A favourite with visitors from all over the world, the stunningly beautiful Lake Bled in Slovenia has so much to offer visitors! Have a read to see just what it’s like to explore the lake! Alternatively, check another of my posts about the greater Bled Region!
Out on the Lake
The main aim for most people (including me!) when you venture out onto Lake Bled is to visit Bled Island and the Church of the Mother of God on the Lake to ring the famous bell and make a wish! Needless to say, I did just that!
There are a number of methods of transport you can take to the island. There are several options for travelling across on one of the ferries. The obvious advantage here is that you don’t need to travel under your own steam. The only issue is that you get a limited time on the island and will always be there when it’s busier.
As far as travelling at your own pace is concerned, there are several options available. You can hire a kayak (this is probably the most efficient option for both speed and energy). You can also choose a stand up paddle board or a traditional row boat. I went for the row boat for a more traditional and authentic experience. It cost me € 20 for a little over two hours.
I hired my boat from a berth between Bled Café and Bled Castle. This allowed for a great view of the entire lake, including rowing under the over 300m high peak that is topped by Bled Castle. The only downside was that as I was travelling solo, it wasn’t the easiest of row. The boat wasn’t overly efficient, but it was very pretty! I would recommend the row boat for more than one person and the kayak for solo travellers.
If you’re doing some self-guided travelling, you’ll need to moor your boat/kayak/SUP at the back of the island, away from the wide (and beautiful) steps. BUT, you should definitely circle the island on your approach or departure to get the quintessential view of Bled Island! There is a secondary set for you to ascend to the church, but I would strongly recommend going down the main set and then back up for the full experience.
The island boasts a souvenir shop and café and loads of indoor and outdoor seating for you to relax and enjoy the amazing views of and from the island. My favourite view was a gap in the trees near the outdoor seating area that boasted a stunning view back towards Bled town and Bled Castle.
Church of the Mother of God on the Lake
Entry to the Church of the Mother of God on the Lake (nice handy short name, isn’t it!) will set you back €6. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t much. BUT. I do feel that when the vast majority of people will need to either pay to get brought to the island or rent a boat to make the journey, it was an unexpected expense. Other than the famous bell, it’s a small enough church that is beautiful, but it’s obviously no St. Peter’s Basilica (which incidentally was free entry the last time I visited!). I think it was more the surprise nature of the charge and the principle of it that I didn’t like. Make sure you dress appropriately too, so no bare shoulders or swimwear, or you won’t be allowed in.
The Legend of the Wishing Bell
The church has been in its current state since the 1600s with the altar dating back to 1747. The “Wishing Bell” was made in 1534 and the legend surrounding it goes like this: There was a young, inconsolable widow who lived in Bled Castle in the mid 1500s. Her husband was killed by thieves who dumped his body in the lake.
She decided to sell her valuables and to pay for a bell to honour his memory. It never arrived. The bell sank, along with the boat and boatmen in a storm on the lake. Some say it can still be heard on clear nights. She then sold the remainder of her belongings and went to live in a monastery in Rome. Following her death, the Pope commissioned a new bell and sent it to Bled Island. To this day, whoever rings the bell makes a wish and the “Lady from the Lake” grants it!
When to Go?
Morning, Afternoon or Evening, Lake Bled and the Church on the Island will be equally amazing! Equally, it will be breathtakingly beautiful all year round! My personal recommendation would be to visit earlier in the day to avoid larger crowds. I would also suggest timing your visit for late May or early September for the same reason. You’re still likely to get good weather and it shouldn’t be too busy.