When talking about Slovenia, Lake Bled is always on everyone’s tongues as they spill out all the good recommendations on the country. Nestled in the Julian Alps and right next to the Triglav National Park, the lake is apparently the background of fairytales, with such a unique beauty that could hardly be compared to anything else.
We drove towards Lake Bled from Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, on a sunny morning of July. After numerous stops on the way, we managed to finally reach the place around 4pm and kind of by accident. As it happens, our Airbnb was actually by Lake Bohinj – where we were initially headed to drop off our stuff – just half an hour drive away from Bled. While planning, I didn’t realise that we would end up driving through Bled to get there, so I was definitely not prepared for the sight we were welcomed with. It was JUST SO BEAUTIFUL.
The sun was up in the sky, warm and donating the whole scenario yellow-tinted hues, reflected on the water. People were playing, laughing, tanning or chilling with their loved ones. All around us was life and and at the centre of it was a massive, crystal-coloured surface, the water so still that it felt like we had fallen asleep and ended up daydreaming. In the middle of the lake, a small island quietly announced its presence, inundated by the sunshine and the echoes of laughter bouncing off the lake. It was heaven. So much so that as soon as we got there, we realised one night there wasn’t enough and quickly booked an Airbnb for a second one.
Lake Bled in itself is quite a small place, where everything is pretty much at walking distance or, if you want to venture in the country’s nature, about half an hour away by car. To match the amount of tourists visiting each year, the lake is surrounded by bars, restaurants and ice cream shops, as well as late-night bars and casinos for travellers looking to drink their nights away. Boat tours to the small island go in and out all day, as well as boat renting available for those who’d like to just relax in the middle of the lake for a couple hours. When on the island, it is almost mandatory to ring the famous bell, which is way heavier than you’d expect and way less exciting that you would think – but hey ho, it must be done.
As we ventured into the (cold) water of the lake, I found myself swimming alongside fish and birds, as well as other tourists who had decided the frigid temperatures were worth the experience. Getting to the middle of the lake (or almost, as I’m lazy and get tired too easily), we got a 360degree view of the whole scenario, gifting us with a strange sense of calm amidst the floods of life going on all around us. Safe to say it was one of the best swims I’ve had in a while.
Over the lake towers the Bled castle, sitting at the top of the hill and overlooking the cheerful spectacle that lies underneath. This is the oldest castle in Slovenia, built in the Medieval times and standing at an altitude of 130m over Bled. The castle can easily be reached by foot in about twenty minutes, following a short but quite easy hike up the hill, and serves its purpose about right: had I been an enemy, I would have rather let the mission go at the prospect of having to walk up the steep hill, or just cried at the thought of hurting such a beautiful, majestic thing. I mean, really?
Although we were a bit disappointed by the hike, it’s still nice to walk up the rocks and admire the nature around you. As there are steps and easy routes to reach the top of the cliff, it wasn’t particularly tough or demanding and I think most people could do it. Alternatively, tourist buses also take you directly to the top, so if you’d like to be lazy, I can happily inform you that there is a way to do that.
In case I have managed to convince you to visit Lake Bled (that would make me very happy), here is a list of prices for your trip:
If travelling from Ljubljana, you have two options: either get the train, which drops you off a few km away from Bled, or take a direct bus which will take you directly to the place. This departs from the Ljubljana central station, takes about 1:30h and costs 7 euros for a single ticket. As it happened with us, we drove with a car so the price was just normal fuel costs, which don’t differ too much from neighbouring European countries. Here you can find more information on all of these.
To visit the castle, the cost for a regular, adult ticket is €7.50, whereas for children it’s only €5.20. This only includes the visit to the castle. Adding up the funicular costs to go up will take it up to €10 for adults and €7 for children, whereas you can also get a family price of respectively €19 or €26 for the two deals, where there is a maximum of 2 adults and a minimum of one child. Alternatively, you can also get an all-round ticket which will grant you access to Fužine, Cekin, Tivoli and Ljubljana Castles, for the reasonable price of €11 for adults and €5.50 for children. More information can be found here, where you can also check opening times and restaurant opening times, depending on week day and time of the year.
To visit the small island in the middle of the lake, you can either pay for a boat tour or rent your own. A boat tour will be around €14 per person (one-way), whereas renting your own boat comes up to roughly €15 euros an hour. To be honest, we thought it was a bit of a rip off so did not do any of them, but if you ask locals I am sure they will give you more detailed information as websites seem to have differing prices depending on where you look. Alternatively, you can also swim up the island! That was my main option.
Eating and living in Bled can be a bit pricey, especially considering prices in the rest of the country. This is understandable as it is quite a touristy place, however it is something to keep in mind when visiting. Unless you do your own shopping or eat in take away places, prices in restaurants can be quite high, especially in the area right next to the lake. However, you can definitely find some rather cheap Airbnbs, at the starting price of around €40 / €50. Here is the one we personally stayed at and which we found absolutely brilliant, as it is basically a massive guest house with a big kitchen, an even bigger living room and an outside area where you could meet and chat with other travellers. Although slightly far from the lake (about 15 minutes walking), this didn’t really bother us and the location proved to be great (although I’m sure having a car helped 😜).
Overall, our experience in Bled was amazing. It can get quite crowded and it has a touristy vibe which not everyone might like, but the nature and the scenery is just so beautiful that we really didn’t care. Especially on a sunny day, you can just get a coffee or an ice cream, sit by the water and simply enjoy life, without a care in the world. Although we did visit the National Park and the Savica Waterfalls, the best moment we had was merely laying on the grass and soaking up the sun, just living in that exact moment and imprinting it in our memories.
If you are ever in Slovenia, I don’t just suggest you but URGE you to go to Lake Bled. Travel as much as you like, you won’t find a place like this one anywhere else. Trust me – you won’t regret it.
With that said, I hope you’re all having a lovely day! Feel free to comment to ask more questions, or to simply agree or disagree in case you have been already.
Until the next post,