When I first visited Bled in 2014, it was on a quickie day trip from Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana.
This is how the majority of people visit Bled. Just like the other tourists, I was under the impression that I only needed one day to see the picturesque holiday village in northern Slovenia. It felt a little rushed, but I managed to squeeze in a few of the must-do activities while roaming the town.
During our recent Alps ski trip with friends, I revisited this adorable Slovenian destination, spending an entire week enjoying the winter festivities over New Year. I can now confirm that Bled has a ton of fabulous activities for visitors! It would be very easy to spend a few days there without getting bored.
One of the best things about Bled is that it’s incredibly photogenic. Seriously, it feels as though Lake Bled, which is surrounded on all sides by mountains that radiate a lush deep-green in the summer and are topped with bright white snow in the winter, was designed by the universe purely for our viewing pleasure. It would be impossible to decide that you’d had enough of all this beautiful scenery.
To truly appreciate its charm, I’d highly recommend spending a few days in this town to complete all of the following activities. Here’s my suggestions for all the best things to do in Bled, Slovenia!
Where to stay in Bled:
We stayed in an Airbnb vacation house on the street of Partizanska cesta, which was only 10 minutes walk from the town centre of Bled. It was super handy to be able to visit the restaurants along the promenade and do activities around town without having to find parking every time.
The vacation house was built in traditional Slovenian style and had views of Bled Castle (such a novelty!), and the fact that it had multiple bedrooms was perfectly suited for our trip as we were travelling in a group of 7 people. Bled also has plenty of smaller Airbnb apartments, hotels, and hostels surrounding the lake that would be an appropriate option for couples or solo travellers.
Things to do in Bled:
1. Walk all the way around the lake
Lake Bled is so god-damn pretty that it feels like the setting of a Disney princess movie. A flat and easy walking path follows the entire lake’s edge providing gorgeous views that change around every corner. The circuit takes around an hour to complete.
Along the way there are some food stalls and cafes if you get hungry or are keen for an afternoon Lasko beer. We did the walk on a cloudy day and I ended up taking about a million pretty photos… this was honestly one of my favourite activities in Bled!
2. Hike up to Ojstrica Lookout
This is the image you’ll see on all the postcard pictures of Bled. The lookout point sits atop a rocky outcrop on the far side of the lake, providing specky views of the Lake Bled with the island, the town, the castle, and the Alps in the background.
The hike to get there takes about 15-20 minutes of uphill walking, with moderate difficulty – the last bit involves climbing up a steep rocky path. It’s totally worth the effort, though. Views really don’t get better than this!
3. Row out to Bled Island
Positioned in the middle of the lake is the adorable Bled Island. It has a handful of buildings that seem to barely fit on its tiny shores including a church, cafe, gift shop, and small gallery.
The most prominent building is the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria which has been a feature of Bled Island since the 10th century (though the current building dates to the 17th century). People often choose this as a wedding destination as a local tale tells that if a groom that carries his wife up the 99 steps leading to the church, this is meant to bring about a happy marriage! Inside the church tower is also a bell, which is rumoured to make your wish come true when you ring it via the long rope that drops down inside.
There are a few options for getting out to the island. The lazy person’s pick is to get the electric boat transfer from outside the Tourist Information Centre in Bled for €12, or for €15 you can hop on a Pletna boat for a more traditional rowboat transfer.
The most romantic option is to hire a rowboat and do the energetic work yourself, but if you choose to do this, don’t make the same mistake we did which was to hire from one of the vendors close to town. It’s a long distance to row to the island! Head over to the far side of the lake as those vendors are much closer.
4. Walk up to Bled Castle
Bled Castle is thought to be the oldest castle in Slovenia – it has stood proudly on a cliff beside the town for over 1000 years. Inside, you can explore the castle museum for €11, or you can walk around the outside for views over Lake Bled and the surrounding hills.
The castle also has a on-site restaurant with an amazing vista of the lake, so if you’re interested in splashing out on a fancy meal while gazing at jaw-dropping scenery, this is a great place for it!
5. Peek inside St. Martin’s Church
The spire of St. Martin’s Parish Church, built in the early 1900s, is a prominent member of Bled’s skyline. The clean white walls and patterned tile roof both look rather pretty from the outside, but peeking inside is a must.
You’ll find all the regular extravagance that you see in European churches including stained glass windows, a ton of marble, religious sculptures, a pipe organ, and an impressive chandelier, but the really unique feature is the decorated frescoes painted by Slovenian artist Slavko Pengov in 1930. It’s free to enter the church, so be sure to pop in and admire the artwork!
6. Taste some Bled Cream Cake
I’ll confess – I ate Bled Cream Cake three times during the week that we spent in town! This square-shaped treat made from pastry, egg custard, and cream is unbelievably delicious and kind of reminds me of Australia’s vanilla slice which was a childhood fave of mine.
Bled Cream Cake originally appeared at Hotel Park in the 1950s when a chef who came to work in the hotel came up with the recipe. Over 15 million slices of cream cake have been sold by the hotel since, and you can now grab a slice at most cafes and restaurants in town.
I think that Confectionery Zima is the best place to get Bled Cream Cake for a reasonable price. I also had one from Spica Bar and Restaurant down by the promenade, and it was fantastic, though a little more expensive.
7. Eat a meal at one of Bled’s restaurants
Despite being a town that draws plenty of visitors (which usually means offerings of shitty tourist food), Bled has a bunch of really great restaurants. We tried some amazing Slovenian dumplings at Spica, and we also splashed out on a fancy meal at Penzion Berc where I had a delicious truffle buckwheat gnocchi along with some Slovenian wines.
One thing to know about Slovenia is that it is mighty close to Italy, so the food in Bled and Ljubljana is heavily influenced by their western neighbour. In my opinion, Slovenia has some of the best pizza in the world! Head to Pizzeria Rustika to grab a slice, which has a cosy atmosphere and a great menu with a bunch of vegetarian options. We enjoyed this place so much that we ate there three times!
If you’re interested in trying some traditional Slovenian food and local wine while in Bled, it might be worth taking a Bled food tour.
8. Go swimming
You absolutely must take your bathing suit to Bled, no matter what time of year you’re visiting! The town is all about getting in the water, and it even hosts a swimming carnival in the lake every February (yep – the middle of winter)! That’s how much the locals love a good swim.
The more sane of us may enjoy a casual lake swim during the summer months in the Castle Bathing Area outdoor swimming pool, or for those who are feeling more adventurous, you can even book a nearby whitewater rafting trip on the Sava Dolinka River.
If you’re visiting in winter, as I did, then I can highly recommend a few hours of relaxation in the whirlpools at the Hotel Astoria Sauna Park. This adults-only wellness centre costs 20-25 Euros to enter, and you can stay as long as you like. Soaking in the hot tubs with a few sauna breaks is a truly European way to spend an afternoon!
9. Explore the Alps
One of the best things to do around Bled is actually to get out of town and explore some of the surrounding landscapes in the Julian Alps. We roamed the countryside during our Slovenia + Croatia road trip and were very impressed with Slovenia’s natural scenery.
Nearby Lake Bohinj is like a miniature Bled located inside the massive and beautiful Triglav National Park. The town is super cute and there are walking trails around the lake that make for a pleasant hike. Just beyond the town is the gondola to the Vogel winter ski resort. Even in the summer, it’s worth taking the gondola up the mountain… the views of Lake Bohinj from the top are gorgeous!
Vintgar Gorge is another good option for a scenic hike near Bled. Unfortunately it was closed while we were there (not entirely sure why – possibly just because it was winter). If you’re visiting at any other time of year, I’ve heard that the gorge a neat place to go for a nature walk!