Lake Bled. There are hundreds of superlatives I could pull together to try and describe the beauty of Lake Bled, but none really come close. I’d seen a million photos of it beforehand so I thought I knew what to expect, but in real life it totally blew me away. Still blue-green water as far as I could see, surrounded by dense forest and broken up only by the isolated church on a tiny island in the middle of the lake… the scenes at Bled are like something out of a fairytale.
We visited Lake Bled in early April, which meant it was pretty chilly – zero chance of swimming – but with the added win of beating the summer crowds. At some points around the lake we were able to walk for ages without seeing another person – all we could hear was birds chirping, the odd fish jumping and the water splashing against the banks. Although the weather was a bit gloomy – thankfully it never rained – we got to see the lake and castle shrouded in an eerie mist. Pretty cool! I was only half mad that the weather forecast two days after we left predicted mid 20’s and bright sunshine…
Things to do at Lake Bled
So, apart from gawp in amazement at one of Europe’s most spectacular wonders, what else is there to do at Lake Bled? Loads!
- Take a hike
Lake Bled is heaven for nature lovers, so pack your hiking boots (so you don’t have to walk and climb for two days in Converse like I did)!
The first thing we did was take the long hiking route around the entire lake, which is 10km and took 3-4 hours as we kept stopping to stare at how amazing this place is. This is the best way to orientate yourself and see some totally silent parts of the lake away from busy Bled town. The far end of the lake is even more beautiful! We actually did this hike twice in two days because we loved it so much. The second time we did it at night which was really cool – we were practically the only people and we got to see the lake illuminated by the lights from the castle and Bled town. The opposite end of the lake gets pretty creepy – it’s quite overgrown and there’s no light in some places – so only do this on your own if you have nerves of steel!
There are also some amazing viewpoint hikes you can climb to get unbeatable views of the lake. They’re quite tricky, but totally worth it. The most famous viewpoints are Ojstrica and Osojnica on the west side of Lake Bled. If you’re wondering where’s the best photo spot in Bled, look no further!
- Visit Bled Castle
Don’t hang your boots up just yet, as you’ll need them to reach the clifftop that Bled Castle sits on. Once you make it up, you can buy a ticket for €11 to explore the castle, check out its viewpoints and treat yourself to a meal in its fancy restaurant. The castle looks all the more incredible after dark when it’s lit up in gold, looming over the lake.
- Take a boat to Bled Island
Bled’s most famous landmark is the tiny island in the middle of the lake, and the church that sits on it. To get there, you have two options: rent your own rowing boat and grab a set of oars, or jump on a traditional Slovenian boat and let someone else do the hard work. We did the latter, as I was so cold at this point that I wasn’t sure my arms would work, but I think it would be more fun to take your own. The island isn’t the most exciting place in Bled and it takes all of five minutes to explore the whole thing – cruising around the lake is really the good part!
- Eat cream cake
After all that exercise you’ll need to build up your energy with a seriously indulgent treat. If you only eat one Slovenian dish, it has to be a Bled cream cake, a famous dessert you can only get in this part of the world. It’s a thick slice of set vanilla custard, topped with cream and sandwiched between a crispy, flaky crust. OMG, my idea of heaven.
I was basically on a sugar high for my entire time in Bled, as in between munching these we went to a local chocolate festival that happened to be on while we were there. Amazing timing! This was such a cute little festival with beer vans, music, food trucks, and obviously loads and loads of chocolate!
Besides sweets, what are the best places to eat in Bled? Well I have to say, after spending time in Ljubljana and Bled, Slovenian food really doesn’t do it for me. I had traditional stews, goulash, dumplings and never really found anything I loved. I think it’s safe to say, Slovenia is no foodie destination. Actually, you’ll spot more ‘Italian’ restaurants than traditional ones, so one good thing is that you can get really good pizza everywhere!
- Where to stay in Lake Bled
There’s no denying it, Bled is tourist central. So there are all kinds of places to stay, from beyond-my-wildest-dreams luxury hotels overlooking the lake to rustic camping sites that would be amazing in summer. I happened to find one of my favourite hostels ever here – Garden House Bled, which is perfect for female travellers. I adored everything about this place – the rooms are beautiful, the facilities are amazing and there’s a really cool chill out den in the garden for summer evening beers.
It’s safe to say I’m totally under Bled’s spell. What are your thoughts on this magical place?