Looking for a comprehensive list of the best things to do at Lake Bled? Read on for my top recommendations!
Lake Bled is an enchanting place that looks like it was taken straight out of a fairytale. Picture this: shockingly deep turquoise waters, a tiny island crowned by a medieval church, and a backdrop of majestic mountains.
Tucked away in Central Europe, the pint-sized country of Slovenia is a treasure trove of natural beauty, and Lake Bled is its shining jewel. This is, by far, the most popular and well-known spot in Slovenia, yet is still relatively unknown outside of the country and the region.
The star of the show is the iconic island that sits proudly in the center of the lake. Accessible only by rowboats, traditional pletna boats, or other unmotorized watercraft, this tiny islet beckons you to uncover its secrets. The lake, which with its blue waters and surrounding hills would be beautiful by itself, is rendered completely irresistible by the delightful island and church that sit at the center.
Truly, I was charmed by Lake Bled.
There is a lot to see and do in Lake Bled, and it’s absolutely worth spending a day or two here during your Slovenia itinerary. Let’s dive into everything to know before you go.
This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. These commissions help keep this site running. Thank you so much for your support!
How to Get to Lake Bled
Lake Bled is located about 45 minutes from the capital of Ljubljana and about 2 hours from Piran or Maribor. It’s also very close to other international cities – 2.5 hours from Graz, Austria, 3 hours from Venice, Italy, and 2 hours from Zagreb, Croatia.
Being one of the largest tourist destinations in Slovenia, you can also get to Lake Bled through a variety of transportation options, the most common being guided tour and bus, if you choose not to just drive yourself.
Doing a guided tour to Lake Bled is an excellent way to see and experience the highlights of the lake without having to worry about any of the logistics, driving, or parking.
This top-rated, very small group Lake Bled Day Tour from Ljubljana picks you up and transports you from Slovenia’s capital city to Lake Bled, with a quick stop in nearby Lake Bohinj as well. You’ll get to hear stories and commentary about Slovenia, Bled, and the region from a local guide, and visit the highlights around the lake. Part of your time will also be spent visiting the absolutely magical Vintgar Gorge (more on that below).
➡️Driving & Parking:
Renting a car and driving yourself around Slovenia is a great way to get around if you plan to do a Slovenian road trip – go hiking, venture into the mountains, visit waterfalls, and explore small towns. While it’s very straightforward to drive around Lake Bled, parking is a bit of a beast in Lake Bled. Parking is expensive and lots can fill up fast.
Since many of the activities in Lake Bled are centered on the southern edge, near the Velika Zaka beach, that parking lot tends to be the “premium” lot. It fills up by mid-morning, and costs a whopping 6 euro per hour – but it is a very convenient spot.
I’d also recommend parking at the Pristava parking lot, which is still very central and close to a lot of the attractions in Bled, and only costs 3 euro an hour. This parking spot also rents bikes and SUPs – and parking is included if you choose to rent.
Planning to road trip in Slovenia but haven’t made your rental car reservation yet? You need to do that ASAP! I always use and recommend DiscoverCars.com for the best prices and availability – browse available cars here.
There is a bus that runs from Ljubljana to Bled at least once an hour throughout the day. Cost is generally 5,70 euro a ticket, the route takes about 1 hour, and is a very inexpensive way to get from the capital to Bled.
13 Unforgettable Things to Do at Lake Bled
Okay, now that you’ve arrived at the lake, let’s talk about all the incredible things to see and do!
1. Go Out on a Rowboat
By far the cutest way to get out on the lake is to rent a rowboat and blissfully row you and your partner around. There are several places that rent rowboats – probably the easiest is from Rent-a-Boat Velika Zaka, as the rental location is quite close to the island so you don’t have to row across the whole lake. You can also rent from this spot, which is another location in close proximity to Bled Island.
The cost is 20 euro per boat per hour, and boats are available on a first come first served basis. You can just row around the lake and admire the views, or dock your boat at Bled Island and explore.
2. Rent a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUPs) or Go Swimming
Though less popular than the rowboats, SUPs and just regular old swimming are also great ways to enjoy the water at Lake Bled. There are quite a few places around the lake that rent out SUPs, including this rental store, or even this parking lot.
And if you prefer to skip all the floating devices, you can also just hop in and start swimming! In summer, the water is quite pleasant and warm, in contrast to many of the glacial lakes found elsewhere in Slovenia.
3. Ride in a Traditional Pletna Boat
If you’d like to visit the island but don’t want to row or SUP yourself out, you can hop on a traditional pletna boat. A pletna boat is essentially a large wooden rowboat, which can fit around 20 people in it. The rower actually stands in the back of the boat while using massive oars to propel the boat forward.
You can find the pletna boats here, on the southwest section of the lake. A ride costs 18 euro per person, and they don’t have a set schedule – they just leave whenever a boat fills up. The boat takes you from the shore over to Bled Island (which takes about 10-15 minutes), gives you about 45 minutes to enjoy the island (which is plenty of time), and then takes you back to the shore.
The pletna boats are great for visiting the island, but if you’ve already rented a rowboat and docked and walked around Bled Island, I probably wouldn’t also do the pletna boat (it’s more of a one-or-the-other situation).
This brings me to my next point, which is…
4. Visit Bled Island and the Church of the Assumption of Mary
You can paddle, row, or even swim to the island. If you take yourself, use the docks on the backside of the island (the north side, opposite the large staircase). If you arrive via one of the group boats, you will dock at the base of the grand staircase.
Bled Island is pretty small, with just a few things to see and do here. To start, you’ll take the 100 steps up the grand staircase to reach the island’s top, where all the buildings are located. Here, you can visit the iconic Church of Assumption of Mary, plus the bell tower and museum, which has a combined entrance fee of 12 euro.
Besides the church, you can visit the gift shop + café, and get some gelato, coffee, or traditional potica cake. You can admire the exterior of the church, sit in the main square, or walk around the dirt trail that circles the perimeter of the island at sea level.
To be honest, there’s really not much to do on Bled Island, and the views on the island aren’t nearly as good as the views looking at the island. If you don’t have much time on the lake, I’d prioritize other activities over a stop on the island.
However, if you have plenty of time, I’d definitely still stop by and take a quick look around. And I would definitely say taking a rowboat out on the lake is a must-do activity in Lake Bled.
5. Vila Bled + Café Belvedere
Vila Bled is a beautiful, historic mansion that sits practically on the lake shore, with a lovely terrace and patio showcasing a gorgeous side view of the lake + island. This villa used to belong to the Yugoslavian president, and before that, the Austria-Hungarian royalty, and was used as a retreat for the royals/president.
This luxurious hotel has a beautiful design and very pretty grounds, plus a restaurant + bar that any visitors to the lake can enjoy. The restaurant is open from 6-10pm, and the bar is open from 9-10pm.
Café Belvedere is next to Vila Bled, and is associated with the hotel. This café, again, affords a great view of the lake while you enjoy a nice meal on a beautiful dining patio.
6. Restaurants + Food to Try
There are a variety of great restaurants around Lake Bled, with most of them being located at the southwest end of the lake.
I can highly recommend Restaurant Starkl, located right by where the pletna boats are docked. This lovely restaurant has a breezy patio dining area and fresh, flavorful meals to enjoy.
Of course, you can’t visit Lake Bled without trying the famous Bled Cream Cake – layers of thin flaky pastry envelope the two middle, creamy layers. The top layer is a light and fluffy whipped cream, and the bottom layer is a creamy, decadent custard.
7. Stroll or Bike the Lakeside Path + Boardwalk
Lake Bled has a nice sidewalk/path that encircles the entire lake, and is very popular for walkers, joggers, and dog-walkers. You can also bike on the road that runs right along the sidewalk. You can rent bikes and e-bikes from multiple places around town.
On the southwest side of the lake, just off of the sidewalk, there is a little boardwalk that goes right along the water. The first section has a railing, and the second part is open to the water, so this is a great spot for an unencumbered view of the lake.
8. Swimming and Beaches at Lake Bled
Okay, so there really aren’t true, traditional beaches with wide, sandy areas at Lake Bled. However, there are several beachy areas, and spots where you can easily access the water. are a few “beachy” areas at Lake Bled. Let’s talk about some of the main spots:
Velika Zaka Beach
This free beach is located on the western edge of Lake Bled, right next to the Velika Zaka parking lot. There are public bathrooms nearby, as well as several restaurants and gelato stands. Just around the corner is the Velika Zaka rowboat rental company.
The beach is a grassy area where people bring towels and lie out. There is a pebbly zero-entry to the lake here, as well as a short but nice dock to relax on.
Castle Bathing Area
The Castle Bathing Area is one of the more developed swimming areas along Lake Bled. This “beach” is in the northeast corner of the lake, and sits in the shadow of the Bled Castle.
This bathing area does have an entrance fee of 7 euro per adult, but it offers a ton of amenities, including sunbeds, waterslides, a diving board, dedicated “pool areas”, a large dock, lockers and showers, plus rowboat and SUP rentals, and several cafes.
Random Swimming Areas Everywhere
All around the lake, if there was an open patch of grass near the shore, there were people there lying out, relaxing, or hopping in the water.
Additionally, since the sidewalk runs very close to the water, there are a lot of people who take advantage of openings in the trees to sit down and relax and enjoy the views. The vibes were all very chill and relaxed without crossing the line into feeling gross, you know?
9. Hike to the Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica Viewpoints
Hiking up to the Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica Viewpoints is, without question, one of the absolute best things to do around Lake Bled. It does require a moderately intense hike up through the hilly forest, but once you are at the overlooks, admiring the island and lake from above, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s absolutely worth the effort.
To get to these viewpoints, you’ll want to find the trailhead that is just off Kidriceva Cesta, the main road that circles the lake. The trailhead starts in the very southwest corner of the lake, you can find the location here.
The trail is well-marked and you can just follow the signs to the different viewpoints. Ojstrica is the lower viewpoint, takes about 15 minutes to get to, and requires a short section of scrambling on the rocks to reach.
Mala Osojnica is another 15 minutes beyond Ojstrica and is a higher-up viewpoint. Both of them are really spectacular overlooks, and offer different angles of the lake. I do think it’s worth visiting both, but if you had to choose, I would say that Ojstrica gives you better opportunities for pictures with you in them, but Mala Osojnica gives you a wider view of the lake.
These hikes are best done in the morning or evening, out of the heat of the day, and I’d recommend you wear some decent hiking/walking shoes.
10. Do a Romantic Photoshoot
Matthew and I love doing photoshoots when we travel internationally together, and Lake Bled is a perfect location for some incredible pictures. We did a 1-hour shoot on a rowboat on the lake with the very talented Andrey, and the pictures we got feel like they are right out of a fairytale. You can also do pictures at many locations around the lake, as well.
11. Explore Bled Castle
Bled Castle sits very prominently on a rocky cliff overlooking Lake Bled. You can actually see it from the surrounding valley outside the lake (on the other side of the hill), and from anywhere on the lake.
To get here, you can either hike up the walking path from the lake shore, or you can drive and park just outside the entrance. If you choose to walk, be prepared for a very steep hike!
The castle has several very charming courtyards, with cobblestones, painted walls, and ivy. You can walk the castle walls overlooking the valley. There is also a small museum area, which shares a little bit about the history of the castle and the area. We enjoyed the small, quaint chapel which had high ceilings and painted walls with scenes and people.
Along the castle walls, there are several gorgeous overlooks of the lake. The castle sits on the opposite side of the lake as the island, so it’s a unique view of the lake compared to many other viewpoints.
There are a lot of ways to spend more money here – a printing press, a few souvenir shops, a wine cellar, and several restaurants.
To be honest, we felt like the castle was not worth it – it was fairly expensive (15 euro), which felt steep to begin with, plus paid parking. The castle got pretty busy during the middle of the day. It felt like there was not a ton to see and do as far as the castle itself goes, but there were a lot of ways to spend more money there, which started to feel fairly off-putting.
The best part of the castle is the view over the lake, and maybe also the charming courtyard area. Overall, we thought the castle was a bit of a let down.
However, I would recommend the castle if you can’t (or don’t want) to do the hike to the Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica Overlook, as you can get similar high-up views without the hike at the castle.
Things to Do Near Lake Bled
While not directly at the lake, both of these activities are within 10-15 minutes of Bled, and are beautiful spots that shouldn’t be missed.
12. Pokljuka Gorge
This scenic gorge is located just northwest of Bled, only about 15 minutes from the lake, and transports you into a wild, untamed canyon.
This trail takes you through the forest, and up on a boardwalk that hugs the cliff wall, takes you up some stairs, and goes through a narrow slot canyon/cave. The cave opens up into a valley that has a path going through a field of ferns (it felt very Jurassic park-y), then switches back up, heads up the mountain, and curves around until you reach the cave.
This cave, known as the Pokljuka Hole, is super cool – it has a tall ceiling with 3 windows throughout it, creating quite the unique perspective.
This 2.6 mile (4.2 km) gorge hike is a beautiful, wild nature spot, and is a great place to get away from the crowds at the lake.
13. Vintgar Gorge
The Vintgar Gorge seriously feels like something out of a mystical world, with a deep turquoise river cutting through the tall, narrow, rocky gorge and the wooden boardwalk hugging right to the side of the cliff, just above the water.
The gorge bends and winds a little bit, with some areas of calm water, and some small cascades and rapids. The narrow gorge section starts a few minutes after you begin walking, and then continues for another 15-20 minutes.
Eventually, the gorge widens up and the river becomes more shallow, but it’s still a pretty walk. At the end of the gorge, you’ll see the Sum Waterfall, one of the best waterfalls to visit in Slovenia, and you finish the hike by making a long loop around the outside of the gorge and back to the parking lot.
This is a popular hike, and for good reason – it really feels magical.
Map of all the Activities and Attractions at Lake Bled
Here’s a handy dandy map pinning all the spots that we discussed in this post!
What to Do at Lake Bled – the Wrap Up
Lake Bled is an absolute dream destination with a plethora of activities to indulge in – from the tranquil boat rides to the island and the breathtaking views atop Bled Castle, to the sweet indulgence of the iconic cream cake.
While yes, Bled is popular and touristy, it also has *so* much charm, and really does feel like a fairytale come to life. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history lover, or simply seeking some shoreside relaxation, Lake Bled has something magical for everyone.