9 things to do around lake Bled – summer version
September 24, 2019
Many are not given the opportunity to travel for an extended period of time. There are also people who like to take short trips during the weekends. For them, visiting Bled can be a great choice. Of course in case they live somewhere nearby this Slovenian gem.
Slovenia is referred to as Switzerland of the East and it’s not a surprise at all. Bled is by far the most visited place in the country, and anyone who travels there will immediately see why. The crystal clear lake of 145 hectares with a small island in the middle with a church on its top, the village of Bled and the hills surrounding all, offers truly picturesque views. I dare to say that it’s one of nature’s masterpieces in this part of Europe. Slovenia though is not only loved for its fabulous nature, but also for Slovenians. I love the Balkans in general, the atmosphere, the cultures, the laid back attitude and the hospitality of the people. The country itself, its infrastructure, its economic situation, its cleanliness and the prices are more western-like. However, the openness, kindness and habits of people evoke a very Balkan feeling. I actually asked one of our landlords what they really feel like, where their hearts belong and the lady said that the members of the generation that lived in Yugoslavia clearly still feel like belonging to the Balkans very much.
Ok, let’s get back to the original topic. Below are 9 activities around the lake that can be enjoyed over a weekend (or a few days and afterwards you can go on to Bohinj, Triglavski National Park or the beach where the picturesque town of Piran attracts tourists).
1) Have a walk around the lake
On one hand because of the magnificent sights from every angle and on the other hand because it feels amazingly good. The path along the lake is 6 km long and it’s either covered with proper pavements but sometimes there are only dirt paths. Even if you do not want to walk around the whole lake, you may want to do some of it on foot.
2) Cycle around the lake by a bicycle
If you are not very comfortable with the walk but would still like to explore the lake, you can do it by bike. Bicycles can be rented in several places in the village.
Directly to the left from Casino Bled is Bled’s official information center, you can reach it through a narrow gateway. Bicycles can be hired, among other things, just before the information office. The bikes were almost brand new, comfortable, had really good suspension (which comes handy around the lake sometimes) and came with a padlock.
Bicycle rental prices are as follows:
- 1 hour: 3 EUR
- 2 hours: 5 EUR
It is also possible to book here a taxi, paragliding or a ride on Europe’s longest cableway.
3) Dip in the cool, crystal clear water
In the summer, specially when the heat is unbearable, it is very pleasant to jump in the crystal clear water. Since it’s legal to swim anywhere in the lake, make sure to always carry swimwear with you.
There is only one beach around Bled Lake with an entrance fee, just below the castle. There are sun loungers, slides, fenced bathing areas and of course a lifeguard takes care of safety. Ticket prices are quite high (adult day ticket 9.00 EUR), specially taken the fact that it’s possible to dip in basically anywhere around the lake at own risk.
Another typical plage (but this one is free) is on the west, Velika Zaka. The rest of the lake is completely free and intact.
4) Paddle over to Bled Island
There are two ways to traverse the island with the charming little church on its hill.
A. Pletna boats
We can pay for a trip to go on a Pletna boat. It is essentially a 7 meter long and approx. 2 meters wide wooden ship with roots dating back to the 16th century. The “captain” guides it from the back with two paddles in a standing position. This type of boat is known only at Bled Lake. The price for an adult ticket is EUR 12.00. The boats start from the south of the lake, in front of Mlino Pension. I would not recommend a morning tour because this is when the big buses stop with tourists (mainly Asians) who are heading towards the island.
B. Renting a boat
The brave ones can rent a boat for 4 or 6 people and take a ride to the island or just row on the lake. The boat rental rates are as follows:
- 4 person boat: 20 EUR / hour
- 6 person boat: 25 EUR / hour
- Each following hour +10 EUR
Even though no one from our team of 4 had any explicit rowing experience, we took on this little adventure because we wanted to have some freedom. We were able to enjoy our own pace and could spend as much time on the island as we wanted to.
The most known attraction on the island is the Church of St Mary, and within the church the bell that fulfills the wishes of those who ring it 3 times and trust in God. The bell dates back to 1534 and is now housed in the main nave of the church.
5) Rent a SUP
Maybe this was my favorite pastime experience at the lake. You can paddle to the island, but maybe not recommended because you can’t go up to the church in swimsuit and probably you don’t wanna sup in a full outfit. For an hour of boarding they charge € 10 and can be rented in several locations around the lake.
We rented both the boat and the SUP from a rental under Villa Bled on the southern shore.
6) Taste the original Bled cream cake
Cream cake is a very well known and popular cake in Hungary as well. But people in Bled claim that the original creamy cake is from here. A young man named Ištvan Lukačevič (based on his first name he might have had something to do with Hungary…) experimented on many different cream cake recipes until he finally baked the right one. This cake is the reason why many people still visit the waterfront café opposite Park Hotel, Park Café. Having a coffee and cake here with the magnificent views of the lake and Bled Castle is a real treat.
7) Hop in Gostilna Pri Planicu restaurant
It is one of Bled’s oldest restaurants and has been serving hungry visitors for over 100 years. This is where we ate the best pljeskavica (basically a hamburger, but much tastier) in Slovenia, which is not the national dish here, but we wanted to taste it in this small Balkan country. I think the meat they serve is enough for 2 people because it’s the size of Shrek’s palm. The melted butter on its top really makes the already juicy piece of meat really tasty.
It has an indoor area and an outdoor terrace. I particularly liked the inside bar area, which has a wall with car-plates from all around the world.
8) Visit Bled Castle
The history of Bled Castle dates back to the 11th century, but its visit is most interesting because of the view – at least for me. The entrance fee is quite high, but hey, they have to sponsor the exhibition in the castle, which showcases the history of the area and the castle itself.
- Adults: EUR 11.00
- Student: EUR 7.00
- Children (up to 14 years): EUR 5.00
During the summer months (June, July, August) you can visit from 8 am to 9 pm. The castle can be reached on foot, by bike or by car. If you are walking or cycling up, be prepared for sweat as the castle stands tall on the top of a high cliff. Drivers will find it easier, driving up and parking the car for EUR 3.00 in the parking lot just outside the castle entrance.
9) Eat a good Slovenian sausage
Slovenian cuisine is heavily influenced by the cuisines of countries bordering Slovenia (Italian, Croatian, Austrian and Hungarian). Kranjska sausage is a real Slovenian delicacy consisting of 75-80% pork and up to 20% bacon. Seasoned with Slovenian sea salt, black pepper and garlic. It is usually eaten with mustard and ajvar and a piece of soft bread. I think it tastes best with a big Slovenian beer (Union, Laško). It can be found on the menu basically in any restaurant.
I can highly recommend Mlino restaurant under Mlino Pension (we stayed here for a night and had dinner once. At this small lakeside place you can have lunch then hop on a Pletna boat and stroll to the island for the afternoon).