If we thought we landed in a fairytale when we arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia, we were in no way prepared for the captivating atmosphere of Lake Bled. Nestled amidst snow-capped mountains, the serene lake has one island, which is occupied by a church with a wish-granting bell, and a dramatic cliff-hanging castle along the shore. While many people flock to the island and castle for an up-close experience, we were seeking the best Lake Bled scenic viewpoints and set off on a hike that put some distance between us and the lake, but delivered picture-perfect views and a fresh perspective.
We arrived via bus at the east end of the lake in the town of Bled, some of which seems way too modern for the tranquil setting. Our first glance over the water had us standing still in our tracks as a swan gracefully glided along the shore with the island in the background. We were ready to set off on the paved 6km walkway that hugs the shore, but detoured into the tourist center for a map and suggestions.
Lake Bled Scenic Viewpoints from the shore
As budget travelers, we weren’t interested in spending €12 each for a boat ride to the island or the €9 to enter the castle. What most intrigued us was the hike at the west end of the lake right off the paved path that led to two Lake Bled scenic viewpoints: Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica.
During the easy stroll along the southern shore, our focus rested on the picturesque island. Motorized boats are not permitted on the lake, but electric and Pletna boats crossed from the shore to the island with loads of tourists. The Pletna boats are wooden and rowed from the back, much like the gondolas of Venice, but bigger.
As we reached the western end of the lake, the views became even grander, encompassing the length of the lake, the island, the castle, St. Martin’s church and the soaring mountains from a single viewpoint. Before starting our hike, we settled in on one of the many benches along the path and dined lakeside on sandwiches.
Hiking to Lake Bled Scenic Viewpoints
Following the signs for Trail 6, we began the inclined trek. We passed a small farm and then were quickly enveloped in the forest. We steadily climbed the hillside, crunching leaves beneath our feet and stripping off our hats, gloves and jackets along the way.
After about 10 minutes, the trail split to the right for the first lookout point, Ojstrica, which made the initial steep climb pale in comparison. Intimidated, but determined, we made our way up the short set of steep switchbacks. In the last five steps to the top, the view began to emerge and I gained momentum in an attempt to see it all. Completely out of breath, I still managed to squeal with giddiness at the scene in front of us.
The lookout point features zero barriers. There are no fences, no railings. It was just us and the wind and the rocks and the magnificent scene. Once we felt confident that we had snapped way too many pictures, we relaxed on the single bench and soaked it in.
Reluctant to leave the beautiful sight, we made use of the walking stick someone had left behind and continued to the second viewpoint, Mala Osojnica. Despite our already aching muscles, we had a little skip in our step as we anticipated even better views from the slightly higher point. When we made it to the clearing at the edge of the cliff we were left speechless. It was almost as if someone deliberately created the mountain we were standing on just for the sake of the view of Lake Bled and the mountains behind it.
We finally managed to tear ourselves away from the scenic outlook and hiked back down to the lake. I was astonished that we passed no one on our way down. At both lookout points, we had the area completely to ourselves and only passed a total of six other hikers during our time on the trails.
Once back at lake level, we completed the circuit, still finding the views to be astounding, but not nearly as breathtaking as from the trail outlooks. Back in town, we found a local pub with outdoor seating and a view of the castle and St. Martin Church and rewarded ourselves with a pint.
Our top tips for your trip to Slovenia
Where To Stay
During our visit to Slovenia, we stayed in Ljubljana in the incredibly unique Hostel Celica and this awesome Airbnb Apartment. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip:
Or These Hostels:
Before You Go
- Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- It’s easy to get turned around or lost in any new city! Be sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook prior to arriving.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
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