Bled, an idyllic town that winds around the shores of Lake Bled, is an ideal getaway from the busy life of Ljubljana. Only about an hour’s bus ride from Slovenia’s capital, it is a popular destination for weekend trips or longer visits for tourists and locals alike. Although, all the locals I spoke to told me they preferred Lake Bohinj, which I also visited and will tell about later, Lake Bled is perfect for anyone who loves nature and the outdoors.
The three things that mostly define the scenery in Bled are the Bled castle, the Bled island and the snow-topped mountains looming over the town. The castle and the island you can visit but the mountains you can only admire unless you are experienced in mountaineering. As I am not, I settled on admiring.
Bled Castle is easy to spot since it stands on a hill over the lake. To reach it you need to weave your way through narrow streets until you come to an old church. From the clearing there you can take the stairs up to the castle. It’s quite a climb but it’s worth it. However, I should mention that you need to pay an entrance fee to get to the castle premises. The castle has a museum but it’s pretty small, and the people in my hostel told me it is not worth the fee if you’ve been to Ljubljana castle. I did not enter Ljubljana castle so I can’t confirm that but even if the museum is not very large, the view you get over the Lake is worth paying money for. You can also buy a drink or dine in the castle courtyard and enjoy the sunset.
On the opposite side of the lake from Bled castle, is the Ojstrica point. A viewpoint many people say is the best around Lake Bled, and it’s free. My hostel was located near Bled castle so the walk from there to the Ojstrica point took about 45 minutes. I decided to take an evening walk and try to catch the sunset from the viewpoint. The beginning of the walk was very pleasant as it allowed me to walk along the boardwalk around the lake and admire the lake’s beauty from different angles. However, if you’re not a hiker or not in a good physical fit, the end of the walk might prove challenging. To reach the viewpoint I needed to walk steep uphill and eventually clamber up the rocks without any proper path. Luckily I met two guys on their way to the same place or I would have thought I’m lost.
Despite the climb, the Ojstrica point is one place you definitely should not miss if you’re visiting Bled. When you finally reach the top of the hill, you can see all over lake Bled and the village around it. There is a single bench on top of the viewpoint where you can take a break and admire the breathtaking view. I stayed quite a while waiting for the sun to set but I had come too early. To see the sunset, I would have had to wait for two hours, so I decided to abandon the mission and head back down. However, if you happen to be up on the viewpoint on time, the sunset is said to turn the whole lake orange. That should be a sight to see!
In the middle of Lake Bled is a small island with an old church. It is called Bled island. It’s possible to reach the island by renting a rowboat, taking a ride in a gondola or by swimming. I planned to visit the island but, to be honest, it is very small. It has a church, a café, and a souvenir shop, but not much else as long as I can tell. A staff member in my hostel also told me the church has an entrance fee but when you enter, there is nothing inside. I ended up not checking out if that’s true but if you decide to rent a boat or take a ride in a gondola, the island might be a nice place for a break.
In, on, and above the lake
One of the most popular sights in Bled is undeniably Lake Bled. If you just want to spend a day on the beach there is still a lot you can do. Swimming is allowed in the lake but the water does not get very warm, even in summer. If you don’t mind that, go ahead and jump in, but if you’d rather explore the lake without getting wet there are the boats. Those who want to venture out themselves can hire a rowboat for 15-20 euros/hour, depending on where you hire it from. Another option is to sit back and relax in one of the gondolas (known as Pletna) that offers tours on the lake. The price is 15 euros/ person.
For those with a knack for a little excitement, there are plenty of options to choose from. At least, canyoneering, zip-lining, kayaking, and rafting are available. Also, there’s paragliding, ballooning, skydiving, rock climbing and climbing the Triglav mountain in Triglav national park. Just ask from one of the companies arranging adventure tours and activities in the Bled area.
Bled cream cake
When asked what to eat in Bled, there is only one answer: traditional Bled cream cake. It is a soft and sweet cake with a crispy crust and it is symbolic of the Bled area and its cuisine. Many cafes and restaurants have the cake on their menu, so you can try different places and pick your favorite. I was a little skeptical because I’m usually not a fan of cream cakes but I must admit this cake blew me away.
From Ljubljana to Bled
Most people that come to Slovenia fly to Ljubljana, so to reach Bled, they need to find transportation. For those who don’t want to rent a car or use the Slovenian carpooling app Prevoz, taking a bus is probably the best option. My contact on a travel forum told me Slovenians do not use busses and she did not recommend it to me either. However, I found the buses reliable and taking the bus from Ljubljana to Bled, and on to Bohinj very easy.
The Bus leaves from Ljubljana bus station and the tickets can be bought at the station, the pice is about 7 euros. It’s possible to buy tickets in advance but I’ve heard that might not be a good option, because passengers board the bus when they arrive, and it’s possible you won’t fit in a bus, even if you have bought tickets days in advance. The bus I took was not full but a lady I met in Bled told me her bus had been sold out. Also, peak seasons might be more crowded. I was in Bled the first week of June so it was still relatively quiet.
The trip takes about an hour and twenty minutes. There are a couple of bus stops on the way but I found the ride to be smooth and pleasant. In Bled the bus drops you at the bus station, which is quite near to the lake and most of the accommodation. My hostel was five minutes’ walk from the bus station.
Finding accommodation in Bled should not be hard because the town seems to be filled with hostels and guesthouses. Also, bigger hotels are available and I bet some Airbnb accommodation too. I didn’t check because I booked a hostel, though. Considering the town is quite small, it might be crowded during peak seasons but if you book your accommodation well ahead of time, there probably shouldn’t be any problems.
One option to check out is Bled camping. You can rent a hut and stay right on the beach, or you can bring a tent.