A backpackers guide to exploring the sleepy Slovenian town of Bled.
Before I start, if you're here for photography information for Lake Bled, go to my other post.
To, From & Around
As a popular tourist and backpacker destination, Bled is well connected and fairly easy to reach. My journey to Bled was from northern Italy, specifically Venice. I came via a FlixBus overnight service (not recommended for this journey since its not a direct route and required changing buses and a layover). The FlixBus stop drops you near the main bus stop for Bled, which has connecting local buses to the rest of the area. The more popular route to Bled is the ~1.5 hour trip from the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana via bus or train which run regular services through the day. Tickets can be booked at the station no problem. Be warned, weekends see a reduced number of services so plan accordingly.
Once in Bled getting around is a breeze. The lakeshore path provides a pedestrian and bike only route along the lake and walking the whole trail around the lake will take you less then 1.5 hours. There is also a local bus service providing trips to local attractions. Tickets can be bought at the main bus stop and range from 1-2 euros.
Wondering where to crash, look no further
During my stay in Bled, I stayed at Castle Hostel 1004. The hostel was centrally located in town and only a few minute walk from the bus station, grocery store and restaurants. The dorms were updated and included outlets and lights above each bed, along with lockers (though you need to provide the lock). The hostel has an activities company too which offers tours into the nearby park. Additionally, wearing the hostels bracelet qualifies you for 10% off discount at local restaurants and bars.
Ok, you made it, now what?
The inviting waters of Lake Bled tend to dominate peoples trip to the area, but I promise there is more to do here then just stare endlessly at the lake. That being said, I will start with the lake as the first of many activities to follow.
Bled is a great place to relax and for me it provided a much needed break from the hustle of larger European cities. Strolls along the lake front are a great way to unwind, and from every angle the lake looks like something off a post card. The island in the center of the lake is home to a church, a cafe and a few other random buildings. A popular daytime activity for backpackers, couples and families is to visit the island, which can be done by boat or swimming. Just as a heads up, if you swim to the island they will not let you visit the church unless you somehow brought dry clothes along. Hiking to the overlooks is another popular thing to do around the lake but I cover that in the photography post I mentioned above.
The Bled Castle sits perched high on a cliff overlooking the city and lake and is impossible to miss. The castle is a fairly short, albeit uphill, walk from town or a quick bus ride from the main station. During the day there is a cover charge to enter the castle of 9 euros, but budget conscious travelers should note that after 9 P.M, the castle remains open but ticket office is closed allowing an nighttime view of the castle for free.
Another must do on any trip to Bled is the scenic walk along Vintgar Gorge with its multiple waterfalls. A bus from the main bus station is 1 euro each way, and entry into the gorge is 5 euros. Once inside the gorge, you will walk along the river and past multiple falls and rapids. The walk is fairly flat and easy, so no need to bring hiking boots. There is a chance to swim in the pool created by the last, and largest fall in the gorge so bring a suit and towel.
I was able to do all of these activities in the same day, and if you are willing to get your 10,000 steps a day in, recommend you consider doing it the same way. Starting from my hostel, I walked towards Vintgar Gorge which took me past the Bled Castle and through some of the small local villages in the hills above Bled. The walk was well worth it and took around an hour to get me to the entrance. I spent the next hour exploring the river and waterfalls before heading back outside and continued around the lake to the scenic viewpoints Ojstrica and Osojnica and then followed the lake shore path back towards town. The best part of walking this much in one day is not needing an excuse for the final must-do thing in town, eating a Bled cream cake. My suggestion is to stop by Slaščičarna Zima where I enjoyed a coffee and cream cake after exploring town.