Unless you live in Europe, you probably never heard about Lake Bled in Slovenia. Bordered by Austria, Croatia, Italy and Hungary, Slovenia is an off the beaten path gem of central Europe, with Lake Bled being its main attraction. I suspect, you do not know much about the country itself, which was part of Yugoslavia for most of the 20th century and gained its independence in 1991. I spent one beautiful day there and wished I could stay longer. If you are looking for a great time in a serene location, a Lake Bled holiday is for you. Take a boat tour or visit Lake Bled Castle, then spend a relaxing evening in one of many restaurants and hotels in Lake Bled and enjoy their unique local hospitality. Learn what else you can do there in just one day. 

Lake Bled Castle and its reflection.
High on the cliff, Lake Bled Castle proudly looking at its own reflection.


Have a meal with a view
Take a boat ride
Visit the Church of the Assumption of Maria
Visit Lake Bled Castle
Take it all in at sunrise
Stroll along the lake
Take pictures

I stumbled upon Lake Bled when planning my 4-week European road trip with my sister. I tried not to overload our itinerary and keep daily driving under 6 hours. Slovenia appeared to be right at that mark on our way from Tuscany to Vienna. I looked for its major attractions and this how I discovered Lake Bled.

The images I found on the internet did all the talking. I was sold on the spot! (Learn about another part of our trip Zermatt Switzerland – home of the famous Matterhorn).

Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria on the Lake Bled island.
Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria occupies the island of Lake Bled.

Short History of Slovenia

Slovene lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the latter’s dissolution at the end of World War I. In 1918, the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new multinational state, which was named Yugoslavia in 1929.

After World War II, Slovenia became a republic of the renewed Yugoslavia, which though communist, distanced itself from Moscow’s rule. Dissatisfied with the exercise of the power of the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991. Since then, Slovenia has successfully integrated into the international community and became a full member of the European Union.

Lady looking at Lake Bled Slovenia.
Waiting for the ride in Lake Bled. 

Quality of life in Slovenia

Slovenia ranks above the average in housing, health status, social connections, education and skills, work-life balance, environmental quality, and personal security. It is below average in income and wealth, job and earnings, civic engagement, and subjective well-being.

A traditional boat full of people about to take ride in Lake Bled Slovenia.
Make sure to take take a boat tour in Lake Bled!

Lake Bled holiday

Slovenia is smaller than New Jersey, with a population of just over two million, but offers diverse attractions: forests, mountains, diverse hiking trails, pristine lakes, cobblestone towns, and beautiful country roads. Food is also a major attraction for foreign visitors.

Slovenia is one of the world’s most sustainable countries in the world. Its capital, Ljubljana, was proclaimed Europe’s Greenest Capital in 2016 by the European Union. The country maintains its high scores, despite the increasing number of tourists. It is an affordable destination, less expensive than its neighboring countries.

Three colorful boats at Lake Bled.
These boats will take you for a beautiful ride.

Lake Bled

Hot to get to Lake Bled

Driving to Lake Bled was very nice up until we entered the town. It got congested a few times due to construction zones, I am assuming aiming to accommodate increasing number of tourists. I noticed that in the middle of the day many tour busses are dropping off their clients for the classic boat ride, but in the early evening hours, things get quiet again.

Hotels in Lake Bled

Hotels in Lake Bled offer the charm of living with the locals. You will not find there any hotel chains or modern eyesore structures. All lodging seems authentic to the region, most are apartment-style guest houses with very few actual hotels. Bigger and more luxurious hotels are available, but even those are not astronomically expensive.

We stayed in Guest House Mlino, located right on Bled Lake, with the views to die for. Our room was simple but had everything we needed. The price was right, with a delicious breakfast included!

Window view from Guest House Mlino at Lake Bled.
For your lodging, I strongly recommend Guest House Mlino – what a view!

What to do in one day:

Have a meal with a view

Guest House Mlino’s restaurant was exceptional. With the stunning view, you can easily spend an entire day on its outdoor patio. The food, drinks, service, and prices – I loved everything about the place. It also accepted credit cards which won me over immediately.

I am allergic to paying with cash since I use credit cards to collect points and miles to pay for my future trips. (Learn more about my system:  Basics of Travel Hacking – How to Travel for Free.)

Dinner at Guest House Mlino on Lake Bled
You will not leave hungry or disappointed -dinner at Guest House Mlino. 

Take a boat ride

One thing you must do during your Lake Bled holiday is to take a boat ride to the island in the middle of the lake These traditional boats are called pletnas. Each boat has a colorful awning that protect passengers from the sun and other elements. It is operated by a pletna oarsman.

This profession is very respected and handed down from generation to generation. I found the ride absolutely beautiful. Take a ride early in the morning before the buses of tourists arrive. At night things slow down again so that could be a good time to go too.

Stairs to the church on the Lake Bled island.
These 99 stairs will lead you to Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria on Lake Bled Island.

Visit the Church of the Assumption of Maria

We had 40 minutes on the island to climb 99 stairs to the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria and walk around the island. The church was built on the foundations of an ancient pagan temple. Inside the church, you will find a “wishing bell”.

To make your wish come true, ring the bell three times! If you are into more stairs, climb the bell tower for the stunning views.

Visit Lake Bled Castle

We did not have enough time to visit the castle but enjoyed it from the water.  Definitely, a must-see if time allows. Learn more about the castle here.

One day in Lake Bled Slovenia -view from the boat to the castle. Quintessential Lake Bled!

Take it all in at sunrise

The majority of hotels in Lake Bled seem very charming, but I am pretty sure that I made the best choice. I can’t imagine a better location. Guest House Mlino is located just a few steps from the pletna boats and the views are hard to beat. For the sunrise, I just rolled out of bed and stepped outside.

At first, I saw only fog but then slowly the spectacular started to unfold. The air became crystal clear and the lake looked like a perfect mirror. This beautiful scene put tears in my eyes. If just for this moment, it was worth it to visit Lake Bled.

Morning view of the boats in Lake Bled Slovenia.
What a beautiful morning in Lake Bled!

Stroll along the lake

That morning, I had the lake to myself. I took a stroll along its shores and felt nothing but joy. The beauty was overwhelming!

Take pictures

It is hard to ask for a more picturesque location than Lake Bled. Images of the island and the church, magnified but their reflections, are regularly found in travel magazines.

If you have more than one day in Lake Bled

Try outdoor adventures and adrenaline activities such as canyoning, rafting, paragliding, climbing, and more. Check out a local tourist agency Altitude-Actitivites for a wide variety of options.

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