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

    Reply ↓

  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.

    Reply ↓

  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!!

    Reply ↓

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