Ohhhhh Slovenia and Lake Bled…such a magical country and city! Slovenia is a hidden gem in Europe (and I hope it stays that way). This gem is nestled in between Croatia, Austria, Hungary and Italy and is truly unique compared to the other Balkan countries. It has such a chill sophistication about it and, coupled with epic landscapes and amazing people, I didn’t want to leave. We spent 4 months exploring the Balkans and Slovenia was one of our FAVORITES. The people are warm and friendly, the food is of a wide range and totallydelicious, the scenery is unreal and Ljubljana is truly an unforgettable city!
Lake Bled is located just a one hour drive from Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city, and is a great day trip (or more if you have the time and budget). The lake itself is almost 5 miles around, so it’s great for a bike ride or walk/run as well, although we didn’t have time for either (bummer). If you’re going for a quick trip, I’ve outlined the 5 things to do so you’ll have the BEST day ever at this little slice of unforgettable paradise.
1.Paddleboard with Bananaway
What better way to see the lake than coasting along the water itself?! Our day trip from Ljubljana to Lake Bled with Bananaway was absolutely unforgettable! We’ve always been big fans of paddle boarding (its much easier than it looks, I promise) and we were so lucky to stumble across their company! As soon as we paddled out onto the crystal clear, still water, it was like immediate peace and zen! The water is SO calm and serene, making paddling totally easy. You get such a different perceptive of the lake itself seeing it this way…I literally didn’t want to get off my board!
Bananaway picked us up right in Ljubljana, took us hiking to the top of Lake Bled and then finished off the day by paddle boarding around on the incredible water for a few hours. This truly was the highlight of our trip and we wish we had more time to do other paddle boarding excursions with them! Definitely check them out, you’ll be so happy you did!
2. Hike to the Top
Everyone knows that views from the top are the BEST! If you’re physically able, a short, 20-minute hike up to the top overlooking Lake Bled is ABSOLUTELY worth it! Sure you’ll be panting and sweating, but as soon as those epic views fill up your eyesight, you’ll forget all about it! Do note that the hill is quite steep, so wear tennis shoes, bring water and don’t bring your small dog. We ended up carrying Miesha the entire way up the hill, as it was far to strenuous for her fluffy paws. Next time, we’ll leave her at the Airbnb to watch 101 Dalmatians.
3. Visit the Island
I’ve read mixed reviews about visiting the island, but our paddle board tour with Bananaway included a stop at the island (along with the hike), so we ended up going and I am SO glad we did! The island itself, at only an acre in size) is truly unique with a 17th-church atop and cute cafe. If paddle boarding isn’t your thing, of course you can take the Pletna boat to the island. Pletna is a family run company since the 12th century and they’re the only company permitted to transport to the island.
There are 99 steps to the top of the island, where the church sits atop and this has become a common place for people to get married. Legend says that as part of the wedding ceremony, the groom is to carry the bride up all 99 steep steps and, if he succeeds without dropping her, it will be a long, happy marriage. If he drops her, then the marriage will be not work out so well. Remind me not to get married here LOL
As you’re strolling around the Lake and island, you’ll surely hear the sound of a bell constantly ringing too. This bell, when rung, is said to grant any wish that you have so many visitors happily ring it all day long. Do note that you’ll have to pay to enter the church to ring the bell.
4. Eat Bled Cream Cake
Cake cake cake cake cake….yes please! You CANNOT come to Lake Bled without eating it’s traditional cream cake, which is absolutely DELICIOUS! It’s light, fluffy, creamy and tastes like heaven. There are multiple locations all over the city selling this cake, but the traditional version is sold at Cafe Kavarna, which I think is the best!
5. Taste the World’s Best Ice Cream
After devouring cake, head over to SoolNua’s to continue your sugar buzz for what has been voted the World’s Best Ice Cream. With over 11 different countries competing, Bled won the competition with over 14,000 votes. I ate the chocolate with mascarpone and it was SO delicious but so so rich! One scoop was too much!
If your’e coming to Lake Bled, you’re most likely going to Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana. If you didn’t plan to stop here, restructure your plan for at LEAST one day in the city! Ljubljana is one of our favorite European cities because it truly has its own unique charm. It’s so clean and the architecture is just stunning. The streets are also closed off for only pedestrians, making it even more memorable. I highly suggest taking a free walking tour of the city to really learn about it’s history and familiarize yourself with all that it has to offer! The free tours run daily at 11am and 3pm-and don’t forget to tip your guide!
Other things in Ljubljana that you CANNOT miss are:
- Triple Bridge: located in the Center Square (Prešernov Trg Square)
- Ljubljana Castle & Funicular: climb up 20 minutes to the top of the hill to get panoramic views of the city. TIP: skip the extra paid portion to go to the very top. The views from the 1st tier are just as good. You can always take the Funicular all the way to the top if walking isn’t your forte. The funicular costs 4,00€ for an adult return trip.
- Open Kitchen: If you’re planning a trip to Ljubljana, make SURE you’re there on a Friday for Open Kitchen! It’s essentially an open food market with multiple market stalls serving up delicious eats from all different types of cuisines.
- Cacao Ice Cream: Calling all ice cream lovers! This has to be the BEST ice cream I’ve ever had in my life (sorry Italian gelato!). Get the ‘muffin’ flavor…you’ll thank me later! A special shoutout goes to our friends Katia and Matija for introducing us to this delectable place and showing us all around their beautiful city!
- On Thai: If you’ve followed my adventures long enough, you know we lived in Asia 2.5 years and we are super suckers for Asian food, especially Thai! At this point in our travels, we had been in the Balkans for over 4 months and were tired of the local cuisine. On Thai had the BEST Thai food we’ve eaten outside of Thailand (besides one other hidden gem in Fort Lauderdale, Florida). The owners are straight from Thaialnd, they’re super kind and they cook the BEST green curry and Pad Thai in Europe.
- Sushimama: Craving sushi?! This is your SPOT!
Where To Stay
There are an abundance of hotels, hostels and Airbnb’s to stay at in Ljubljana and near Lake Bled. We are avid Airbnb users, as we travel with our furry dog, Miesha. Plus we usually stay in cities for an extended period of time to really get to know the place (and Airbnb offers weekly and monthly discounts). Our Ljubljana Airbnb was totally perfect. Our host, Matija was so kind, genuine and very responsive. The apartment is spacious and modern (I loved the kitchen) and it was located just 15 minutes walking from the city center. For $33 off your first AIRBNB booking, click HERE for my discount code!
A Day Trip From Ljubljana: Lake Bohinje
Another amazing day trip from Ljubljana is Lake Bohinje, which is just over an hour drive from the capital city. Stroll around the lake or, if you’re into hiking, climb to top of the mountain overlooking the city for BREATHTAKING views! It takes about 45minutes-1 hour to get to the top, but you’ll absolutely be glad you did when you have 360 panoramic views overlooking the lake. Be sure to bring water & wear tennis shoes! When we visited there were paraglider taking off from the top of the mountain. Watching them jump off and glide down ever so gracefully was an unforgettable experience! A special thanks goes out to dear friend, Nina, for taking us here and showing us around! It was an amazing day!
Before You Go:
- Ljubljana is such a walkable city, but only if you have the right shoes! I’ve literally worn these Nike Womens Air Max Shoes every single day for a year straight (running, hiking, exploring) and they’re still in great condition! Josh swears by his Nike Men’s Tanjun Running Shoes as well.
- Ljubljana is SUPER safe, but we always pack smart and store our money and passports safely. We’ve been using the Buddy Pouch for years now, in over 40 countries, and (knock on wood) we’ve never had a problem.
- We travel with a lot of filming equipment, but our go to’s are our GoPro HERO5 Black and GoPro Karma Drone to get the best shots possible.
- We never go anywhere without travel insurance and the BEST is World Nomads. Their coverage is affordable and great, as well as their customer service.
- Check out my Blog Post: 15 Essential Items For Traveling The World for more details on what we take all around the Globe with us.
Thank you SOOOO much for stopping by!
XOXO The Traveling Blondie