Lying not very far from the Slovenian capital, Bled is the second-most famous city (after Ljubljana) for its breath-taking landscape around the exquisitely romantic Lake Bled, with the oldest medieval castle dominating the surrounding hills. The elegant beauty of Bled goes far beyond its reputation as the so-called Swan Lake. Here are some of the must-try outdoor activities to enjoy the best out of the city.
Cycle or walk around the lake
Lake Bled itself is not big and you can walk around the approximately 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) of its surrounding shore in about 2 to 3 hours. Consider that you would also stop probably at least a dozen times to take photos from various great viewpoints. Expect to see the Bled Castle, Bled Island with the Church of the Assumption on it and white mountains behind. Besides walking or cycling around, one can also have a picnic, relax on a bench or drink coffee at a nearby restaurant while enjoying these picturesque views. This can be done on your first day visiting Bled as you may relax to be ready for upcoming adventures.
Take a boat to the island
As soon as you step on the lakeshore, it takes no time to recognize the eye-catching island standing isolated in the middle of Lake Bled. The Church of the Assumption rises gorgeously on top of the island, making the first sight of it a uniquely spiritual moment. Local tradition says that a husband who can carry his wife up the 99 steps all the way from the dock into the church will have a happy marriage. A boat ride that can get you there often costs around 12 EUR / 13.54 USD. If you are looking for a budget option, however, you can also rent a small boat for the same price and row to the island with three other people and share the cost.
Water sports: sailing, paddling, rowing
While walking around in downtown Bled, you will come across many tourist offices offering services to rent boats, surfboards, etc. As soon as the weather gets warm enough to go out in a t-shirt, many locals and visitors go out on the lake for water sports including stand up paddleboarding, rowing, and swimming.
Swim in the bathing areas
While many areas around the lake are open for swimmers, there’s a public place for swimming called Grajsko kopališče (Castle Bathing Area) with water-slides and outdoor swimming pools. Walk further from the city centre around the bank to the west side and you will find a quite, clean bathing area with stunningly clear water. It’s warm enough to swim in Lake Bled starting from May.
Walk uphill to the Bled Castle
Known as the oldest medieval castle of Slovenia, the Romanesque castle has stood on the hill above Lake Bled since the 17th century. Climb up the steep path for about 15 minutes from the city centre to revel in the splendid panoramic view of Bled down at your feet. The regular entrance fee is 10 EUR / 11.30 USD.
Mountain biking or hike around the Triglav National Park and to the waterfall
After exploring the surrounding area of Lake Bled and the city centre, spare your next day for an adventure into the wild discovering the Triglav National Park with plenty of gorges, waterfalls, hiking and biking trails. One of my favourite parts of my visit to Lake Bled was mountain biking through the Zasip Village all the way up to the Sum Waterfall. The way up can be very steep in some parts, but you will enjoy the thrilling high-speed ride back while enjoying the magnificent natural landscape. A bike rental usually cost around 3 EUR / 3.38 USD per hour, but you can also borrow a bike for free if staying at Castle Hostel 1004 in downtown Bled.
Tour around the Gorge
Triglav National Park is also famous for its stunning Vintgar Gorge, with the dazzling Radovna River flowing through the nerve-racking rocks of the Hom and Boršt Hill. The Vintgar Gorge is one of the most breathtaking and symbolic landscapes of Slovenia. Castle Hostel 1004 organizes some guided tours through the routes along several gorges during the summer months. Some of the paths through gorges of Bled are closed during down seasons (outside of summer months), so you may not have chance to go here even if arriving in late April like I did.
How to get there
It takes approximately 1 to 1 and a half hours to get from Ljubljana by car, bus and train. Other than driving yourself, the most convenient way is to go by bus (around 6 EUR / 6.77 USD) because it will take you directly from the main station to the city centre. It’s also possible to arrive via train (about 5 EUR / 5.64USD) if you are not comfortable with buses, but when getting off Lesce-Bled you will need to take a bus to the downtown, which costs around 1 EUR / 1.2 USD. Car sharing (Prevoz or Blablacar) with a local is also an option that would save you a bit of money, but I would only recommend it if your travel schedule is flexible.
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