Lake Bled is probably the single most famous destination in Slovenia, and deservedly so. It’s so strikingly beautiful that every year it attracts flocks of outdoor enthusiasts. Instagrammers love it, and so do the landscape photographers. And if you’re either, you’re in the right place. Because in this article, I’ll cover the best locations and pro tips on how to photograph Lake Bled.
- Why Photograph Lake Bled
- Best Photography Spots on Lake Bled
- Photography Tips for Lake Bled
- Where to Stay at Lake Bled
- How Many Days to Spend at Lake Bled
- Other Notable Locations Around
- Final Thoughts
Why Photograph Lake Bled
Lake Bled is located in the north-eastern part of Slovenia, an hour’s drive from the capital Ljubljana. It is extremely popular among tourists and by now has grown into one of the main symbols of Slovenia.
That’s no coincidence. This entire region lies on the outskirts of the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park and is unbelievably picturesque. Lake Bled with its bright turquoise water framed by the distant mountain peaks fits right in.
So it’s hardly surprising that Lake Bled has become so famous among Instagrammers and landscape photographers. It’s one of those places where the recipe for a good image is almost as simple as “F8 and be there”. Getting a nice shot here really isn’t that complicated.
Naturally, such an iconic spot gets photographed a lot. You’ll certainly find no shortage of examples online. But believe me, if you are passionate about landscape photography, you’ll still want your own version regardless. And so here are some of the best spots for you to get it.
Best Photography Spots on Lake Bled
For this guide, I have selected a handful of locations that I have personally researched and visited. All of them are completely free to access and reachable by most people. There is a bit of hiking involved in a couple of cases, but nothing too difficult.
The spots are in no particular order, so feel free to jump around as you see fit. For convenience, I’ve also marked all of the locations on the map above.
West Shore Promenade
The most obvious photography location for Lake Bled is its western coast, simply because that’s where the town is situated. If you’re staying in the area, chances are you’ll be passing through here more than once. And when you do, be sure to take your camera, as there’s plenty to shoot!
For one, this is a perfect place to photograph the Bled Castle perched on a cliff high above the lake. The fortress looks especially fabulous in twilight and during the blue hour when the evening illumination kicks in.
In my opinion, Bled Castle is extremely underrated as a photo subject. There are so many ways to shoot it. Zoom in or go wide, fill the frame with it or play with reflections — the options are endless, so feel free to experiment.
The promenade is also ideal for shooting the pletna boats. Reminiscent of Venetian gondolas, they are hugely popular among tourists and incredibly picturesque. To get some cool photos of them, come in the evening when the boats are parked along the shore.
Last but not least, this side of Lake Bles is where you find the Heart of Bled sculpture. While this is mostly a tourist attraction, with a bit of creativity, you can get some nice results with it.
Eastern Side of Lake Bled
The eastern side of Lake Bled is where you get those postcard views it’s so famous for. From here, you are looking directly towards the Bled island, St. Maria church, and the Julian Alps in the distance. It’s irresistibly charming.
This location works best at sunrise when the sky above the peaks starts to light up. If you are lucky enough to also catch some early morning fog, you’re in for a real treat.
Evenings are also good, with the island neatly highlighted by the setting sun. Come at least an hour and a half beforehand, as the mountains behind you will block the light long before sunset. And once in shadow, the scene doesn’t look anywhere near as attractive.
There are several compositions to explore, so scouting the area first is a good idea. This is mostly about how you prefer to align the mountains relative to the island. Depending on where you shoot from, they will either be directly behind it or off to the sides.
With regards to lenses, I mostly used the longer end of my 24-105 mm, so having something with a decent reach is highly recommended.
Note that parking is limited on this side of the lake. The only lot is near camping Bled, and it’s quite expensive. Because of parking difficulties back in the village and frequent traffic jams, walking might actually be easier. From the Lake Bled promenade, it’ll take you some 35 minutes to get here which isn’t too bad.
Ojstrica is one of the two popular vantage points for viewing and photographing Lake Bled. Perched on the top of the hill high above the water, it provides a fabulous unobstructed view of the entire lake and its surroundings.
Ojstrica is only reachable by a short yet steep hike from Bled’s eastern coast. The trailhead is in the same location I described in the last section, so you can even try combining the two.
The hike is 650 meters long with some 100 meters of elevation. I suggest proper hiking shoes but otherwise, it’s all quite straightforward. Most people reach the top in 20-25 minutes without rushing it. Simply follow the path from camping Bled until you see a clearing with a bench.
The best time to shoot from Ojstrica is at sunrise. You’re facing directly east so the morning spectacle will play out right in front of your eyes. If climbing through the night isn’t your thing, sunsets and blue hours are also great. Don’t forget a headlamp — you’ll need it on the way back.
Keep in mind that Ojstrica is widely known and might occasionally get crowded. Try coming early to secure the spot.
Mala and Velika Osojnica
Mala Osojnica is the second famous viewpoint for Lake Bled. And because it’s situated only 20 minutes away from Ojstrica, you can easily hit them both in a single visit.
Mala Osojnica is a little higher and offers a slightly different perspective on basically the same scene. Therefore, most of the advice I gave for Ojstrica is fully applicable here.
Personally, I prefer Mala Osojnica because of the angle and the composition. But honestly, both are fantastic photography locations, so you can pick either. The hike to Mala Osojnica is a bit longer and tougher, but not by a whole lot.
From Mala Osojnica you can continue for another 20 minutes even further up to Velika Osojnica. At 756 meters, it’s the highest of all the nearby hills, and the view is remarkable, as one may expect.
In fairness, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s also better. Again, it presents a slightly different composition, but in no way superior to that from Mala Osojnica. So, going there is completely optional in my opinion.
Plus, the hike to Velika Osojnica is noticeably rougher, and the viewpoint itself is somewhat hard to detect. I wouldn’t recommend searching for it in the predawn darkness without first checking the route in daylight.
Bled Castle is one of the main tourist attractions around Lake Bled where visitors can learn more about the history of the region. But other than being a fun fortress to explore, it is also an excellent photography location.
Sitting atop a high cliff, Bled Castle offers commanding views of the surroundings different from those in Ojstrica or Osojnica. From here, you can capture the Bled Island from a less conventional angle or hunt for interesting scenes all across the lake using a longer lens.
The common approach is to photograph from the castle’s observation deck. But for this, you need to enter the castle which is only possible between 8 am and 8 pm. Besides, the ticket costs €13. To me, it’s a bit pricey, especially if all you want is to take a couple of photos.
So, here’s a pro tip. There are two viewpoints right behind the castle that not many people seem to be aware of. Simply walk around the fortress on a marked path for 5-10 minutes to get very similar views for free!
I think this spot is ideal for mid-morning when the sun is already higher up in the sky. Its soft light brings out the amazing colors in the water and accentuates the outline of the hills in the background. You should have no problems bagging some great shots in conditions like these.
Straža is a hill south of Lake Bled that is mostly known for its summer toboggan track and an adventure park. On its summit, there is also a small observation deck that offers yet another perspective on the lake.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this viewpoint over any others. It is relatively small and getting a clean shot could be complicated because of the tree branches. Still, it is worth checking out if you happen to be around or are looking for a less familiar composition.
The hike to Straža is comparable in length and complexity to that of Mala Osojnica. As an easier alternative, you could use the toboggan chairlift that will carry you almost to the very top. Keep in mind that it only operates during the day, so not quite an option for sunsets or sunrises.
Lake Bled from the Air
If you own a drone, Lake Bled is a fantastic place to take it out for a spin. It’s such a picturesque and beautiful destination that the images you come up with are only limited by your imagination.
Be that a shot of Bled Castle from above, an unusual take on the island, or a top-down photo of the vibrant pletna boats, having no restrictions as to where to put the camera opens up a whole array of creative possibilities. So take it into the air and see what you can achieve!
Just remember that as part of the EU Slovenia is subject to the laws governing drone usage in its member states. Apart from all the usual rules, this implies drone registration and the completion of an online exam to receive the certificate of competence.
Photography Tips for Lake Bled
Knowing the locations is important in photography, but it’s not the only thing that matters. So here are some further tips that could help you make the best of your time on Lake Bled.
The Best Season to Photograph Lake Bled
Lake Bled can be photographed all year long with every season bringing something unique to the table. In other words, this mostly comes down to your preference and the kind of shot you’re after.
The beginning of autumn or late spring are the safest choices. The weather is pleasant and the days are reasonably long, so there’s no need to get up crazy early for sunrise. And thanks to the vibrant foliage, lush green in spring and crimson in autumn, the photos are bright and contrasty.
Winter can either be incredible or dull, depending on whether there’s snow. When all covered in white, Lake Bled is undeniably magical. Days like these are some of the best for photography.
Unfortunately, snow is not guaranteed in Slovenia and unless you live nearby, timing it is nearly impossible. I spent a week on Lake Bled last January and haven’t seen any at all. And without it, the bare trees don’t make for the best of landscapes.
Summer is great weather-wise, but short nights and frequent clear-blue skies make photography challenging. On the other hand, it’s probably the best season to visit Slovenia in general and is worth considering.
Best Time of Day for Photography
It is no secret that sunrises and sunsets are the best times for landscape photography. Lake Bled is no exception. Because of its geography, I’d say sunrises do have an edge here. Those willing to wake up early might catch some truly dramatic conditions.
If you’re more of a night owl, sunsets are somewhat more subdued but otherwise often equally splendid. I wouldn’t disregard the mid-morning light either. A couple of hours after dawn when the sun is still low in the sky is a perfect time to catch some lovely dreamy shots.
Look Beyond the Classical Shots
As photographers, we are sometimes all too eager to replicate the amazing photos of a scene we’ve seen online. Maybe even improve on them in some way. There’s nothing wrong with that. Good artists copy, great artists steal, after all.
But on Lake Bled, I urge you to look beyond the iconic compositions. Here, a photo sometimes awaits where you least expect it. Like the one below, which I took whilst enjoying the warm evening on the shore, without really planning to shoot anything.
And that’s only one example. There are so many little charming scenes playing out daily across Lake Bled that if you keep your eyes open, you will undoubtedly capture something unique.
What Gear You Need at Lake Bled
Gear-wise, you don’t need anything super special to photograph Lake Bled. Your usual setup will probably do just fine. That said, here is a quick list of what I personally used:
- A camera (duh!)
- Two lenses: a 24-105mm travel-zoom and a 17-28 wide-angle
- A tripod
- A polarizing filter
- (Optional) a drone
I took by far the most photos with a 24-105 lens, so if you can only bring one, take that. You’ll find yourself using both its wide and long ends quite extensively, yet rarely needing to go beyond its boundaries.
Where to Stay at Lake Bled
All of the spots in this guide can be walked to by foot from anywhere on Lake Bled, so choosing the right accommodation is largely a question of your preferences.
From a pure photography standpoint, the western side makes more sense. However, for a more well-rounded complete experience, I would suggest the eastern shore instead. There are more hotels there and more things to occupy yourself with.
If you have a car, keep in mind that parking and traffic are terrible in Bled. It’s much easier to book a hotel with parking in Bled and then drive wherever you need to than to stay elsewhere and come to Bled with a car.
How Many Days to Spend at Lake Bled
Two days should be sufficient to visit most of the sights and prominent photography locations around Lake Bled. That said, this is a gorgeous part of Slovenia and you won’t regret spending a little longer here.
Besides, Lake Bled is a perfect home base for exploring Bohinj and Triglav National Park. There are endless hikes around and plenty of landscapes to explore. Honestly, you will have no problem filling even an entire week with activities.
Other Notable Locations Around
Gorgeous as it is, Lake Bled is not the only worthwhile destination in Slovenia for photographers. There is plenty to see and shoot in this little country, so get your camera ready.
Just north of Lake Bled is Vintgar Gorge, a lovely canyon with numerous pools, rapids, and bends. It ends with what I consider one of Slovenia’s most stunning waterfalls — the Šum Waterfall. Check out the details in my article about Vintgar Gorge.
Out west is another wonderful lake with lots of photography potential — Lake Bohinj. And beyond it, lies Triglav National Park. If you’re up for some hiking, you’ll be able to photograph some breathtaking Alpine scenery.
For some cityscape action, head to Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana. It’s a vibrant modern city with tons of incredible photography locations. And even further south, I was mightily impressed by Postojna and Škocjan Caves.
Lake Bled is one of those locations you just can’t miss as a photographer. With its crystal clear water, mountain setting, and a medieval fortress for good measure, it’s a photographer’s dream. You will have lots of fun capturing it from all the different angles, always eager for more.
And if you ever get tired, Lake Bled is a perfect place to put the camera aside, relax, chill, and for a brief moment, simply enjoy life amidst the amazing nature.
I hope you enjoyed this photography guide to Lake Bled and got something useful out of it. If so, share it with your friends and on social media and let me know in the comments below. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
I have several other articles about Slovenia and if you liked this one, I suggest you check them out. Slovenia is an awesome country to visit and photograph, and I promise you’ll love it.
- A Land of Wonders: 10 Great Reasons to Travel to Slovenia
- Hiking the Julian Alps: 7 Best Trails Near Lake Bled and Bohinj
- A Wonderful Underworld: A Guide to Visiting Postojna Cave
- Into the Glorious Abyss: Why You Must Visit the Škocjan Caves
- Top Of Mount Vogel: A Perfect Day Hike in the Julian Alps
- Seven Lakes Valley: a Gorgeous Full Day Hike in the Julian Alps
With that, happy travels and let’s see each other soon!
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