Above the surface of Lake Bled stands the only island in Slovenia, which invites you to a unique trip. Small Bled island is located in the western area of Lake Bled, to where it is possible to come with a special boat, named pletna. Pletna boats are traditionally manufactured by the locals and are operated by a single oarsman with two vessels. Pletna boats represent best choice for taking a trip on the lake to visit Bled island and St. Mary’s Church.

Bled island is an important representative of Slovenian cultural and natural heritage, as the sanctuary of the old Slavic goddess Živa dates back to 7th century BC. Before the arrival of Christianity in Bled area, the island represented a sanctuary for all Slavic pagans. In the battles between members of pagan and Christian religion, the people ruined and destroyed the pagan sanctuary and built the Church for all Christians. Later on, in 17. Century they built two biggest attractions, the Church chapel and the famous staircase. Staircase dates back in 1655, but were renovated in 2005. On the island you can also find the statue of Mary Magdalene and the free standing gothic Bell tower, which stands on the south side of the Church.

St. Mary’s Church on Bled island

St. Mary’s Church on Bled island is also known as Church of our dear Lady. The monumental staircase with 99 stone steps is leading from the harbor to the top of the Bled island and to the St. Mary’s Church. Inside the Church you can see a golden central altar, three marble side altars and other luxurious interior elements.

Throughout its history, the Church has been renovated and restored several times, as it represents an important cultural heritage of Bled. Important parts of the Bled island Church are also church keeper’s house and dean’s house.

The Church Bell grants wishes

There are many urban legends about the Bled island and its history, some of which also inspired the greatest Slovenian poet France Prešeren. However, one legend in particular is best known to everyone, the so-called legend of the sunken Bell. The legend of the sunken Bell speaks of the origin and preservation of the Bell, which is nowadays a big part of St. Mary’s Church.

Many visitors on Bled island ring the Bell in hope that their desires and wishes will be fulfilled. It is believed that the Bell brings good luck to everyone who rings the Bell.

The legend of the sunken Bell

The Bell of desire was made in Padua in 1534. At the same time, in Bled Castle, a young and inconsolable widow cried for her husband, who was killed by bandits and his body was thrown in Lake Bled. Therefore, the young widow collected all her silver and gold and cast them in a new bell, with which she wanted to honor her dead husband by placing the bell beside the St. Mary’s Church on Bled island. Nevertheless, the new bell never arrived to the island, as it sank along with a boat and all the men, while severe storms were creating big waves on the lake’s surface. Local residents in Bled say that they can still hear the bell, with voices rising from the depths of the lake.

After this accident, the desperate young widow sold all her possessions and left to the monastery in Rome. After her death, the Pope instructed to build a new bell, which he dedicated to the young widow from Bled. The Pope sent the Bell to the Bled island, where it still stands today, near the St. Mary’s Church. Those who ring the Bell and announce their wish to the beloved Lake Bled widow, they have the opportunity to be heard and therefore their wishes will be fulfilled.

Lake Bled Church – opening hours

The Bled island and St. Mary’s Church are available for visitors on every day of the year, except in case of very bad weather or in case of a frozen lake. When Lake Bled is frozen, you cannot visit the island with a traditional boat pletna, neither by foot, because walking on ice is far too dangerous.

The Lake Bled Church on the island has the following opening hours:

  • from November to March, the island is open from 9 am to 4 pm,
  • in April and October it is possible to visit between 9 am and 6 pm in the evening, and
  • between May and September, you can visit the island and the Church between 9 am and 7 pm.

These opening hours also apply if you would like to visit a small shop in the Church’s gallery, where you can buy candles, small bells, rosaries, calendars and t-shirts. You can also buy tickets to visit the inner part of St Mary’s Church and the Gothic bell tower.

Information about tours and access to the Bled island

For guided individual and group tours, a preliminary reservation of the guide is required. Otherwise, visiting the island with the Church takes about an hour.

People on wheelchairs and parents with children in prams should know that the access to the island is somewhat difficult, because on the north side of the island there is a steep macadam road leading to the St. Mary’s Church. To enter the Church it is necessary to overcome a ten centimeters high step.

It’s also good to know that dogs are not allowed to enter.

Bled island Church – entrance fee

Bled island Church – entrance fee

In order to visit the island, St. Mary’s Church and the Bell tower, visitors have to pay a certain price, which is considered as an entrance fee.

  • Entrance fee for an adult costs 6 €,
  • for a student 4 €,
  • for children 1 €, and
  • for families the total price is 12 €.

It is not necessary to book individual tours, but then again it is desirable to book tours for larger groups. Organized groups, who wish to see the island with the Church outside the working hours, must arrange their visit at least five days in advance, with an additional entrance fee of 3 € per person for a visit.

Weddings in Lake Bled Church

Bled is offering many beautiful locations for weddings and other special celebrations. Among the most popular locations are in Bled Castle and in St. Mary’s Church on Bled island. Weddings in Lake Bled Church have a wonderful view, because they are part of idyllic surroundings. There is an interesting tradition about weddings that are taking place on Bled island. According to the tradition, the groom must carry his bride through all 99 stair steps that are leading to the Lake Bled Church.

At the top of the island they must ring the Bell of desire. All this, will bring good luck to the bride and groom and it will ensure them that their marriage will last forever and will be filled with joy and happiness.

Church of St. Martin in Bled

Weddings are also held in the Church of St. Martin in Bled; however this famous church is visited by most people because of its rich history and beautiful architecture, both inside and outside the Church. The Church of St. Martin is located next to Lake Bled, slightly elevated above the coast. Above the Church stands the mighty Bled Castle.

The Neo-Gothic church dedicated to St. Martin was built in 1905 at the same place as there once stood the Gothic church from the middle of the 15th century. The renovation of the St. Martin’s Church on Bled took place under supervision of some of the greatest names of Slovenian art and architecture. Among them were architect Jože Plečnik and fresco creator Slavko Pengov. The Church of St. Martin is special because of its Gothic architecture, luxurious interior frescoes and well-preserved walls, which remain an important part of the Church since the 15th century.

Altitude Activities Trip Advisor Travelers' Choice 2023 Award

Proud recipient of a TripAdvisor 2023 Certificate of Excellence
Thank you all for the great reviews!

Trip Advisor 5 stars

Aleksandra (our guide) provided an excellent day out with lots of beautiful sightseeing and lovely hikes! It was a full jam packed day (10 hours) which had enough breaks with a lovely spot for lunch. We loved it so much that we are going to go on another tour with Alpine Activities!

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DECEMBER 17, 2023

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