Travel Guide For Exploring Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled, a lake reminiscent of a fairy tale, is tucked between lush forestry and the Julian Alps. A quaint island with a church floats in the middle. Bled Castle, believed to be the oldest castle in Slovenia, is perched high above the lake on top of a gray cliff. From mountains soaring above valleys, waterfalls, rivers, and lakes, to an underground world full of caves, Slovenia offers nearly unending possibilities for adventurous spirits. It’s the perfect place to breathe in the fresh mountain air while seeking out active adventures by day and then indulge in fine dining paired with local Slovenian wines by night.
For leisure travelers, Slovenia is an idyllic destination for you too. Curl up with a good book and taste Slovenian wine while being surrounded by the serenity of nature. Bled has a captivating charm that is known to enchant its visitors. We fell under Slovenia’s spell from the moment we crossed the border from Italy as we traversed around the quiet winding roads up and down sloping hills while listening to traditional Slovenian folk music. Church steeples rise toward dramatic snow-capped mountains in the backdrop as you pass small villages.
This itinerary recommends spending 3 days in Bled to give you a full day in Bled and at least two days allocated to outdoorsy and/or underground activities in surrounding areas to give you a taste of the area. Of course, since there’s no shortage of activities, stay as long as you can.
How To Get To Bled, Slovenia and Navigate The Region
The Ljubljana Airport is only a ~30-minute drive from Bled. You can search for flight deals here. Adding Bled to your Italy, Austria, or Croatia trips is very doable since Bled is close to many popular nearby cities that also have airports. By car, Bled is ~3 hours from Venice, ~2 hours and 40 minutes from Salzburg, ~4 hours from Vienna, ~3 hours and 40 minutes from Munich, and ~2 hours and 10 minutes from Zagreb. When we visited Bled, we started in Venice, and then continued onward to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.
Once in Slovenia, renting a car or arranging private transfers will be a convenient option depending on where you want to explore. Another great option is to book a guided tour around Lake Bled, operated by a local for an immersive experience without having to worry about the logistics.
Things to Know Before You Go
The official language is Slovene, the currency is the Euro, Slovenia is an EU member state, and driving is on the right side of the road. A valid vignette is required to drive Slovenia’s motorways and expressways. We entered Slovenia through Italy and easily were able to purchase a vignette at a gas station immediately before entering Slovenia.
Where to Stay in Bled
Staying in Bled is a great place to base your Slovenian getaway. You’ll be close to the mystical lake with easy access to many other possibilities fairly nearby. Triglav National Park is located on the fringes of Lake Bled. The largest glacial lake in Slovenia, Lake Bohinj, is only ~30 minutes away. You’ll be less than 2 hours from the popular coastal town of Piran if you want to make it to the seaside. For those wanting to experience a city vibe, Ljubljana, the capital city, is nearby.
Old Bled House is a small 300-year old farmhouse featuring cozy home-style décor and walking distance to Lake Bled. It has a romantic rustic feel whilst being a welcoming retreat for families. While it’s not located right along the lake, it is walking distance. Affordable two-bedroom suites made this house an attractive choice to comfortably accommodate our family of four. Our room had light-colored wood finishes lining the walls and the bed. White and red flowery curtains draped around the windows. If you’re traveling with a baby, we were able to reserve a Pack n Play.
Garden Village Bled gives you the option to sleep among the treetops in a luxurious and romantic wooden tree house or go glamping in one of their tents by a nearby stream or up in the trees. The property is located only a ~3-minute walk to Lake Bled. It’s a perfect place to envelope yourself in nature. If you’re looking for relaxation, tranquil spa treatments, massages, and a sauna await you.
There are many hotels right along the lake. The elegant Adora Luxury Hotel, or the summer residence of former Yugoslav President Tito, Vila Bled, are two options. Hotel Triglav Bled is a charming hotel boasting lake views. Search Lake Bled hotel deals on TripAdvisor for additional hotel choices.
Most Popular Things To Do in Bled
Walk around Lake Bled and soak in the views from different vantage points. If you’re looking for the quintessential Lake Bled view, hike to Ojstrica as it is known to have perhaps the best view of the lake.
Visit Bled Castle (click to skip the line), the charming medieval castle resting above Lake Bled. Its height high above the lake offers panoramic views overlooking the clear lake waters, the island, and surrounding mountains. There’s a museum, chapel, old printing room, blacksmith shop, wine cellar, and restaurant.
Take a wooden pletna boat, similar to the gondolas you see in Venice, to the small island in the middle of the lake. The elegant church tower of the Church of Mary the Queen, also known as the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary, stands proud 171 ft. above the clear lake waters. Climb up the 99 steps leading to the church and ring the wishing bell.
More Attractions Nearby
Slovenia’s only national park and just ~10 minutes from Lake Bled, lies within the Julian Alps near the borders of Italy and Austria. The Julian Alps, named after Julius Caesar, spans more than 1,700 square miles within Slovenia and Italy. The national park is the home to Mount Triglav, the tallest mountain in Slovenia and the Julian Alps, at 9,396 ft., and offers a host of outdoorsy and adventurous activities. Imposing snowcapped mountains, forests, clear mountain rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and gorges all contribute to making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts. The nearly mile-long Vintgar Gorge is one of the most popular sites.
There are many hiking routes at varying levels of difficulty, length, and elevation gain to choose from in the park. Following trails via cycling or galloping are other options. Summiting Mount Triglav is a highly sought after endeavor, especially by Slovenians. If you wish to summit Mount Triglav, most hikers should plan to spend two days tackling this mountain while staying overnight in a mountain hut.
Slovenia is the home to an estimated 300 waterfalls. While we were driving, we admired many waterfalls cascading down mountain ridges. We only had time to make it to one up close. We selected Peričnik Falls, a waterfall within Triglav National Park. You can walk underneath it and it was essentially on our way to Bled from Venice.
Peričnik Falls can be admired from the road for those unable to hike or are short on time. A hike through a wooded trail is required to experience the real treat of standing underneath the waterfall. Hearing and feeling the powerful rush of water as it cascades down all around you and into a pool at the base is dramatic and humbling.
Winetraveler Tip: Take the trail to your left as you are standing on the bridge looking at the falls. Don’t do what we did and take the trail immediately across from the cottage that has a warning sign reading in English text: “Stop. For reasons of safety, this path cannot be used to access the Peričnik Fall.” We were too busy watching our babies playing in the fallen autumn leaves and missed the sign entirely until our way back down. The trail was very steep and the wet fallen leaves made it quite slippery. It was not our best parenting move.
Winetraveler Tip: Bring a waterproof jacket or poncho to walk underneath the waterfall. Without the ponchos, we would have been soaked from head-to-toe.
Other popular Slovenian waterfalls we considered and hope to come back to see on a longer trip include Savica, Kozjak, Rinka, and Slovenia’s highest waterfall, Boka Waterfall.
If you love exploring the inner depths of caves, Slovenia has you covered. While Slovenia is a relatively small country, its underworld is not. Some estimates report there are over 13,000 caves in Slovenia and the number keeps growing. Lake Bled is just over a one hour drive to the Postojna Cave, one of Slovenia’s most popular tourist attractions and possibly Europe’s most visited cave. Škocjan Caves are only about a 1 hour and 15-minute drive from Lake Bled. These two caves are only about ~25 minutes from each other.
The Postojna Cave is known for its length extending nearly 15 miles long, magnificent stalactites, stalagmites, and limestone formations. At Postojna Cave, you can ride an underground train for nearly 2.3 miles through the cave. You can select a Postojna Cave tour that includes a visit of the Predjama Castle, a castle situated in the middle of a cliff and built into a cave.
The Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are notable for having an underground river, waterfalls, and described by UNESCO as having “one of the largest known underground chambers.” Many visitors mention their Škocjan visit felt less touristy than Postojna. According to many disappointed travelers, photography was not permitted inside the cave.
Winetraveler Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a warm sweater or jacket. The temperature in the caves is in the mid-40s degrees Fahrenheit.
More Adventurous Activities
Rock climbing, canyoning, white water rafting down the emerald waters of the Soča River, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, kayaking through underground mines, sailing, diving, fly fishing, paddle boarding, and swimming are more activities to keep any adventurer busy. Thrilling activities, such as skydiving, canyoning, paragliding, and zip-lining and biking will surely get your adrenaline rushing. In the winter months, you can go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or even try ice climbing.
Eat & Drink
Fine dining and wine tasting await you in Bled. Slovenia is home to more than 28,000 wineries producing a variety of wines to appeal to any Winetravelers taste preferences.
The restaurant at Old Bled House had the same homey and cozy feeling as the rest of the house. Our younglings (3 yo and 1 yo) loved the flavors of the authentic Slovenian dishes as much as we did. The wine list included a nice selection of reasonably priced sparkling wines, rosé wines, white wines, orange wines, and red wines. Across the hall from the restaurant is the Old Cellar Bled that boasts a selection of more than 70 different Slovenian wines, most of which are served by the glass. Throw pillows were laid neatly on the wooden bench seats wrapped around the thick wooden table tops resting on wine barrels.
Had the cloud coverage not been quite so thick, we generally gravitate toward restaurants with views while traveling to a picturesque setting. Here are a few places that initially caught our eye frequently acclaimed for blending fine dining, wine tastings, and views overlooking the lake, island, and surrounding mountains:
The 1906 Restaurant at Hotel Triglav Bled boasts a romantic setting with beautiful views. It was named after the year of the hotel’s initial opening. The menu changes daily to ensure fresh and seasonal ingredients. Slovenian wine tastings are offered in the wine cellar.
Wine Bar & Restaurant Sova offers seafood and local Slovenian dishes that you can pair with Slovenian wine while soaking in the views.
If you fancy fine dining in a castle with breathtaking views overlooking Lake Bled, try Bled Castle Restaurant and taste more Slovenian wine. Bled Castle also has a wine cellar where you can taste wine and fill and cork your bottle.
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