It’s easy to be hypnotically drawn to Lake Bled in northwestern Slovenia, tucked in the Julian Alps. The bluish-green waters are mesmerizing. Bled Island, with its picturesque church, is perhaps the region’s most-photographed feature, but there’s so much more to see. From the medieval Bled Castle to a boat ride on the lake to hiking in Triglav National Park, here are the best things to do around Lake Bled, Slovenia.
Church of the Assumption
Like a page out of a fairytale, the Church of the Assumption sits on an island in the middle of Lake Bled. This 15th-century castle is so magnificent that its’s a sought-after wedding destination. Notice the 99 steps – traditional weddings begin with the groom carrying his bride up the stairway! Take a professional guided or self-guided tour of the church to admire its Baroque architecture. Explore the bell tower, curacy and provost’s house, as well as the popular wishing bell – it is believed that when you ring the bell, you are recommending yourself to the Mother of God and expresses your wishes to Her. On the north shore of Bled Island, look for the stone chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes, carved into the slope in 1888.
You can visit Bled Island and the Church of the Assumption on a two-oar pletna boat tour. After touring the church, be sure to stop for a treat of the famous Bled cream cake (Kremsnita) at the café.
Pro Tip: For fantastic photo ops of the lake and church, head to the Ojstrica, Velika Osojnica or Mala Osojnica viewpoint.
Just another picture-perfect attraction on Lake Bled, the 12th-century Bled Castle sits atop a 426-foot cliff over emerald-green waters. Explore a thousand years of history through tours and a range of activities that are tied to the castle traditions. Visit the museum in the upper courtyard to learn more about the area’s history. If you’re lucky, you’ll be visiting during the summertime Medieval Days, when knights show visitors how people lived in the Middle Ages. From the castle, you can see the Straza and Babji zob hills, the Karavanke Mountains, Lesce and Radovljica.
Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave
If you’re visiting Ljubljana, take a day trip that encompasses Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave. Predjama Castle, a medieval fortress built into a cliff, was the hideout of Erazem Lueger, a 15th-century robber-baron who holed up here, thanks in part to the secret passageway that led out from behind the rock wall into the Postojna Cave. There are holes in the ceiling of the entrance tower – used to pour boiling oil on intruders – a dungeon and even a 16th-century treasure chest. While you’re there, visit Postojna Cave, behind the castle and the second-largest cave network in Slovenia, where you can marvel at the stalactites, stalagmites and vast caverns.
Swimming in Lake Bled
Join the locals who cool off in the summer months with a brisk dip in beautiful Lake Bled. There is a designated swimming area, with water slides and a diving board. Head to Grajsko Kopalisce, also known as the Castle Bathing Area, for sun loungers and umbrellas. The bathing area is open June to September.
Carved by the Radovna River, the Vintgar Gorge winds between the vertical walls of the Hom and Borst hills. Follow the gorge trail for views of waterfalls, pools and rapids, including the 42-foot Sum River Waterfall. The gorge is the nearest entry point from Bled to Triglav National Park. While you’re here, notice the dam, as well as the 1905 Bohinj Railway Bridge, crossing the water 109 feet above the path.
Walk or Bike Around Lake Bled
Join the local Slovenians for a walk or cycle around Lake Bled. This 4.7-mile loop will take about 90 minutes, give or take, depending on how often you stop. Bring along a picnic and plan to stop and swim if you’re so moved. From the south side of the lake, you’ll have particularly pretty views of Bled Castle. There are ice-cream stands every so often. Bike rentals are available nearby.
Lake Bled Boat Tour
Following your visit to Bled Island, you may wish to get back out on the water. There are a number of ways to explore Lake Bled, including traditional pletna boat, rowboat, kayak and stand-up paddleboard. Take a pletna boat trip with up to 20 people – this type of boat dates back to 1590 Slovenia. The rowers themselves go back generations and will gladly row you across to Bled Island for a small fee. Or, rent your own rowboat for an authentic Slovenian experience. Take a kayaking tour around the island the church, or rent a stand-up paddleboard.
Triglav National Park
Named after Slovenia’s highest mountain, Triglav is the country’s only national park. Created to protect nature and cultural heritage, the park contains vast forests, high mountain ridges, crystal-clear waters and countless species of flora and fauna. There are more than 250 springs, as well as the only alpine lakes and the largest natural lake in Slovenia. Start your visit with a hike on the Triglavska Bistrica Trail, which connects the most interesting parts of the valley, including the Pericnik Fall, the Galerije and the north face of Triglav. If you haven’t had enough of postcard-perfect churches and bell towers, visit the head of Lake Bohinj and admire the medieval Church of John the Baptists, which dates back at least 700 years. Don’t leave without driving the Vrsic Pass, from which you’ll see Mojstrovka, Prisojnik/Prisank and the valley of the Soca River.
For more pristine Slovenian nature, visit this magnificent waterfall, a must-see sight in Bohinj. The A-shaped waterfall is unique in that the course of the water is divided into two underground tunnels. You can access the Savica Waterfall on hikes that start from the Koca pri Savici hut, leading you to Komna and the Valley of the Seven Triglav Lakes.