A Firsthand Guide to Bled, Slovenia – Arriving at Lake Bled

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Arriving at and leaving Lake Bled

Last updated 18 September 2022

Most independent travellers arrive in Bled by car or bus, which is where I begin .

The bulk of the blog is written from experience. It tries to answer questions with that experience and sometimes inside knowledge.

  • When you get off the bus as you arrive for the first time in Bled, do you go right or left to get to the lake? (It doesn’t matter.)
  • Where’s the best cake shop? (It matters very much!)
  • Where can I do my laundry? (For the sake of your fellow travellers!)

Arriving by bus

Most people arriving by bus are travelling from Ljubljana, or from the train station at Lesce where they pick up either a local service, or join the bus from Ljubljana. Others come from the Bohinj direction going towards Ljubljana.

If you are arriving from Ljubljana or Lesce, Radovljica, Kranj direction, once the bus gets to the top of the hill just as you come into Bled, you will get your first sight of the town. It is more than likely that the first stop is not for you unless you are going to Union or some of the hostels and apartments nearby. You are more likely going to the Bled bus station (Avtobusna postaja Bled). Some first-time visitors scramble to get off here at Union stop. The drivers are used to it and will announce this is not where you want to be. Some first-time visitors ignore the driver; he knows what he’s talking about, people.

When the bus pulls into the station a few minutes later, you get off at the back door. If there is a crowd – and at the height of the summer, there almost always is – there is usually confusion. Some people wanting to board the bus will demand tickets to Ljubljana – this bus is not for Ljubljana, it is going on to Bohinj Jezero, Bohinj Zlatorog or that direction.

Until recently there were  boards in the driver’s wind-screen displaying destinaltion and where the bus came from. It could be very confusing. Almost all are now digital displays, with info on destination, important stops along the way and where the bus began its journey.

The bus from Ljubljana to Bohinj Zlatorog will display “Ljubljana – Bohinj Zlatorog” and usually include Kranj’ Naklo, Radolijca and Bled.

Confusion at the Bus Station

The circumstances are compounded by co-incidences in the timetable. The Bohinj to Ljubljana bus arrives about the same time as the Ljubljana to Bohinj bus. As you get off, other people are milling about confused about getting on. Normally busses are keep to their timetables and are reliable, but with road works and extraordinary numbers of visitors in the summer, delays are understandable, but add to the confusion.

Of course, other destinations are served from Bled, so there could be two or three other busses arriving around the same time. Read the destination displays.

At the height of the season there is often an official guide to help you with directions.

On a hot summer’s day patience is strained. I really admire the bus drivers who just take it in their stride, talking to the passengers, sometimes in three or four languages.

Water, water everywhere – and plenty for all to drink.

Water fountains have been introduced – you can find one at the road below the Town Hall, for example. As well as making drinking water available for all. Slovenia aspires to be a green destination and Bled discourages the use of plastic bottles. This map is from the Bled Slovenia tourism website. 

A scheme “Ask Me I’m a Local” was introduced a few years ago and was operational in 2002. Locals wearing t-shirts with the slogan on them are there to help you find your way around Lake Bled and the town. 

Traffic

With the rise of popularity of Lake Bled as a destination (including for day trips by other Slovenians) traffic has been a challenge especially at the height of the season. Places to park are more easilly found but it is best to plan with information from the official Visit Bled parking section on their website.

A quick word about language

Almost all Slovenians you will meet in Bled, Ljubljana or any of the main tourism towns speak or have a good understanding of English. Some younger people speak it as if it were their first language. They also often speak German and Italian (especially further north near Kranjska Gora), Croatian, and other Balkan languages.

English is often used as a “bridge” language by other European and Asian visitors.

Slovenians are very proud of their language. They know that it is difficult to learn and speak. There are so many dialects even some Slovenians will not be understood throughout the country. Learn a few words of Slovenian. People you meet will appreciate that. 

When people first arrive 

When people arrive in Bled, they usually want one of these questions answered almost as soon as they get off the bus:

  • Where is the cash machine?
  • Where are the toilets?
  • Where is the lake?
  • Where is the coffee/beer/wine/cream cake?

Bled Cream Cake - from Bled.si Bled Tourism

Bled Cream Cake:  Blejska kremna rezina (often known as “Kremsnita”)

There are detailed answers to those questions later on but here are a few quick replies to the frequently asked questions. We will answer by taking a short walk from the bus to the Tourist Information Centre.

When you get off the bus it doesn’t matter whether you turn left or right to get to the lake, either will do. If you go left at the bus, take the immediate right, if you go right take the immediate left.

Coffee/beer/wine/cream cake?

Thirty seconds walk from the bus and you are spoilt for choice.

Caffe Peglez’n is a small traditional place with a big terrace. It is favoured by locals as well as visitors and is one of my top three places for coffee and calm in Bled. It’s on the right as you walk towards the lake. 

Art Cafe, Bled, Slovenia
Art Cafe, Bled, Slovenia

Art Café is modern and attracts younger clientele including students from the two nearby colleges. A wide range of drinks is available, as are snacks and in the winter excellent hot chocolate.

Vinoteka Zdravljica is a few paces past the Art Café. It is stocked with about a hundred Slovenian wines. There is a dozen or so on the wine list to be bought by the glass. This place is a personal favourite. Sitting outside on a warm summer’s day watching the world go by, reading a book, looking up at the castle, sipping Rebula or Malvazija –  Slovenian white wines … heaven.

You can read more about Art Café, Vinoteka Zdravljica and Caffe Peglez’n and the other cafes and restaurants in the area in the Food and Drinks section.

Important words in Slovenian 

Cheers:  We say “Cheers” as a toast. Slovenians are more likely to say ‘Na zdravie.’ (“to health”) and ‘Živijo.’ is often used.


Where is the lake?

A first view of Lake Bled
A first view of Lake Bled

There it is; just past those cafés. And there is Bled Castle up on the hill. And there is St. Martin’s Church, and the island, and the view, and the swans, and ducks.

Altogether, a great big helping of the Bled experience.

 

Dobrodošli na Bledu … Welcome to Bled

Where are the toilets?

Usually marked, for your convenience (sorry) as WC or sometimes “Stranišča”. As you would expect, the cafés and bars have toilets. From the bus station, the nearest public toilets are just past the Festival Hall (Festivalna dvorana) on the left just as you get to the horse drawn carriages (fijaker).  You’ll need a 50-cent coin or 10 and 20-cents to the value. There are other public toilets in the main Shopping Centre. By summer 2018 there will be eight public toilets in the town and around the lake.

First time visitors to Slovenia often remark on how clean the country is. And it is. That cleanliness extends to the toilets. They are spotless, well maintained and safe.

There are now 8 locations with public toilets in Bled

  • Seliše (near the Mercator)
  • Ice hall
  • Shopping center
  • Camp
  • Tribune veslaške (viewing platforms at Velika Zaka)
  • Castle swimming area
  • Festival Hall

Where is the Cash Machine, the ATM?

Walk on, toward the shopping area about 200 meters and you will see the Gorenjska banka ATM. the bank has moved but the cash machine remains. There is another machine at the shopping centre at the SKB.

Along the way, you will pass the beautiful town hall on the left. Once you have your cash, walk along a little further for the Park Hotel, the home of Bled cream cake, more coffee and one of the best views over the lake toward the castle.

Other questions

  • Where is Tourist Information? After you leave the Gorenjska Bank cash machine (bankomat) continue to walk toward the Casino. There is a sign for tourist information to the right. You can get maps and books, gifts and advice. There is also bike and car hire here.

Infocenter Triglavska roža is about a 10-minute walk away at Ljubljanska cesta 27. When you reach the Park Hotel (on your left) turn left and keep going. The Infocenter is on your left.

  • Where can I hire a car? It will probably be less expensive if you can book a car before you arrive on the car hire website. There are several advantages to this. First you can compare prices (there are up to 6 agents in town), arrange to pick up from Bled and return to the same place or another rental office – there is usually no charge for that.

Beware, though, of costs not obvious or you are not informed of right up front. I had used Eurocar for years. Last time in May 2018 I paid full insurance when I hired a small car. I scrapped two wheel covers during the hire – inexpensive to replace. No matter, insurance would cover that. Yet I was stung for £60 “administration”. I will be checking “administration” costs next time I hire a car.

  • Where can I do my laundry? The Speed Queen laundrette is near the bus station and close to most of the hostels and backpacker accommodation. It is new, cheap, fast, bright and clean. The whole process takes about an hour. Prešernova cesta 50, 4260 Bled. Phone +386 41 366323. (If you see Tomas the owner, say hello from me.)

Speed Queen Bled

    Speed Queen Bled

 

 

Leaving by bus and Taxi

There are two main departure points; Bled Bus Station and Union stop on the main road the Ljubljana, away from the town. As mentioned in the “Arriving by Bus” section, things can become a little confusing during the summer as people from half a dozen different countries try to work out if this is the bus they want.

Bus destination display show (first) where the bus started its journey and the destination (second) with some other places between the two names. To add to the confusion at the station, buses going to Ljubljana and from Ljubljana arrive within minutes of each other. The other bus stop, opposite the Union restaurant is for Ljubljana. And finally, Bled bus station serves other destinations, nearby towns and villages. It can become quite busy.

Leaving by Taxi

Leaving Lake Bled by Taxi

Opposite the bus station at Grajska cesta is where both buses and taxis park. There is an excellent service which will take you from there to either Ljubljana or the Airport (or other places if you wish). But there is a minimum number of passengers travelling. It is faster and cheaper than alternatives if you have enough people.

 

 Important words in Slovenian    

 Railway station:  Železniška postaja

Bus station: Avtobusna postaja

When is the bus to Bohinj?
Kdaj je avtobus do Bohinja?

When is the bus to Ljubljana?
Kdaj je avtobus v Ljubljano?

 

Arriving by train

There are two train stations serving Bled, which is not the same as saying there are two train stations in Bled. There are not.

Bled Jezero railway station,

This station is on the line from Jesenice to Nova Gorica, is high above the north-western side of the lake. It is not well placed if you are going to the town or the hostel and hotel area. It is almost 3 kms from the town centre.  The main camping ground is much closer – 10 minutes or so down a steep hill. Hotel Triglav is very close to the station.

The line continues to Nova Gorica on the Italian border. Services are infrequent, but it is a beautiful journey. It makes a lovely day out. Several times a year, an historic railway journey is played out from the station. See more about The Heritage Train in Part 7 of this book.

Insider Knowledge: I have noticed people take the train service from Ljubljana to Jesenice and not get off at Bled-Lesce which it passes through. They change trains Jesenice in and then travel to Bled Jezero. That whole journey is about 3 hours. You might think it makes sense to you and your arrangements, particularly if you are going to the campsite.

Bled-Lesce railway station

This station is 4 km from Bled. You can catch a bus to Bled (and other destinations) across the road from the railway station. The service from there is good and frequent during the day. However, in the evening and on Sundays there can be long gaps between buses. The journey is about 10 minutes stopping at Bled Union and Bled bus station. It takes about an hour to walk. I imagine you could rent or buy a bicycle from the large cycle shop near the station. When all other alternatives are exhausted, you can get a taxi. 

Arriving by car

Personally, I would avoid arriving by car at the height of the summer, especially at the weekend. Parking and congestion are a problem. And at the weekend peoplpe come from all over Slovenia and just today (18 September) Isaw cars in quick order from Hungary, Slovakia anfd Italy. there are probably more Italian accents around the lake today that any other language,)

It might even be worth parking in Lesce and taking the bus into Bled. This is not a recommendation, merely a suggestion from someone who has been stuck in a long tail of traffic on a hot summer day.

It is best to plan with information from the official Visit Bled parking section on their website.

Arriving by motorbike

You will see signs outside many of the bars and restaurants here in the Gorenjska region welcoming bikers. Touring bikers are often seen on the winding mountain roads. Harley Davidson clubs meet in Bled during the summer and thunder through the mountain roads nearby. The information for bikers is the same as everyone else, but you might want to prioritise places where bikers are particularly welcome. You have a better chance of meeting like minded people and get advice and suggestions for your visit.

You are here!    

 


About Firsthand Guide to Bled: Some years ago I wrote and published a personal guide book to Bled and Lake Bled based on my experiences living there. The book was also available here as a PDF and webpages. It was popular, but like any guidebook about a busy, popular, and changing place, it became out-dated and even with several trips back to Slovenia and updates on the webste, became unreliable. The book is no longer available and the webpages have been removed. From time to time I’ll add pages about Bled where Iam writing this note.


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