Updated July 2019
Day 7 of our 10-country 10-night road trip from North Germany to Italy, was a stop in Ljubljana in Slovenia.
Slovenia is relatively small, surrounded by four countries of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and Italy. But it is a country of fairy tale castles, panoramic views, with a beautiful old town for its capital city.
We thought you may like to take a look at the three places we visited:
- Lake Bled
- Ljubljana city
- Predjama Castle
This way you can decide if Slovenia is the next stop on your European adventure.
We decided to spend our first day in Slovenia exploring the beauty of Lake Bled. We had seen so many stunning photos of the lake, and we were excited to finally see it for ourselves.
And yes, it did steal our heart.
Related Post: One Day in Trieste, Italy
Ljubljana city accommodation is expensive so we chose to stay in a village 15 minutes from the city center. an alternative to city hotels is to use Airbnb.
One of the benefits of having our own transport is we can save a lot of money by picking a location away from the city center.
But for us, it was a chance to finally to use our tent, pitched under a large walnut tree, on the property of the host. And wouldn’t you know it, Murphy’s Law, a huge thunderstorm in the afternoon and rain for the rest of the day and into the evening. However, we were committed to the tent and we slept soundly under the protection of the tree.
Greg our Airbnb host had plenty of information on what to see in Ljubljana and Slovenia in general. We shared a meal in the evening tasting naked sausages (Cevapcici), sweet onions with a type of bean called Prebranec, accompanied by bread and beer. Awesome.
The beauty of Lake Bled, Slovenia
Slovenia has so much natural beauty, a visit to Lake Bled in the Gorenjska region should always be at the top of your list. It’s here you can experience the picturesque backdrop of the Julian Alps, the beauty of an emerald lake and the access to nearby Vintgar gorge.
Lake Bled Town
Lake Bled is a resort town about 45 minutes from the city of Ljubljana making it easily accessible as a day trip.
As you enter the town and see your first glimpse of the lake, it will be hard to keep your eyes on the road ahead (especially if you’re driving.)
It’s now you’ll understand why it is one of the most photographed places by travelers.
A couple of ways to appreciate the Lake Bled is taking a walk, a hike or even a swim.
We always enjoy walking and the promenade along the lake edge is easy to do. If you are feeling energetic, a walk can take up to two hours if you go as far as the canoe club area.
Now if it’s a swim to refresh yourself, we found two options (sorry folks, no free swimming in the lake near the town.)
The paid option for swimming is located in the lake near Castle Bled.
But if you are after the perfect spot, then the western side of the lake is best. Plus it’s also the starting point for a hike up to the Ojstrica viewpoint.
Enjoy Views from Ojstrica
On the western side of Lake Bled is the entrance to climb the Ojstrica viewpoint.
The 30-minute hike follows a dirt track up to the viewpoint for some of the best photos we have seen. Absolutely breath-taking.
Unfortunately for our trip, the thunder roared, lightning struck and the rain poured. Twenty minutes later it returned to blue skies, but the trail was too muddy to continue.
The photo above is courtesy of TravelSlovenia.
Tip: 1: Car parking on the western lakeside is €10 per day (no hourly parking)
Tip 2: Watch out for grass snakes when swimming, apparently harmless, just a little squishy if trodden on.
How to Reach Bled Island
To reach the Bled island and the 17th-century chapel, one option is to take a ride in a Pletna.
The Pletna is a traditional flat bottom wooden boat dating back to 1590. As you enjoy the ride, the oarsman stands at the stern of the boat using two paddles. The pletna can take up to 20 people.
Now if you prefer to row your own boat, then this is also an option.
With no motor boats allowed on Lake Bled, it’s either you rowing, paddling a kayak or taking a pletna to get you to the island.
Tip 3: Pletna is €12-14 per person
The boat ride is 25 minutes each way with approx 40 minutes to explore the island. Ensure you confirm the return time with your Oarsman.
Tip 4: Rowboat is €12-15 per hour
Legend of Lake Bled Island
The legend of the island tells of the groom carrying his new bride up the 98 steps of the tower to ring the bell to grant a happy life.
Today the tower is closed to the public so this is another option.
Visit Bled Castle
Sitting atop of Castle Hill, Bled Castle is one of the oldest castles in Slovenia, dating back to 1011. It is an impressive structure with fantastic views of Lake Bled, Bled Island church and the mountain ranges of Karavanke and the Julian Alps.
The walk up to the Castle entrance, an old roman defense gate tower is a little steep. But once inside the castle walls, you’ll find panoramic views, some even from the window of the souvenir shop.
Make sure you visit the small museum with information about the castle and the development of the Lake Bled area. Here is a short clip of the view down to the Lake Bled from Bled Castle.
Tip 5: Car parking near the castle is only €2 per hour
Tip 6: Castle entry is €9.50 per adult
Bled Train Station
While people do come for the fantastic views of Lake Bled, you may be surprised to learn it was once the rail connection between the big European cities that put Lake Bled on the map.
Lake Bled was on the main line from the Hapsburg monarchy to Trieste, Italy.
The Karavanke-Bohinj Railway was a major feat of engineering built between 1900-1906 bringing tourists to Lake Bled until WWI.
The rail line is 6,327 meters long with many tunnels and bridges on steep terrain.
Tip 7: Parking here is free
How the Beauty of Lake Bled will steal your Heart
If you are planning to visit Slovenia any time soon, then Lake Bled should be at the top of your list.
You can either visit for a day or spend longer. Just check out Booking.com for the latest accommodation deals and a 10% discount.
And if you want to learn more, take a look at Bled Tourism.