I had seen photos of Lake Bled for years with its iconic church on a small island surrounded by crystal clear water amongst the alps. I always knew it was somewhere in Europe, but it wasn’t until a few days before my trip to Slovenia that I put it all together and realized Lake Bled is only just an hour from the capital, Ljubljana. When I learned all this, I knew my quick trip to Slovenia could include Lake Bled and I am so glad it did!
Bled, Slovenia is a small mountain town in the Julian Alps set on a lake, of course, called Lake Bled. It becomes an extremely popular tourist destination in the summer, but during my January visit I felt like I was in a small Slovenian village. The town is about 75 minutes by bus from Ljubljana. There are buses leaving hourly for Bled from the bus station directly next to the train station. The ticket is about 6 euros. Given the ease to get there, many people opt for a day trip from Ljubljana which might be a nice option in the summer when days are longer, but it would be a pretty short day during the winter.
Before arriving to Bled, I quickly booked a night stay at Castle Hostel 1004 which was just a three minute walk from the bus station. There were only just a few people staying there during my visit, but the hostel was impeccably clean due to a strictly enforced no-shoes-inside policy. The staff were very nice and explained to me all the best hiking and look out spots around the lake.
After getting this info, I quickly set my bags down, got my camera and off I went to walk around the lake. As this is a popular tourist destination, there is a easy to walk paved path around the entire lake. As you walk around, you can see various crystal clear rivers flowing into the lake and many recreational areas like row houses and beaches set up along the path.
The real highlight of Lake Bled, however, is the viewpoint set high up in the mountains on the lake’s western end. The viewpoint, called Mala Osojnica in Slovenian, was an exhausting climb but worth it once on top. Just to emphasize again this hike was so steep it literally made me want to cry, but it was worth it in the end. If you have bad knees or any physical disability though, I would strongly advise against doing it. There is a point when you think you’re almost to the top and then you’re met by an extremely steep set of stairs. My legs were literally giving out as I reached the top. To be fair, I was kind of going at a fast pace to make it up before sunset so it might be better to come earlier and go up more slowly. The climb was about 30 minutes in total.
After hiking I went back to my hostel originally just to lay down for a quick nap around 5pm because I was quite tired from my bus ride to Slovenia and hiking. I ended up sleeping all the way until 8 am the next day! I really needed the rest.
The next morning I set out for the Vintgar Gorge – the other main highlight of Bled located in Slovenia’s famous Triglavski National Park. Unfortunately the gorge closes down during winter so I wasn’t able to walk along the stunning board walks running through, but I was able to see the entrance and waterfall just at the end. The gorge is really unique for the turquoise water and the boardwalks offering beautiful vantage points, but I’ll have to come back during the summer sometime for that.
After some waterfall pictures, I made my way back to Bled, got my things, and returned to Ljubljana!