Most trips to Slovenia include both classic Ljubljana and stunning Lake Bled, both featuring high up on every the list of best places to visit in Slovenia. This guide will go through all the options so that you can pick the best option.

Most people start their Slovenia visit in Ljubljana with its nice, compact old town, a photogenic river, pedestrian streets ideal for idle strolling, big churches and colourful old buildings and a long list of things to do.

Houses along the Ljubljanica River and Ljubljana Castle

The second most popular stop is Lake Bled in the Triglav National Park, famous for its photogenic church on Bled Island, Bled Castle and cream cake, all surrounded by the Julian Alps. We spent five days at Lake Bled and it is absolutely a must-see. Our guide to visiting Lake Bled will give you all the information you need to plan your visit.

The Bled Island - the main reason people go from Ljubljana to Lake Bled

How Far is Lake Bled from Ljubljana?

Lake Bled is 55 kilometres from Ljubljana along the Gorenjska highway.

But first you need to pick your mode of transportation from Ljubljana to Bled. There are five different options – car, bus, train, taxi and tour.

Using a Rental Car

Having your own vehicle is the easiest choice for visiting Lake Bled. If the highway isn’t busy it can take about 40 minutes to drive. You can rent a car in Ljubljana for your entire Slovenian trip or just for your visit to Lake Bled. However, public transportation to and from Bled and other popular places like Piran, Koper, Maribor, Lake Bohinj and Postojna is so easy that I would only recommend renting a car if you are planning to visit more remote areas that don’t have as many bus and train options like Kranjska Gora, Vršič Pass, Bovec, Kobarid, Goriška Brda, Nova Gorica, Postojna&Predjama, Škocjan Caves, Lipica, Logarska Dolina, Ptuj, and Jeruzalem Wine Region.

You can rent a car from the Ljublana Airport – it is the easiest way to get from the Ljubljana Airport to Lake Bled (besides taking a taxi which costs around 55€ – 65€) and takes only 25 min as the airport is between Ljubljana and Bled. The Ljubljana Airport has a variety of car rental agencies available there.

Or you can go to one of the international and local car rental companies that have their offices in the city of Ljubljana. You can choose from Europcar, Hertz, Avant, SIXT, Thifty and Atet, a highly reviewed local car rental company among others.

You can also book a one-way car rental if you would like to drive to a neighboring country and leave the car there e.g. Budapest, Split, Venice, or Salzburg. But look closely at the list of borders that are ok to take the car over. For instance, some countries aren’t included for some car rental companies like Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, and Russia.

Take the Bus From Ljubljana to Bled

If you use public transportation the bus has the most departure time options. The Ljubljana to Lake Bled bus is one of the more popular routes and buses leave every 30-60 minutes. In the summer the first bus departs at 5am and when were there in the fall the first departure was at 6am and the last bus left at 10pm. The journey takes about an hour and a half.

The Ljubljana Bus Station, also known as Avtobusna Potaja, is right in front of the train station on Trg Osvobodilne. If you are staying in the town centre it is walkable, depending on your luggage, as it is only about a 10 minute walk from the Dragon Bridge. We came on a bus from Piran so we were dropped off at the station. You would also have a choice of taking a metered taxi to the station which, from the town centre, would only be a few euro.

The bus company Arriva has large and comfortable buses and is the bus we took to Bled. You can get your ticket at the station. There is a small building outside the train station with a few small kiosks with drinks and snacks as well as the ticket office. The ticket office has screens in front with the destinations and departure times. The staff were very friendly, spoke English and helped us choose between a one-way ticket for 6.30 euro or an open ended ticket for 11.30 euro. The only downside of an open-ended ticket is keeping track of the physical ticket. But we appreciated it when we were coming back to Ljubljana from Lake Bled as we took an early bus and the ticket kiosk wasn’t open yet, which caused issues for other passengers. This might have been a one-off but worked out well for us. The ticket office will tell you which of the numbered bays (looks like a bus parallel parking lot) and there will be sign for Bled in the front window of the bus.

Our bus was only about half full for our early afternoon fall departure but the buses could fill up during high season. You could just wait for the next bus but if you want to be sure that you will be able to leave at a specific time, especially if you are planning a day trip, you can buy the bus tickets in advance. To do this either go to the bus station and day or two ahead and get a ticket or you can reserve a seat online on the Avtobusna Postaja website. You can reserve it up to 30 days in advance but only get a voucher that you have to exchange for a real ticket at the bus station on the day of departure.

Like most buses, you can take a small bag onto the bus and your larger luggage goes underneath. There is a 1 euro fee to put your luggage under the bus. You give your luggage to the attendant or bus driver and they give you a small stub that you need to keep until the end of the trip and exchange for your bag.

Arriva buses have air conditioning, bathrooms and wifi. Everything you need for a comfortable trip. Most buses have seatbelts and if they do you are legally required to use them.

The train station had a pay bathroom and a left luggage which could be handy if you want to do a day trip to Bled.

There is one main bus stop in Bled by the lake. We were staying about a 10-minute walk back from the lake and our Airbnb told us the buses sometimes stop on the way in, which would be closer. Our driver had no interest in stopping for us but it wouldn’t hurt to ask if you are in the same situation.

The bus also makes a stop in Kranj along the way.

Bled Castle viewed from the path around Lake Bled

Take the Train

We usually try to take the train whenever possible, like the Balkan Express train between Montenegro and Serbia, as we like to be able to walk around and not have the potential of getting stuck in traffic. In this case, while the Bled train tickets are cheaper than the bus – between 5.10 euro for second class and 9.10 euro for first class – and some trains take less time (only 40-60 minutes) the departure schedule didn’t work for when we arrived from Piran. Another concern is that the train stops at the Lesce-Bled station which is 4 km from the lake centre. You can take a bus into town from the bus stop on the other side of the road from the train station, or taxi to the centre but the taxis are much more expensive than in Ljubljana.

If you take the train you can buy the tickets in the train station. There are toilets on the train and you don’t have to pay to take luggage on like on the bus.

The trip is very picturesque and there are 12 stops along the way which include Kranj and Skofja Loka.

Take a taxi

Without your own vehicle the quickest way to Lake Bled is by taxi. The cost can vary depending on how you organize the taxi, hail it on the street or book it ahead. Hailing it on the street can often cost between 80€ – 100€ but a better option is booking ahead through Bled Taxi Transfer and Airtrail Slovenia which will cost about 55€. This can be a decent choice if you are travelling with more people or you are in a rush. And a benefit is that they will pick you and drop you off at your hotels rather than a bus or train station.

Take a Tour – a Ljubljana to Lake Bled Day Trip

Many people prefer day trips and join a tour to see Lake Bled from Ljubljana. This works great if you are short on time, although we think that Lake Bled deserves more time. You will also have a guide so that you will be shown around and told the details and history of the lake, which always make it more interesting.

Tour group, who came from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, visiting Bled Island on a pletna
Tour groups often take pletnas to visit the church on Bled Island

The Return Trip

Once you have seen the truly beautiful Lake Bled, the return trip to Ljubljana can be done in all the same ways, just in reverse.

Where to Stay in Lake Bled

There is a great selection of Lake Bled hotels and apartments. Although the best ones do book up, if you plan early enough you should be able to find good choices in every price range. Here are a few excellent options:

Grand Hotel Toplice is a high-end option right in town with amazing views over the lake and the alps. It has all the amenities including pool, spa and restaurants.

Grand Hotel Toplice is a high-end option right in town with amazing views over the lake and the alps. It has all the amenities including pool, spa and restaurants.

A budget option just a 10-minute walk to the lake is Rudi Hiti’s Guest House. The location ensures peace and tranquility, especially in the garden. It also has free bikes to make your visit to Vintgar Gorge very easy.

Where to Stay in Ljubljana

It is best to stay in the city centre if possible. You will be close to most of the things to do in Ljubljana and in the middle of great restaurant options. This is where Ljubljana is at it’s best.

The AdHoc Hostel has an amazing location right in the middle of the old town along the river. You can get a private room with shared bathroom if you don’t like dorms. They have very friendly staff and new facilities.

Galeria River hotel is on the vibrant Breg Promenade with great views from most rooms. This midrange choice has some rooms with a simple kitchenette.

The Hotel Galleria is a good higher end choice with an excellent location. This boutique hotel has a great breakfast and some rooms have a view from the balcony.

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