Wow it really is as picture-perfect as you’ve been led to believe! All the ingredients of a fairy tale:
– small church perched perfectly on a small island ✅
– sitting in the middle of crystal clear water with only the light lapping of town boats ✅
– castle nearby hanging over a precarious ledge to the water ✅
– backdrop of the Julian Alps ✅
An Instagrammer’s dream!
#1 Running or walking around the flat path of the picture-perfect lake and it’s gorgeous setting
#2 Swimming or taking a rowing boat over to Bled Island to have a mini explore of the church and small buildings
#3 Taking in Bled Island views from one of the many higher up viewing platforms, in this case from Ojstrice
#4 Staying for the night or just exploring in the day the grounds of Vila Bled with its fascinating history and great spots for food overlooking the Lake
#5 Enjoying the local cake with a view! From Cafeteria Belvedere
- Bled Island – you can easily make your way to Bled Island itself either through rowing, taking a gondola, paddle-board or swimming (note that the lake doesn’t allow any motor boats, which I thought was a great rule). The Church actually does a service, complete with hymns which really adds to the atmosphere, at different times of the day. It’s worth asking when the next one is and arranging for your rowing boat / gondola over there if that’s what you’re keen for, but just be aware of a couple of things: firstly, the island is busier at this time and maybe visiting with fewer fellow tourists is what you’re after; secondly, if swimming over, they won’t let you in just wearing your swimming gear as I found out!
- For swimming over – you can do so from anywhere, but it makes sense to start off from one of the spots closest to the stairs on either side of the island (just down from Vila Bled is the best spot). Mild thermal springs make the lake less chilly than would be expected, but still brace yourself!
- The walk / run around the lake was the highlight for me – so many spots to stop and stare at the views from the parks, cliffs, beaches and only 6km / 3.7miles felt like the prefect distance. My main recommendations for stopping spots are 1. – The Cafeteria Belvedere just next to Vila Bled for super views of the island from a very unusual platform cafe and chance to have some cake with the view; 2. Climb around 20mins to Ojstrice for the picture perfect famous view of the lake – it’s at the far west of the lake and well signposted. Quite steep at times, but worth it
- Where to stay – I stayed at Vila Bled and would highly recommend it. It’s location at the west of the lake is perfect for views of Bled Island and feels separate from the main town, but it’s actually the history of the place that is is its highlight. The oldest Villa in Bled, it was the summer residence of the Yugoslavian royal family and, later, Tito. The grounds are stunning and some of the wall painting take you back to the days of the former communist state. That being said, I think anywhere on the lake would be great. After all you’ll most likely spend most of the day outside
- Getting there from Ljubljana is relatively straightforward – although be aware that the closest train station is actually Lesce which is a 7-8min taxi to Bled
The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences
Other Beautiful Lake experiences around the World
Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"? That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others. That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score
This overall experience score is calculated by: take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10). Then convert into a score out of 100
Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique". Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides. So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique". But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience). So, both of these scores are standalone