The only island in Slovenia is found not by the sea, but actually in the middle of a lake. More specifically Lake Bled. The tiny island (“Blejski Otok”) with its impressive church is one of the most famous photo motifs in all of Slovenia. However, Bled is much more than just pretty.
In this blog article we will show you why you should make a short stopover in Bled when travelling through Slovenia, and of course Lake Bled as well (“Blejsko Jezero”). We’ll share with you our best tips, what there is to see and do in Bled, and what side trips are most worthwhile.
1. Lake Bled and the City of Bled: Overview
The small town of Bled and the alpine lake of Lake Bled are amongst the most important and well-visited destinations in Slovenia. Not a surprise, given how beautiful the scenery is. Many tour operators think so too, which means Bled is a popular destination for day trips as well as tour buses. The small township of Bled is therefore rather full in the summer months – some might even say it’s too overcrowded. Despite that, Bled is definitely worth a visit.
To us, the focus is not so much on the city itself. In our opinion, the many bland hotel buildings have tainted its beauty. However, the stunning viewpoints around Lake Bled and the mountain scenery in the horizon is where you’ll find the true essence of Bled.
How long should you stay in Bled?
Bled is easy to get around, so you can already cover most of the highlights with just a one night stay. You can certainly make a short stopover en route to further destinations, but we would recommend spending one or two nights in Bled so that you can better manage your time to avoid the rush hour around the main attractions.
The best season to visit Bled
We ourselves visited Bled in spring (beginning of April) and can highly recommend this season. Unfortunately, nature was not yet as spring-like and green as we would have liked, but we found Bled to be quite calm and peaceful during this period. The weather was very unpredictable during our visit – of course you have to expect that in April. Also important to know: There are some restrictions to sightseeing during the low season, eg. the Vintgar Gorge was closed during our visit.
In the summer, Bled suddenly turns into a large swimming pool. Although there is only one official swimming pool (below the castle), you will find swimming spots all around the lakeside. But keep in mind that many of the main attractions in Bled (like the Castle and the Vintgar Gorge), can get very crowded during the summer.
2. The Most Beautiful Sights & Activities: What to do and see in Bled
Walk around Lake Bled
What’s the best way to start your visit in Bled? Our suggestion: Take a walk around the lake. The loop track is just 6 kilometres long and suitable for all fitness levels – even for older people or families with strollers. The walking track is very easy, but allow around 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.
You will pass by a few benches, piers, swimming areas and cafes. If you want, you can also make a detour to the top – be it to the castle or to one of the famous lookout points in the southwest of the lake.
The best view of Lake Bled: Mala Osojnica
In our opinion, a trip to Bled is not complete without seeing the lake from above. The most beautiful and impressive view of the island in the lake is up on one of the hills, southwest of the lake. There are two well-known lookout points: Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica.
We decided to go for the slightly higher point at Mala Osojnica. From the main road you can reach it after a fairly steep 30-minute climb over a narrow forest trail. The path runs with many zig-zags uphill and definitely works up a good sweat. As it had been raining recently, the soil was muddy on some sections and the roots were quite slippery. However, it was still quite manageable.
Unfortunately, the path is quite badly sign-posted. The wooden bench, which you reach after climbing the long metal staircase, is not actually the final lookout point. From there, you have to walk for another five minutes or so until you reach the viewing platform at Mala Osojnica.
Information about the View Point at Mala Osojnica
Walking time: approx. 30 minutes uphill through the forest – sturdy shoes highly recommended.
Parking: The nearest parking is located at the campsite at a very expensive rate of 3 Euros per hour.
Castle of Bled
One of the must-see places in Bled is the castle itself (“Blejski Grad”). Located atop a hill close to the town centre, it can be reached either by foot (15 minutes) or by car.
From the castle you can enjoy a really beautiful view of the lake, although the view of the island is not as great as it is from the hills on the west side of the lake. The only drawback: The entrance fee of 11 Euros to the castle is a bit over the top. Unfortunately, the only way to get to the view point is through the ticket entrance, so there’s really no way to avoid the expensive fee. Behind the castle is actually a free view point, but it’s not as impressive compared to the one in the castle.
In addition to several viewpoints, you can also visit a museum or enjoy a (rather overpriced) coffee. It’s well worth coming early because from about 11am the area was overrun by Asian bus groups already!
Information about visiting the Bled Castle
Admission: 13 Euros
Parking: Directly at the castle, cost 3 Euros for 2 hours
Opening hours: July to August: 8am to 9pm; April to June and September and October: 8am to 8pm; November to March 8am to 6pm
Just a few miles north of Bled’s Centre is a beautiful gorge you absolutely should not miss: the Vintgar Gorge, beautifully carved by the river of Radovna. You wander through the gorge via wooden boardwalks and can admire the turquoise waters of the river basically the entire way.
The only downside: The Vintgar Gorge is now extremely popular and has the reputation of being hopelessly overrun during the summer. We therefore recommend that you arrive as early as possible – ideally, just after they open at 7am or 8am in the morning (depending on the season). You could also visit in the late afternoon, but try to avoid the lunchtime hours.
Good to know: We ourselves came here in the off season (April), when the Vintgar Gorge is still closed. Therefore, we could only marvel at the first few hundred meters of the gorge, which was already a good teaser to what more there is to see. The walking time from the entrance to the waterfall (the end of the gorge) is about 45 minutes. Overall, you should plan at least 1.5 hours.
Information about the Vintgar Gorge
Admission: 10 Euros
Parking: Right by the gorge for about 5 Euros
Opening hours: June to August: 7am to 7pm; May and September: 8am to 6pm; October and November: 9am to 4pm.
3. Side Trip to Lake Bohinj in the Bohinj Region
Lake Bled is not the only alpine lake in the region worth seeing. In just half an hour by car from Bled, you can reach the beautiful Lake Bohinj or “Bohinjsko Jezero“. This place is definitely more tranquil and less touristy than Bled. Therefore, we can only highly recommend that you also make a short stopover here.
The well-known photo motif with the stone bridge and the church is hard to miss. It is located on the eastern side of Lake Bohinj in Ribčev Laz.
However, we did not come to Bohinj just for a walk along the shore. As a matter of fact, we had two more destinations in mind: firstly, we wanted to tackle the short ascent up to the Savica waterfall; and our second destination took us up to the magnificent heights of the Vogel Mountain.
By Cable Car to Mt. Vogel
The name says it all: From the Vogel mountain, you have the perfect bird’s eye view of Lake Bohinj. It’s quite easy to reach the mountain station by gondola, just a 5 minute ride with the cable car and you will have ascended roughly 1000 meters.
Vogel Mountain is primarily known as a ski resort, but the gondola is open all year round, so people can enjoy the stunning view in every season. Since the longer walking tracks are really only possible in summer, you have the limited option of going up with the Cable Car if you visit outside of that season. Unfortunately, at 25 Euros (return trip) – it’s not exactly cheap.
Price for a round trip: 25 Euros
The Savica Waterfall (“Slap Savica”) is the largest and most visited waterfall in Bohinj. The waterfall, along with the river, are the main sources flowing out into the Lake Bohinj. You reach the Savica Waterfall after a 30-minute ascent through a forest trail.
The path mostly leads over stairs and is very well paved – however, perhaps too well paved and accessible, as we were far from the only ones there – and this is during the off-season. Nevertheless, the waterfall is impressively located in a gorge and well worth seeing. But you have to be satisfied with seeing it from a safe distance, as access to the waterfall itself is not possible due to a locked gate.
Admission: 3 Euros
Walking Time: 30 minutes of moderate, but steady uphill with stairs
4. Restaurants and Cafes: Where to eat in Bled
The Sweet Specialty in Bled: Cream Slice (“Kremšnita”)
Highly praised and raved on about in every corner are Bled’s Traditional Cream Slices. You will hardly find a café in Bled which does not serve this regional specialty. The original version of these cream slices are supposedly found at the Hotel Park. On nice sunny days, you can try these cream slices on the terrace whilst overlooking the beautiful Lake Bled.
However, these cream slices are not as exclusive as the Original Sacher-Torte is in Vienna. Therefore, you can find these creamy treats all over the city and we ourselves tasted our “Kremšnita” at Slascicarna Zima thanks to a recommendation. The atmosphere here is not as fancy as the Hotel Park, but we still give it a thumbs up!
By the way: We have been told that a good cream slice has to wobble when you move the plate. Our cream slices definitely passed the wobble test!
Recommended Restaurants in Bled
Vrtnarija (pictured): This place belongs to an Eco Resort called Garden Village and they serve very good, creative Slovenian cuisine with a few vegetarian options on offer. Service was excellent, but the prices were far too high in our opinion (as they often are in Bled): we paid 50 Euros for the both of us for 1 meal and 1 drink each.
Restaurant Sova: Quaint, cozy wine bar down by the waterfront. The selection here is quite extensive, serving traditional Slovenian cuisine with creative touches. The prices are rather upscale for Slovenia.
Public & Vegan Kitchen: A sort of pub serving mostly vegan burgers. It tasted very good, but the atmosphere was not quite our vibe.
5. Our Accommodation Tip for Bled: Vila Mila
We stayed in the beautiful Vila Mila, which we can highly recommend. The historic house is home to several beautifully renovated apartments. We stayed in the one called “Perla”, which is located on the top floor of the house.
The hosts were incredibly friendly and helpful. We were allowed the luxury of checking out a few hours later – without any fuss nor extra charge, despite the apartment being booked again for the next night. There is also free coffee and even a sauna on the ground floor.
The apartment was spotless, the beds were super comfortable and we felt very much at home. From the house you can reach the lakeside in just a few minutes. Conclusion: Highly recommended!
You can view and book the accommodation here: Vila Mila
Transparency: Affiliate Links
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Have you ever been to Lake Bled? How did you like it? If you have any other tips for Bled, we look forward to reading your experiences in the comments below!