Despite extremely high expectations for stunning Lake Bled, we were somehow still blown away by the incomparable scenery and astounding number of different viewpoints around the lake. With so many unique features – castle, island, church, mountains, pletnas – every new angle offers up something exciting and new. You could easily spend a week or two just hunting down great photo spots so we put together a detailed guide to Lake Bled that provides all the info you need to plan your visit to this incomparable European gem, one of the must-see destinations in the Balkans.
While you can read a more varied account of our overall stay in our Highlights of Slovenia entry, we also decided to document as many of the best Lake Bled viewpoints as we could remember to help give some structure to your wanderings. Obviously, you will want a decent camera (something with zoom would be helpful, alhthough not strictly necessary), a small portable tripod so you can get in a few of the shots as well and maybe a pair of good binoculars to add some detail to your scenic gazing.
This was our personal favourite viewpoint, which we deemed worthy of an entire post of its own:
It gives a panoramic look at the lake, the island, the castle and the mountains in the background, and even has some rocks in front that are ideal for getting yourself in the shot. It is only about a 20-minute walk up from the main lake trail (or about an hour into a viewpoint loop starting with Mala Osojnica) so it can get a bit busy but we found it easy enough to wait it out and get some quiet time as well. It is best late in the afternoon with the sun behind you. I would suggest getting there by 4 pm or so since the actual sunset doesn’t actually shine any light on the island.
This is the most celebrated viewpoint and rightly so, even if we did slightly prefer Ojstrica. It is easy to combine both (plus Velika Osojnica, although despite being “big” Osojnica, the views aren’t as good) in one loop that will take an hour, maybe an hour and a half, plus gazing and photo time.
While views from the island itself aren’t necessarily that notable, the sights on the way to and from the island are outstanding. I would recommend renting a rowboat (15€ per hour from north side dock, 20€ per hour from the south dock which is closer to the island) – mainly because it’s fun, but also so you can circle the island and capture every possible angle. As long as you understand the basic concept of rowing (remember, face backward!) you should easily be able to reach the island and back in less than in an hour. However, if you want to pay 6€ to visit the church on the island and take your turn at ringing the bell (legend claims the “ringer” is generously granted a magical wish, making for almost continuous background music throughout the day) you may need a bit more time.
Dobra Gora (Good Mountain)
We discovered this walk just by looking at the map on our hiking app. It starts from Na Jasri and climbs up to a nice, and somewhat different, view of the village of Selo and the Jelovica Plateau (away from the lake). Then around a few more bends you reach another view of the southwest corner of the lake (whew).
This is part of a large entertainment destination featuring a treetop course for kids and an adrenalized toboggan on rails that can take you speeding to the bottom of the hill for just €4 (€8 if you want to take the chair lift up instead of walking). Regardless of your interest level in these other pursuits, however, the views from the top are typically excellent, and there is even a photo frame set up next to the toboggan ride for those who like to add a little structure to their scenery shots.
The €11 entry fee is a bit steep for this relatively small castle, although it is beautifully maintained and provides an informative museum and wide variety of views and places to explore. I only learned later that there are (supposedly) a couple places to get similar views without going inside, by walking out around the west end of the parking lot.
Often described as one of the best day hikes in Europe, Vintgar Gorge is exceedingly popular and it costs €10 to get in, but it is a very cool hike. It takes about an hour to walk there from town (or there are various transport options), about half an hour to walk the length of the canyon, then if you take a right up the hill at the café at the end you can follow a well-marked path back to town on a more direct and less developed route than the one you followed to reach the start of the canyon. Or, like most people, you can walk back through the canyon and enjoy the views from both directions. Keep in mind, though, the gorge gets really busy, and that walkway is really narrow and annoying to share with big groups, so we would suggest either getting there right after it opens in the morning or going in the last hour before it closes (open 8:00-18:00 until the end of September, 9:00-16:00 off-season).
Swimming Area (along path in front of Hotel Jadran)
Not coincidentally, we made special note of this spot because it just happened to be on our shortest route down to the lake. Still, hard to argue with one of the more direct views of the castle and church, plus some foliage-covered trees to use as props, a few of which were already changing to deep red in late September. Hotel Jadran itself is worth a look, as well, itself appearing to be consumed by leaves and vines.
In the heart of the busiest tourist section and directly beside the Park Restaurant and Café, this is the place to get some nice green grass in the foreground of your lake photo.
The Heart of Bled
Specifically designed with Instagrammers in mind, this kitschy spot may or may not be your thing, but it sits on a pretty prime spot on a short dock overlooking all the big highlights.
Located down in the southwest corner of the lake, this is maybe the closest you can actually get to Bled Island without physically venturing out onto the water. This is a great place to break up a circumnavigation of the lake and maybe get your first taste of a local delicacy, the Kremšnita (Bled Cream Cake).
This little village tucked away around a corner doesn’t particularly stand out for its lake, island or castle views, at least not unusually so (there is no such thing as a bad view around Bled). But it is the best place to watch the tour group dynamic in full swing, as they all come here at some point, seeping out of buses like reluctant invaders, taking a bevy of photos before shuffling onto the boats for the journey out to the island. Pro tip: if you are hoping to make use of the public port-a-toilets you may want to avoid arriving 5 minutes after one of the Asian tour buses arrives.
As you can tell, there is no shortage of great viewpoints on and around Lake Bled. I’m sure there are dozens more we hadn’t yet found in just 5 days, providing some incentive to explore the area on your own. Sometimes the most random, unexpected spots end up providing the best photos. And if we had it to do over again we may have tried to back our visit up a week or two since the leaves were just starting to change colour while we were there at the tail end of September. Regardless of the season, though, and even if you just have a single afternoon, Lake Bled is a place every avid photographer needs to make a priority.
This website contains affiliate links. They do not affect prices but we earn a commission if they are used to book something or make a purchase.
Other useful articles you may want to check out: