Lake Bled

Castles, Restaurants, Island, Hotels near Lake Bled, Slovenia

Now that western Europe is so crowded, Lake Bled in Slovenia in eastern Europe is a stunning place to visit, with possibly the world's best view from the castle overlooking the aquamarine lake that features a 16th century chapel on the island in the middle.

You reach Lake Bled island easily by pletna, the traditional local wooden gondola rowed in reverse by blue and white striped oarsmen. The breathtaking aquamarine colour of the mountain lake is similar to Lake Louise in Canada.
Bled Castle
Photo of cafe looking to Bled Castle


Lake Bled is just the right size as a 21st century tourist attraction...small enough to walk around yet big enough to stay for a week to enjoy its beautiful natural setting, with a wide choice of quality restaurants and accommodation near Lake Bled.

Our choice of accommodation is Vila Istra, a romantic and stylish hotel with wonderful owners right on Lake Bled. Outside you'll find the traditional romantic pletna boats that take you to Lake Bled's island. Prices in Bled are very cheap, and it hasn't yet been ruined by huge crowds like so many western European destinations.

Pilgrims have been coming to the romantic church of St Mary on Lake Bled's island for centuries, but the town around Lake Bled dates back a thousand years. Even then, a Roman tower overlooked the lake from the top of a cliff, before the present castle was built in the 1011.

Bled Castle has had a colourful history including centuries of royalty, until
Marshal Tito commandeered it as part of communist Yugoslavia in 1947.
Slovenia finally became independent again in 1996.
Lake Bled island
Photo of Lake Bled island from hot air balloon


Lake Bled was popular in the Middle Ages thanks to the pilgrims coming to worship on their holy island. The pilgrims were replaced in the 1800s by the first tourists who discovered the health-giving properties of the thermal waters and their minerals.

The town became famous at the start of the 20th century as the most beautiful health spa in the then vast Austrian empire, attracting European aristocrats and the elite.

These days you can easily reach Lake Bled by flying one of the many cut-price European airlines into the nearby Slovenian capital Ljubljana, or into Klagenfurt, just over the border in Austria. Our trafel tip is to fly into Ljubljana for better connections to Bled by train and bus.

Trains from Ljubljana take 45 minutes to Bled and drop passengers off several times a day at Lesce-Bled Train station, where you can take a bus the 4 kilometres into town. Or you can hitch a ride as we did, with the lovely local Catholic priest who went out of his way to help.

Buses take 75 minutes from Ljubljana right into Bled and run hourly for 7.
Lake Bled castle overlooking Lake Bled
Photo of Lake Bled castle overlooking Lake Bled


As you arrive in Bled, you'll see the aptly-named Panorama Restaurant on your left, a wonderful place to stop and take in the stunning lake, the church and the castle. Enjoy drinking the alpine tap water, purer than bottled water according to the locals.

LAKE BLED WHAT TO DO

Make sure you take a wooden pletna to the island, a pleasant trip of about 25 minutes from most parts of the lake. A round trip will cost you 12 Euros including 30 minutes on the island to see the historic chapel and even ring its bell. The best pletna operator is the friendly Matjaz Vidic on +386 41881588 or email: matjazvid@gmail.com for bookings.
Pletna boat rows you to Lake Bled island
Pletna boat rows you to Lake Bled island


Bled Castle is a must for that stunning elevated view, best enjoyed with a glass of Slovenian wine from the castle's restaurant terrace overlooking the aquamarine lake below. The castle is open 8am to 7pm in summer and 5pm in winter, featuring a Romanesque wall with parapets and ramparts.

Make sure you see the small wine centre run by Andre, the gregarious monk. For a small fee he'll teach you how to the top off a bottle with a blade, known as sabrage. He'll also help you bottle and wax stamp your own wine there in the cellar.

unch with a view from the castle over Lake Bled
Photo of lunch with a view from the castle over beautiful Lake Bled


You can walk around Lake Bled in less than two hours, and if that's too much you can take the pretty road train around the lake in 30 minutes.

Lake Bled is also close to the beautiful valley of Bohinj on the edge of Triglav National Park. Lake Bohinj is only an hour from Bled and is less touristy, with a background of the magnificent Julian Alps. Here you can go canoeing, hiking and even see paragliders gliding among the eagles over the ski pistes in this natural wonderland.

ACCOMMODATION NEAR LAKE BLED

If you want to experience local life, the best accommodation is the stylish Vila Istra, right on the lake with beautiful views from your room across stunning Lake Bled. The motto of Vila Istra is Live the Dream, and you're certainly doing that here in this wonderful small hotel. Owners Denis and Jura have created beautiful rooms with stunning furnishings that make you feel as though you've come across the bargain of central Europe. Denis's hospitality is superb - he's always there making sure guests are happy and he looks after every detail, even shifting cars around to make sure there's plenty of parking on site for his valued guests.

Vila Istra
's spacious Deluxe Family Suite with lake views is stunning accommodation, with a beautiful bedroom and separate big lounge to take in the beautiful views of Lake Bled.  Vila Istra also has its own restaurant, run by talented chef Miha who will ask you if there's anything special he can make you. The food here is top class, and Miha will even go into the back garden to pick fresh organic vegetables or herbs to accompany your lunch or dinner. The long dining table is the centrepiece of the restaurant and a perfect palce to compare your travels with fellow guests at breakfast. Breakfast here at Vila Istra is also fresh and plentiful with wide variety, and is included in your bed and breakfast price.
Outside at Vila Istra, you'll find the Mystic Garden, with its elevated view over Lake Bled for sunny days enjoying the scenery. This is a wonderful place to enjoy live music on weekends from classic bands brought in from Slovenia's nearby capital Ljubljana.

Pension Pletna's stunning views of Lake Bled
Room with a view - stunning views over Lake Bled

Pension Pletna
Photo of Pension Pletna's great value rooms with balcony views over the lake

If you want something cheaper, try Pension Pletna or you could also try the Grand Hotel Toplice further around the lake, but you won't get that slice of local life that Vila Istra offers in a traditional Slovenian way.

LAKE BLED RESTAURANTS

Try the caf‚ just left of Vila Istra for good local atmosphere and a view over the lake. In town, try Ajda Caf‚ opposite Panorama which is always full of diners enjoying the local dishes including fresh seafood.

But if you want a magnificent dining experience that ranks at the very top, go to Vila Mangart near the foot of the castle. The old-style Slovenian ambience here is more than matched by the husband and wife team Dusan and Michaela, who are food artists.
Vila Mangart restaurant Lake Bled
Vila Mangart restaurant with delicious Slovenian produce including truffles


The Mangart restaurant is a work of art as its name suggests. They only serve fresh seasonal produce, so the menu varies from local lamb to delicious duck that even impresses the most critical French diners.

LAKE BLED SUMMARY

World's Best Holidays only writes about the world's best, and Lake Bled is an eastern European hot spot that will make the weary traveller's heart sing.

Its natural beauty, friendly people and cheap prices make it a must-see in the 21st century. And Vila Istra is the perfect local place to stay; stylish and a very reasonable price for stunningly beautiful accommodation near Lake Bled. Best of all, the huge crowds of the western world haven't yet overrun Lake Bled like so many other places.

Go to Bled while it's still young, fresh and beautiful.

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Top Accommodation Near Lake Bled