Visit Bled because Bled is known for the glacial Lake Bled, which makes it a major tourist attraction. Perched on a rock overlooking the lake is the iconic Bled Castle. The town is also known in Slovenia for its vanilla and cream pastry.
With its emerald-green lake, picture-postcard church on an islet, a medieval castle clinging to a rocky cliff and some of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps and the Karavanke as backdrops, Bled is Slovenia’s most popular resort, drawing everyone from honeymooners lured by the over-the-top romantic setting to backpackers, who come for the hiking, biking, boating and canyoning possibilities.
Bled can be overpriced and swarming with tourists in mid-summer. But as is the case with many popular destinations around the world, people come in droves – and will continue to do so – because the place is special.
The island in Lake Bled is not only the most popular island in Slovenia, it is the only natural island in Slovenia. Just under an acre in size, it now houses several buildings, including a 17th-century church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary.
Slovenia’s Julian Alps, part of the wider European Alpine range, is the epicentre for all things outdoors. If you’re into adventure sports, head to this area. Much of the region, including the country’s highest mountain, Mt Triglav, is protected as part of the Triglav National Park. The park has hiking and biking trails galore.
The beautiful alpine lakes at Bled and Bohinj offer boating and swimming amid shimmering mountain backdrops. The region is not just about nature pursuits; you’ll also find some of the country’s most attractive and important historical towns, like Radovljica. These are unexpected treasure troves of Gothic, Renaissance and baroque architecture.
Sights of Lake Bled
Visit Bled to see the biggest attraction. (Blejsko jezero) Bled’s greatest attraction is its crystal blue-green lake, measuring just 2km by 1380m. The lake is lovely to behold from almost any vantage point, and makes a beautiful backdrop for the 6km walk along the shore. Mild thermal springs warm the water to a swimmable 26°C from June through August. You can rent boats, go diving or simply snap countless photos.
(Blejski Grad; www.blejski-grad.si; Grajska cesta 25; adult/child €8/3.50; 8am-8pm Apr-Oct, 8am-6pm Nov-Mar) Perched atop a steep cliff more than 100m above the lake, Bled Castle is how most people
imagine a medieval fortress to be, with towers, ramparts, moats and a terrace offering magnificent views. The castle houses a museum collection that traces the lake’s history from earliest times to the development of Bled as a resort in the 19th century.
The castle, built on two levels, dates back to the early 11th century, although most of what stands here now is from the 16th century. For 800 years, it was the seat of the Bishops of Brixen. Among the museum holdings, there’s a large collection of armour and weapons (swords, halberds and firearms from the 16th to 18th centuries).
(Blejski Otok; www.blejskiotok.si) Tiny, tear-shaped Bled Island beckons from the shore. There’s church and small museum, but the real thrill is the ride out by gondola ( pletna ). The boat sets you down on the south side at the monumental South Staircase (Južno Stopnišče), built in 1655.
(Soteska Vintgar; adult/child/student €4/2/3; 8am-7pm late Apr-Oct) One of the easiest and most
satisfying day trips from Bled is to Vintgar Gorge, some 4km to the northwest. The highlight is a 1600m wooden walkway, built in 1893 and continually rebuilt since.
It criss-crosses the swirling Radovna River four times over rapids, waterfalls and pools before reaching 13m-high Šum Waterfall.
Several local outfits organise a wide range of outdoor activities in and around Bled, including trekking, mountaineering, rock climbing, ski touring, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, canyoning, caving, horse riding and paragliding.
The number-one adventure-sport specialists in Bled for warm-weather activities from 15 April to 15
October. The most popular trip is the Emerald River Adventure (€65), an 11-hour hiking and swimming foray into Triglav National Park. Also rents bikes (half-day/full day €8/15), conducts hot-air balloon flights (€150) and leads diving expeditions of Lake Bled (€70).
Riding a piloted gondola out to Bled Island is the archetypal tourist experience. There is a convenient jetty just below the TIC google map and another in Mlino google map on the south shore. You get about half an hour to explore the island. In all, the trip to the island and back takes about 1¼ hours.
A romantic way to experience Bled is to take a horse-drawn carriage from the stand near the Festival Hall GOOGLE MAP (Festivalna Dvorana; Cesta Svobode 11) . A spin around the lake costs €40, and it’s the same price to the castle; an extra 30 minutes inside costs €50. You can even get a carriage for four to Vintgar (adult/child €4/2; 8am-7pm mid-May–Oct) ; the two-hour return trip costs €90.
Kompas has a list of private rooms and farmhouses, with singles/doubles starting at €24/38.
Hotel Triglav Bled
This 22-room boutique hotel in a painstakingly restored caravanserai that opened in 1906 raises the bar of accommodation standards in Bled. The rooms have hardwood floors and oriental carpets and are furnished with antiques. There’s an enormous sloped garden that grows the vegetables served in the terrace restaurants. The location is opposite Bled Jezero train station.
Bled’s upscale campground is one of the nicest in the country and one of the few places around to try ‘glamping’ – aka glamorous camping – in this case, ecofriendly, all-natural A-frame huts, some equipped with hot-tubs. The campground setting is a well-tended rural valley at the western end of the lake, about 2.5km from the bus station.
Garni Hotel Berc
This purpose-built place, reminiscent of a Swiss chalet, has 15 rooms on two floors in a quiet location above the lake.
This flower-bedecked 12-room inn in a renovated 19th-century house is in a quiet location above the lake. The larger apartment is in a delightful wooden cabin and the in-house restaurant is excellent.
Eating & Drinking
Attractive destination restaurant with lovely views out over the lake and a menu that features traditional Slovenian cooking made from locally sourced ingredients. Eat outdoors in the garden in nice weather, or in the upscale dining room. Book in advance on warm evenings in summer.
Conveniently located on the same hill as many of Bled’s hostels, so the best pizza in town is just a couple of minutes’ walk away.
Getting There & Around
BUS Bled is well connected by bus. There are buses every 30 minutes to Radovljica (€1.80, 15 minutes, 7km) and around 20 buses daily run from Bled to Lake Bohinj (€3.60,45 minutes) via Bohinjska Bistrica, with the first bus leaving around 5am and the last about 9pm. Buses depart at least hourly for Ljubljana (€6.50, 1¼ hours, 57km).
TRAIN Bled has two train stations, though neither is close to the centre. Mainline trains for
Ljubljana (€6.50, 55 minutes, 51km, up to 21 daily), via Škofja Loka and Radovljica, use Lesce-Bled station, 4km to the east of town. Trains to Bohinjska Bistrica (€1.60, 20 minutes, 18km, eight daily), from where you can catch a bus to Lake Bohinj, use the smaller Bled Jezero station, which is 2km west of central Bled.