Visiting Lake Bled, the only island in Slovenia

Lake Bled is a beautiful lake set against the stunning backdrop of the Alps in Slovenia. It is one of Slovenia’s most iconic views and I can guarantee it won’t disappoint. In the middle of the lake sits ‘Bled island’, the only island in Slovenia and home to the iconic Church of the Assumption.

The lake is situated about 55km (34 miles) from the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana. I was staying in  a hotel in the city and took a day trip by bus from Ljubljana bus station, however there are plenty of nearby hotels if you wanted to stay at the lake for longer.

There are many legends and stories about Lake Bled, including how it was formed.

According to locals, the surrounding hills were originally inhabited by fairies, but when farmers allowed their sheep to graze the area and eat all of the grass, it angered the fairies. In retaliation they flooded the area, creating the lake at the bottom of the valley.

How to get there by bus

We took the bus to Lake Bled from the main bus station in Ljubljana which is just outside the main train station.

It departs from platforms 7/8 and takes around 1hr 20 to get to Lake Bled. We had to purchase our tickets from Ljubljana to Lake Bled from the bus station before boarding, I’d recommend buying it in advance of your trip to avoid any unexpected queues.

Cost: €7.80 one way, €12.84 return.

There are a lot of stops along the way and the bus continues to Lake Bohinj after so I was using GPS on my phone to work out where to get off.

Departure times from Ljubljana central station to Lake Bled (correct as of Oct 2018)

Monday to Friday

5:00   5:40   6:25   7:30   8:30   9:30   10:30   11:30   12:30   13:30   14:05   14:30   16:30   17:30   19:30   20:30   21:30

Saturday

6:25   8:30   9:30   10:30   11:30   13:30   14:30   16:30   17:30   19:30   20:30

Sunday & Holidays

6:25   10:30    13:30   14:30   16:30   17:30   19:30   20:30   21:30

What is there to do at Lake Bled?

Walk or cycle around the lake

There is a path that goes right around the lake with numerous view spots on the way around. Here are some of the photos I captured on the way around, all taken with a smartphone camera. The walk takes around 1 ½ hrs depending upon walk speed and how many selfies you take on the way.

If walking isn’t for you, we spotted a few places to rent bikes or ebikes in Bled.

Visit Bled castle

Bled castle is believed to be the oldest castle in Slovenia. It sits on top a 130m high cliff over looking the lake and provides one of the best views. I think its worth the entry fee to go in and look out over the lake for a few hours.

There is a restaurant in the castle, but with views fit for a king it has a price tag to match. As a budget traveller, this wasn’t for me but the food did look fantastic.

Castle entrance fees

  • Adults                 €11.00
  • Students              €7.00
  • Children              €5.00

The Church of the Assumption on Bled Island

Sitting beautifully on the island in the middle of the lake (the only island in Slovenia!) is the oddly named ‘Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary’ – bit of a mouthful.

There are three ways of reaching the church:

  1. Rent a boat and row across yourself – boats are generally rented by the hour and the cost will depend on the size of the boat.
  2. Take a Plenta – these are traditional boats with canopies that ferry visitors to and from the church. We were quoted €14 per person (Autumn 2018).
  3. SWIM!
Traditional Plenta boats take visitors to Bled Island

Once you reach the island, you’ll have to walk up the 99 steps leading to the entrance. The church attracts a lot of newly married couples as according to legend, if a husband carries his wife up the 99 steps, it will ensure a happy marriage.

Entrance to the church will cost you a further €6 and remember you need to be clothed to enter (to anyone who chose to swim across!).

If you visit the church, don’t forget to ring the bell 3 times and make a wish – another Slovenian tradition!

Try the original Bled Cream Cake

I have a sweet tooth, so was excited to try Lake Bled’s signature cuisine – Bled Cream Cake. This is comprised of layers of custard and cream sandwiched between puff pastry and topped with icing sugar.

Park hotel claims to be home to the original cream cake with a recipe dating back to 1953. They make over 500,000 of these every year.

Trying a Bled Cream Cake at Park Hotel

Take a hike

There are many different hiking routes around bled that you can try. One of the most popular is Ojstrica, it is a short 20 minute hike from Bled and will reward you wish amazing views.

Check out this post to see what you can expect from Ojstrica at sunrise.

There is plenty to do at Lake Bled, whether you’re taking a day trip from Ljubljana to Lake Bled like me or staying nearby, you’ll be sure to have a great time.

Tips for visiting Lake Bled

Here are my top tips for your day trip to Lake Bled:

  • Get your bus tickets in advance of your trip to avoid any queues at the bus station.
  • Take food and drink with you – the restaurants and cafes are quite expensive so consider taking snacks or maybe even a picnic.
  • Take a student card (if you have one) for discounted entry to the castle. Check out the rest of my money saving tips for travelling Europe.
  • Get there early in the morning – the lake attracts hoards of tourists so get there early in the morning to avoid the crowds that appear around midday.

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