Beautiful Alpine surroundings, a clifftop-perched Medieval castle and a picture-perfect islet church are just some reasons to visit this special destination
One of the most popular attractions in Slovenia, the majestic Lake Bled in Bled is located 475m above sea level in the Julian Alps situated in the north-western part of the country.
Forming the only island in Slovenia, the lake was considered to be the most beautiful health resort in Austria-Hungary at the beginning of the 20th century.
Traditional wooden boats known as ‘pletnas’ still transport visitors to the island and have done so for centuries (very Harry Potter first year student style)!
Once visitors reach the island, climb the 99 stone steps to reach the Assumption of Mary Church and ring the famous bell.
Tip: There is a tourist train that drives around Lake Bled every day in the summer (June-September), from 9.00am – 9.00pm every 45 minutes. In spring and autumn (May, October) it runs on weekends between 10.00am – 5.00pm. Per adult is €5 and a child ticket is €3.
Car: Take the A2 highway northwest from Ljubljana and follow the signs for Kranj or Jesenice. The journey takes around 40 minutes.
Train: Slovenia is connected to Croatia, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Czechia, Germany and Switzerland, so catching a train is easy. Slovenia is a part of the Eurail Global Pass system, which means a ticket can also be used to travel to the country.
You can also travel by rail from nearby airports Trieste – Friuli Venezia Giulia Airport and Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport. Click here for prices and direct routes.
The largest train station nearest to Lake Bled is Lesce train station and has very frequent train connections to Ljubljana. However, the lake is around 4.5km from the station, so you need to catch a bus or taxi to get there (see more detail below).
Bus: There are hourly bus departures from the main bus station in Ljubljana from 6.00am – 10.00pm in the summer. There are fewer departures during the winter. The journey takes 1hr 10mins and stops in Medno, Kranj and Lesce.
The bus stops first at the Union bus stop, located about 300 meters from the lake. It then continues to the bus station, which is also located less than 300 metres from the lake.
If you want to visit Bled Castle first, the second option is better as the bus station is closer.
A one-way bus tickets costs €7 per person. You need to buy a ticket from the station, not the bus driver.
Tip: If travelling from another country, there is a direct line from Munich to Bled that takes just over 5 hours. From Croatia, there are daily departures between Zagreb and Ljubljana, taking around just over 2 hours. Additionally, a bus trip from Venice to Ljubljana takes about 3 hours and is only 1-hour 45mins from Trieste.
Tip: You can buy half day or full day excursions to Lake Bled from Ljubljana that cost between €40-80 per person.
What to see
A ticket on a Pletna boat to the island costs €12 for a roundtrip and includes 30 minutes exploring time to see the church and have drinks or food in the nearby restaurant.
After getting off the boat, walk the 90 stairs to visit the Assumption of Mary Church. The Pletna boat can be boarded on five locations around the lake and can take up to 30mins to reach the island.
Another option is to rent a rowing boat from several places around the lake. You can rent one from the Castle boathouse or at the Pension Pletna. A boat for 3 people costs around €15 per hour.
Walk around the lake
A round trip takes between 1-2 hours. If walking isn’t your thing, you can rent a bike and cycle around the lake.
Assumption of Mary Church
Once on the island, a visit to the church is a must.
Dating back to the 17th century after it was renovated following an earthquake, the church’s main altar contains rich gold-plated carving, dating from 1747.
On the central altarpiece the Virgin Mary is shown seated, with the donor of the Bled estate, Henry II, and his wife Kunigunda at her side.
The side altars were made at the end of the 17th century.
The price to enter the church is €3 per person.
Built in the 15th century, the bell tower has been renovated several times due to earthquake damage and being struck by lightning in 1688.
The present tower is 54m high and has three bells, which were made by Ljubljana bell makers, Samassa and Franchi.
The first bell was constructed in 1534 but during transportation, a storm struck the boat killing the crew and sending the bell to the bottom of the lake. The Pope consecrated a new bell and sent it to the Bled Island.
Situated in the upper roof beam above the church nave, the bell is rumoured to make wishes come true after it is rung and the person who rings it gives honour to Virgin Mary.
Elevated about 135 metres above the lake, the castle is perched atop a steep cliff and is thought to be the oldest in the country.
The terraces offer fantastic views of the lake and the island, down the Dežela area with Lesce and Radovljica and over to the mountain ranges of the Karavanke and the Julian Alps.
The castle is open 8.00am – 6.00pm (Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov and Dec), 8.00am – 8.00pm (Apr, May, July, Sept and Oct) and 8.00am – 9.00pm (July and Aug).
An adult ticket costs €11 per person and €5 per child.
If you want to stay longer than one day in Bled, click here for camping, hotels, and private rooms.
Checking out C &J.