Lake Bled is located in the North of Slovenia, roughly 45 minutes drive from the capital Ljubljana, and is named for the town built on its eastern edge. It’s not a large lake, but its beauty more than makes up for its size; with opulent 19th century architecture set against the stunning forest that dominates the area. The main attraction is the Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church that resides on an island in the middle of the lake, but the whole area is worth some time.
We were there for three nights to soak up some Slovenian countryside, explore the lake and walk through Vintgar Gorge.
We arrived via rental car from Ljubljana and this is how I would recommend getting to Bled. The advantages of having a car over public transport are obvious; particularly in rural areas, a car makes a huge difference and will save connection headaches and waiting for buses. It also means you can stop at small villages like Radovljica on the way. Our car from ATET Rent a Car cost €88.20 for three days rental, and we spent €22.65 on petrol.
There are hourly trains from Ljubljana that cost something like €5 per person one way to Lesce-Bled, which is about 4km southeast of Bled itself. You can buy tickets in person on the day of travel from the main train station no problem, but you can book in advance HERE. Make note of where your accommodation is as you might need a connecting bus or a taxi if you are staying in a village outside of Bled centre.
Bus is an option to Bled, although it costs more and takes longer than the train. Check out details HERE.
Hitch hiking is also a valid option in Slovenia, although obviously you wont be able to anticipate arrival times to your destination. Check out the Hitch-Wiki for Slovenia.
Getting around Bled itself is possible by walking, cycling or even by boat. If you want to see more of the area you can either use local buses or consider a rental car.
Hint – Try booking your rental car last minute for a possible free upgrade. We booked an economy category car at about 10pm, to collect at 11am the following day, and received an upgrade to a luxury model due to our first choice being unavailable. Try this at your own risk however!
We booked a room in a house using Airbnb, in a village five minutes drive from Bled called Zgornje Gorje. There are many small villages dotting the countryside and we really enjoyed staying outside of the main tourism area. Our place was a great chalet style house with views over the area and of the lake itself, and was about a 30 minute walk through countryside and forest to the lake. Our room cost €30 per night and included things like free wine, chocolate and a wood fire, as well as local advice from our host.
Hostels are in Bled itself and start from around €12 per bed per night for a dorm room. By far the most popular hostel is Jazz Hostel & Apartments, which is even considered to be one of the best hostels in Europe. If that’s all booked out, consider Castle Hostel 1004.
Camping is available year round at Camping Bled. Sites start from €22.80 for two people.
Bnb’s in the area average around €40 for a decent double room, and €70 for a private apartment. In Bled itself you can expect to pay around €50 – €60 for a double room and €60 – €90 for a whole apartment. Prices are subject to dramatic seasonal fluctuations.
Hotels range from small family run guesthouse type establishments to huge lakeside manors with five star luxury. Expect to pay anywhere from €40 per night for the former and upwards of €200 per night for the latter.
Hint – Try staying in one of the small villages surrounding the town. Not only is the rent cheaper, but you will get a great feel for rural Slovenian life that Bled doesn’t provide. We loved it.
Lake Bled is a popular tourist destination all year round. The colder months offer skiing, snowboarding and ice skating, and the warmer months a plethora of lake activities and extreme sports. If you are like us and are fairly active but not so extreme, the area is good for three or four days. If you are just looking for a relaxing place to read books and drink wine on holiday, then Lake Bled is perfect for as long as you like.
We spent a whole day walking slowly around the lake admiring the scenery and breathing the fresh air. In summer you might find activities like archery, where you can meet the Slovenian Robin Hood and shoot arrows like a boss for €5.
Take a boat ride out to the church on Bled Island (creative names huh), a return journey is something like €14 per person, or even better; hire a boat and row out there yourself. We hired a row boat for one hour, rowed ourselves out to the church, looked around and rowed back, all for €10. There are hire boats all around the lake of every variety and size, the further you are from the big hotels the cheaper they get.
The church on the island costs €6 to enter, which we declined, but it looks nice. If you row around the island for a bit you can dock in time to watch the big tourist taxi boats depart en mass and have yourself a more peaceful visit. Something we realised after the fact as six hotel taxi boats left as we did; leaving the island deserted.
Also worth a visit is the Bled Castle; a medieval fortification perched on a precipice that overlooks the lake and town. Blejski Grad costs €10 to enter and is currently one of the country’s most visited attractions, although again we declined to enter in preference of something a bit more special. You’ll have to read the Piran blog to find out about that…
A must see in the area is Vintgar Gorge. The original path through the gorge was built in 1893 and provides a 40 minute easy walk through stunning canyon walls and waterfalls. Entry is €4 per person, which is generously low for the quality of the experience. Rather than return to our car back the way we came, we chose to walk the longer track around the outside of the Gorge, through the forest and across a countryside that provides epic views over the whole area. We even made a donkey friend.
For authentic traditional Slovenian food visit Gostilna Pri Martinu in the stunning alpine town Kranjska Gora, which is a lovely 15km drive from Bled through awesome scenery. We ate more than we thought possible and still couldn’t finish our meals, which cost €22.60 all up for mains, sides, desert and (non-alcoholic) drinks. Shock horror on the no booze I know; I was driving. The rest of our time in Bled we self-catered at home.
Hint – A Gostilna in Slovenia is a bit like a Konoba in Croatia; an authentic, sometimes family run, restaurant serving traditional food. These are the places where (when you find a good one) you order locally made Kranjska Sausage and Sourkraut with bacon sprinkles. The Goulash comes in a salad bowl and pork chops are bigger than your face. The house wine might literally be made in the owners house.
Lake Bled for three nights;
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