Slovenia’s Fairytale Lake Bled: A Photo Essay

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If we suspected Slovenia was a magical land in Ljubljana then Lake Bled confirmed it. With an emerald lake surrounded by Alpine peaks, a gothic church nestled in a tiny island at its centre and a medieval castle looming above from its rocky perch, it’s a fairytale setting.

You can easily pass days just relaxing and enjoying the view but we also took advantage of this hub of outdoor activities and went hiking, horse riding, white water rafting, rented a boat, and visited the nearby Vintgar Gorge.

We stayed in the elegant Hotel Triglav on a hill above the quiet western side of the lake which we found to be the perfect tranquil base. We were a 20 minute walk from the shops and restaurants but when this was the view from our room it was worth it.

View from our room at Hotel Triglav, Bled
View from our room at Hotel Triglav

The walk around Lake Bled is about 6km and it’s the obvious first activity. Along the way you can stop to swim in the clear water and hire a rowboat to visit the island in the centre where the church bells ring constantly as visitors climb the tower to make a wish.

The water is actually much warmer than the country's icy rivers
The water is actually much warmer than the country’s icy rivers
Lake Bled
Inviting water on a hot day
Rowboat, Lake Bled, Slovenia
Simon rowing out to the island. He hates rowing but luckily it’s only a 10 minute trip from the western side of the lake.
Lake Bled island
Traditional Pletna boats moored at Bled’s island. They are propelled by a standing oarsman so are the easy (more expensive) option if you don’t feel like rowing.
Bled Castle, Slovenia
Bled Castle

Even when it’s raining Bled is stunning.

Lake Bled, Slovenia
The view of the island on my morning run
Bled Castle, Slovenia
The castle on my run
View from Hotel Triglav, Bled
The view from Hotel Triglav on a rainy morning

Seeking more views of the lake we followed the steep forest trail 6 up to Velika Osojnica for postcard views of the lake from above.

Velika Osojnica view, Lake Bled
The view from Velika Osojnica

Further afield we visited Vintgar Gorge and walked along its wooden walkways through misty forest, narrow canyons, emerald pools and waterfalls.

Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia
Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia
Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia
Vintgar Gorge waterfall, Slovenia
Us at the Vintgar Gorge waterfall

We arranged two trips with local tour operator 3glav Adventures. One was their epic Emerald River Adventure featuring hikes in the Julian Alps, white water rafting, icy waterfall swims, and crazy bridge jumps. Read more about the Emerald River Adventure here.

The other was a two hour horse riding trip about 20 minutes away from Bled where boosted by a shot of blueberry schnapps atop our horses at a rural wooden hut we rode through small Alpine villages and shady forest, past limestone mountains, turquoise lakes and fields of cows, bells ringing around their necks.

We spent more time on the road than we would have liked so we’d recommend a longer riding trip to get deeper into the countryside.

Horse riding near Lake Bled, Slovenia
Erin riding Dolly
Horse riding near Lake Bled, Slovenia
Horse riding, Slovenia
Another emerald lake that we rode past

With all the strenuous activities on offer at Bled it’s the perfect excuse to indulge in the local specialty—kremna rezina or Bled cream cake.

Bled cream cake at Smon cafe
Bled cream cake at Smon cafe

Lake Bled is Slovenia’s most popular tourist attraction and we worried it would be too touristy, but despite having a rather unattractive main town our concerns were unnecessary—Bled is a truly special place.

After over 3.5 years of constant travel it is becoming harder to find places that surprise and delight us. Lake Bled did. Four days passed far too quickly and we left with the promise to return, next time for much longer.

If you are looking for somewhere special to stay in Lake Bled, we highly recommend Hotel Triglav—the views are stunning. Search for more hotels and guesthouses in Lake Bled here

Thanks to Spirit Slovenia, the country’s tourist board, who hosted us for part of our stay in Bled. 

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a photo guide to lake bled in slovenia


  1. We were at lake bled 2or3 years ago it was the most beautiful peaceful place I have ever been the people were lovely. And yes I would go back again.xx

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  2. Hey team! Randomly found this post on Google while we are here in Bled. Such a pretty place.

    We found two great restaurants so far – Okarina and ZaZiv. ZaZiv has delicious vegan burgers and Okarina is great for omnivores but has excellent vegetarian options that can be prepared vegan.

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  3. Hi Simon and Erin!
    This post is lovely!!
    I’ve just been to lake Bled, unluckily I didn’t have time neither for the view from Velika Osojnica nor for the Vintgar Gorge you totally made me regret it!!

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  4. Lake Bled has been on my list for awhile now. I’m hoping to get there no later than this spring. I will definitely be trying that cream cake! Any other food suggestions?

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    • We didn’t find most of the restaurants in Lake Bled terribly exciting (at least for vegetarians). The only one we’d recommend is at Hotel Triglav. It’s pricey but the view of the lake is great and the food is excellent (limited vegetarian choice but they were happy to accommodate us).

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  5. Those are some intoxicating images! Beyond words.. I read somewhere that Slovenia is one of Europe´s hidden gems and I guess it must be true, if only based on these photos. I´ve been wanting to visit for quite some time now, mainly because of one castle. It´s half built inside a giant cave, I can´t remember the name right now, but it´s one of the most famous sights in the country..simply haunting! And being a bit of an adrenaline addict I´d definitely like to enjoy some rafting and canyoning, I hear there are perfect conditions for these kind of activities in Slovenia.

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  6. ah, Bled is amazing! definitely one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen! Have you also visited Bohinj that is nearby? It’s even better! While in Bled mountains surround the area in Bohinj they literally meet the lake. Plus there are hardly any tourists around!

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    • We had a brief stop there and would love to return for hiking and even snowboarding. We do have a soft spot for Bled’s island and castle though.

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  7. I’ve only driven right through Slovenia to get to Croatia. I was half asleep and didn’t enjoy it much. But after seeing those pictures I’m so interested in Slovenia. I think that we (at least in Denmark) totally underestimate Eastern Europe. It’s all about France, Spain and Italy for us. Of course, these countries are amazing too, but I think we totally overlook all those beautiful countries in Eastern Europe.

    I’m curious to visit them and your post just inspired me more! Thanks guys. :)

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  8. It’s true, despite its reputation, Lake Bled really is a special place. When Zab and I were there in 2009, it rained the whole time, but it didn’t matter. It’s gorgeous!

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  9. Incredibly beautiful. Riding horses there seems like the perfect activity. I live near Lake Tahoe but never go there–you’ve inspired me to get there again soon and spend some time in Emerald Bay, which looks similar to Lake Bled with an island in the middle.

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  10. The place was so beautiful! It was indeed a place like in a fairy-tale. I never thought that such place is part of the realm. Anybody will surely enjoy a stay in such an enchanting place like that. The water is clean, swimming there definitely worth it!

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