Visiting Lake Bled? 18 x highlights, what to do + tips
Lake Bled is probably the most famous tourist destination in Slovenia. Around the lake there are a lot of activities and sights. We made a list of our favorites. Culture and entertainment for young and old!
Tours and tickets to Lake Bled
Lake Bled: a word of explanation
Lake Bled is seen as the most beautiful lake in Slovenia. Not surprisingly 'Lake Bled' is therefore one of the most visited places in the country. However, don't be put off by this, because it might be crowded, but of course there is a reason for that: the lake and the surroundings around it are breathtaking and bursting with beautiful spots that you have to see with your own eyes!
The lake is located in the north of Slovenia and is unlike Lake Bohinj just outside Triglav National Park. Lake Bled has a length of 2120 meters and 1380 meters wide with a maximum depth of 30.6 meters. Around there are many footpaths, ideal to explore the beautiful nature and surroundings at your own pace. Moreover, many paths lead you to the most beautiful viewpoints. A special feature is the small island with the Maria Ascension Church, which is located right in the middle of the lake.
Boat to the church in the middle of the lake
In the middle of the lake you will find the Maria Ascension Church (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja) from the 9th century, decorated with frescoes and with a golden altar on the inside. You can visit the island with a rowing boat (rowing + visit to the island takes about 2 hours), or with a covered gondola (Pletna). The real water lovers can also swim. Once on the island, climb the 99 steps to the church. You pay a fee to visit the church and ring the bells to make a wish.
Swimming in Lake Bled
Looking for the ideal place to swim Lake Bled? Then we recommend the beach located at the Camping of Bled! If you want to spend the night around the lake this is the ideal location. Of course there is nothing more fun than waking up at the edge of the lake.
If you walk along the lake, you will pass Vila Bled, with the Belvédère Pavilion teahouse. Try the Kremna Rezina cake, Bled's famous dessert. This place used to be used by President Tito to invite his guests, including Fidel Castro. In the villa you'll find photos, original furniture and floor mosaics of wild animals. Drink a coffee or tea on the terrace while enjoying the view over the lake and the surrounding mountains.
No holds barred on the Straža Bled toboggan run
Are you looking for an adrenaline kick? Then try the Straža bled toboggan run. From spring to autumn you can take a ride on the 500-meter long toboggan run.
Would you rather take it easy or are you in Bled with your children at the lake, then you can choose to take a walk around the lake (about 6 km) or take the tourist train that rides around the lake. Walking will take about 2 hours. The train has several stops and you can get on and off with your ticket. Be sure to take your time to regularly look at the beautiful spots or to rest on one of the benches. And of course don't forget your camera, because the views are worth it!
What do you get to see during your walk or train ride? You can expect beautiful landscapes, a beautiful view of the lake, a view on the castle, the island with church and you get to see the Alps from many different angles.
Our hotel tip near Lake Bled: Glamping Ribno consists of 5 tree houses, each with its own hot tub. Every afternoon the hot tub is heated. Amazing after a day of walking! More info and prices. See even more accommodation: hotels and vacation homes around Bled.
Bled Castle (Blejski grad) is located on top of a rock. At a height of 130 meters you have a fantastic view over the city and the lake of Bled. The castle is said to be the oldest in Slovenia and was built in 1011 by the German king Henry II. The tower is built in Romanesque style and is one of the oldest parts of the building. In the gothic chapel of the castle you can find beautiful frescoes. If you would like something to eat you can always visit the restaurant of the castle. Along, there is also a museum, wine cellar and you can even get married in the castle.
To get to the church, you have to climb 99 stairs first. Once you get to the top, you can ring the 'wishing bell'. According to the legend of this so-called wishing bell, you bring respect to the Virgin Mary when you ring the bell, allowing you to make a wish and it will naturally come true.
To reach the church, you have to take a boat. These boats are traditional pletna boats that you can only find in Bled. You will immediately recognize them by the characteristic colorful awnings. The boats date from 1590 and can carry up to 20 people.
Best viewpoint over Lake Bled
Two popular walks on Lake Bled are the Ojstrica Trail and the higher Mala Osojnica Trail, both starting on the southwestern side of the lake. The walks are mainly known for the most beautiful views you have over the lake and the island. The path to the viewpoint is a fairly steep climb, but feasible for everyone. It runs between the trees, and after a quarter of an hour walk you reach the viewpoint.
Starting point Ojstrica walk
GPS: 46.3618403558963, 14.084063643026411
A day out with the Bohinj Heritage Steam Train
If you're staying in the area around Lake Bled and would like a nice day out, than a train ride with the Bohinj Heritage Steam Train is definitely recommended. It starts in Jesenice and ends in Trieste in Italy. The railway was built between 1900 and 1906. The train passes the 6.3 km long Bohinj Tunnel through Mount Kobla, and crosses the 85 meters wide stone Solkan Bridge over the Soča River in Nova Gorica.
However, the train runs only a few times a year, during the summer season. You can also take the same route but with a car train. Start in Bohinjska Bistrica and end in Nova Gorica. A nice adventure! Timetable can be found here.
Attention: the number of places on the auto-train is limited (maximum 28 cars, motorhomes, motorcycles). Reservations are not possible. Come to the station 30 to 60 minutes before departure and join the queue. The maximum dimensions of your vehicle: 3 metres high and 2.4 metres wide. Tickets can be bought on the train.
The picturesque Vintgar Gorge
Until 1890, the breathtaking 1.6 km long Vintgar Gorge, which lies north of Lake Bled, was largely inaccessible. In 1893 the gorge was covered with wooden footpaths and bridges, which made it accessible to the public. Later it was called the Žumer Galleries. This incredibly picturesque place along the turquoise colored river has surprised many tourists since then.
At the end of the gorge you will find the 13 meters high Šum waterfall, which is accessible with a footpath down (to the right of the kiosk). Count on a total walk through the gorge of about 2 hours (1 hour one way). The Vintgar Gorge is only accessible by foot.
The impressive Predjama Castle
Predjama Castle must be one of the most impressively placed castles in the world. The impenetrable fortress is built against the opening of a large cave, in the middle of a cliff. The castle as it stands today was built in 1570.
The first mention of the castle was in 1274, when it was destroyed in the 15th century during a long siege. Hereafter, a second castle was built, which in turn was destroyed due to an earthquake. After that, the present castle was built, which has remained practically unchanged to this day. In the museum of the castle you will find extensive information about the history and its inhabitants, including Erazem Lueger, a notorious robber baron, who died in 1483, in the smallest room of the castle (the audio tour explains you how this happened).
The breathtaking Postojna Cave
The breathtaking cave system of Postojna Cave is one of Slovenia's top tourist attractions and is the second longest cave system in the country. Since the first official visitor came in 1819 - the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I - 37 million visitors have come to admire the caves. You can discover more than 20 km of tunnels, galleries and caves up to a depth of 115 meters, carved out by the Pivka River.
A 3.5 km long train track that runs through the cave system takes visitors along most of the caves and karst rock. The formations and cave chambers have different names such as the Great Mountain, Russian Passage, and the Concert Hall. Get to know 'the Brilliant': a stalagmite more than 5 meters high. Did you know that it takes about 10,000 years for a stalagmite to reach a height of 1 meter?
Visit the Škocjan caves if you like a less touristy and more quiet experience.
Our hotel tip near the caves: We stayed at the Postojna Cave Hotel Jama, near the entrance. Nice breakfast, neat rooms and child friendly! Nice terrace to enjoy after a fun day out and about.
The caves are home to a number of interesting animals, such as the elm, a rare and strange creature about 25-30 cm long, which is the only vertebrate animal in the whole of Europe that lives entirely underground. Completely blind, it can survive more than 10 years without food and can live up to 100 years. When visiting the caves, be sure to bring warm clothing; the temperature in the is around 8 to 10 °C all year round. Read more about our visit to the Postojna Caves.
Exploring around Lake Bohinj
Lake Bohinj (Slovenia's largest lake) is a 30-minute drive from Bled. Ideal for a rest day in nature. Take the cable car to the top of Mount Vogel, visit the Savica waterfall or go on a quest with the children in the Goldhorn fairytale park.
Radovljica is a charming town with a beautiful medieval centre. It is about 6 km from Bled. It is the ideal place to soak up the real atmosphere of Slovenia.
Stroll through the old town centre, enjoy the architecture of the Radovljica mansion and the Art Nouveau villas, eat cake on Linhart square or have lunch in one of the traditional taverns, before starting your walk along the country's only surviving medieval moat.
Are you with children? Then try out a workshop decorating honey bread (Gingerbread), more info on the site of Lectar.
The special Kranj
Kranj is another typical Slovenian town that is often skipped by tourists, but has a special centre where the Sava River runs through. Kranj is the fifth largest city in Slovenia, but so far it hasn't been discovered by large flows of tourists. Take a look at this old town with its interesting architecture, and visit the church or the museum.
Under the centre of Kranj there are about 1.3 kilometers of tunnels. These were built in 1944 during WW II, and were dug to protect the inhabitants from aerial bombardments. The tunnels could house up to 6000 people. You can still visit these tunnels. More info at the Tourist Office.
The Ossuary, the underground cemetery of Kranj
The Ossuary is an old underground cemetery, from the 14th century, where you can find the remains of hundreds of inhabitants of Kranj. Many died of the plague. During excavations in the seventies, the tomb from 1475 of a prominent family from Kranj was discovered. Would you like to go down for a while? Pick up the key at the Gorenjski Muzej. This underground cemetery is a remarkable place that was aesthetically designed and is a beautiful tribute to the old inhabitants of this region.
Hiking to Pokljuka Gorge
Pokljuka is not so far from Lake Bled. It is a beautiful dry gorge/ plateau with rock formations, a cave and a green environment. Pokljuka has plenty of hiking opportunities that offer beautiful views one by one, such as views over a green meadow full of wooden houses, surrounded by pine trees and rocky mountains. The hike is not that easy, but it's something you can do even as unexperienced hikers.
You can visit Pokljuka during your trip to Triglav National Park, as it is also part of the park.
Do you like nature and the quiet in idyllic surroundings? You can also stay here, there are many apartments for rent around Pokljuka and several B&B's that are very welcoming.
Discover the capital Ljubljana
Visit the adorable capital Ljubljana. Getting lost will be hard, since the city is not that big. Start in Tivoli park followed up by a visit to Ljubljanski Grad, the castle on top, the 3 bridges or the dragon bridge. Walk along the nice markets in the old center and enjoy the delicious food in one of the restaurants along the water. You can also visit the alternative Metelkova.
A day trip to Zagreb (Croatia)
Would you like to spend a day on the other side of the border? With the southern neighbor Croatia? Of course you can opt for the Croatian coast, but perhaps less obvious is a day trip to the capital Zagreb? Zagreb has its own special atmosphere.
Visit Church of St. Mark with its mosaic tiled roof or take the shortest cable car in the world? Visit the special Museum of Broken Relationships or one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world: Mirogoj cemetery. More highlights Zagreb in our separate blog.
Tips: By car or camper to Lake Bled
Lake Bled is much more touristic than Lake Bohinj. In the summer it can be quite busy here, which you can tell by the traffic. During the summer months we experienced long traffic jams towards the lake starting from the exit of the highway E61 (6 km). We therefore recommend to come either very early or in the late afternoon.
You can park your car at the pay car park that you can find around the lake of Bled. Another option is to stay near Bled. We stayed in glamping Ribno, in nice huts about 4 km from the lake. More info and prices Glamping Ribno
Bonus: Video of Lake Bled (+ drone)
What can you expect from a visit to Lake Bled? This video can help you to form a better view on how it will be.
Where to stay in Slovenia?
Looking for a place to stay during your trip in Slovenia? Then you have a lot of choice. An apartment or hotel in Ljubljana. Check out the list of our 5 favorite glampings around Bled,or the most beautiful hotels and glampings in Bohinj, bet you want to stay there too!
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Like most of us, you don't want to miss out on anything during your vacation in Slovenia. Well, we have some good news, because we already did the research for you! Buy our travel guide Slovenia with many highlights (+ GPS coordinates). Prefer to try it out first? Download your free travel guide Slovenia here with a free city walk of Ljubljana.