Lake Bled: Ultimate Guide to Visit Lake Bled

November 3, 2023

Lake Bled is a lake in the Julian Alps, in the western part of Slovenia, in the town of Bled. Lake Bled and its surroundings are Slovenia’s most famous tourist destination. The lake is of mixed glacial and tectonic origin. It is 2120 m long, 1380 m wide and with a maximum depth of 29.5 m. There is a small island almost in the middle. The lake lies in an extremely picturesque location, surrounded by the mountains of the Julian Alps and forests.

Lake Bled offers not only spectacular views but also a wide range of recreational opportunities. In this article, we will detail what these are, what you can try as a tourist at Lake Bled.

Lake Bled and its surroundings are ideal for all types of visitors, often visited by young people, families with children and older people. Whether you come to Lake Bled for photography, a good meal, hiking, culture or nature, you will find it all at Lake Bled and its area.

In this article, we present in detail what to know about Lake Bled and the surrounding attractions. We also show the things to do at Lake Bled and what to expect as a tourist. So here’s all you need to know before visiting Bled.

When to travel to Lake Bled?

Lake Bled can be visited at any time of the year, and many people visit it in every season.

The high season is summer, when most of the entertainment is available and the locals take their holidays. However, this does not mean that summer is the best time to visit Lake Bled. On the contrary. Because Lake Bled is visited by so many tourists in the summer, there are huge traffic jams in the area. The highway is congested, the road to Bled is too, and the road to Bohinj (another famous lake next to Lake Bled) is also jammed.

Since we have already been to Bled many times, we have learned when it is best to visit Lake Bled. We prefer spring and autumn instead of summer. April is ideal because of the blooming season, and May is also a great month when the weather is pleasant. In autumn, September is still pleasant, and in October the colorful trees and Lake Bled together provide a stunning sight.

If you want to swim in Lake Bled, June or early September is a good time. What you should definitely avoid is the Slovenian school holidays. This is why we do not recommend visiting Lake Bled in the summer, when the area is incredibly crowded.

Lake Bled in winter

A frequently asked question on the internet is whether traveling to Lake Bled is advisable in winter, what the landscape looks like during this season, and what activities are available at Lake Bled in winter.

Having been to Bled several times in the winter, we think we can answer this question.

Winters in Central Europe are usually gray, damp and cold. Snow is less and less common. On the other hand, the waters of Lake Bled rarely freeze over, and are not suitable for ice-skating, for example.

The advantage of winter in Bled is that it is the calmest season. In winter, parking is easy to find, there are no crowds, and you can enjoy the scenery in privacy.

However, winter in Slovenia is often very cold, especially in the Alps, so the weather makes winter less recommended for tourists. In winter, not everything is open, activities are limited and it gets dark early.

So a winter visit to Lake Bled is recommended if you are traveling in the area in winter, or if you want to visit Lake Bled more cheaply. By the way, almost all of our greyer photos were taken between November and March, which show exactly what winter is really like in Bled.

How to get to Lake Bled?

The most flexible way to get to Lake Bled is by car. You may also need a car to explore the surrounding places. Although parking around the lake can be difficult and not cheap, using public transport will make things much more difficult. However, we also show the public transport options.

From Ljubljana to Lake Bled

Bled is accessible by car from Ljubljana via the A2 highway. Exit the A2 at Lesce, then follow the signs straight ahead until you reach Lake Bled. The journey from Ljubljana to Bled takes about 40 minutes and 55 kilometres.

Bled can also be reached by bus from Ljubljana, with a local bus taking about 1 hour and 10-30 minutes.

From Villach to Lake Bled

From Villach you will also arrive by car on the A2 highway, but from the other direction. Here you also take the Lesce exit and the road will take you straight into the town of Bled and then to the lake. The journey from Villach to Bled is also around 35-40 minutes by car.

If you are coming from Austria, take into account that there is a long tunnel on the Austrian-Slovenian border, the Karawanks Tunnel, which costs €7.80 a one-way trip in 2023. Traffic jams are also very common at the tunnel. If you do not want to pay a toll or if there is a large traffic jam, we recommend the Wurzen Pass (anytime except winter), which is near Kranjska Gora.

Other public transport options to Lake Bled

FlixBus connections are available to Bled from Klagenfurt in Austria and Trieste in Italy.

Train transport is available from Nova Gorica in southwestern Slovenia.

There are also many organized private group buses with guided tours from neighboring countries and cities.

Parking around Lake Bled

Parking can be difficult around Lake Bled. The map below shows you where you can park in Bled. Street parking in the city is very flexible with the EasyPark app. In addition, there are private car parks that almost always offer free spaces. Prices vary, but there are no big differences.

Where to stay on Lake Bled

Around Lake Bled you can find many hotels and other accommodation such as guesthouses. These are generally more expensive than accommodation in other parts of Bled, further away from Lake Bled. The choice depends on your needs and budget.

To book your accommodation, we recommend Booking.com, where you can easily compare and book accommodation near Lake Bled.

How much time is needed to visit Lake Bled?

To see everything around Lake Bled, you need about 1-3 days. In one day you will have time to see the lake, the island, the castle, taste the local food and take some photos. So Lake Bled is an ideal choice for a day trip. In two days you will have time to relax on the shores of the lake, go hiking or visit some of the sights in the surrounding area. 3 days or more are needed if you want to relax and regenerate at Lake Bled, with lots of time for rest, swimming (in summer) and/or exploring the region. Because the Julian Alps offer plenty of opportunities for active recreation, you can combine it with other activities to organize a great trip in Slovenia for many days, even a week.

Things to do at Lake Bled

Lake Bled and its surroundings offer countless recreational opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a hike, a meal out, a photo shoot or a family trip, Lake Bled is the perfect destination for almost any purpose in Slovenia. So let’s see what are the things to see and do when visiting Lake Bled.

Going up to Bled Castle

The Bled Castle and its surroundings are an iconic attraction in Slovenia, one of the most famous and most visited tourist destinations in Slovenia from both a natural and historical point of view, and featured in almost every Slovenian brochure. The first written mention of it dates back to 1011, making it officially Slovenia’s oldest castle, built over a thousand years ago.

Bled Castle can be reached by car, on foot or by tourist minibus. On foot, footpaths start from the northeastern shore of the lake and lead up to the castle. Everything is well signposted so you can’t get lost.

By car, roads start from the northern part of Bled, and at the end of the road you will arrive at Bled Castle via a steep road. In front of the castle you will find a parking lot.

From the top you get a good view of Lake Bled and the surrounding mountains. The castle is an ideal place to discover the medieval castles of Europe, offering an insight into a part of European and Slovenian history. For more information about Bled Castle, visit the official website here.

Walk around the lake

Our personal favorite thing to do in Bled is to walk around the lake. The Lake Bled circuit is about 6 kilometres, a little over 1 hour on foot. But because there are so many sights and interesting photo spots on the lake shore, it’s recommended to count on more time. This walk is also the easiest way to photograph the small island in the middle of the lake from several angles. During the walk, you can see the Bled Castle, the island, the surrounding mountains and the buildings of the town Bled. On the way, you can detour off the circuit up to the castle, the boats or the lookouts on the southwest side of the lake.

Going up to the lookouts

Not far from the southwestern shore of the lake, on the top of the mountain, there are two lookouts, Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica. There are separate hiking trails leading up to each of them, with some steep and rocky parts. We definitely recommend hiking boots for the hikes to the lookouts. The view from these lookouts is the best of the lake, so it’s definitely worth the hike.

In our opinion, Ojstrica is the easiest to reach, only 700 metres from the shore of the lake, with a 100 metre elevation gain and only a small part of the trail is rocky and steep.

Mala Osojnica is a little more difficult to reach, with an elevation gain of about 200 metres and 1 kilometre from the shore.

The views of Lake Bled are similar from both locations and both are extremely popular on social media.

Boating on Lake Bled

There are several places on the lake shore where you can hire a rowing boat. You can usually rent wooden boats for 4 or 6 people at quite affordable prices. Especially in the warmer months of the year, a boat trip on Lake Bled can be a very pleasant way to relax.

Visit the Bled Island

Almost in the middle of Lake Bled there is a small island with an iconic church and a few other buildings. This is called Bled Island. If you have enough time at Lake Bled, it is also worth visiting the Bled Island.

What to know about the island of Bled

There are many buildings on the island, the most important of them is the Assumption of Maria Church. The church was built in its present form after an earthquake at the end of the 17th century, and inside it is decorated with Baroque style and remains of 15th century Gothic frescoes. The bell tower of the church was built in the 15th century, but as it was damaged in the earthquake, like the church itself, it was rebuilt several times. The church has a 52-metre tower and a Baroque staircase dating from the 17th century with 99 stone steps leading up to the building. The church is frequently visited and weddings are regularly held there. The traditional transport to the island of Bled is a wooden boat known as a pletna. A number of these boats are available for tourists on the shores of the lake, and for a fee regularly transport passengers to the island.

Swimming in Lake Bled

In summer, there are also a few beaches where tourists can take a swim in the waters of Lake Bled. The water is very clean and in summer reaches the temperature of 22-28°C, which makes it pleasant for bathing. The beach on the southwest shore of Lake Bled is shallower, while the northeast beach is deeper.

Sliding on the bobsleigh track at Straža Bled

Honestly, we had to go to Lake Bled several times to discover this facility. On the map it is called Straža Bled, located on a hillside on the eastern side of Lake Bled. The easiest access is by car through the parking lot next to it. After buying a ticket, you can take a cable car to the top of the hill and then slide down a steep bobsleigh track. The track is quite steep, so it is only recommended for the brave.

Eating a Bled Cream Cake by the lake

Slovenia’s iconic dessert is the Bled Cream Cake. It can be enjoyed in many places on the shores of Lake Bled. Perhaps the best places with a view are on the eastern shore of the lake. It’s worth a visit to any of the patisseries or restaurants here, you can get the cake almost everywhere. The only disadvantage is that so far we haven’t found any dietary, e.g. gluten free, Bled Cream Cake. Hopefully we will be able to find one in the future.

Map of the main places around Lake Bled

We have marked the places mentioned in our article on a map. So here are the important places around Lake Bled. These are the places that might be useful for you if you are traveling to Lake Bled. Attractions, viewpoints, car parks, beaches…etc.

Other places to visit near Lake Bled

There are plenty of other attractions nearby Lake Bled. If you are visiting the area for several days, you may want to visit other beautiful places in Slovenia. The following Slovenian and Italian destinations are all within a 1-1.5 hour drive from Bled.

Vintgar Gorge

The Vintgar Gorge is a famous destination about 15 minutes from Bled. It is the most famous gorge in Slovenia and perhaps the easiest to visit for tourists. Carved by the Radovna River, it is the continuation of the Radovna Valley.

The Vintgar Gorge is a popular attraction in Slovenia that we highly recommend visiting. It can easily be combined with other attractions in the Julian Alps.

Lake Bohinj

You can reach Lake Bohinj from Bled, about half an hour by car. Bohinj is an important tourist destination in Slovenia and a popular holiday resort, especially in the summer season.

Lake Bohinj is the largest natural lake in Slovenia. The lake is suitable for a wide range of recreational activities, including swimming, kayaking, fishing, diving in the warmer months and occasional ice skating in winter. You can also walk around the lake or take a boat trip on the lake. Not only the iconic church with the picturesque bridge stands next to the lake, but there are also hiking trails, campsites, restaurants and hotels near the lake.

A few kilometres from Lake Bohinj you can reach the Savica waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Slovenia.

Pokljuka

Pokljuka is about 25 minutes by car from Bled. The Pokljuka plateau is a forested plateau at an altitude of about 1100-1400 metres in the Julian Alps in Slovenia. The plateau is known for its forests, mountain pastures and winter sports facilities. It is also a frequent starting point for mountain hikers

Kranjska Gora

Kranjska Gora is a famous ski resort in winter and an important destination for hikers in summer. It has two important natural attractions: the Zelenci Nature Reserve and the Lake Jasna.

The Zelenci is a small turquoise-blue lake in a hidden place, actually it is the source of the river Sava. As it is warm water, it doesn’t really freeze in winter.

Lake Jasna is most beautiful from spring to autumn, when the water is emerald green and the mountains are clearly visible in the background. If you are in the area around Lake Jasna, you should also visit the waterfall nearby, which is a short walk along the road from the northwest side of the lake.

Fusine Lakes

The Fusine Lakes are located in a hidden place in the northeastern corner of Italy. The Fusine Lakes are a pair of two lakes near the Italian-Slovenian border, both with fantastic views of the Slovenian mountain peaks, such as Slovenia’s third highest peak, the Mangart.

In the Fusine Lakes area you will find almost all the beauty of the Alps: picturesque colorful lakes, breathtaking rocky peaks, trickling streams and waterfalls, clean air, silence, interesting flora and fauna.

Soca Valley

The Soca Valley is a larger area within the Julian Alps, along the Italian-Slovenian border. As the name suggests, it is the valley of the Soca River, which has become a popular tourist destination in recent years.

The Soca Valley offers many recreational activities for tourists, such as hiking, climbing, rafting, swimming.

Ljubljana

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. It’s quite small compared to other European capitals, but it has a lot to offer. You can go up to Ljubljana Castle to see relics of Slovenian history, with a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. You can walk along the Ljubljanica River and Preseren Square or in the city’s largest park, in the Park Tivoli.

We hope you enjoyed this guide to Lake Bled and the surrounding attractions. If you want to take a trip to Slovenia, read our other articles about Slovenia to help you plan the best trip.

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