I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating—Slovenia’s ability to fly under the radar is pretty amazing.
In terms of its neighbors, Croatia’s beaches get the hype, people rave about Venice’s canals or Greece’s whitewashed islands, but rarely do you hear people say that you absolutely HAVE to visit Slovenia.
But look at this!
I’ve already covered Slovenia’s charming pastel seaside town of Piran, the powerful rushing water of the Vintgar Gorge, our unique dinner in a medieval archer’s tower and morning at the market in Ljubljana, and an afternoon at a winery. One of the great things about Slovenia is that it’s very compact, so you can see a ton in a very short period of time. We only spent a few days here, and really explored the whole country.
Now it’s time to talk about why no Slovenian itinerary is complete without Lake Bled. Stick around to the end and you’ll get some bonus Lake Bohinj as well…
When people do talk about Slovenia, Lake Bled is often one of the first places that comes to mind (for many people, the *only* place). Because of that, I was worried that it would be crowded, a bit Disney-like. But surprisingly, Bled’s iconic little island chapel, medieval castle on a cliff (thought to be the oldest in Slovenia) and peaceful turquoise waters actually surpassed my expectations.
We were staying with friends in Ljubljana, who had a car. This made visiting Bled super easy, but there are buses that run from Ljubljana frequently (around 13 euros round-trip), so even if you don’t have a car this is an easy day trip from the capital. We had a leisurely breakfast before piling in two cars (there were 6 of us) and heading first to Triglav National Park (to see the wilder Vintgar Gorge), and then heading on to Lake Bled around lunchtime.
It was just…peaceful. Even though we were visiting in late May, there weren’t hordes of tourists crowding up the area. The beautiful wooden walkways that go around the lake were pretty empty, and we were able to just mosey along, taking in the jewel-toned water, the snow-capped Julian Alps in the background, and the puffy white clouds.
We didn’t have any particular agenda (we weren’t doing the boat ride to the island), just walking and enjoying a gorgeous late spring day. If you’re looking for something more active, there are bikes for rent, some boats (though they heavily regulate it), and lots of hiking in the area. I do wish we’d had time to do some real hiking, because you can get up high and get stunning views of Lake Bled.
We did make sure to get a slice of the famous Bled cake, kremšnita. It’s kind of like tiramisu’s vanilla cousin, with fluffy layers, a bit of pastry, and lots of light cream and powdered sugar on top. Delish!
Before heading back to Ljubljana, we made one last stop, Lake Bohinj. It’s only about 20-30 minutes from Lake Bled, and a very different vibe. The part we stopped at was super chill, but other parts are known for their water sports. It was a little overcast when we went, but I’ve seen pics of Bohinj that are absolutely gorgeous. If you’re going to be in the area, it seems silly not to stop for a bit.
How to visit Lake Bled
- We drove from Ljubljana, it takes about an hour; you can also take the train or bus, more on those options here
- Visiting Vintgar Gorge, Lake Bled, and Lake Bohinj together is a great day trip from Ljubljana; or if you prefer, you can base yourself in the area and enjoy some of the activities for a couple days
- We didn’t go up to the castle (on the cliff) or take the boat trip to the island (which I’ve heard is a bit touristy and expensive), but those are both options on your visit
- As mentioned above, there are tons of activities in the Bled area, from biking, hiking, watersports, whatever your poison is. Make sure to book housing ahead of time if you’re coming in the main tourist season since it gets crowded (and if you’re coming in the off-season, your options will be pretty limited).
- Make sure you get a slice of Bled’s famous cream cake!
Have you visited Lake Bled? If so, would love to hear whether you did any of the hiking, and what you’d recommend!
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