Unmissable things to do around lake Bled (2022)
In July 2022, I chose Slovenia as the destination of my summer journey. After all, this small Central ex-yougoslavia country is surrounded by Italy, Austria, Croatia, Hungary and the Adriatic Sea, and is only about 3 hours flight from London, UK.
Also, because of Covid 19, I wanted a destination with no travel restrictions upon arrival.
I have to say that Slovenia is fascinating to me: it is not mentioned a lot but Slovenia conceals – according to what I can see on Google images and Youtube – great scenery.
After an hour drive from Ljubljana, I have finally reached a small town called Bled, where the lake is located.
Can I write about Slovenia without mentioning Lake Bled?
I decided to explore this natural beauty at three different times of the day: dawn, midday and sunset (and I highly encourage you to do so).
You will not feel alone as Lake Bled is arguably the most famous place in Slovenia, and this place is full of travellers and tourists (Locals and foreigners).
How to get to Lake Bled from Ljubljana
Lake Bled is located at about 55 kilometres from Ljubljana. You have 3 options if you want to commute from Ljubljana to Lake Bled:
By Car: Depending on traffic, you can get to Bled just under an hour from the Slovenian capital. Renting a car in Slovenia can cost from €25 per day hiring fee plus petrol.
By Coach: Take a coach from Ljubljana Central station. Head to the coaches car park and ask for the buses that go to Lake Bled. The journey takes about 1 hour on a highway, and the ticket costs €6,30. The bus stops at the Tourist information centre Bled – TIC, which makes it convenient to start your exploring of the lake (1 minute walk from there).
By Train: The train journey takes about 2 hours from Ljubljana central station to Bled Jezero, with a train fare starting from €5,10.
Top things to do around lake Bled
1) Take a picture by the big red heart
Slovenians travel to Lake Bled for beautiful wedding ceremonies. Not far from the main parking lot, a large red heart has been erected on the edge.
It’s the ideal location to have photos shot of you as a couple, family, or even by yourself. The island with the church may be seen in the background of the picture (or through the heart). You can’t miss it!
2) I don’t recommend visiting the Castle
Is it worth visiting Bled Castle?
The majority of tourists make the steep ascent to Bled Castle hoping of taking in the breathtaking views of Lake Bled once they reach the top.
Adult admission to the castle is 13€ (a bit pricey). Should you decide not to pay, you won’t be able to see a panoramic view of the lake.
3) Avoid the touristy area (Shops and Hotels)
Another piece of advice that I think is important is don’t waste your time exploring the area with the tourist shops and big hotels.
The shop part is decorated with a not so pretty 80’s style. I recommend to avoid wasting time at this little corner of Lake Bled and enjoy its long natural shores instead.
4) Rent a boat and row on the lake
Beautiful wooden boats are available for rent all around the lake for 20€ per hour in small sizes (up to 4 people) and 25€ for larger audiences.
A bit pricey, but a wonderful romantic activity for two or a great activity with friends or family.
One hour of renting will suffice to transport you to the island and back. Instead of renting for a longer period of time, try some of the activities suggested in this article.
If you don’t want to paddle, hop on a Pletna with a ‘gondola ride’ and paddle to the island for €15 (or €12 for an electric boat).
The little island in Lake Bled is beautiful but in my opinion it is not worth it, so I highly recommend to save 15€ for another activity.
Moreover, once you are on the island, you still have to pay an entry fee to explore the church. There is a rooftop cafe and an ice cream parlor.
The Pletna boats of Bled Lake, like the gondoliers of Venice, pass from father to son. I was told by a local that only 20 rowers are capable of steering them.
5) Walk around the lake
A trail wraps around Lake Bled. How long does it take to walk around Lake bled?
This 6 kilometres walk should takes roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes. You’ll be walking calmly over a large cycling route.
Don’t forget to bring your swimming suit if you want to swim after your walk.
Walking around Lake Bled is a relaxing and enjoyable exercise. You can see the little island and the church from every perspective as you go.
Because the angle of view varies frequently, it is possible to get incredibly amazing photos using your DSLR. I strolled along a gorgeous wooden footbridge set on the lake for about 200 metres.
This walk has two highlights:
A) You can climb to Ojstrica and enjoy postcard like views of lake Bled.
B) Have a coffee at The Belvedere coffee.
The majority of tourists miss these two activities.
6) Picnic by the Lake
To find the genuine good Slovenian venues where one can eat well and cheaply, one has now travel several kilometres away from the lake.
So I recommend to picnic along the lake’s edge rather than going to a restaurant. In fact, either you eat on the road while travelling to or you have a picnic.
Remember to carry utensils. I recommend going to a Mercator supermarket’s cutting area and get yourself decent local meat and a little cheese.
For dessert, try a delicious watermelon or a Kremsnita (the local cake of Bled) in a café!
In Bled, you’ll walk by a large Mercator along the side of the road, which you’ll have to pass by on your way to the lake (address: Kajuhova cesta 2, 4260 Bled).
If you don’t have a knife, you can request that the cutting department cut some bred rolls for you so that you can make your sandwiches (everyone does it here).
Tip : Velika Zaka is considered one of the best spots for a quiet picnic by the lake. Like the Slovenians, leave your picnic spot clean after using it.
7) Cycle around the Lake
You can find Bike rentals always everywhere in Bled. With a price of 5 euros per hour and a little more for 2 hours. It is possible to cycle around the lake, but on busy days there are many tourists walking around, forcing you to do a constant slalom.
You can either walk or cycle around the lake.
Tip: If you cycle this 6km long path, extend a bit on the south bank through the pretty village of Ribno. You are in a fairly authentic and pristine valley just 1km from the lake.
The roads around Bled get congested in the summer, making them unsuitable for bikes.
If you want to have a quiet ride, and would like to explore the area a little bit further, I recommend cycling to Sava Bohinjka bridge via Ribno, continue to Solo Pri Bledu before coming back to the path around the lake.
8) Climb to Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica
Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica are the two hills where photographers and Instagrammers walk up to snap the most breathtaking photos of Lake Bled. You must climb it if you choose to walk around Lake Bled. The water will be 190 metres below you.
Where is it located?
What you need to do is yo walk to the start of Mala Osojnica trailhead as you can see above, and take the Kidriceva Cesta. At some point you either take a left to reach Mala Osojnica, or continue straight and turn right.
You will see stairs circling a hill. I highly recommend to be careful on your way up to Ojstrica. You can help yourself by using a rope to ascend the hill taking you up to the summit.
Ojstrica (Height: 130m), which is marked on the right by a sign, is located after a short divide in the trail. At the summit, a breathtaking vista is waiting for you. The most stunning Instagram photographs and postcard images of Lake Bled are shot here.
Extend the effort by beginning on the left and joining Mala Osojnica (Height: 190m) for an even more breathtaking view. I recommend you choose one of the two as it might take you a long time to do both on the same day.
9) The Belvedere Cafe
This pavilion, designed by Joe Plenik, who gave Ljubljana its modern appearance, looks out over the island and its tiny church. The location and cafe’s view are both wonderful.
This location is rich in history since Tito, the former Yugoslavian president, frequently hosted crowned heads and notable politicians here for a cigar or a drink of cognac.
Nikita Khrushchev, King Hussein of Jordan, Naser, and the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie all came to enjoy themselves here. Now, forty years later, you may enjoy a coffee there with a stunning view in a beautifully retro historical setting.
Climb the magnificent stairway that leads to the beautiful Villa Bled hotel when you’re on the beaches of Lake Bled (I highly recommend this hotel for a romantic stay in Slovenia). If the gate is closed, as it occasionally is in the summer, continue up the stairs.
Turn right and follow the signs indicating the direction of Café Belvedere once on the front steps of Villa Bled (it’s here to see what it looks like).
Take a rest in this café if you’ve opted to walk around the lake. Because it is surrounded but trees, the majority of visitors miss it.
Here, you can enjoy a kremnita for €7 and a cappuccino for €3,80. It’s pricey for Slovenia, but this restaurant is definitely worth it.
10) Visit the Church under the castle
All of the tourists want to go to the church on the island in the centre of the lake, but there is another church at the base of the castle with a nicer decoration and free admission (the entrance to the church on the island comes with a fee).
Moreover, very few tourists visit this church. From the lake’s side, go up the steps to the Zupnijska Cerkev sv. Martina church and then descend the Riklijeva cesta, the roadway that runs through Bled.
In Bled, there are two churches. Instead of going to the one on the island, go to the one by the lake.
A modest, well-hidden souvenir shop with solely Slovenian-made goods as well as lovely postcards can also be found in this old monastery.
Additionally, the facility hosts a cool café with two substantial oak tables (Prices her are affordable – I find this to be a very pleasant to spend an hour in on a rainy day or during a cold day in winter).
11) Bathe and Swim to the Island at the centre of the Lake
In summer, many Slovenians visit Lake Bled to swim. I strongly recommend you swim. On the banks, the water is turquoise clear. It is almost warm on the surface and “extremely soft” on the skin. There are grassy beaches all around the lake for sunbathing and relaxing.
My favourite beach is by the camping site (Velika Zaka). It is the most pictureste beach, and the island is so close, you can swim to explore it.
This grassy beach is located at the other end of the lake, near the Lake Bled camping and rowing club. I rested on lawns in the shade or the sun. If you have kids or teens, they can jump from one of the three wooden pontoons. It’s a pleasant location to unwind for an hour or two.
Maybe don’t plan on spending the entire afternoon there. Instead, I recommend that you double the activities near the lake by following the instructions in this article.