When I first saw a photo of Lake Bled, I struggled to believe it was real. A glassy lake with a storybook island, a medieval castle on a cliff, mysterious hills blanketed in forest – it looked like a place where magic happened. But standing on the lakeshore at sunset, I could see that it was all very real.
In a country bursting with natural beauty, Bled is a sparkling gem. And the richness of the landscape means that Lake Bled activities range from adventurous to relaxing. There’s a lot explore, so to help you plan the perfect trip, I’ve rounded up 10 of the best things to do in Bled:
Things to do in Bled, Slovenia
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1. Walk the Lake Bled Circuit
The jewel of the town, Lake Bled is a fairytale setting come to life. Rowers glide across the lake’s emerald surface, a tiny island sits in the middle, and a clifftop castle overlooks it all. Shimmering fish dart under the water and the local ducks look blissful. Lake Bled is lovely from every angle, so walking the circuit gives you the chance to admire it in full.
But the Lake Bled circuit isn’t the kind of walk you’ll want to rush. The entire loop is 6 km, so give yourself about an hour and a half to amble around it. Along the way, there are benches in scenic spots, a couple of lakeside bars, and a handful of dreamy villas to obsess over. At the far end of the lake, a wooden boardwalk hugs the shore, and on the castle side, pristine swimming areas line the promenade.
Tip: During the day, look out for Bobi. A local artist, Bobi paints delicate watercolours of Lake Bled and he managed to make us laugh for 10 minutes straight.
2. Visit Bled Island
Although tiny, Bled Island has an undeniable presence. During my time in the area, I found myself looking at the picture-perfect island constantly. But as well as gazing from afar, it’s worth making the short journey over to explore the island. The most relaxing way to get to Bled Island is in a traditional Pletna boat. These wooden, gondola-style boats are operated by Pletna oarsmen, a respected title that’s been handed down through generations. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can hire a wooden rowing boat and make your own way to the island, as we did.
Shaped like a teardrop, Bled Island sits prettily in the middle of the lake. The island is fringed with trees and topped with a cluster of buildings. The most recognisable of these is Church of the Assumption, a baroque church that’s existed in various forms since 1465. There’s an entrance fee of €6 to enter the church and climb the bell tower, but hanging out in the cafe is an equally lovely way to enjoy the island.
Unsurprisingly, visiting the island is one of the most popular things to do in Bled. So if you want to enjoy the area at its tranquil best, avoid the busy months of July and August. And try to get to the island as early in the day as possible.
3. Row or Paddle Around Lake Bled
It’s all about rowing in Bled. The alpine lake hosts regular regattas, there’s a world-renowned rowing centre on the shore, and wooden boats are part of the scenery. So whether you want to explore the lake or head straight to the island, rowing will get you into the spirit of Bled.
The traditional boats, available for hire around the lake, are also a symbol of Slovenia’s green ethos. The lake is clean and quiet, largely thanks to the ban on motorboats. So as you row across, you can feel smug about the fact that you’re causing minimal disruption to your environment.
If you’re looking for a little more action, Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) tours are a fun new way to explore Lake Bled. Gliding around the lake is ideal for anyone who wants to challenge their balance and Bled’s serenity makes it a perfect spot for SUP. Bananaway, a local operator, offers relaxing tours of the lake.
4. Hike the Surrounding Hills
Bled’s biggest delight is its iconic lake. But to make the most of its loveliness, you’ll need to head uphill for the best views. Luckily, the forest-covered slopes around Lake Bled are ideal for short and easy hikes. And Ojstrica, a pointy-peaked hill on the lake’s western shore, is a great place to start.
From the base of the hill, it’s about a 20-minute walk to the top of Ojstrica. To the left of Camping Bled, you’ll notice the start of a forest path. The path winds upwards, wide at first, before turning narrow and steep near the top. There’s a perfectly placed bench on Ojstrica’s rocky top, so you can relax and enjoy the view.
Standing at 670 metres high, the Osojnica offers some of the dreamiest views of Bled. From the base, it’s about a 45-minute hike to the top and the forest path is full of twists and turns. The path is clearly marked, but expect lots of tree roots and some unstable footing. In the most difficult section, there’s a steel cable to help you along and ladder-style metal steps leading to the top.
Your efforts will be worth it though. Once you get to the top of the ladder, you can sit back and look out over Lake Bled, the snow-capped Karavanke mountains, and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.
5. Visit Bled Castle
Perched high on a clifftop, Bled Castle has looked out over Lake Bled since 1011. Believed to be the oldest castle in Slovenia, it was originally built as a defence system. But today, Bled Castle is used as a museum and restaurant.
If you’re interested in the history of Bled, take a wander around the castle’s exhibition rooms. Or head to the wine cellar, where you can order a bottle of wine and seal it with wax. The castle restaurant is a special place to have dinner, especially if you go at sunset, but you’ll need to book a table. And for me, the real highlight of visiting the castle was the expansive views.
6. Relax in Thermal Pools
If you’re into wellness, then you’ll love Bled. The region’s wellness tradition dates back to the 19th century. And thanks to a mild climate, thermal waters, and fresh alpine air, Bled’s reputation for natural healing is still going strong. Arnold Rikli fully embraced this when he founded Bled’s first health resort. A Swiss hydropath and natural healer, Rikli believed that lake bathing and soaking in thermal waters could improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and heal skin conditions.
Today, you can experience the Bled wellness experience for yourself at the Grand Hotel Toplice’s Luisa Spa. The spa was built around a thermal spring, which refills the swimming pool daily with mineral-rich waters. Meanwhile, the Rikli Balance Hotel also has a thermal pool complex and spa treatments include massages and herbal scrubs.
7. Eat a Bled Cream Cake
Imagine a golden crust made from butter dough, topped with thick vanilla cream, layers of fluffy white cream, and a heavy dusting of icing sugar. That’s the Bled cream cake. Over the past 60 years, over 12 million cream cakes have been sold. And as Bled’s most famous dessert, you’ll find it on the menus of most restaurants and hotels in the area.
Although the patisserie at Hotel Park claims to make the best cream cakes in the region, I can vouch for the deliciousness of the cakes at Ostarija-Restaurant Babji Zob. Sweet, fluffy, and potentially addictive – the Bled cream cake is pure indulgence. But after a day of exploring the lake and the hills, you’ll deserve every bite. If you’re looking for something a little less sweet, try the dense prekmurska gibanica cake. Its many layers of fillings include poppy seeds, cottage cheese, walnuts, apples and cream.
8. Explore Triglav National Park
As Slovenia’s only national park, Triglav is a special place. From the tranquillity of Lake Bohinj to the wild River Soča, Triglav’s natural beauty will keep you outdoors for days. Although dominated by the eastern Julian Alps, Triglav’s lakes, rivers, and waterfalls are equally impressive. So make your way to the tumbling Kozjak Waterfall, explore Mostnica Gorge and the lush Voje Valley, or visit the emerald pools of the Great Soča Gorge.
If you’re looking for adventure, prepare to spend lots of time in Triglav National Park. In the summer, rafting, kayaking, hiking, biking, and canyoning are all popular. And if you’re lucky enough to visit in winter, when the region turns into a snowy wonderland, spend some time on the ski slopes.
9. Swimming in Lake Bled
From June until late September, swimming becomes one of the most popular things to do in Lake Bled. But if open water swimming isn’t your thing, try Grajska Kopalisee (Castle Bathing Area), the only designated bathing area on the lake. Located just below Castle Rock, it’s a colourful mix of pristine lake pools, waterslides, and sun umbrellas. The changing rooms, lockers, and outdoor showers mean that all of the practical stuff is taken care of too.
If you’re a strong swimmer, then the freedom of the lake is yours to enjoy. You could even swim to Bled island and back. Other Lake Bled watersports include diving and kayaking.
10. Visit a Beekeeper’s House
When it comes to protecting and promoting bees, Slovenia is ahead of the game. By far the most bee-friendly country I’ve visited, Slovenia is buzzing with opportunities to learn more about pollination, honey, and other apiarian-related wonders. Bee tourism, or api-tourism, is a wonderful example of sustainable travel and Bled is a great place to embrace it.
To learn more about beekeeping, head to the family-run Ambrožič Beekeeping. In a specially-built apiary, visitors can watch the bees through a window. There’s also a new element of wellness to beekeeping. According to supporters of apitherapy, breathing in substances produced by the hive is believed to strengthen the immune system, ease allergies, and help with respiratory diseases. The owners also run presentations on bees and beekeeping, so all of your questions will be answered.
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