In this Ljubljana itinerary, we will cover the best things to do in the enchanting Slovakian capital as well as the reason we decided to visit – Lake Bled. We will cover the best way to travel from Ljubljana to Lake Bled for the most incredible day trip as it was a definite highlight from our 3 months backpacking Europe and we’re sure it’ll be a highlight for you too.
Although Bled steals most of the limelight, Ljubljana is of the most surprising cities we have ever been to. We expected a quaint, tourist town instead we were mesmerised by a stunning city with unbelievable food, people and architecture.
Although there are many tours and local excursions, we wanted to share the cheapest, easiest way to visit Lake Bled from Ljubljana for other budget travellers like us as well as the highlights from our day in the city, so what are you waiting for? It’s time to get planning your Ljubljana itinerary!
HOW MUCH TO BUDGET FOR LJUBLJANA
For our one day in Ljubljana we explored everywhere by foot which not only saved money, it allowed us to stumble upon a few hidden gems which aren’t on the usual tourist route.
We did use public transport to get from from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, but this was surprisingly affordable (more on that later.)
Food & Drink
Although we saved money by walking everywhere, the majority of our budget was spent on food & drink (shocker.) This is because the restaurants in Ljubljana were irresistible and the riverside bars were just too cute not to enjoy a wine or two.
To help budget for your Ljubljana itinerary, on average it costs around £3 for a pint and around £40 for a meal for 2 in a restaurant (3 courses.) A glass of wine in a restaurant will cost around £3 and coffee will cost you around £1.50.
Total Cost of Visiting Ljubljana
Our initial budget for this Ljubljana itinerary was £107 per day but our actual spend was £140 because the food was simply too good and the idiot flashpackers we are, wined & dined ourselves silly.
If you love a nose at the numbers, you can read all about how much backpacking Europe costs in our detailed guide. It also includes a handy budget tracker you can download if like us, you’re hopeless at sticking to a budget.
Food, Drinks & Activities
Avg. Cost / Day: £140.15
WHERE TO STAY IN LJUBLJANA
If you are visiting Ljubljana we cannot recommend our accommodation enough. We stayed in OH Apartments & Rooms and paid just £27.50 per night for 2 nights.
Our room had a huge double bed and one of the nicest hosts we have ever dealt with. He offered many recommendations for things to do in Ljubljana as well as bus times and insider tips for Ljubljana to Lake Bled, which we’ll share with you too.
The room was en-suite with a fabulous shower, hair dryer, fluffy white towels, tea & coffee – what more could you want for less than £15 each per night?! It was also the perfect base for our Ljubljana itinerary as we were able to walk into the city centre in around 20 minutes.
DAY ONE: LJUBLJANA TO LAKE BLED
We decided to visit Lake Bled on day one of our Ljubljana itinerary incase the weather would be awful, so we’d have another opportunity. Although Instagram is a wonderful source of wanderlust, it’s a dangerous one. Often these “hidden gems” are swamped with tourists and the #nofilter is instead hours of waiting for perfect lighting and sneaky photography tweaks, but after all the Insta drooling we did of Lake Bled we are proud to announce it simply was #amazing and definitely worth the day trip.
However, if you are hoping for less crowds and a more tranquil experience, then plan your Ljubljana to Bled adventure in Winter. We visited in mid November and the Autumnal colours, crisp sunshine and lack of tourists made it the perfect time to visit as well as live up to the hype we hoped for.
How To Get From Ljubljana To Lake Bled
From Ljubljana to Bled it is 54.8km (around 34 miles) and thankfully, there are numerous transport options depending on your budget and travel style, below we discuss the pros & cons of each.
Ljubljana to Lake Bled By Car
- Time: Under 45 minutes
- Cost: Approx. £25 per day
If you plan on driving, grab those road trip essentials and take the Gorenjska highway from Ljubljana to Bled. Without traffic, it will take less than 45 minutes. If you choose to drive from Ljubljana to Bled, you will also pass Kranj, the fourth largest city in Slovenia if you fancied a wee pit stop.
If you plan on hiring a car for your day trip to Lake Bled, we recommend using SkyScanner as it allows you to compare companies for the best price.
Taxi from Ljubljana to Lake Bled
- Time: Around 45 minutes
- Cost: Approx. €45 – €55
As there was only 2 of us travelling from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, it was not economic to take a taxi as it would have been over €20 each one way. If you are travelling in a group, it may work out cheaper than going by bus and it also means you don’t have to wait around for public transport, instead you can co-ordinate your own schedule.
As a tip, it is best to pre-book your taxi due to popularity and due to the risk of being overcharged if you hail a taxi on the street. There are two main companies who run taxis from Ljubljana to Lake Bled – Bled Taxi and AirTrail Slovenia.
Ljubljana to Lake Bled by Train
- Time: 40 – 60 minutes
- Cost: Approx. €5
There are many advantages to taking the train from Ljubljana to Bled – the trains are quite frequent (they run every 20-40 minutes), some services only take 40 minutes and it is the cheapest transport option.
Also, if you were hoping to catch Lake Bled at sunrise or avoid the busiest times of day, the train might be the best option as the trains start at 4.40am and run until nearly midnight allowing you to make the most of your day trip to Lake Bled or even see more of Bled itself.
Check out the Ljubljana to Bled train timetable here.
There is however a catch. The nearest train station to Lake Bled is Lesce-Bled, which is still 4km from the lake so you’re gonna have to walk/hitchhike/taxi the rest of the way which in the Summer months is no issue, but wouldn’t have been ideal in November during our visit.
Bus From Ljubljana to Lake Bled
- Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Cost: €12 return
The final transport option is to take the bus from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, which for us was the most convenient option. The bus leaves from Ljubljana bus station (stance 7) which is right in front of the train station on Trg Osvobodilne.
Ljubljana to Lake Bled Bus Tickets
We paid just €12 return (per person) for the bus to Lake Bled and purchased the tickets on the day. If you’re the organised type (or you’re visiting in peak season) it is also possible to book your bus ticket in advance.
You can book your Ljubljana to Lake Bled bus ticket here. We later noticed bus tickets are slightly discounted if you book them online. For example we paid €12 per person return, but via the website a return ticket from Ljubljana to Lake Bled costs €11.34.
If you only want a single ticket from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, it costs €6.30 for adults & €3.15 for children up to 10 years old.
To be honest, although you make a small saving booking your Lake Bled bus ticket in advance, you don’t save any time as you are then emailed a ticket “invoice” which you need to swap for an actual ticket at the bus station anyway. If you do not swap the invoice for an actual ticket the driver can refuse your journey.
Ljubljana to Lake Bled Bus Times
As the bus from Ljubljana to Lake Bled is understandably popular, the services run approximately every 30 minutes.
- On weekdays the first departure from Ljubljana to Lake Bled is 6am and the last is 9pm.
- On Saturdays, the first departure is 5:30am and the last is 10:30pm.
- On Sundays the first bus from Ljubljana to Bled is at 7am and the last is at 9pm.
You can check the Ljubljana to Bled bus timetable here noting that the times may change depending on the season.
Ljubljana to Lake Bled Travel Tips
- When purchasing Ljubljana to Lake Bled bus tickets online or trying to figure out the bus times, the bus station is called Ljubljana Avtobusna Postaja and your destination is simply “Bled.”
- Note, you will be charged to take your backpack onboard – the bus company only allow small hand luggage so you will either need to store it at the bus station, or pay the luggage fee.
- When searching for your Ljubljana to Lake Bled bus tickets, click “details” as some journeys have 10+ stops and take 1 hour 20 minutes, where as other journeys have limited stops and take less than an hour.
Things to do at Lake Bled
If you take the bus from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, the bus terminates at Glavno Postajališče which is the nearest stop to the lake so you can’t get lost. It then takes less than 5 minutes to walk downhill to the lake itself where you have a choice of many things to do.
Walk or Cycle Round The Lake
There is a paved path around the lake which makes it ideal for pedestrians and cyclists. Best of all, it is only 6km so you could walk the entire circuit in around 1 hour. One of the most popular things to do at Lake Bled is hire a bike and cycle round it. Bike Hire costs around €5 per person and there is in fact a bike shop right next to the bus stop.
Go for a Swim
If a pleasant stroll or cycle isn’t your scene and you’d prefer something more rigorous why not venture IN to the lake for a swim? In the Summer months (from June until September) there is dedicated bathing areas within the lake. Swimming is one of the best things to do at Lake Bled to cool down and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Visit Bled Castle
If the sunshine isn’t on your side, one of the best things to do at Lake Bled when it’s raining is visit the castle instead. Not only is it the oldest castle in Slovenia but it is perched 130 metres above the lake, making it the perfect viewpoint to admire the area in its entirety.
Entrance to Bled castle costs €13 per adult and €5 for children under 14. If you’re looking for romantic things to do at Lake Bled, dine at the beautiful Bled Castle restaurant which has the most spectacular views and traditional food for all the fairytale feels.
Take a Boat to Bled Island
One of the most popular things to do at Lake Bled is take a boat into the centre to spend some time at the Church of the Assumption. There are two popular options for reaching the island. You can ride in a traditional boat for around €13 per person which is rowed by a local guide (so your time on the island is dependent on the others you travelled on the boat with).
Or (with visions of The romantic boat scene from The Notebook in mind) you can rent your own private row boat for €10 for an hour – this should’ve been plenty time to explore Bled Island however it wouldn’t be us without some chaos…
This is where the Instagram lies come into force, as I had romantic visions of Daz charmingly rowing as I snapped away at the beautiful scenery. Instead it was a lot of loud swearing and huffing as apparently “ROWING IS A LOT BLOODY HARDER THAN IT LOOKS” so much so, the wee old man we hired the boat from was even shouting at us from the shore as we frantically went around in circles.
Although we did get a decent snap or two, I understand how the lake earned its name – it was literally blood, sweat and tears that got us to the island. Although hiring a row boat is one of the top things to do at Lake Bled, we’d agree it’s one of the top things to cause divorce too.
Lake Bled Island
Once on the island (if you make it there before your hour is up) there are about 40 million steps (okay, maybe 20) when upon completion, you’ll be faced with two choices:
a) You can visit The Church of the Assumption where a local legend says if you climb the 99 steps, ring the bell and make a wish, your wish will come true and all that mystical jazz or;
b) Go for ice cream.
Naturally we went for the second option as my only wish was that I’d never have to go on a rowing boat with Darren again except, unfortunately we were on an island and I’m not the best of swimmers.
Try Bled Cream Cake
After our nautical drama was over, Daz claimed he deserved a pint. For this reason, we walked back up towards the bus stop and ticked off one of our favourite things to do at Lake Bled – eat cake. Bled cream cake is famous in the area and to us was just like a custard slice from back home, deeeelightful.
We enjoyed a slice and a drink on the the super sunny terrace of Caffe Peglez’n. It has the cutest interiors, spotty table cloths & handmade hearts – sort of like going for tea at your grandma’s house. A wee coffee (or beer) stop here is the perfect way to end our day trip to Lake Bled.
Instead of taking public transport from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, you can book a guided tour which will pick you up from your accommodation in Ljubljana. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Bled including the castle and the Lake with a friendly, informative guide.
Dinner at Restaurant Julija
After taking the bus back from Bled, we arrived back hungry and wanted to celebrate not killing each other in a row boat on day one of our Ljubljana itinerary.
Luckily we found the perfect place. For the classy sorts (like we sometimes pretend we are) we recommend the restaurant Julija. Although it’s more a linen table cloth/better to book type affair, the pricing was very reasonable (even by two Scots’ standards). We didn’t book, but did get the last table so it’s worth inquiring ahead.
Daz would’ve gave it 5 stars for the waiter’s appreciation of Scottish Football fans alone. It was also bustling with locals which always says something about a restaurant’s reputation. For unbeatable goulash, traditional cheese dumplings and even complimentary Teranov Liker aperitifs then we cannot recommend Julija enough. You can take a peek at the menu here.
Friends of ours also dined at Julija recently when visiting Ljubljana and agreed it was one of the best meals they’d had in years. If you visit in the Summer months you can also dine outside which we’ll definitely do when we return.
LJUBLJANA ITINERARY: DAY TWO
Brunch at Slovenksa Hisa
As we only had one day in Ljubljana to tick off everything we wanted to see we needed to ensure we were well fuelled for the day. If you walk into the town centre, by the river there are numerous restaurants and bars all with outside seating. If like us, you’re a sucker for eating outdoors (particularly when there’s heated lamps and even heaters built into table legs!) then Ljubljana has nailed Winter alfresco.
Wandering along the riverside, Slovenska Hisa instantly looked inviting, with its fluffy faux fur seats and oodles of locals with spotty pots of tea outside. As self-confessed brunch snobs this place did not disappoint.
We both had scrambled eggs with various local meats and ample fresh bread with those spotty pots of tea included all for a grand total of €5 yes, FIVE EUROS each. Later I discovered Slovenska Hisa featured in Culture Trip’s Top 10 Brunch Spots for Ljubljana, proving it rightly deserves our brunch snob appreciation.
Prešeren Square & Triple Bridge
Following a picturesque 6 minute walk from Slovenska Hisa, you will arrive at the heart of Ljubljana – Preseren Square. Likely, the first building to grab your attention is the bright pink Franciscan Church which is believed to be the most photographed building in Ljubljana. After a wander around the square and admiring the architecture, you will notice the Triple Bridge which is also an iconic Ljubljana landmark, designed by Jože Plečnik who is famed for designing most of the city.
Following a wander round the main square, head over Triple Bridge and enjoy a browse at Plečnik’s Arcades and market. You may have guessed they are named after the man himself who also designed the Triple Bridge. Here you could pick up souvenirs for friends, enjoy an ice cream or grab a bite to eat as there’s still much to see of Ljubljana in one day.
From the Plečnik’s arcades it is a pleasant walk along the river bank until you reach the famous Dragon Bridge. Between Kopitar Street (Kopitarjeva ulica) and Ressel Street (Resljeva cesta) is the majestic bridge, which looks as striking during the day as it does in the evening. No Ljubljana itinerary would be complete without a snap or two in this iconic spot.
The Ljubljana Wine Route
It is worth noting that if you time your Ljubljana itinerary well it may coincide with the Ljubljana Wine Route. As we didn’t fancy the Ljubljana to Lake bled bus hungover and we still had a lot we wanted to see of the city we had to briskly bypass this wine event although it was happening in the town centre during our visit. To take part, all you have to do is pay a €5 deposit for your glass and a supplementary couple of euros for each glass of wine, with stalls of local wineries conga-ing all over the town centre.
The event marks St. Martin’s Day, when, according to Slovenian tradition, grapes must officially turn to wine (anyone else agree this should officially be a law!?). Ljubljana Wine Route brings together winemakers from all the wine-growing regions of Slovenia and occurs the first week in November (double check this year’s dates here, if you plan on visiting Ljubljana for a vino or 5)
Not in town for the Ljubljana wine route? Instead, do a food & wine tour in Ljubljana any time of year! Enjoy 3.5 hours sampling over 9 traditional dishes and 4 wines whilst learning the city’s history through your taste buds.
From the Dragon Bridge it is just a 13 minute walk to Metelkova mesto. If you only have one day in Ljubljana, please make time to visit this incredible outdoor art space as it was a definite highlight of our time in the city.
You may have guessed from our previous European city breaks such as Bucharest or Prague, that we have a slight obsession with street art so hearing it was one of the largest, and arguably most successful, urban squats in Europe I knew there’d be a scribble or two worth the detour. What I didn’t expect of an old army base was a 12,500 sq. m self-proclaimed city covered in sculpture, mosaic and spray paint. “It has become the leading centre of underground music and art in the region”, according to the Guardian (so it must be true).
Although Metelkova is very insta worthy please remember people do actually live there, it is not a zoo. There are rather explicit signs from disgruntled residents explaining this so just a heads up if you tend to get a lil’ snappy happy – photograph the buildings only.
As we only have one day in Ljubljana we would so have loved more time to experience Metelkova in the evening as every year it hosts more than 1,500 alternative events celebrating a wide spectrum of subcultures, from theatre performances and punk concerts to disability workshops and LGBT club nights.
Dinner at Pop’s Place
Our one day in Ljubljana was sadly coming to an end, so we returned to the centre for a final feast. A culinary high five goes to Pop’s Place, Burger Bar as it was exactly what we needed after a busy two days.
Exactly as it says on the tin, these guys made incredible burgers with a craft beer menu to match. The beer choice was so good we simply shut our eyes and pointed (although the waiter was very helpful with recommendations). If you fancy yourself as a craft beer connoisseur and enjoy reasonably priced food in very hipster-esque surroundings, then this is your spot and the perfect way to end your Ljubljana itinerary.
Hopefully our Ljubljana itinerary has inspired you to visit this incredible city. We appreciate many visitors (like us) only use Ljubljana as a base in order to make the day trip to Lake Bled. However, after our time there we long to return and see more as one day in Ljubljana simply wasn’t enough. Let us know in the comments if you took the bus from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, hired a car or opted for the train – either way we’re sure you’ll have a day to remember and we’d love to hear how it goes!