Bled, Slovenia All You Need To Know
Oh Bled! The place that wow’ed me, helped me clear my head, made blisters on my feet 😀 and made me so relaxed I went swimming in its gorgeous lake at six in the morning.
Where Is Bled?
Often when we decide to visit a new country, we go to the capital. So you’ll be pleased to know that Bled is actually pretty close to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital (with the funny name 😀 ) so getting to Bled is actually really easy. It is on the southern foot of the Karawanks mountain range near the border with Austria and on Lake Bled which, together with Lake Bohinj are the country’s most famous and arguably most beautiful lakes.
When to go?
Personally I would definitely say the summer, so June-Aug, because that’s when you’ll get the warm weather that’ll allow you to do all the cool things I’ve listed further down. I went in mid August and I loved it. The weather was warm but not super hot and it wasn’t even that busy with tourists (at least it didn’t feel like it) so I can definitely assure you that if you go for August, you won’t regret it. Be slightly more careful with September though because the weather starts to get a bit grumpy but not a deal breaker especially if you don’t mind a little drizzle. Interestingly though, my Airbnb host told me that Bled is actually quite busy in the winter as well with people coming from all over the world for skiing. So if you’re into skiing, Jan-Mar will appeal to you too and guess what, Bled is so close to Italy you, like many winter visitors, can drive to the Italian ski resorts and get the best of both worlds, cheaper accommodation in Bled and world class skiing in Italy.
How To Get There?
Bled is only 37km away from Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (or Brnik, same thing) or 50km away from Ljubljana city center. If you go to Bled straight from the airport, I strongly recommend making a reservation with Zup Prevozi who for €13 will give you a ride on one of their shuttles from the airport door to an address in Bled of your choice (takes about 30-40min). I used this company on the way back from Bled to the airport and I can honestly say that I couldn’t have asked for a better service, right on time, straight from my Airbnb door and delivered with a smile 🙂 What else can you wish for really! You might think it’s expensive, initially I did too, but I honestly don’t think there is a cheaper and more convenient option than this. Alternatively, if you want to stop in Ljubljana first (I did that), you can get an Airport bus N28 to the city center for just €4 but as much it is an ideal cheap deal on the weekdays, it’s not so much if you travel on a weekend because buses run every 2 hours. Check the timetable here before you travel. An option that I took, because I didn’t want to wait 2 hours for the next bus and didn’t have much time to spend in Ljubljana, was to jump on a shuttle which got me dropped off on my address in Ljubljana for the whooping €9. Not sure if it was Zup Prevozi but either way, there are a few shuttles at the airport that offer pretty much the same service at a similar price. So if you don’t have much time to spend in Slovenia and don’t wanna waste it at the airport, do that 🙂 The journey to Ljubjana by bus is about 45min and around 25min with the shuttle.
Where To Stay?
A lot of people stay in the center of Bled but when I was looking at the prices, I thought it was quite expensive. So I stayed about 15min walk from the lake. And I will stay there again next time I go back! The views are stunning both from the city center and from the outskirts of the town so it will largely depend on how much you’re willing to spend on accommodation. I personally recommend getting a place slightly off the center, saving yourself some $$$ and maybe renting a bike to get around. What’s amazing about Bled is that it’s literally at the heart of the mountains so you will have stunning views even if you’re not overlooking the lake.
I stayed in what was one of the best and cheapest Airbnb houses I’ve stayed in so far. It was this beautiful house. I had the warmest and most welcoming hosts who were always one call away and had left the whole 3 floor house to their guests which was fantastic. They were even offering bike rentals for just €4 a day which was an amazing deal because in town the average rental for a day is €12. The house was about 15min walk to the lake and had a number of different rooms, both suitable for singles and couples so you’ll make a great choice if you go for this friendly beautiful Airbnb 🙂
However there are a lot of Airbnb options so just have a browse and see what suits your budget and preference. If you haven’t already signed up for Airbnb, be sure to sign up and get at least $25 travel credit to use towards your first stay. You can sign up here.
To my surprise there are also a few hostels in Bled which can potentially work out cheaper than Airbnb. I’m saying “potentially” because they’re still not that cheap. Anytime I don’t use Airbnb, I book my accommodation through Booking.com. And the great news is that if you sign up and book through this link, you’ll get the equivalent of 15GBP (roughly $20) cashback right in your bank account as soon as you finish your stay. Small discounts but gotta take them if you wanna lower down your costs!
What to do?
For the small place that Bled is, it’s definitely packed a lot of things for you to do so I doubt you can ever get bored here.
Ride/Walk Round Lake Bled
The lake in Bled will literally leave you speachless when you first see it. It’s absolutely huge, 2,120 m (6,960 ft) long and 1,380 m (4,530 ft) wide to be precise, so pretty big right?! The lake is surrounded by so many mountains, the view is spectacular and it’s an absolute must that you take a walk or a bike ride around the whole lake so you can see the views from all its sides. To walk round the whole lake will take some time because it’s actually almost 4km we’re talking about! So you might want to consider renting a bike. I walked it and I loved it though because I was stopping for a picture every 2 min 😀 What you can also do is to join this free tour if you’re looking to learn more about Bled, its history and get some more tips from a local. Do check the website for upcoming tours before you travel because there’s no strict timetable.
Do A Pletna Trip
The traditional Bled boat is called Pletna and it’s essentially a wooden flat-bottom boat which is operated by an oarsman who’s standing and rowing with two oars. Pretty cool! The boats depart from a few points along the lake and it’s actually quite obvious so you can’t miss them. You can either rent your own boat and row it yourself (I certainly didn’t even consider this :D) or you can join a group of other 20 ish people for a joint tour to the Bled island where you’ll have a stop for about 40 min to wander round the little island. On the island you’ll find a beautiful Gothic church which intrestingly is now standing in the place where back in days was the temple of the ancient Slavic goddess of love Živa. However this treat doesn’t come cheap, the group boat trip itself costs €14 and you’ll need another €6 to enter the church (no need to pre book). The boats run until around 6pm with no strict schedule and they leave once they’re full so be prepared to wait for around 30min for your boat to depart. If you want to spend your 30min doing something even better though, you should definitely walk up Hill Ojstrica to get the best possible views over the lake. You’ll absolutely love it!
Have a swim
You cannot leave Bled without swimming in the lake. It’s literally a must! I went for a swim at 6am and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my trip. The lake is so warm throughout the whole day (assuming you go in the summer), even at 6am and it’ so clean, you’re guarenteed to swim with the fishes 😀 People from Bled really make the most of the lake by forming proper beach areas where many people lay down their towel and sunbathe the whole day. Do take advantage of that!
Visit Bled Castle
Bled Castle is Slovenia’s oldest castle and is one of the best places to get unobstructed panoramic views over lake Bled and the town. There is a nice pathway starting near the lake that’ll take you up to the castle in just a few steps. If you’re on a budget this is place you must spend your $$$ and actually go in. It costs €10 to get into the castle but it’s absolutely worth it for the views (no need to pre book). They’re just like no other so don’t miss to visit this place! One tip … go to the very very top until you reach a posh restaurant. You’ll find a gorgeous terrace there where you’ll get the best views.
This is the thing I gotta go back to Bled for (not that I really need a reason 😀 ). From Bled Castle you can see the views to the lake, its island and the town but you gonna climb a small hill called Straža if you want to get views over the castle, the lake and the mountains. You can walk up to the hill or take a lift but if you want to spice up your trip with an adrenaline-drenched ride, go for the sledding (summer tobogganing) option on the way down from the Straža slope. You wonder what sledding is, check out this video at the 1:31 min. Absolutely amazing 😀 For opening hours and prices, see here. See you down the slope 😀
If you’ve done all of the above! And I’m stressing here that before you venture outside town, you must ensure you’ll have time to do all of Bled. If you’ve got a few spare hours (I’d say at least 3-4h) you have to see Vintgar Gorge. It’s the first touristically arranged canyon in Slovenia. It’s become extremely popular with many tourists, including me, taking a trip from Bled to Vintgar to enjoy some time out into the nature, diving into the beauty of the Radovna River passing through the gorge (a deep narrow valley with rocky sides). For a full guide on Vintgar, don’t miss to read my post that covers both the good and the bad about Vingtar. Check it out here.
Finally, Have Some Cream Cake!
Before you travel to Bled, everyone will tell you to have some Bled cream cake and they’ve got a good point. The Bled cream cake is the symbol of Bled and although you can buy it anywhere else in Slovenia, people from Bled say that in Bled the cake is just the best (aaw even got some rhyme). So I’ll take their word for it 😀 After asking around the locals, turned out that the best place for a cream cake is no longer Slascicarna Smon like a search on TripAdvisor will tell you but a restaurant called Panorama. I tried it and I loved it, so light and yummy. So do have a treat, if you’re not a vegan of course 😛 it’s got quite a bit of eggs and cream (totally worth the animal protein LOL).
That’s the end of your guide to Bled. Hope it’ll help you have an amazing time. I’m definitely going back to Bled one day so hope to see you there 🙂