Over the last few years, Lake Bled has begun to make its way onto the bucket lists of many keen travellers and it is very easy to see why. The lake and its surroundings seem as though they have been taken straight from a fairy tale. From the castle perched right on the cliff top, to the church situated in the middle of the lake, there are countless places to take stunning photos.

It is only about 90 minutes away from Ljubljana, so the perfect distance to visit in a day. There are loads of organised trips that take you there, but I chose to make the trip by myself on public transport.

There are two easy ways to get there, either by bus or train. I took the bus. They start early in the morning, about 5am, and leave Ljubljana bus station every 20 to 30 minutes at a cost of 12€ for a return ticket. Alternatively, you can take the train which is a little faster but still around the same cost. However, the key difference is that the train station is 4km away from the lake itself so unless you are willing to walk, it will be an expensive taxi. In comparison, the bus station is a very short walk away from the lake, so there are no hidden costs.

I started my visit with a hike up to Bled Castle perched on the hill above the lake. From here you can get some of the best views of the whole lake. The castle itself dates back to the 12th century and you can enter for 9€. I decided not to go into the castle itself, the 9€ price didn’t fit in my budget for that day, and instead made a sketchy walk around the side of the castle which allowed me to get the same views for free.

From there I went for a walk all the way around the lake, about 6km in total, and stopped off to swim at one of the designated swimming spots and hike into the woods for even more stunning views. I thought that it would be a relatively easy hike through the woods. Instead, I managed to get lost on two separate occasions and was very much out of breath by the top. There is a path around most of the lake which can be easily walked or cycled around in an afternoon and plenty of signposted hikes, such as the one I did, for the more adventurous visitors.

One of the most famous parts of the lake is the Assumption of Mary Church, that is on the island in the middle. It was originally consecrated in 1142 but was rebuilt during the 15th century. This new church was then damaged by an earthquake in 1509 and the current iteration was then created in the early baroque style. The church contains a bell tower, and it is said that those who ring the bell and make a wish will have their wish come true. If that isn’t a good enough reason to visit the church and Lake Bled, then I don’t know what is!

The island housing the church can be visited in a variety of ways. There are boat rides to the centre that cost 12€ per person which take you right up to the steps of the Assumption of Mary Church. If you have a bit more energy, then you can hire a rowing boat or, like me, a paddleboard and make your own way to the centre of the lake. These can be rented from a variety of places at a cost of between 10€ and 20€ for an hour, which is plenty of time to get to the island and back. It is important to note that you can only go in the church itself if you are properly dressed, swim shorts and no t-shirt is not allowed.

The lake also has a town on its banks which is home to many different hotels, restaurants and bars. If you wanted to spend more than a day at Lake Bled, then there are plenty of accommodation options in the town of Bled and it also offers the opportunity to go and explore the nearby Triglav National Park.

Lake Bled has now firmly cemented its place on the bucket lists of many European and World travellers alike, and rightly so. Any trip through Central Europe is not complete without seeing this breath taking natural spot. However, as more people visit, Lake Bled’s stock is only likely to rise further. In order to beat the huge crowds, you need to make sure that you go as soon as possible!