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Lake Bled is one of the most scenic and popular travel destinations in Slovenia. The turquoise glacial lake in the Julian Alps is home to one of the most photographed and famous churches in Europe – located on a small island in the center of the lake. While visiting the island church is one of the best things to do in Lake Bled, Slovenia, there are lots of other fun Lake Bled activities that make this tourist destination well worth visiting.
This travel guide to the best things to do in Lake Bled includes the top 12 activities and attractions in Lake Bled, plus provides all the information about Lake Bled you need to plan your trip, including where to stay in Lake Bled and how to get there.
About Lake Bled, Slovenia
Located about 45 minutes north of the capital city of Ljubljana, no Slovenia itinerary would be complete without a visit to Lake Bled. The lake covers 358 acres and is nearly 4 miles around. With brilliant blue water, the small recreational lake is a popular summer destination for those looking to enjoy the outdoors and relax in a peaceful and serene environment. Canoeing, hiking, and swimming are all popular activities at Lake Bled.
The town of Bled, which is mostly situated on the eastern shore, is a small tourist hub with less than 10,000 residents. You’ll find various hotels and restaurants all around the lake, so whether you are arriving by public transportation on the northwest side of the lake, or by car or bus on the east side, there are plenty of convenient places to stay around Lake Bled.
ALSO READ: THINGS TO DO IN LJUBLJANA
How to get to Lake Bled, Slovenia
There are several ways to get to Lake Bled, depending on where you are coming from.
Rent a car
Renting a car is the easiest way to get to Lake Bled and the most convenient way to explore Slovenia. Lake Bled is located about 35 kilometers from the Ljubljana airport, so if you are flying into Slovenia, we recommend renting a car and road tripping around this breathtaking country.
Getting to Lake Bled by public transport is a bit of a challenge, particularly if coming from Ljubljana by train. The Lesce-Bled train station, which has frequent service from Ljubljana and also connects the region to the cities like Salzburg and Munich, is located about 4 kilometers from the center of Bled. So, if arriving by train, you’ll then have to take a bus, taxi, or walk along a pedestrian path to get to the lake. You can reach Bled directly by bus, as well. The Bled Bus station is only a 5 minute walk from the lake.
There is another rail station, the Bled Jezero station that is only 1.5 kilometers from the center of Bled. However, this rail station connects to smaller towns in Slovenia like Jesenice as well as a few towns in neighboring Italy and Austria.
Where to stay in Lake Bled
Lake Bled is a small lake and you’ll find places to stay all around it. However, when we were originally planning our trip, figuring out where to stay in Lake Bled was one of our biggest questions. Where you stay often determines the experience you are going to have. We recommend staying on the east side of the lake, which is the most developed. It’s easy to get to from the highway if you are driving, as well. We stayed at Hotel Lovec, which is a nice hotel with an indoor pool located just a short 2 minute walk from the lake. It is a great hotel for families, with a restaurant on-site and a wonderful breakfast included.
Alternative lodging options include Hotel Park, which is right on the shoreline. Grand Hotel Toplice is ideal if you’re looking for something extra luxurious. And Penzion Villa Preseren, offers a more intimate, villa stay, just steps from the bus station.
Epic Things to Do in Lake Bled, Slovenia
Now that we’ve covered how to get there and where to stay, let’s dive into the best things to do in Lake Bled for a memorable stay.
Canoe to Bled Island
Bled Island is located in the center of Lake Bled closer to the western lake shore. The tiny island is home to the Assumption of Maria Church, also called the Church of the Mother of God or more simply referred to as the Church on the Lake.
Unless you want to swim to the island, which some people actually do in the summer and early fall, Bled Island is accessible by canoe or pletna. A pletna is a multi-passenger flat-bottomed boat with a standing oarsman who guides and rows the boat.
Renting a canoe and rowing to the island is one of the most fun and unique things to do in Lake Bled. Word of warning: rowing a boat is harder than it looks! But it is such an adventure for families or couples to figure out together.
If you want to rent an individual canoe you can do so by the hour at a number of places around the lake. Pro tip: To save your arms and spend less time rowing, rent a canoe from one of the places on the western shoreline, as it puts you much closer to the island.
For those who don’t want to attempt the physical exertion to row to the island, or if you simply prefer a group experience, there are several places where you can catch a pletna, including right at the eastern shore near Hotel Park. A pletna tour includes 40 minutes on the island, which is plenty of time to see the small church, stop in the gift shop, climb the bell tower, and get back to the boat.
Ring the wishing bell inside the Church of the Mother of God
After making your way to the island, there is a small fee to enter the Church of the Assumption of Maria. Your admission also covers your entrance into the adjacent tower, which you can climb to the top for a birds-eye-view of the small island.
Inside the church, directly in front of the altar, you’ll find a rope hanging from the ceiling. Pulling on the rope rings the wishing bell, which can be heard across the island. Legend has it that when you ring the bell, your wishes resound toward heaven and the wishes in your heart come true.
The Legend of Lake Bled is a story of love and tragedy. The tale goes that long ago, a couple lived in Bled Castle. One tragic day, robbers breached the castle and killed the husband. Afterwards, the young widow gathered all the silver and gold in the castle and cast a bell for the island chapel in her husband’s memory. But when the bell was being taken to the island, a storm capsized the boat and the little bell sang to the bottom of the lake. In her grief, the widow left for Rome and entered a nunnery. Upon her death, the Pope sent another bell to the church in her honor.
To this day, it is said that when you ring the bell with a wish in your heart, the Lady of the Lake will hear and grant your desire.
Pose for a photo in the Heart of Bled
A popular photo spot on the lake, The Heart of Bled can be found on a wooden deck over the water on the far east side of the lake, between Bled Castle and the Hotel Park. The heart sculpture is an ode to the lake’s beautiful legend and love story. Couples often stop for a photo inside the heart-shaped frame. And in recent years, much to the displeasure of the town, some couples have begun leaving love locks on the sculpture and the sides of the wooden deck around it.
Hike to and tour Bled Castle
Bled Castle is perched on a rocky outcrop that towers above Lake Bled. The centuries old castle has been fully restored and is now a small museum. While the museum is admittedly lackluster, the views from the castle are worth the admission to enter.
There are two ways to get to the castle. You can drive up to it. There is a small parking lot just below the castle. However, a fun alternative for those who don’t mind a moderately challenging climb, is to hike up to the castle. If coming from the east, you can hike up a series of switchbacks to the main entrance. If coming from the west, there is a less laid-out path through a wooded area that takes you around the back side of the castle.
Hike to the Mala Osojnica Viewpoint (Lake Bled Overlook)
Mala Osojnica offers the most famous view of Lake Bled. In fact, the majority of photos you see of this pristine lake are taken from this spot overlooking Lake Bled from the west with both the island and castle in view.
It takes about 45 minutes to get to Mala Osojnica, and in total, you should give yourself at least 2 hours to hike there, enjoy the magnificent view, and then hike back down. You’ll walk up a forested path that can get quite steep in sections. There is also a long steep staircase, and a bench along the way. The hike can be somewhat challenging as it is uphill the whole way, but it is doable, even with children… at least in nice weather.
Indulge in a Bled Cream Cake
After hiking to either Bled Castle or Mala Osojnica you have earned yourself a delicious slice of Bled Cream Cake! You can buy this delicacy at basically any restaurant in Bled, however there is one place in particular that sells more than 500,000 slices every year. The Park Hotel Restaurant created the Slovenian pastry in 1953, and since then the hotel has made and sold around 13 million of them.
So what is it? Bled Cream Cake is a puff pastry with layers of vanilla cream and custard. It’s light and fluffy, and sweet without being overpowering. And in the last 70 years, it has become one of the most famous Slovenian dishes.
Walk or cycle around Lake Bled
Lake Bled is less than 4 miles around and is a leisure 2-hour stroll along a mostly flat walking path. Walking around the lake is a great way to burn off your Bled Cream Cake, or simply enjoy the different viewpoints and perspectives of the lake. An alternative, particularly if you are on a tight schedule, is to rent bikes and tour Lake Bled on two wheels! There are several places you can rent bikes in the town of Bled on the eastern shore if you prefer to cycle instead of stroll.
Visit the Adventure Park and Ride the Straza Bled Toboggan down the mountain
On the south side of Lake Bled, Adventure Park Bled is a fun warm weather activity located at the top of Staza ski resort. It’s a short 20 minute hike from the lake shore to the ticketing area. At the top, you’ll find family-friendly obstacle courses designed to challenge and intrigue kids (and adults) of various levels. The forest courses include rope bridges, ziplines, and swings that you’ll have a blast navigating across.
One of the top attractions at Straza Bled is the summer toboggan. From the ticketing area, you’ll take a chair lift up the mountain, and then ride a toboggan down a track. Younger children can ride with an adult, and don’t worry, despite the track becoming quite steep at parts, you control the speed of the toboggan, so you can go as fast as 24 miles per hour (40 km/h) or take it slow and steady. Either way, you’ll have a blast!
Take a Dip in the Water
Depending on what time of year you visit, Lake Bled is a popular swimming lake. The water is calm, clear, clean, and surprisingly warm. In fact, Lake Bled has one of the longest swimming seasons of any lake in Europe. There are several public areas where you can take a dip in the lake, including Grajska Beach, below the castle rock, where you’ll find fenced swimming pools, and even a water slide.
If visiting during winter, spring or even late fall, the water and air temperature will be too cold to swim in the lake, but you can still pack your swimsuit to visit the thermal baths at Grand Hotel Toplice or one of the indoor swimming pools are some of the other hotels in Bled.
Visiting in winter? Lake Bled is one of the world’s most beautiful winter wonderlands!
Enjoy a Meal with a View
One of the best things to do in Lake Bled is to simply sit and enjoy the panoramic views. Luckily, there are several restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating around the lake where you can do just that. For something extra memorable, you can even book a dinner reservation at Bled Castle where you can enjoy patio dining overlooking the entire lake.
Visit the Nearby Dinopark
DinoPark, just east of Bled, is a fun place to stop on your way into or out of town. Spread throughout a forested area, kids will love all the large, realistic dinosaur statues. You’ll also find seemingly random statues of Stonehenge, The Sphinx, and Easter Island. It is a bit on the pricey side for what it is, but if you are looking for things to do with kids in Lake Bled, the Dinopark is a way to spend an hour and keep kids entertained – particularly kids who love dinosaurs.
Hike through Vintgar Gorge
Vintgar Gorge is one of the most beautiful hikes we’ve ever personally done. Luckily, the hike is also quite easy, as it is mostly flat on a wooden boardwalk that runs through the gorge. You’ll need to buy tickets online in advance to hike Vintgar Gorge. They do a good job of limiting the number of people allowed in the gorge each hour. When we went, you couldn’t buy tickets on-site. You had to buy them in advance, online.
The hike through Vintgar Gorge is roughly 1.1 miles long. You’ll cross over the river multiple times on wooden foot bridges. At the end of the hike, there is a small concessions area where you can get something to drink and use the bathroom. From there, you can either catch a cab back to the parking lot or hike back on a separate path. The hike back will add another 2 miles to your walk, however, it is equally scenic and takes you directly through fields of sheep, goats, and cows.
Frequently Asked Questions about visiting Lake Bled
While our travel guide highlights the best things to do in Lake Bled, we realize while planning a trip, people often have other questions. Here are some of the top FAQs about Lake Bled travel.
How many days do you need in Lake Bled?
Many people visit Lake Bled as a day trip. You can book a day trip to Lake Bled from Ljubljana or book a day trip from Zagreb, Croatia. However, to truly enjoy the laid back atmosphere of Lake Bled without feeling rushed, we recommend spending at least one or two nights. You can even base yourself in Lake Bled if you plan to explore some nearby places like Triglav National Park and the stunning Julian Alps.
Is Lake Bled worth visiting?
Lake Bled is one of the most picturesque lakes in Europe. This beautiful lake, the town, and Slovenia as a whole are definitely worth visiting. Aside from its beauty, there are so many fun and relaxing things to do in Lake Bled that make it a wonderful place to visit.
How long does it take to walk around Lake Bled?
The walking path around Lake Bled is a popular and easy trail. If walking at a slow pace, stopping for photos along the way, or traveling with kids, the leisure walk around the lake will take you between 1 ½ and 2 hours.
What is Lake Bled famous for?
Perhaps most notable for its breathtaking views, Lake Bled is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Slovenia. Where else has both a castle on a cliff and a church on an island?! Beyond its stunning scenery, Lake Bled is also famous for its delicious Bled Cream Cake, which was invented in the town.
What are some other places to visit near Lake Bled?
Some of the best places to visit in Slovenia are around Lake Bled. Slovenia’s only national park, Triglav National Park, and the majestic Julian Alps are an easy day trip from Lake Bled. You can also head to Lake Bohinj or the capital city of Ljubljana for a day. Additionally, albeit further away, Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle are doable as a day trip from Lake Bled.
Final thoughts on visiting Lake Bled, Slovenia
A trip to Slovenia wouldn’t be complete without visiting Lake Bled. Full of natural beauty and breathtaking scenery, Lake Bled is an outdoor lover’s dream destination. And whether you have only one day in Lake Bled, or several days to relax and take in the postcard-worthy views, a vacation or holiday in Slovenia’s famous lakeside resort town is sure to be a memorable one.
Have a question or comment about the best things to do in Lake Bled Slovenia? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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