Lake Bled, Slovenia
While driving around Croatia this summer we decided to end our trip in Slovenia. Our biggest mistake was not spending more time in this beautiful country. We opted for city days, when we should have tried to spend more time enjoying the countryside. That being said an afternoon at Lake Bled was lovely, although ill planned. Hopefully you can learn from our planning mistakes to fully enjoy the region.
The day started with the border crossing from Croatia into Slovenia. Google Maps attempted to reroute us due to a backup at the border crossing. This led us to a smaller border crossing for EU Members only (which we didn’t know nor was there any signage). We were denied entry and sent to wait in the line at the main border crossing.
(You an hear the full story of our border crossing on the Thoughtful Travel Podcast.)
Once we were in Slovenia the goal was to press to Lake Bled. Everything was a bit of a mess. We ended up needing lunch before our arrival. Food options right off the highway were a bit hard to find but using Foursquare I found an option with great reviews. We pulled up and it was a permanent food truck in a parking lot.
The Loving Hut Express turned out to be a Vegan food stop with amazing food. The two women inside the truck were lovely and even had a box of toys for the kids to enjoy while we sat behind the truck on the lawn chairs to eat. We used the bathrooms at the nearby office park – they seem to have some arrangement with the truck people – and set off on our way.
We hit traffic well before we reached the lake. August is high season in Lake Bled and it was crowded. The game plan was to rent boats to head out to the island in the center of the lake and visit the church. There are group boats that head out, or you can rent boats.
The first issue was that we couldn’t find parking. We ventured nearly halfway around the lake before we found a sketchy parking place on a one-way road. Everyone else was parking there so we did too, although we are fairly certain it isn’t allowed.
The next problem was finding a boat. We found a few of the rental places but all the boats were out. No one knew when they would be back. There was a guy in a lawn chair with a “list” but we had to wait in a physical line for a boat to come back. Further everyone informed us that we could not leave the boat unattended. “You gotta know when to fold ’em” right?
We abandoned the boat idea and instead went for a walk. There is a lovely path that runs around the lake. In several places it drops down to the lake and becomes a boardwalk.
The boys loved walking on the water and we had amazing views of the island from the boardwalk.
Our walk also took us to a perfect swimming beach. We had left our swimming stuff in the car, but decided just to roll up our pant legs and sit at the edge with our feet dangled in. The rock bottom requires some sort of shoe to really enjoy walking in the water.
We literally just sat and enjoyed the view until the boys got bored. Then we hopped back in the car and drove up to the castle. The plan was to take a tour of the castle. We arrived and parked on the street to avoid the ridiculous parking fee in the parking lot. We walked up the steep hill to the castle entrance only to find the castle was closed because the power was out in the town. We were told they had no idea how long it would be out. We waited about half an hour, watching the parking attendant continue to collect money for parking despite the castle being closed. Then we abandoned the castle.
There is a small path to the left of the castle that we were told provides a view of the lake, one of the reasons I wanted to visit the castle, but instead it just gave us a view of the shore directly under us. You could not see the island from here. We decided to call it a day and head into Ljubljana and get settled in our Airbnb.
If we had known better we likely would have booked an accommodation on the shores of Lake Bled for the night. This would have guaranteed us parking. We could have taken an early boat out to the island or been first in line for a rental boat. Renting bikes here would be a lovely way to get around as well and you could make a day of biking around the lake.
Since we had a bit of a hard time I want to point you in the direction of some helpful tips about a visit to Lake Bled. The blog Far and Away Places has some great tips for Lake Bled that would have helped us plan our trip. Battle Mum has a list of 5 Things To Do Around Lake Bled With A Toddler that is particularly helpful in planing your trip. You can also check out my friend Jules’ post about Slovenia being the ultimate European family friendly destination.
All in all we loved the scenery here but just missed the mark with our planning. These things happen, particularly when you travel as much as we do. We didn’t let it ruin our trip but instead were glad for the bit of outside time we got in the beautiful weather.