Put Lake Bled on your bucket list right now! it’s a total must. Here’s why…
Does that photo not entice you enough?! Trust me when I say it looks exactly like that in reality too.
Lake Bled is my second favourite place in the entire world (so far) it's riding hot on the tail of Barcelona. both places are at the top of my list for completely different reasons though! If I had to sum up Lake Bled and the surrounding areas in three words I'd say tranquil, unique, and extraordinarily breathtaking. Ok four words then... it's just stunning! without a single doubt I can say that so far in my life, never before have I felt as calm and relaxed as I did while I was staying in Bled.
Bled is the small township where Lake Bled is situated, and when I say small that's no exaggeration. It's a tiny little town in Slovenia with a population of just over 6000. To get there you'll need to fly into Lujbiana, Slovenias capital and either get a bus, taxi, or the shuttle (which is just a glorified mini van) to Bled. It's about half an hours drive and by shuttle it only cost me €13, that was shared between 5 people though. Just head over to the shuttle buses and speak to the drivers, they're on your left as you exit the airport. You might need to wait 5 or 10 mins until a few more people make their way over and once they've got a full car you'll be on your way. I'm not sure of bus routes... although undoubtedly cheaper I believe you need to transfer at some point to a different bus which will then take you into Bled. The shuttle also takes you directly to your accomodation whereas the bus will obviously take you to Bled station. Personally I'd pay the €10 or so extra to go directly there and save yourself the trouble! In regard to taxis, I'm not sure of the cost but I'd estimate that for a half an hour journey it'll cost around €30-€40 as that seems to be fairly standard across Europe.
Where to stay;
As I mentioned earlier, Bled is a small place and so accomodation options are fairly limited and get booked up fast. You definitely want to be located within walking distance of the lake, although in saying that I booked very last minute and where I stayed was still only a 15 minute walk away. It would just be that little bit more of a luxury to stay closer 🙂 I'm going back this year and I booked super early so that I could score a place that's not even a 5 minute walk away from that incredibly inviting water.
I stayed at 'B&B Milnar Bled' last year, it was cheap as chips (£60 for three nights) and very basic but I adored it! It was this cute little red painted house that resembled a barn, white shutters and all sat at the very end of a street that was lined with hundreds of apple, pear, and plum trees. It had a very rustic Tuscan feel about it. Every morning upon heading out for the day, like an excited child I picked the juiciest Apple that I could find to have as a snack later in the day, I loved it! Upon arriving I was welcomed in by a little old lady in her nightgown - she couldn't speak a word of English, she just shakily handed me a key and pointed upstairs. The room itself was tiny and the bathroom was a shared one across the hall, but it was all that I needed. It had a little fridge which was a much appreciated surprise! and a cute little balcony where I would sit during the late afternoon watching the blistering hot European sun go down while reading my book, cold beer in hand and nibbling at the homemade antipasto platter I'd made for myself. Those afternoons remain one of the fondest memories of my time in Slovenia.
This year I've booked to stay at a place called 'Apartments Poldi' it's much closer to the lake and is a bit more of a luxury I guess you could say! For 5 nights it's costing £500 - that's divided between four though as this time I'll be travelling with my partner and my parents, I can't wait to return to that incredible place and share it with my loved ones.
The only vaguely negative thing that I have to say about Bled - which wasn't an issue for me at all but may be for others so it warrants a mention, is that there are limited options for eating out. For that reason I recommend staying in an apartment, that way you can self cater most of the time and eat out here or there if you wish rather than needing to eat out for every meal. It's not sparse by any means, There are a handful of lovely little cafes and restaurants on the water, and other restaurants scattered about here and there but they're few and far between. I quite like that there's not a mass amount of resturants around especially to cater for tourists though, it adds to Bleds' relaxed vibe. A lazy picnic lunch by the water with a couple of cold ones - now there's an idea! the one culinary tip that I do feel I should impart is to try a Slovenian cake called 'Kremsnita' or better known as 'bled cream cake' it's more of a slice than a cake but it's delicious. I love that Slovenians culinary speciality is a cake! there's zero guilt involved when you're in a new country trying their cuisine, cake or not! you'd be rude not to in my opinion... a favourite memory from my trip was sitting on the outside deck of a little cafe/bar by the water called 'Devil cafe and bar' it sounds a bit like a nightclub but I assure you it's not! I stumbled across it on the way back to my accomodation one day and couldn't resist having a cocktail (sex on the beach of course) after a long day spent strolling and exploring along the outskirts of the lake, sunbathing and jumping in for a swim here and there along the way. Of course the cocktail was accompanied with a big fat slice of bled cream cake... very healthily satisfying my appetite.
Enjoying a cocktail and cream cake at 'Devil cafe and bar'
6 things you must do during your stay in Bled;
- Walk the circumference of the lake. It's a beautiful walk. It takes approximately an hour... that's walking at a fairly leisurely pace. I really can't imagine how i'll be able to describe the colour of the water, but I'll do my best! it's this incredible vibrant cobalt blue in some parts and in others a velvety teal. I've never seen water like it before, it's incredibly enticing. Swimming in it is like a therapy session straight from nature! it's quiet, calm, and the water is so fresh you almost feel tempted to drink it.
A glimpse of that unbelievable water I just tried to describe!
- Walk up to Bled castle. It's a steep walk as the castle sits high on top of a hill, so it's more of a mini hike than a walk! but the views from up there are so worth it. I didn't go inside the castle, but for €9 you can go in.
- Hire a row boat and row out to Bled island. Even if you're not all that interested in the cute little church that sits atop the miniscule island of Bled, I say still do it for the memories you'll make and the laughs you'll have (even if you're just laughing at yourself) trying to row out there! you can hire a little row boat for €12 per half an hour. You can ring the church bell too while you're there, when will you get to do that again?!
- Take a trip into Ljubiana for the day, this is a MUST! if you've got a car it's only a 45 minute drive from Bled, or you can easily get the bus. By bus it's an hours drive and costs les than €10 for a return ticket. Ljubiana is stunning - in the main old town that is, which is just a 5 minute walk from the bus station - just cross the busy highway and keep making you way in (heading away from the main road) and you'll eventually stumble across it! or just ask to be pointed in the right direction. It really is beautiful, if you don't see it you'll have missed out big time and will kick yourself for not doing it!
Ljubiana old town. Stunning!
- Walk or drive/get a taxi out to Vintgar Gorge - this is an absolute must! it's one of the most spectacular places I've ever seen. I walked there and it took me about an hour. I had a rough idea of where I was going but I didn't really! It was a lot of guessing and following my instincts so when I found it without any major hiccups I must admit I was quite chuffed with myself! it was a fun little adventure for me, I even had a canine friend join me along the way! he was this very old, very adorable border collie. He trotted out of his yard to greet me as I walked past and then walked alongside me for the next 10 minutes or so before turning around and heading back in the direction of his home! but if you're not into walking or feel like you might not be able then definitely drive (there is a car park there) or get a taxi as the walk is very up and down and quite steep in places. I can't imagine a taxi would cost more than €10 - €15 as it's not all that far from Bled. The entry fee to the gorge is €4. An invaluable tip that I must give you is to go early! I got there at 9am and walked in all easy breezy, strolling at a leisurely pace along the gorge taking pictures here and there, quietly appreciating it's beauty and taking it all in. But on my way out it was a different story! It had become very busy by then and was stressful trying to walk back along the gorge with so many people stuffed on the same path (it's a thin path!) and the line to get in as I was walking out was now snaking all the way down to the car park when before there was no line to be seen! so unless you find queing and being herded along with all the other tourists enjoyable, get there early!
- Take a walk through the residential area of Bled, it may seem like a weird thing for me to suggest and i'm sure that not everyone will appreciate it like I did. But I found something so enchanting about the old weather worn timber houses, the backyards scattered with apple and pear trees, the lovingly homemade wooden swing sets and the homegrown veggie patches. The houses all have these little wooden fences dividing them too, i felt a surprising sense of warmth at the obvious openess and trust among this little Slovenian community.
My time in Lake Bled was unforgettable. I'm itching to go back! That's how I know when a place has left a footprint on me... that's how I know when a small piece of my heart has been left behind, when as soon as I've left I want to go back! I can only say that about 4 or 5 places so far... Lake Bled is special, but please don't take my word for it! go and find out for yourself 😉
Over & out x