And, if you want more cycling, there are dozens of other bicycle roads in the whole area.
6. Bled castle
This is also an additional option to prolong your walking around the lake because the road to the castle starts just a few meters from the lake. It’s on a small hill but be ready for short decent hiking since the road is going steeply up! The entrance to the castle costs 9,50 euros.
7. Intensive hiking in the mountains of Triglav National Park
In my opinion (and maybe not everybody will agree with me), the hiking roads are a bit less developed in Triglav National Park in comparison with other national parks in Europe – but I am not the most experienced hiker so maybe I am wrong. Also, it’s a bit harder to get to the hiking roads if you don’t have a car. We, for instance, hitchhiked to our hiking place. Nature is extremely wonderful in this part of Slovenia and there is a big chance that you will not meet many people.
8. Rafting and kayaking in Slovenia
Slovenia is pretty much well known for this sport. Mainly the river Socha is used as a rafting paradise. You can choose from many companies organizing rafting trips in the mountains. Here are some of them:
If you are from one of the countries being close to Slovenia, there is a big chance that you will find companies offering rafting in Slovenia also in your own country. At least, we have several companies in Slovakia (no, Slovakia is not Slovenia 🙂 offering it.
9. Visit the capital Ljubljana
As I mentioned, Ljubljana is just 54 km from Bled and it’s definitely worth visiting. We even met a girl living at Bled and going every day to Ljubljana because of her work! Ljubljana is, in my opinion, not a typical European capital. It’s quite small, has an atmospheric historical city center with a castle in the middle of it (on a small hill) and you will see many drakes everywhere (unfortunately not real ones). The reason is that drakes are the symbol of the city.
Don’t forget to walk through the Metelkova district, where all street art and unusual take place. Just a bit farther from the city center, you can find a huge park called Tivoli, also worth visiting.
10. Experience Vintgar Gorge
Vintgar Gorge is probably the most unspoiled part of nature at Bled! It’s situated approximately 4 km from the lake. Vintgar Gorge is a 1,6 km long trail running across a wild river, full of small waterfalls and cute bridges, in the middle of the forest. The entrance fee is 10 euros per person for adults.
11. Visit the lake Bohinj
Lake Bohinj is almost that wonderful as lake Bled and it’s situated just 15 km far. You can get there by car, bike, bus or hitchhiking. Bohinj is, in general, a bit less touristic as Bled.
Even though Slovenia and Lake Bled are not yet full of tourists, like Italy for example, prices of the services (accommodation, restaurants, bars, etc.) are similar to prices in Italy. Slovenia is on the border between Balkan and Western Europe but by the prices, it already definitely belong to Western Europe. If you want to learn how to travel in Slovenia on a budget, read our article How to find the best and cheapest restaurants for your trip or 7 easy secrets of making cheap breakfast on the road.
The currency in Slovenia is Euro and ATM’s are easy to find in the cities and towns.
Up to our experience, many Slovenian people speak English. At least, you should for sure not to have any problem in hotels, restaurants, camps, bars, etc.
We were surprised by the beauty of Lake Bled when visiting this place in May 2018 and in our opinion, it is one of the nicest places in Europe, at least when talking about Nature. I believe you will also like it there 🙂 In case you have any questions, let us know in a comment under the article.