The Best Things to Do in Bled, Slovenia
Bled is home to Slovenia’s only island, but for many it’s one of the most beautiful islands in the world. This small resort town, just a short train ride away from the capital Ljubljana, is one of the most unique and beautiful lakeside villages you can imagine – picturesque mountains dotted with pine trees shelter a turquoise Alpine lake, in the middle of which sits the peaceful island with a single iconic church. And while you’ll feel instantly satisfied the moment you lay eyes on the lake, there’s many more things to do in Bled than you might realize.
7 things to do in Bled
1. Row to the island
You can’t go to Lake Bled and not journey to the little island in the middle. There are many ways to get there, but the most rewarding manner to reach the island is by rowboat. Dozens of operators rent boats on the shores of the lake, some of which charge by the half hour. If rowing isn’t your strong point, walk to the far side of the lake where the shores are closer to the island.
Insider tip: The rental shops below the castle are more expensive and it will take longer to row to the island from this point. Instead, walk to the far side and rent a boat from there.
2. Ring the wishing bell in the church on the island
The iconic church located on the Lake Bled island dates back to the 17th century in its current form. It’s accessible to the public from 8am until dusk. Make your way to the church by rowboat, and once there you’ll have to pay a small admission fee to enter the quaint building.
Insider tip: Look out for the wishing bell. Legend has it that whoever rings the bell gives honor to the Virgin Mary, thereby making their wish come true.
3. Walk the circumference of Lake Bled
The lake, island, and church are best viewed from multiple angles, particularly if you’re looking for the ultimate photograph. There’s no better way to reach these angles than by walking the full circumference of the lake. The walk is flat and easy, but the circumference measures more than 3 miles. Be sure to factor this into your calculations if you’re on a tight schedule.
Insider tip: You’re allowed to swim in certain sections of the lake, so pack a swimsuit and a towel and take a dip in the icy waters to cool off.
4. Journey back in time in Bled Castle
Bled Castle sits high above the lake. A visit here offers more than just sublime panoramic views of the lake and surrounding valley. It also gives fascinating insight into the region’s history. The walk is short but steep, but well worth the effort you’ll exert on your way up.
Insider tip: Visit the small wine cellar at the castle and learn how to perform Sabrage – the art of opening a champagne bottle with a blade. You can learn how to do it for the price of a bottle of champagne.
5. Take a balloon ride over Lake Bled
If the height of the castle isn’t enough for you, take to the skies in a hot air balloon. You’ll get ultimate views of Bled and the pristine Slovenian countryside. There are several operators who will float you high above the Julian Alps. While it costs more than staying at ground level, it’s difficult to put a price on seeing the dramatic beauty from this perspective.
Insider tip: Plan your trip for the early morning to catch a sunrise like you’ve never seen before.
6. Take a hike
The mountains that surround Bled are some of the most beautiful you could wish to see in Europe. There are several popular hiking trails in and around the region. You can choose hikes that range from the accessible to the demanding – in fact, many mountaineers use the ranges here as testing ground for tours to higher ranges. There’s also an alpine hut operated by Mountaineering Club Bled on the mountain Lipanca. It’s open throughout the year and offers accommodation to hikers looking to stay overnight.
Insider tip: Pick up a book or map on hiking trails from a local book shop before you head off, or download the useful Hiking and Biking in Slovenia App.
7. Journey beneath the surface
While much of Bled’s beauty is above land, a trip into one of its limestone caves is thoroughly spellbinding. There are several astounding caves in the Bled area, the most beautiful and popular of which are the Jama pod Babjim zobom and Šimnova caves. It’s possible to organize a visit to these caves throughout the year, but you may need to prearrange it at the local tourist Info Center first.
Insider tip: Be sure to wear suitable hiking shoes and a warm jacket, as well as drinking water, snacks, and a headlamp.
Many people visit Bled on a day trip from the Ljubljana. While this is certainly doable, with so much natural beauty surrounding this unique part of Europe, it makes more sense to spend at least two nights in the region. This will allow you enough time to take advantage of this dramatic region of Slovenia. Bled is also easily accessible by train, and with some of the most dramatic rail routes in all of Europe running through this region, it’s the perfect place to stop on a Slovenian rail journey.
For more things to do in Bled (and around):
Outdoor activities near Lake Bled, Slovenia
6 things to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia for first-timers
Your Europe bucket list, part 3/3: Eurail countries P to T