As one of the most popular destinations in Slovenia, Lake Bled does not disappoint. But there are some ways to make your visit better and some that would make it worse. These tips for visiting Lake Bled can help you get the most out of the amazing alpine lake.
Don’t do it as a day trip
A lot of people visit Lake Bled on day trips from nearby cities like Ljubljana, sometimes even combining it with Lake Bohinj, which is a great disservice to both places. Going to Lake Bled is like vacationing at the beach. You could do it as a day trip, but what is even the point if you can’t relax and unwind for a couple of days there? I can’t imagine anything that would ruin Lake Bled faster than having to pick one or two things to cram into one exhausting day before heading back to another city. Lake Bled should be enjoyed over a couple of days. See the sunset on the lake, see it rise. Go hiking, go for a swim. None of these things can be comfortably enjoyed if you’re rushing them.
Bring good walking shoes
A lot of the most beautiful landscapes of Bled are seen from above. There are a few great hikes around the lake, including the walk up to Bled Castle. While Bled Castle is accessible by car, some of the nearby hills are not, so bring something you feel comfortable walking on rocks and dirt with. I recommend something with good traction for those slippery slopes. Don’t expect to be able to climb up Mala Osojnica in cute sandals.
Bring a swimsuit, towel, and sunblock
If you’re visiting in the hot summer months, you’ll probably want to take a dip in the lake. When it’s almost 90 degrees out, its clear blue shimmer will beckon you into the cool and peaceful waters. So come prepared to swim. Even if you’re staying in the area, your hotel may not have towels available for you to take. A quick dry towel usually doesn’t take up too much space and will really come in handy when you’re dying to have a soak. You’d be surprised how quickly you can get sunburned around the lake, and especially if you’re in it, so you should also bring sun block.
Though there are designated swimming areas around the lake, most people jump in from any part of the shore where it’s less crowded. Water shoes aren’t a bad idea; some of these lake shores are rocky.
Travel in and out of Bled during off-peak hours
Getting in and out of Bled is kind of a nightmare if you’re traveling during rush hour. Whether you’re going by car or bus, there’s no way to escape the congestion. This is another great reason to avoid a day trip which has to start and end during the busiest times of the day. If you arrive and leave around midday, it’ll be a lot less of a hassle, especially if you have to take the bus. In the morning and late afternoon, there are mobs of people waiting at the bus station.
Buy a return bus ticket from Ljubljana
If you’re taking the bus and you want to save a little bit of money, you can buy a return ticket in advance from the Ljubljana bus station. The best part about it is that even if the departure to Bled is for a specific time, the return is open, so you can grab any of the buses that return to Ljubljana every hour. If you’ve planned your itinerary ahead of time, you can also save by buying combined tickets to Bled Island and Bled Castle at a discount from the train station.
Make sure you have cash
Though restaurants and bars around the lake take credit for the most part, if you want to ride a boat on the lake or visit the church on Bled Island, you’ll have to pay cash. There are some ATMs around certain parts of the lake, but if you find yourself on the opposite end of the banks and ATMs with no cash, you might waste a lot of time trying to get money.
Don’t hike up to the castle unless you’re going to pay to get in
Bled Castle is a beautiful part of the Lake Bled landscape, but it’s also itself worth visiting. Though the former rooms of the castle have mostly been turned into event spaces, there are some exhibits and places around the grounds to explore. From the castle walls, you can also enjoy great views down and the hike is less grueling than some of the hills on the west side of the lake. There are some fun activities like the castle winery and print shop where you can pick up unique souvenirs. But if you don’t plan to pay to go inside, don’t bother to hike up. You can’t see anything over the trees, so it’ll be a waste of time.
For more tips on Bled activities, check out my recommendations.
Make sure you eat
Leaving Bled without enjoying some of the local staples would be a shame. There is a lot of fresh seafood from the surrounding waterways and the famed Bled cream cake. If you’re in a hurry, you can even pick this one up in a to-go container in small bakeries around town. So one of my most important tips for visiting Bled is to eat well and often.