Don’t visit Lake Bled in the rain. I got shot. 

Don’t visit Lake Bled in the rain. I got shot. 

I’ve wanted to visit Slovenia and picturesque Lake Bled since reading about it in the Lonely Planet guide ‘Backpacking Europe on a Shoestring’, when planning the gap year I never took. Slovenia is a small EU country, situated between Italy, Croatia and Austria. Tying it in with a trip to Croatia, I finally went at the end of May 2022, 12 years later than I originally planned.  

The famous island in the middle of Lake Bled
The famous island in the middle of Lake Bled

Lake Bled is a popular tourist attraction and can be visited as a day trip from Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana. The weather forecast predicted rain all Saturday, but as I sat outside a bar with a G&T on the river Ljubljanica in 35ºC heat on the Friday evening, I thought to myself – it can’t possibly rain all day for 12 hours straight. Well I was wrong because it certainly did. Undeterred by this dramatic change in weather on Saturday morning, I continued with my plans to finally visit Lake Bled. 

It should be noted that even if I hadn’t been shot by an air rifle there, I would still advise people to skip going to Lake Bled when it’s raining. In my opinion it’s not worth it – especially if you’re going without a car. Read below for why. 

Getting to Lake Bled

Many visitors hire a car in Slovenia. The roads are wide, well paved and easy to drive on. Alternatively you can take the bus from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, which I opted for. I feel that by taking public transport where possible I get more interaction with locals. Ljubljana bus station is located next to the train station, a 15 minute walk from the city centre.

I bought my ticket at the bus station but you can also buy it directly from the driver. They both only take cash (euro). On a weekend the bus ticket is cheaper so it’s best to buy individual tickets rather than a return. The return journey came to under €10.

The bus took 1h20 and stopped along the way, resulting in it getting pretty crowded. I got off outside Lake Bled’s tourist information office – NOT in the town of Bled which is 1.5 km away from the lake. This is also where you catch the return bus.

Ducklings
Ducklings enjoying the rain

What you can and can’t do in the rain

One usually goes to Lake Bled to do the following things:

  • Walk around the lake. 
  • Take a boat to the island and ring the wishing bells. 
  • Visit Bled castle.
  • Eat the Bled cream cake.

Of course you might be going there to undertake some of the extreme water sports in the area but this post isn’t for you. It’s for tourists on a day out to the lake.

Walk around the lake

The path around the lake is 6km and takes about 1.5 hours to walk. With an umbrella and waterproofs, it’s totally do-able.  

If you don’t fancy walking, for €5 you can hop on the little train going around the lake instead (umbrella still required).

Train around the lake
Train around the lake

Take a boat to the island and ring the wishing bells

I read you can still get a boat from the shore to the island in the middle of the lake in light rain. But when I was there the famous pletnas, wooden gondola-like boats, were nowhere to be seen. There was only one large boat on the lake, run by a hotel, which wasn’t going to the central island but doing a tour around the lake.

No boats
All closed up with no boats going out

Even if I had made it to the island, I’d have to walk the 99 outdoor steps to the church in the rain. I guess there was no ringing the “wishing bell” and having my dreams come true for me. 

Visit Bled castle

Bled castle is open in the rain and costs €13. It’s a very average castle and the one in Ljubljana (which is free to enter) is a lot more impressive. The main reason to visit the castle is to see the iconic view of Lake Bled with the island sitting in the middle, surrounded by deep blue water and rising mountains in the background. In the rain, this view is very grey and hazy.

Furthermore, apart from a small museum, most of the castle is outside and you’re totally exposed to the elements.

Yet! These aren’t the reasons why I recommend skipping it. This is….

  • The path from Lake Bled to the castle is a muddy steep 15 to 20 minute trail.

If you go by car, this won’t be a problem and it’s a quick 4 minute drive up. But if you’re on foot and not in the right shoes (like me) this steep muddy trek in the rain isn’t pleasant. 

Muddy trail to Bled Castle
Muddy trail to Bled Castle

I also put this in as a warning to anyone less mobile than me. Lake Bled is a popular destination for older travellers and I was expecting a more tourist friendly walk up to the castle – handrail, steps, concrete path etc. Sometimes there is a €5 shuttle bus from the tourist information centre at Lake Bled to the castle, yet for some reason (I think the rain? but couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone working there) it wasn’t running that day.

I opted to walk up the road instead. But be careful there’s no pavement, you have to walk in the road and it’s full of sharp bends with many cars driving up and down. 

Entrance to Bled Castle
Entrance to Bled Castle

Once at the castle there was a slippery stone incline from the car park and I saw quite a few older people struggling in the rain. On the way back I called a taxi to take me down. Such a short way, and in Eastern Europe, it can’t cost more than a few euros… Well a 4 minute drive = €12. There is no Uber or Lyft in Slovenia so the taxi charged a lot more than I expected.

Bled Castle
Bled Castle

Try the Bled cream cake

This is something you can do in the rain! There are cute coffee cafes around the lake. I went to the cosy Caffe Peglez’n and tried a piece for €4.80 (since adopting the euro, prices in Slovenia have gone up a lot). It’s delicious but there’s a great deal of cream!

Bled cream cake
Bled cream cake

The shooting

While walking around the lake I felt a sharp prick at the top of my thigh and assumed I’d been bitten by an insect. Struggling to stay dry and holding an umbrella meant I didn’t investigate more. The next morning I woke up with a huge bruise. I sent a photo of it to friends and they all said it looked just like a bruise from a paintball gun. Given no paint on my clothing, I assumed it was from an air rifle. Sometimes when you’re travelling, random events just happen.

Bruise
Bruise – what do you think caused it?

Alternative

An alternative to visiting Lake Bled is going to the Postojna Cave. It’s a similar length bus journey from Ljubljana but in the southwest direction. And as it’s a cave, it’s all inside and not weather dependent.

Postojna Cave
Postojna Cave bus time table

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