Stunning Lake Bled was the first picture of Slovenia I ever saw! This beautiful lake with its tiny island and surrounding mountains is truly magical all year round.
There are however some differences between between visiting in the Winter and any other season. So when is the best time of year to visit Lake Bled?
How to get there?
First of all how do you get there? There are many buses going to Lake Bled from Ljubljana everyday, even in the winter. Tickets can be bought from the bus station on the day and cost €7. The journey takes about 70 minutes, so it is possible to do it as a day trip (like we did) although I would recommend staying the night. The bus stop is right outside the lake.
Lake Bled in Winter
Visiting in Winter can be a bit of a gamble when it comes to the weather. But with the risk comes what I think is the best reward!
We were very lucky because it wasn’t too cold and the sun was shining. The clear sky highlighted emphasised the reflection of the island on the water. There was a thin blanket of snow making the landscape even more magical. I’m not sure if the experience would have been quite the same if it was raining, dull or very windy.
Winter is low season so this means that it is a lot quieter than summer and generally feels more peaceful. However this does mean that lots of the restaurants are closed, which isn’t always clear online.
We managed to walk around the whole circumference of the lake (about 6km) in under 2 hours. This is whilst taking about 100 photos! I definitely recommend walking all the way around to see the lake from different angles. We got so carried away we missed the boat to the island which was at 16:00.
There are also lots of other places in Slovenia that are amazing in winter read more about them here: Slovenia: Beautiful in the winter
Lake Bled in Fall
September is a lovely time to visit Slovenia. It is not as busy as the summertime and the autumn colour are beautiful. The brown, orange, green and red leaves fill the trees that lead up to the highest peaks of the Julian Alps.
The Island in the middle of Lake bled has a pilgrimage church, a cafe, museum and souvenir. The church contains a bell tower and it is said that if you ring the bell and make a wish it will come true. There is a small fee to visit the church tower.
Powerboats are banned from the lake so to get to the island you can either rent a row boat or take a wooden boat called a pletna to the island. The Pletnas hold 20 people and run all year round, this is the easiest way to get to the island.
Unfortunately the days that we spend at Lake Bled were very cloudy compared to when we went in January. It was much nicer when the sun was shining (even if it was freezing cold). The main advantage of going during September was that the days were much longer which meant a lot more time to explore.
We also went to the viewpoints at Lake Bled during the autumn, read about them here:
Bled castle is on top of a cliff overlooking the lake. It has a museum, a chapel and has a lot of different things to see so it is worth visiting.
We attempted to have lunch at the restaurant in Bled castle. However even in Winter it was fully booked. This is because a booking at the restaurant allows free entry into the castle (instead of the usual €10 entry price). This is the reason a lot of tour groups book the restaurant for lunch.
When we went back again in September I learnt from this mistake and made sure that I booked a table months in advance. We ended up getting a table by the window and the food was delicious. We ordered from the menu but it seemed like the tour groups has a set menu that was slightly different.
In January, the last part of the ramp up to the castle was very icy and steep. This meant we had to hold onto railings tightly to stop ourselves slipping over because it didn’t seem to be gritted. We may have been unlucky but it is something to bear in mind if you are taking children with you.
Whichever time of year you choose to go, you can’t go to Lake Bled without trying a slice of the famous Bled cake! Slascicarna Zima is a café very close to the bus stop, where you can sample the famous Bled cream cake. We also had Bled cake for dessert in the Bled castle restaurant.
Visiting Lake Bled will be magical whatever time of year you visit. You just need to weigh up what you prefer. I personally think it looks more beautiful in the winter with snow blanket covering the surroundings. There are also fewer crowds, however this means that fewer restaurants are open and the atmosphere isn’t as lively.
In autumn there are a lot more people but the colours of the changing leaves look stunning. From pictures the lake does look amazing in the summer as well, just expect a lot of people and tours visiting with you.