our guide to Lake Bled in Slovenia

While I’ve talked to people about our trip to Europe, a lot of people asked us why Slovenia?  Initially, it started out because we had cheap plane tickets to get us there and we’re all about budgets, but then it became our favorite country that we both visited because it was so incredibly charming.  After Devin and I got off the bus and began hiking to our destination in Lake Bled, we had many conversations about how this is what our paradise looked like.  The mountains, the lake, and the dreamy overlooks were honestly just so magical.  Lake Bled is easily one of the prettiest places I have ever been to in my life and I will happily revisit again and again.  So, why Slovenia!?  Look at these photos on our guide to Lake Bled in Slovenia and you won’t ask again 🙂 .

Lake Bled is at the foot of the Julian Alps. | via The Spirited Violet

LAKE BLED IN SLOVENIA

Bled, Slovenia is a resort town in the heart Slovenia and we could not have visited on a better day- it was gorgeous!  Everyone was swimming and eating at charming food stalls.  Gletato places lined the beach.  We both honestly wished that we had brought swim suits because it seemed absolutely perfect (goals for next time!).

One thing we planned ahead on doing our whole trip was riding in a Pletna boat!  

Lake Bled is in the resort town of Bled, Slovenia at the foot of the Julian Alps with views of Bled Castle. | via The Spirited VioletLake Bled is in the resort town of Bled, Slovenia at the foot of the Julian Alps with views of Bled Castle. | via The Spirited VioletLake Bled is in the resort town of Bled, Slovenia at the foot of the Julian Alps with views of Bled Castle. | via The Spirited VioletLake Bled is in the resort town of Bled, Slovenia at the foot of the Julian Alps with views of Bled Castle. | via The Spirited VioletLake Bled is in the resort town of Bled, Slovenia at the foot of the Julian Alps with views of Bled Castle. | via The Spirited Violet

There are multiple ways to get to the island in the middle of Lake Bled, but the Pletna boat is a traditional boat that is completely original to Bled.  The boat was created around 1590, is wooden, and is extremely unique!  Pletna oarsmen is an occupation and title that has been passed down for centuries in families.  It was amazing to have ONE MAN use the huge oars full of 20 people.  A humorous/ sometimes awkward part of the ride was balancing sides of the boat; several times the oarsman asked different to get up or switch sides based on their weights.

The Pletna driver stands and swings these two huge oars around (HUGE swings- the lady next to me got distracted by the beauty and was almost whacked in the head).  Lake Bled is very calm and we loved the ride, but what we were really excited about was the ultimate destination of the island in the middle of the lake.

THE LAKE BLED ISLAND

The island in the middle of Lake Bled has a church, a famous bell tower, a cute gift shop, a gelato shop (typing this part of makes me really miss Europe, a lot), and a lot of history!  Before Christianity, the island had a temple for the Goddess of love:  Živa.  The previous Slavic temple was replaced with the church on the island in 1465; there is a tradition that a groom has to carry his bride up all 99 steps to get married in the church which is hilarious.

We weren’t there during tours of the church and the time on the island was limited due to our boat ride, but the scripture on the bell tower read: “Look up and see” (Job 35:5) and I loved how a scripture I had never formally thought about much quickly became a favorite.  I noticed in a lot of the churches and cathedrals we visited in Europe that many of them would pick a central scripture like this and they were always scriptures that had always been very previously understated to me.

The island on Lake Bled is small, but has a surprisingly large amount of culture to experience. | via The Spirited VioletThe island on Lake Bled is small, but has a surprisingly large amount of culture to experience. | via The Spirited VioletThe island on Lake Bled is small, but has a surprisingly large amount of culture to experience. | via The Spirited Violet

The views from the island on Lake Bled were absolutely beautiful, the water is sincerely really that color, and if we get to visit back again- we’ll schedule a tour where we can spend a longer amount of time touring the small island.

BLED CASTLE IN SLOVENIA

Location: Grajska cesta, 4260 Bled, Slovenia

Bled Castle was first documented in 1011 and is an absolutely beautiful medieval castle WITH A VIEW.  There are shuttles that will take you up to the parking lot at the bottom of Bled Castle, but we hiked the whole way from the bottom to the top from the bus that dropped us off.  We didn’t get international plans for our phones so we literally just followed signs to get to everything on foot; we ended up walking 8-10 miles daily while in Europe and we absolutely loved it!

I should mention that Slovenia is absolutely beautiful and the weather was ideal for being outside and being active in the summer.  I loved seeing the view our whole hike up and seeing how the scenery changed and I was absolutely mesmerized to think of people bringing materials up to build this castle on potentially the same routes!

This is the beautiful view while hiking up to Bled Castle. The hike was beautiful and definitely worth the extra time! | via The Spirited VioletThis is the beautiful view while hiking up to Bled Castle. The hike was beautiful and definitely worth the extra time! | via The Spirited Violet

Once we got to the castle though, I was pretty freaked out by how steep the slope that wraps around the castle is (there are no stairs, you are at the mercy of the slope).  Since the cobblestone is old and worn, it was very slick even without recent rain.  I feel like you need some shoes with some grip/grit to walk this slope comfortably; I walked sideways while holding on to the stone wall the whole way up because I was afraid of falling and there were a few times that my shoes still slipped.  We opted not to do a castle tour because we had been in Europe long enough to be castled out (something I thought I never would say), but we loved the view and that alone was worth it!

SAINT MARTIN’S PARISH CHURCH IN BLED

Location: Riklijeva cesta 26, 4260 Bled, Slovenia

Saint Martin’s Parish church in Bled was actually built in the early 1900s; this seems really unimpressive when you’re been looking at centuries old buildings all day, but the church is obviously very pretty.  The stained glass, paintings, and ceilings were so beautiful!

Saint Martin's Parish church in Bled, Slovenia was built in 1903-1905, but that didn't stop it from having beautiful artwork and gothic ceilings to look at for free. | via The Spirited VioletSaint Martin's Parish church in Bled, Slovenia was built in 1903-1905, but that didn't stop it from having beautiful artwork and gothic ceilings to look at for free. | via The Spirited VioletSaint Martin's Parish church in Bled, Slovenia was built in 1903-1905, but that didn't stop it from having beautiful artwork and gothic ceilings to look at for free. | via The Spirited VioletSaint Martin's Parish church in Bled, Slovenia was built in 1903-1905, but that didn't stop it from having beautiful artwork and gothic ceilings to look at for free. | via The Spirited VioletSaint Martin's Parish church in Bled, Slovenia was built in 1903-1905, but that didn't stop it from having beautiful artwork and gothic ceilings to look at for free. | via The Spirited Violet

HOTEL GUIDE TO LAKE BLED IN SLOVENIA

Hotel: Gostišče Tulipan 
Location:  Alpska cesta 8, 4248 Lesce, Slovenia

I don’t say this lightly, but this hotel/restaurant was my favorite place we stayed at in the whole time where we were in Europe.  Gostišče Tulipan is outside of Lake Bled and took a bus ride and big hike to get to the rest of the activities you’ve seen on this post, but it was so worth it.

I grew up in a small town in the country and I loved being able to be away from all of the touristy things.  We ate at the restaurant on the outside patio looking over the mountains and countryside; it was absolutely perfect outside and the food was EXCELLENT.  Unfortunately, I somehow made some kind of snafu reading the schedule of when the restaurant closed.  After we began eating, the hotel owner asked us if the kitchen could be closed and I felt absolutely awful that it meant all of the staff had been there because I somehow misread the sign.  Despite our embarrassment, we did ask if the hotel had more openings the next day because it was such a comfortable and peaceful stay.  Honestly, we also wanted to eat at the restaurant more.  The hotel was booked up, but I would recommend this hotel over and over again!

Also, two twin beds like this were almost all we had in Europe the whole time.  Admittedly, I fell in between these two beds shortly after falling asleep and we could not stop laughing.  Devin was kind enough to help me out.

………………………………….

Lake Bled is a popular tourist location in Slovenia, but it honestly was my favorite place to visit and just get away from the larger cities we had been visiting throughout our European trip.  I find Slovenia so naturally beautiful, it wasn’t packed with tourists like other places we visited, and the weather for July could not have been any more perfect.  We found that Slovenians usually consider their country to be central Europe, but the benefit is that we were able to see very western and eastern European aspects of the country;  we would love to go to eastern Europe someday because of this.  Additionally, the affordability in Slovenia was wonderful and we felt we were able to have a really nice vacation here in comparison to other places we visited (like Germany).  I would happily go back to Slovenia again and again!

Related: OUR 48 HOUR GUIDE TO LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA

What has been your best vacation surprise?  Where would you visit/recommend to someone over and over?

  • I really regret we didn’t make it to Slovenia while we were living in the UK. It was just becoming a “hot” destination during our last year there, so it hadn’t really shown up on my radar until then. (Classic problem of too many places, too little time!) Your pictures are gorgeous! We hardly ever had weather like that anywhere we went in Europe! 😉

    • Such a compliment to get photo compliments from you! When we were in Germany, they had a major cold spell (60s after being in 100 degrees for a week) and it rained the whole time. When we were in Italy, there was a huge heat wave that made it 100 degrees the whole time. Needless to say, Austria and Slovenia were absolutely perfect after those extremes haha!!

      You saw so many places in such a short amount of time, really. I just know that I want to see eastern Europe because of our experiences.

  • I really regret we didn’t make it to Slovenia while we were living in the UK. It was just becoming a “hot” destination during our last year there, so it hadn’t really shown up on my radar until then. (Classic problem of too many places, too little time!) Your pictures are gorgeous! We hardly ever had weather like that anywhere we went in Europe! 😉

    • Such a compliment to get photo compliments from you! When we were in Germany, they had a major cold spell (60s after being in 100 degrees for a week) and it rained the whole time. When we were in Italy, there was a huge heat wave that made it 100 degrees the whole time. Needless to say, Austria and Slovenia were absolutely perfect after those extremes haha!!

      You saw so many places in such a short amount of time, really. I just know that I want to see eastern Europe because of our experiences.

  • GORGEOUS photos! I’ve never visited Slovenia but I have heard some great things. The views that you saw at the lake are stunning. One of my favorite place to recommend to people when they’re traveling to Italy is Orveito or Sorrento. Both are beautiful and aren’t talked about nearly enough.

    • I will have to look those places up! Italy is such a beautiful place and I was really just in awe every place we went to in Europe. This earth is such a beautiful place!!

  • GORGEOUS photos! I’ve never visited Slovenia but I have heard some great things. The views that you saw at the lake are stunning. One of my favorite place to recommend to people when they’re traveling to Italy is Orveito or Sorrento. Both are beautiful and aren’t talked about nearly enough.

    • I will have to look those places up! Italy is such a beautiful place and I was really just in awe every place we went to in Europe. This earth is such a beautiful place!!