We didn’t have very long in Bled. Mainly because we were too busy staying in tree houses, driving the famous Vršič Pass, and learning about beekeeping down in Bela Krajina. Yet we couldn’t visit Slovenia and miss out on her most popular destination. So what is there to do with just 24 hours in Bled?
Visit Bled Castle
Start your day taking in the most iconic sight in Bled. If there’s one thing you want to see during a visit to Bled, it’s that stunning view overlooking the lake. You know, the one that appears on all the postcards and in all the glossy magazines.
Unless you have a lot more time and want to climb some hills, your best bet for capturing this panorama is to visit Bled Castle. There is free parking at the top and a pathway around the side of the castle to a viewpoint overlooking the lake. Unfortunately the path was closed for maintenance whilst we were there.
The views from inside the castle are fabulous too.
Stunning views aside, Bled Castle itself was actually rather disappointing. Sure it’s an impressive and imposing fortress perched up on the cliff, but once inside all the drama disappears.
It’s really just a museum and educational centre with several shops, a restaurant and a cafe. The museum isn’t that interesting and the whole place just felt too modernised. I prefer to be able to feel the history in a castle, and imagine the hands of those gone before touching the same crumbling stone walls that lay beneath my fingers today.
That certainly wasn’t the case here at Bled Castle. Or maybe it was just having to dodge the hordes of selfie stick wielding tourists that was making me grumpy.
We did love the little chapel though, a beautiful and calm space away from the bustle outside.
Is it worth the €10 entry fee? I guess the views alone are worth it, and although we were disappointed with the interior, it’s still the top sight in the area, even if you do only have 24 hours in Bled. If you’re short on time and cash, just take a stroll along the path for your lake photos!
Tip: Visit the castle first thing in the morning (it opens at 8am) to avoid the crowds. We were there around 9 am which was fine, but by the time we left an hour later it was elbow room only. The overflow car park is a long walk downhill from the castle, another good reason to arrive early and bag your parking spot.
Try a Bled cream cake
A bit of a Slovenian institution, locals say you haven’t been to Bled unless you’ve tried the famous Bled cream cakes. They’re the very symbol of Bled, made with butter dough, vanilla cream and icing sugar. The place to try them is the Hotel Park, something you can easily fit into 24 hours in Bled.
Shame I don’t like cream.
Row to Bled island
Next, take a ride on one of the traditional flat bottomed wooden pletna boats to the little island in the middle of Lake Bled. The Pletna Oarsman are like the Gondoliers of Venice. It’s a much coveted profession with the title usually being handed down through the generations rather than being performed by just anyone.
Once on the island, climb the steps to the 15th Century church and ring the bell. It is said that anyone ringing it will be granted a wish. People always say that about bells don’t they (Predjama Cave Castle has a wishing bell too). I wish it were true.
If you’re feeling more energetic, hire a rowing boat and do it yourselves! Or you could even swim across like some of the local kids!
Tip: You can hire plentas from various places around the lake, including the boat piers at Spa Park, Mlino and Casino Bled. Check out this list for further pletna information. For a list of rowing boat hire locations, have a look at these boat rental places.
There are lots of restaurants in town, and after just 24 hours in Bled I’m not going to pretend we’ve sampled enough to know much about them. We did, however, love Pizzeria Rustika, which was just down the street from our accommodation at Old Parish House. It’s known as one of the best spots to eat in Bled, and there were as many locals dining as there were tourists.
You really can’t go far wrong with a bit of pizza!
We spent the night at the Old Parish House in Bled, because it was central, cheap and charming. The guest house is tucked away along the cobbled back streets of town, right next to the Church of Assumption, and with views of the lake. There was parking too which was the main reason we stayed. Parking is a nightmare in Bled, unless you want to pay €10 every time you want to stop for 10 minutes. Which we didn’t.
We had one of the best rooms overlooking the little square and the lake, and whilst rather spartan (it does belong to the church after all!) we thought the design fit very well with the surroundings.
Breakfast was a communal buffet affair which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and was pretty basic, but for the price I thought it was fair. The staff were very friendly and helpful, and I’d certainly stay again.
Tip: Double Lake View rooms cost €112 including breakfast and parking. Standard rooms are cheaper but the view is worth the extra cost.
Hike the Vintgar Gorge
This is quite rightly one of the top destinations in Slovenia, and even if you only have 24 hours in Bled, I’d recommend this should be at the top of your list! It’s an easy half day trip, and only a few minutes drive out of Bled (or you can walk!). I’ve written a separate post on hiking the Vintgar Gorge it’s that good!
The Verdict on 24 hours in Bled
We didn’t have long enough to really get to know Bled. I have to be honest and say that for us, Bled seemed to be the ‘honey pot’ in Slovenia. Everyone goes there, and therefore it isn’t quite the tranquil fairytale land promised by all the gleaming photographs. Parking was a real nightmare. We wanted to drive around the lake and stop in various places to have a stroll and take photos, yet all the parking spots charged a minimum of €10, which we weren’t prepared to pay. Fortunately the parking attendant at one spot kindly allowed us to jump out for 5 minutes to take a few photos free of charge, but kept an eye on his watch to make sure we didn’t take advantage of his offer.
Would we return to Bled? Sure. The setting is spectacular and it’s a great place to base yourselves for day trips pretty much all over the country.
We did receive a complimentary press entrance ticket to Bled Castle thanks to our partnership with Big Berry. This post also contains affiliate links which means if you make a booking through Booking.com we earn a small commission, at no extra cost to yourselves, which helps keep the blog running.
What a shame, you’ve kind of confirmed what I was supposing. Getting sick of these sites that have become too popular for their own good – we’re in Lisbon right now where everyone says “go to Sintra”. But have heard horror stories of the waiting times, cost, and crowds…and I’m skipping it this time around (I was there 25 years ago and had a fantastic time. But tourism has changed a lot since those days and I can’t take all the people and bad manners).
Lousy castles. Like the one in Ljubljana? Disappointing as well. Again, only worth it for the views.
Yeah, such a shame the popular sites like these have become a bit of a victim of their own success. Still, I think it’s important to have ‘honeypots’ like this so that the rest of the area is still relatively quiet. It’s the same here in the Lake District. Didn’t make it to Ljubljana, but looking at the castle on the net it reminds me of the one in Prague (also a disappointment because it didn’t feel like a ‘proper’ castle). Maybe we’re just too picky 😉 Hope you manage to find some good spots in Lisbon, be interesting to see how it’s changed over 25 years!
Great post, and I love Bled! I spent most of my time on the opposite side of the lake when I was there, which is much more quiet…Did you go to Lake Bohinj? Far less tourists (the town is tiny) and possibly event prettier 🙂
I’ve heard Bohinj is lovely, unfortunately we didn’t have time (although we did go on the Bohinj car train on the way back from Triglav). Next time! Glad you enjoyed it too!
I had much less time in Bled unfortunately, but I did enjoy the castle – there was some festival when I went, so a lot was going on and it was fun.
That does sound fun! Would be good to see an event there!