Ah, Lake Bled. It is so, so beautiful there. When we visited, it was also so, so rainy. The lake, with its beautiful island and castle, is surrounded by mountains. The turquoise waters and bordering forests are so peaceful and lovely. It is a wonderfully relaxing place to visit, especially during the off-season.
Even in the pouring rain, we had a great weekend exploring this Slovenian resort town. While it is definitely growing in popularity, there is the sense of being a little bit off the beaten path. Lake Bled is well worth the visit.
Lake Bled Travel Guide
Getting to Lake Bled
To get to Lake Bled from London, we flew to Venice Marco Polo and rented a car. A car rental is a must for exploring Slovenia! There is so much to see in this tiny country and a vehicle is necessary to make the most of your time there.
The drive to Lake Bled from Venice is about two hours, but there are many detours to take along the way. We chose to take the scenic route through the mountains on the way there, passing through Udine to Tarviso to Kranjska Gora. When it is less foggy than it was when we visited, there are beautiful views from Kranjska Gora. Unfortunately, we could only see the base of the mountains.
During the warmer months, the route to take is absolutely the Vrsic mountain pass. During our visit in late March, the pass was still closed due to snow.
In our case, we took a late flight to Venice after work and stayed at the Best Western Titian Inn Hotel near the airport. The hotel was perfect for our needs and had a shuttle service back to the airport. We tried to take off bright and early in our rental car, but ended up having to wait and were left with an hour and a half to kill. It was the perfect amount of time to take the ferry to Murano, snap a couple pictures and head back to the mainland.
Even though we were only there for a few minutes, we saw many of the famous glass factories on the canal. We saw Venice from a distance on the boat. We had been in Venice exactly 3 years before and it was fun to reminisce about the trip. I am thinking about sharing some photos from that adventure here!
If you don’t want to rent a car, there are many bus tours that go to Bled from Ljubljana. Bled is only a 45 minute drive from Ljubljana.
When to Visit to Lake Bled
Summer is the obvious choice for visiting Lake Bled. During the summer months it is warm enough to swim and paddle board on the lake, and more places are open. There are many more festivals and events during peak season as well.
We chose the Easter holiday weekend to travel to Slovenia since it would be warmer, but not crowded at the lake. We also wanted to visit several locations within Slovenia, and the Easter bank holiday was the perfect opportunity for a longer stay. We had a great trip, but it was much more rainy and more of the natural sights were closed than we anticipated (like the mountain pass and Vintgar gorge).
We agree that May would be the perfect time to visit – still in shoulder season, but warmer with a greater chance of being able to enjoy all that the lake has to offer!
The incredible views can be enjoyed no matter the season. There is skiing nearby in the winter and traditional Slovenian food is perfect for a cold winter’s night!
What to Do in Lake Bled
Bled is small, so it is definitely possible to see the major sights in a day or on a day trip. To really enjoy the Slovenian countryside, however, two days is the right amount of time. We got to explore much of the surrounding area, the island and the castle. If it were warmer, stand-up paddle boarding would have been number one on my itinerary!
Many of Bled’s sights and attractions are outdoors, so it well worth it to dress for the weather, even if you look like you’re wearing a suit made from trash bags/bin liners (oh, was that just me…?).
Thank goodness we brought our waterproof gear! It rained the entire time. Like, downpour rain at points. Thanks to our newfound hiking hobby, we both have waterproof layers, boots, bag covers and I have my trust waterproof phone case, so we were able to stay (mostly) dry and snap pics along the way.
Walk Around the Lake
There are walking paths all around Lake Bled, and it takes less than two hours to walk around the entire perimeter.
We did not walk the whole lake, but the parts we did were so fantastic. The views change as you go and it is such a wonderful way to experience this beautiful place.
My favorite part was the boardwalk along the “back” of the lake. Looking out from the castle/church, the boardwalk is situated on the other side of the island at the Western end of the lake. Lovely.
Ojstrica is a neighboring peak that offers beautiful panoramic views over Lake Bled, the castle and surrounding mountains.
I had read that this was a “challenging” hike and that is not an inaccurate description, depending which route you take! At one point, we climbed a rocky ledge with the help of a wire handrail.
The views are your reward after a steep climb. There are several viewing points with benches to sit and enjoy the view. For us, however, the view was a bit obscured by the rain and cloud cover.
Still, it was a fun adventure and good hiking practice!
Take a Boat to the Island
Even in the pouring rain, boats still run out to the island. We took a boat from Pletna, but there are docks all around the lake with boats to take visits out to the island.
Our boat hire gave us forty minutes to explore the island before returning to shore. That was plenty of time to ring the bell in the church, climb the bell tower, walk the perimeter of the island, hit the gift shop and grab a hot coffee in the cafe.
Visit Vintgar Gorge
Andrew was really excited to visit Vintgar Gorge. It is technically closed during the colder months, but the website encourages you to visit anyway.
We followed the walkways as far as we could, but they are blocked off pretty early on. We didn’t get to see as much as we had hoped, but it was still very beautiful.
We took the car around to the other side to see if we could explore more from there. We drove over to check out waterfall Sum and were thwarted again by gates just after the waterfall.
Luckily, there were plenty of trails to explore through the woods!
Bled Castle isn’t all that exciting, but the views are definitely worth it. Perched high above the lake, looking out over the water and mountains is incredible.
The museum is a bit lackluster, but interesting, nonetheless. The castle was never home to royalty so there is no royal intrigue to discover, but there are exhibits about the history and geology of the area.
Where to Stay in Lake Bled
Our Airbnb in Lake Bled was what Airbnb’s should be! We stayed in a little space connected to our host’s home, but with its own entrance. It was like our own little cottage, right on a babbling (more like roaring…) brook with views of ponies in a field.
It even came with homemade honey and herb schnapps! Our host dropped these off for us once we arrived to give a taste of local flavors.
A fireplace kept us cozy and the location was excellent. A path led through the woods to the lake in five minutes on foot.
Where to Eat in Lake Bled
Bled is home to many restaurants and cafes. With just two days and in the pouring rain, we did stay in and eat at our Airbnb for several meals. What we did eat out was fabulous.
We stopped into Gostilna Murka on our way into Bled. This rustic tavern serves up Slovenian cuisine.
I had a delicious salad and Andrew had the Carriageman’s Lunch. The service was quick and the meal tasty.
Gostilna Pri Planincu
For Friday night, we booked pizza at Gostilna Pri Planincu. I had read that they served gluten-free pizza and it did not disappoint! Service was quick and the rustic interior was perfect for a cozy meal after hiking.
When in Bled, you have to try Bled cream cake! The spot to try it is its birthplace, the Park Cafe. With a huge, heated outdoor area, you can try your cake while overlooking the lake. Yum!
If it had been open, we would have booked dinner at Grajska Plaza Restaurant. It is entirely outdoors and gets fantastic reviews (and offers gluten-free options!).
What to Drink in Lake Bled
We stopped for a drink in the Vinoteka on our way to dinner on Friday night. Filled with locals, we tried a Teran at the recommendation of the bartender. She was very friendly and helpful.
The Teran was very good and our view of the clouds passing over Bled Castle was lovely. We later learned that Teran used to be prescribed for medicinal use in Slovenia, since it is high in iron. Wine that’s good for you?
Though we did not attend Wine Tasting Bled, we did go a the wine tasting by the same company in Ljubljana. Both are run by Boris, a Slovenian wine enthusiast and expert, who is very passionate about introducing Slovenia’s wine to the world. Our tasting was so much fun and we learned a lot. The sessions are interactive and Boris takes you through the history and a variety of Slovenian wines. Highly recommend!
It was a lovely couple days in an idyllic setting!