Postcards from Slovenia #8: A Trip to Bled Island

We’ve already taken a walk around Lake Bled, but no trip to Slovenia’s most celebrated beauty spot would be complete without a trip to its iconic island, memorialised in many a postcard and calendar. Here’s everything you need to know about Bled Island…

A Potted History of Bled Island

Seen from Straza
Bled Island seen from Straža Bled

Bled Island, or Blejski Otok, as it’s called in Slovenian, is a place of legend, pilgrimage and tradition. The legend runs that the present-day Church of the Assumption of Mary was built on the site of an ancient pagan temple, dedicated to a Slavic fertility goddess. Archaeologists have found evidence for an early medieval church on this site, at the very least, though the island may indeed have been a place of pilgrimage for centuries before this.

The current church took its present shape in the 17th century and is contemporary with the Baroque stone staircase with its famous 99 stone steps which lead up to the church. A notable feature of the church is the 52m high free-standing bell tower, which now contains not a bell, but a pendulum clock.

How to get there

Bled rowing boat
A traditional Pletna boat

The traditional way to travel to Bled island is via Pletna boat – a gondola with a flat bottom rowed by a single oarsman or Pletnar. These traditional boats date back to at least the 16th Century, when they used to carry pilgrims to the church on the island. Nowadays, they mainly carry tourists and wedding parties. There are several departure points and a timetable which changes according to the season.

If you prefer to get there on your own steam, you can hire a rowing boat. It takes about ten minutes to row across to the island from the shortest crossing point, at the far end of the lake from Bled town. This can be a cheaper option if you only plan on staying on the island for a short while. (Typically €20 to hire a boat for 1 hour for a family of 4).

What to do on Bled Island

Bled Island
Bled Island Church Tower

Bled island is a popular location for weddings, and tradition has it that the groom should carry the bride up all 99 steps before carrying her to the church to ring the bell and make a wish. If you don’t plan on getting married there, however, you can still visit the church to ring the bell and make a wish.

The bell tower which now houses an interesting mechanical pendulum clock is also worth the climb for the extensive views it offers across the lake to the surrounding mountains. You can then enjoy an ice cream on the terrace and pick up some souvenirs in the gift shop.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Follow me on Instagram for more pictures of Lake Bled. Stay tuned for more Postcards from Slovenia!

5 thoughts on “Postcards from Slovenia #8: A Trip to Bled Island

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  1. Thanks Andi! I suppose I’m lucky and in an unusual position to have done so much travelling lately. I do hope things get back to normal soon though, as I miss my family!

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