Many travel guides rate Lake Bled in Slovenia as one of the most scenic in Europe. A teardrop-shaped island at the centre of the emerald-green lake, coupled with the Julian Alps as a backdrop, makes a perfect day trip from Ljubljana.
Enjoy a leisurely ride in a pletna, a Gondola-shaped wooden flat-bottomed boat, to reach the island at the lake’s centre. Bled is a small town, with plenty of walks, trails and hikes with more strenuous activities on the water also available. Read our guide for what to see at Lake Bled.
Mode of transport: Bus 28 from Ljubljana main bus station to Bled (Glavno Postajališče).
Other modes of transport: Lesce-Bled train station is 4km (2.49 mile) away
Cost: €12.84 (Adult return). At peak times, purchase an advanced ticket.
Journey time from Ljubljana: 60 minutes.
Distance from Ljubljana: 55km (34.18 mile), stopping en route at the airport.
Need to know
Visa: From 1st January 2021, UK residents can visit Slovenia for a maximum of 90 days in any 180 day period.
FCDO: More information on the FCDO website.
Currency: Euro (1 GBP = €1.11 approximately).
Travel Adapter: Type C and E.
Language: Slovenian and some Italian. English is widely spoken and understood.
Best time to visit: Ideally June to August.
Time: GMT +1.
Quick Facts about Lake Bled
- Is the only true island in Slovenia.
- Ninety-nine steps lead to the top of the church on the island.
- According to local legend, fairies created Lake Bled.
- Ringing the bell on the island grants you a wish.
What to see at Lake Bled
- Circular walk around the lake.
- Boat ride and exploring the island.
Circular walk around the Lake
Walking around the lake in an anti-clockwise direction is an abandoned villa on the right-hand side, once owned by Arnold Rikli, the Swiss natural healer.
He helped patients with alternative healing, water, and nature. He was the founder of naturism and his simple motto was, “Water is good, air is better, but light is the best of all”.
Further along from the villa on the left-hand side is a lakeside lodge, similar in design to a Swiss-style chalet. It is possible to rent apartments and property overlooking the lake.
In the middle of the lake, the island with the church rises like a mast from the water. To reach the island, rowing boats are available for hire from various pontoons around the lake. The lake is home to the Slovenian Olympic rowing facility, providing a perfect setting for training on the water.
The walk around the lake is 6km (3.73 mile) and takes a couple of hours. Try and stop at the Ojstrica and Osojnica viewpoints on the western side of the lake, as they give the best-elevated views of the lake, castles, and mountains.
Boat ride and exploring the island
Reaching the island can be done by hiring an individual boat or taking a pletna, modelled on a Venetian gondola, carrying a maximum of 18 passengers. Pletna Bled charges €15 for a return trip.
Some people opt to swim to the island, a prefect way to cool off during the summer months.
After disembarking, it is a two-minute uphill walk climbing the 99 baroque steps to The Church of the Mother of God. The first pilgrims came to the island’s church to pay tribute to Mary and pray for an abundant harvest. Inside the church are the bells, and The Pope decreed that anyone who rings it three times and believes in God will grant their wish.
The detail inside this small church is intricate, as can be seen by the rather elaborate pulpit.
Leaving the church, head towards the Bell Tower with its pendulum clock. At 52m (170.60ft) tall, the tower has a large bell and two smaller bells chiming every 15 minutes. There are two staircases, one for ascending and the other for descending.
Close to the Bell Tower is the House of the Provost from 1701. There is a souvenir shop next to a café, and also a first-floor exhibition space. The café serves Kremna rezina, the famous Bled cake.
Bled Castle, or Blejski grad, dating from the 11th century, sits 130m (426.51ft) above the lake and is the oldest in Slovenia. Following a short walk up a steep, winding path, the reward from this medieval castle’s terraces is far-reaching views to the Karavankas mountain range and the Julian Alps.
The castle interior has three courtyards, lower, middle and upper. Entry is €13 for an adult single ticket.
A day trip to Lake Bled is a must, with an overnight stay is if possible. In peak season, numbers can swell so it worth planning your visit.
A few kilometres away is Vintgar Gorge, and further away is Triglav National Park with hiking, trails, and water activities in the Soča Valley. Lake Bled could well be the most picturesque lake in Europe. It is easy to understand why the Lonely Planet: Ultimate Travel List rate this as one of their top 10 destinations in the world.
Read about our Slovenia trips.