If you’re planning a trip to Slovenia it’s most likely that Bled is already on your itinerary… after all it’s the subject of most of the associated google images and its lake is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.
It’s not all about the lake (it’s mostly about the lake) but there are a couple of other points of interest worth checking out if you’re making a trip to Bled and also some yummy food you MUST try that the region is famous for. Follow my step-by-step itinerary for the perfect day.
Bled is well served by long-distance buses in Slovenia. The simplest way to arrive from Ljubljana is to get one of these buses, which will drop you right near the lake, and costs around 12 euros return. The journey is just under 90 minutes and very scenic, as it takes you through a lot of the Slovenian countryside and many little towns and villages. The ticket office at the bus station in Ljubljana will also give you a list of the return bus times so you can plan your trip back accordingly – they are super helpful!
Alternatively Bled has a train station but apparently this arrives in to the main town and not as close to the lake, so if your main purpose is to visit the lake and castle (as I suggest) the bus is your best bet.
First thing’s first, if you’re anything like us you probably started your day super early and left it too late to grab breakfast before getting on the bus, which means a coffee and cake stop* (you’re on holiday for goodness sakes, if cake for breakfast isn’t acceptable now then when?!) When it comes to cake, Bled actually has it’s own speciality… the not so appetizingly named “Bled cake”. I have noticed on many menus they do actually list is as “cake from Bled” to avoid conjuring any thoughts likely to put you off your cake before you’ve started.
Looking for a good cafe? Check out Caffe Peglez’n, which is conveniently located between the bus station and your first port of touristy call. On a Sunday morning in April it was extremely busy and mostly with local people (which is always a good sign). Sit out the front and enjoy your first glimpse of the lake while you enjoy your kind-of-like-a-vanilla-slice but better Bled cake – yum!
Onwards and upwards (literally) to make your way towards Bled Castle. You know, it’s the one you’ve seen in all the photos that looks like it might be a health risk trying to reach… well the good news is you can get there relatively easy and it doesn’t in fact involve rock climbing (if you’re in to rock climbing possibly you’re reading the wrong blog post and you may prefer my guide to Slovenia for adventurers!) To find your way to the castle just head in the general direction and then it’s well signposted. There are a couple of paths up to the top and taking the more gradual slope means you can visit the little church on the hillside too.
After just enough, but not too much effort, you’ll be at Bled Castle. Before you enter there’s something you should know… the attraction isn’t so much about the history of the castle. While you can wander around and see the castle’s walls and rooms and exterior most of the exhibits are to do with other things entirely. Inexplicably there is a room dedicated to the printing press, one for Slovenian honey tasting, a similar one for wine… it goes on. There is a smallish museum, which is the main attraction associated with the castle as far as I could tell, but is more to do with the history of Bled itself. Nevertheless the artefacts and information on display is interesting in further understanding the history of Slovenia as a country as well as the localised area.
There is also a cafe (score!) and posher sit-down restaurant with ah-ma-zing views over Lake Bled… probably the best from anywhere in the surrounds and therefore worth the visit in themselves. It’s a good spot for lunch and I can vouch for the cafe food being surprisingly tasty for the kind of place where there will always be a constant stream of tourists and they really needn’t bother that much. Must again stress that the views are unrivaled, definitely one of the more memorable lunches I’ve had.
We’ve made it to the afternoon and so far we’ve achieved a lot of eating and looking at a few old chalices, still you can’t deny it’s been fun, and it’s about to get even better (yes there is more cake on the menu!)
The path taking you down from Bled Castle will connect up with another path and if you have a couple of hours on your hands it’s an easy 6km/4 mile circular walk around the whole lake. There are of course plenty of bars and cafes to stop at along the way, plus you can also pick up the boat cruise at a couple of points if you want to break it up a little, more on that later…
If you’re short on time or are less enamoured by this area of beauty that you feel the need to stop and appreciate it often you might like to hire a bike and ride around Lake Bled. I am of course joking, I love cycling (and still need to stop often for a bum-break!)
This is all well and dandy but I’m guessing you want to go to the island.
For people with no upper body strength (me!) there’s a river cruise that offers a relaxing and dry way to reach the island. For those with a more adventurous spirit or who overestimate their capabilities you can hire a row boat and row yourself across. This is guaranteed to cause maximum laughter when you realise that all that time on the rowing machine at the gym has not equipped you with the strength to row three adults a considerable distance under a time constraint. Another word of advice here, if the boat house closes at 6pm and you hire the boat at 4pm don’t leave yourself 20 minutes to row back from the island because you spent too long eating cake admiring the view as it will result in a frantic journey back that leaves you looking like you’ve been on the log flume at Alton Towers and the person doing the rowing (not me you note) unable to lift their arms the following day.
Speaking of cake… we also enjoyed a slice of traditional Slovenian cake in the cafe on the island. You might also like to indulge in this treat, or perhaps you think this is way too much cake for one person to have in a day (in which case I’m here to tell you that you haven’t lived!)
Oh I never did tell you what was on the island did I? Well it really is just the church… and a tourist shop/cafe. Don’t let me put you off, the cake is excellent, and of course we all know it’s the journey not the destination. Just remember to leave yourself enough time to row back to the boathouse before it closes!
Have you been to Bled and rowed across the lake? Did I eat too much cake? Let’s chat in the comments…