Visiting Lake Bled in Winter is an excellent idea, but there are some things you should be aware of when visiting out of season. Thankfully, we spent a few days in Bled last December, so we can share what we got up to and what we consider to be the best Lake Bled winter activities. We’ll also include recommendations on where to eat and where to sleep, as well as all of our top tips for visiting this enchanting location in Slovenia.
No Slovenia itinerary is complete without a visit to Bled. The charming alpine town looks like it’s landed straight out of a storybook, with the pinnacle being the astonishing Bled Lake. Encompassed by the Julian Alps, I’d confidently say the lake is one of the most picturesque in the world. Arguably even more so during winter, when the mountains are snow-capped and glorious.
Regardless of whether you visit Bled in Winter or Summer, there are tons of exciting things to do and look forward to. The winter months are equally, if not more, adventurous with activities such as skiing, hiking, and ice-skating, to name but a few. Then, of course, there are the December Christmas markets when it is totally acceptable to drink copious amounts of mulled wine. Need I say any more?
Anyhow, we have a lot to get through, so let’s get to it. Here’s a comprehensive guide to visiting Slovenia’s Lake Bled in Winter.
Lake Bled in Winter + 14 Lake Bled Winter Activities
*Don’t leave home without any backpacker essentials with our free printable packing list.
Why Visit Lake Bled in Winter
If snow-capped mountains and mulled wine didn’t already convince you, then honestly, I don’t know what will.
But no, in all seriousness, I understand why some would have reservations planning a Winter trip to Bled. Or anywhere in Europe for that matter. Let’s face it; the weather is cold and unpredictable, putting your valuable sightseeing time at risk. But what if I told you there are a lot of positives to travelling offseason? Don’t believe me? Well, allow me to change your mind.
First of all, following a rise to “insta-fame” Bled has grown in popularity in recent years. Over a million tourists visit each year to immerse in the tranquil nature, while of course, nailing that perfect Instagram shot alongside the most beautiful lake in Europe. But make no mistake, Bled’s reputation is far bigger than the town itself. During the peak season, an influx of tourists sees Bled busy, overpriced, and honestly, no fun at all.
Winter, on the other hand, is an entirely different ball game. Yes, the weather is cold and unpredictable. But with the right attire, you can still have a truly fantastic time. Hotels, transport, and activities can be cheaper during winter months. And better still, you’ll only have to share the lake with a few other tourists. We had a wonderful time visiting Bled in Winter, and other than taking a dip in the lake, we didn’t feel we missed out on a thing. All things considered, I’d confidently say that Bled is one of the best winter destinations in Europe.
When is Winter in Lake Bled
Winter in Slovenia kicks in around the end of November and can last anywhere up until the end of March. I’m not going to sugar coat it; it can be bitterly cold during this time with daytime temperatures averaging 0-5 degrees. However, kit yourself out in the right gear using this Europe winter packing list, and you’ll be amazed by just how little you feel the cold.
You can expect snow at any point during Winter; however, January tends to be the coldest month and sees the most snowfall. We got some snow during our visit to Lake Bled in December, and what is already an enchanting scene was only enhanced by the white frosting and snow-capped mountains.
Another beauty of visiting during Winter is that it’s likely you’ll experience Bled in a variety of conditions. Some days are clear and crisp; others are foggy and moody. Both make for an interesting perspective, and either way, you cannot fail to fall for the charm of this magical Slovenian town.
Where to Stay Near Lake Bled
There is no shortage of places to stay in and around Bled, and the great thing about visiting in winter is that accommodation is far less expensive than other times in the year. The price of food and winter activities in Bled can soon add up, so any pennies you can save on your hotel I guarantee you’ll appreciate.
I’ve made some hotel suggestions below, or you can click the link for a list of all hostels, guesthouses, and hotels in the area. The only thing I will say is that you’ll want to ensure you’re located close to the lake, so to avoid additional costs taking public transport or taxis.
Hostel: Bled Hostel $
If you’re travelling alone, your cheapest option will be to stay in a hostel. There are very few around Bled, even less during the winter months, but we can personally vouch for Bled hostel following our visit there last December. As far as dorm standards go, this is up there as one of the best. Clean and comfortable, if not a little cramped, but we were rarely in the room, so it didn’t really hinder us at all. The staff are friendly, it’s in a great location – just 5-minute walk to the lake, and there’s a supermarket almost right next door. Can’t recommend them highly enough.
Budget: Vila Lipa
On the other hand, if you’re travelling as a couple or pair, you may find it’s more cost-effective to get a private room. Again, budget options in Bled are what I would consider mid-range in other parts of the world, but alas, we need somewhere to stay, right? Vila Lipa is a well-rated choice, close to the lake and providing spacious rooms with great facilities. Each room has a balcony, so you can relax outside and enjoy the view. You’ll also have access to the shared kitchen so you can prepare your meals from time to time to save cash.
Mid-Range: Old Parish House
If you don’t mind stretching your budget somewhat, Old Parish House is one of the best-rated hotels in Bled. Set at the foot of Bled Castle, the location is second to none, and you can be at the lake in just a few minutes. The property itself is a seamless combination of traditional and modern, with bright and spacious rooms that are sure to impress. Included in the room rate is a wonderful buffet breakfast, that will fuel your adventures for your day in Bled.
Luxury: Vila Bled
If you’ve come to Slovenia to splurge, then your primary luxury option in Bled is Vila Bled. A luxurious lakeside property that was once the summer residence of Yugoslav’s President Tito. You can expect nothing but the 5* treatment at the hotel, which features a luxury spa, private swimming area (not that you’ll be using it in winter), and gourmet restaurant. Guest rooms are elegant, spacious, and well-equipped, ensuring a comfortable and unforgettable stay.
Lake Bled Winter Activities
OK, let’s look at all the winter activities available to you in Bled. From gentle strolls around the lakeside and visiting fairy tale castles, to a variety of winter sports and entertainment, there’s guaranteed fun for all the family.
1. Walk around Bled Lake
The first thing I suggest you do when arriving in Bled, well after dropping your stuff at your hotel, of course, is to take a stroll around Bled Lake. This way, you can get acquainted with where everything is, as well as take in the gorgeous view. Or if you’re like us, you’ll be scouting for the best Lake Bled photo locations at the same time.
The total distance circumferencing the lake is 6km. So it isn’t all that far and takes between 1.5-2 hours, perhaps more if you stop often. Which again, if you’re anything like us you will want to stop frequently so to appreciate the varying vantage points. There is the odd cafe & restaurant here and there dotted around the lake, but many close over the winter months.
Unlike in the Summer months, walking around Bled Lake in Winter is a serene and romantic experience. Particularly as you stray further from the town, and all that surrounds you is nature and stillness. It just wouldn’t be the same experience if it were busy. Kids jumping in and out of the lake, couples arguing over photography poses, and tour groups oblivious to anybody else of the path. No, thank you. Give me Bled in Winter any day.
Cost: Free/Allow: 2-3 hours
2. Visit Bled Island
The small, tear-shaped Bled Island is essentially what makes Bled Lake so iconic and recognisable. The primary symbol being the chapel and bell tower of the unmistakeable Church of the Mother of God. Arguably the countries most famous landmark, you can take in magnificent panoramic views from inside the church, which was once a temple dedicated to the pagan goddess of life and fertility.
Other features of the island include the 99 step staircase that leads visitors up to the top of the church tower. And of course, there’s the wishing bell. Legend has it that if you ring the bell, you will have all of your wishes come true. You can only imagine how noisy it gets when there are many people visiting the church. So regardless of the time of year, it pays to get over to the island early so you can enjoy it in peace.
3. Getting to Bled Island in Winter
Bled Island is, well, an island, so naturally, you have to cross the water in order to get there. Unless you’re going to swim or SUP, which I highly discourage during the Winter, you’ll have to choose from the two boat options available to you.
The first option is to hire a rowing boat and paddle yourself over to the island. The rowing boats look like they hold up to 6 or 8 people; however, if it’s your first time trying this activity, I’d stick to 2-4 of you. It’s not all that far out to the island, perhaps 15 minutes or so, but it’s tiring work. To rent a rowing boat is between €15-20. They are often cheaper on the far side of the lake on the other side of town.
If, like us, you don’t trust yourself not to topple over in the water; your other option is to take a shared boat. The shared boats come in the form of a traditional Slovenian Pletna, which I thought resembled a miniature Viking ship. These larger boats hold up to 20 people and come with a professional paddler (is that what you’d call them?) so you can sit back and enjoy the view. There are several docking stations all around the lakeside, and the cost is around €12 per person.
Visiting the island isn’t the cheapest winter activity at Lake Bled, but a quintessential one nonetheless.
4. Marvel the View from Ojstrica Viewpoint
Ojstrica viewpoint is one of the most popular Slovenia Instagram locations at Lake Bled, and not without good reason. It’s very likely you’ve already encountered photos taken at this very spot, which allows for jaw-dropping vistas over the lake and surrounding mountains.
To reach the viewpoint requires a reasonably easy hike, which so long as you’re in fair shape shouldn’t be too difficult. I believe there are a couple of starting points, but the one we took is on the West side of the lake. The trail begins weaving through woodland before a gradual incline leads you to a sign that separates Ojstrica with Mala Osojnica – another viewpoint higher up the mountain.
Ojstrica Viewpoint is the one pictured in our photos below, and the hike took us no longer than 20-minutes. If you choose to go higher to Mala Osojnica, it’s another 20 minutes or so. Personally, after comparing both viewpoints, we decided the lower perspective was better. For more information, including GPS coordinates, check out our guide to hiking to Ojstrica Viewpoint.
*I should mention that if you do decide to do this hike in winter, it’s wise to wear sturdy shoes with a good grip. If it’s icy or snowing, the trail can get very slippery, so be careful and don’t attempt it if it seems too dangerous.
Cost: Free/Allow: 1-2 hours
5. Walk up to Bled Castle
Do you see that medieval-looking castle scaling a tremendous cliff edge, appearing as if it might fall at any minute? Yep, that’s Bled Castle. One of the top attractions and things to do in Bled, whether it be Winter or any other season of the year. Perched atop a steep 130-metre cliff edge, authorities report that the castle is the oldest in Slovenia.
As if you needed more fuel to add to the fire, the castle adds extra fairy tale charm to the magical scene of Lake Bled. Admire the view from the lakeside looking up, or climb up to the castle for a spectacular vista looking down. If that’s not enough, you can pay to get inside the castle which boasts a museum, restaurant, and wine tasting cellar.
Cost: Free/Allow: 1-2 Hours/Website: Bled Castle
6. Go Skiing
You haven’t experienced a true Winter in Lake Bled if there aren’t some adventurous winter activities thrown into the mix. And the first one worth considering is skiing. There are four main ski areas located around Bled, with the closest being Straza. Located just minutes from Bled centre, Straza is ideal for both experienced skiers and beginners alike.
If you are a serious skier and prefer more adventurous slopes, Kobla and Vogel Ski Centres are your playground. Located in Bohinj, only 20 and 30 km from Bled respectively, you can expect a series of intermediate runs as well as astonishing views over the Julian Alps. For more information, check out this guide to skiing around Lake Bled.
7. Sample Traditional Bled Cream Cake
Following cold mornings of wandering and taking pictures around the lake, we would look forward to sitting down with a coffee and a slice of Bled’s traditional cream cake. An amalgamation of puff pastry, eggs, cream, sugar, and all other kinds of yumminess, it’s a delightful treat for those with a sweet tooth.
You can find traditional Bled cream cake at most cafes and restaurants in the town; however, for the original version, they say you must try one at the Park Cafe. We don’t know how true this is, but all I can say, was after having one here, we daren’t try one anywhere else.
8. Go Sledding
Sledding is one of the most fun, and adventurous, Lake Bled winter activities that is suitable for all the family. The town has several surrounding hills, that during Winter become the perfect sledding terrains. Some are more adventurous than others, providing a real hit for the adrenaline junkies.
While you could quite easily locate a nearby hill and sled down it, it’s recommended you go with a guide who’ll take you to a place that’s safe for the activity. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even join an exciting night-sledding tour. Either way, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable time.
Book a Sledding Tour: Sledding Tour in Bled
9. Visit Lake Bled Christmas Market
One of our favourite things about visiting Lake Bled in Winter is the joyous Christmas Market, which again brings added sparkle to the already captivating town. The market starts at the end of November and runs into early January, where some several stalls and activities make for great fun for all the family.
Located on the lakeside closest to town, you’ll find it impossible to miss the festive display of Christmas trees, lights, and decorations. Several stalls are selling a variety of fayre, from food and wine to traditional souvenirs. We’d often find ourselves a couple of times a day enjoying a Slovenian hot chocolate (which are incredible by the way) or a delicious mulled wine.
10. Take a Festive Photo at the Heart of Bled
Visiting Lake Bled without getting a photo at the Heart of Bled, is like visiting Paris and not getting a photo with the Eiffel tower. OK, that might be a bad comparison, but you get my gist. It’s gimmicky and cheesy no doubt about it, but it’s just one of those things you do when visiting Bled. And if you’re travelling with your significant other, you can seal your love by adding a padlock to the lover’s lock fence at the same time.
11. Go Ice-Skating
It’s quite hard to imagine, but some Winters in Bled see the lake completely iced over. So much so, that people go ice skating on it. In the past, various winter sports took place on the lake; however, due to safety concerns, it is no longer supported by the tourism board. In other words, to skate on the lake is done so at your own risk.
From what I’ve heard, it’s rare to see the lake iced over in recent years. A knock-on effect of global warming, I guess. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go ice-skating. There’s also a large indoor rink at the Bled Sports Hall and a smaller outside rink on the terrace of Kavarna Park. The latter boasts a beautiful view over the lake, making for quite the romantic setting.
12. Relax at a Spa
After a long day in the cold enjoying Bleds wild winter activities, what better way to warm up and revitalise than enjoying a relaxing few hours at a spa. Unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of wellness centres in Bled, as well as some of Slovenia’s Thermal Spas. And I have a good feeling that they do pretty well over the winter months. We were travelling on a budget so didn’t get to experience one for ourselves, unfortunately; however, you can check the best-rated spas and wellness centres here.
13. Take a Day Trip
While there is plenty to keep you occupied in Lake Bled, it isn’t all that big, so you could easily cover the main attractions in 2-3 days. With this in mind, depending on how long you are staying, perhaps you’ll consider taking some day trips to see some other parts of the country.
Just like Bled, Slovenia in Winter is charming and majestic. There are so many beautiful places worth visiting, and bearing in mind that Slovenia is a small country, many are accessible on a day trip from Bled. Here’s a selection of some of the best day trips to consider during the winter:
Lake Bohinj & Triglav National Park
Triglav National Park is Slovenia’s only national park and surrounds Mount Triglav, the highest peak in the Julian Alps. There are some incredible hiking opportunities in these parts, as well as breathtaking views, crystallised alpine lakes, magnificent waterfalls, and lush green forests.
Due to the slightly precarious nature of hiking during Winter, I would suggest making this day trip with an organised tour. On this particular tour with Get Your Guide, you’ll get to see the awe-inspiring Lake Bohinj area, the Pokljuka Plateau, the Radovna Valley, the Pericnik Waterfall and other beautiful regions of the eastern Julian Alps.
Book Your Tour: Triglav National Park Tour from Bled
Mount Triglav Winter Climb
If you’re feeling extra adventurous during your winter trip to Bled, why not consider climbing Mount Triglav – Slovenia’s highest peak? It’s not a tour for the faint-hearted, particularly during the colder months. However, it’s a rare opportunity to marvel the jaw-dropping views of the Julian Alps during Winter.
The tour starts with an early morning pick up from Bled, and you’ll be driven for 40 minutes to the starting point at Krma valley. You’ll hike for 6-8 hours where you’ll end the day at a cosy hut high in the mountains. You’ll spend the night here and wake early to finish the climb to the summit in the morning (2 hours).
Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll start the descent back to the starting point. It takes around 10 hours to get back down, where a private car will be waiting to escort you back to your hotel in Bled. Fancy the challenge? Feel free to make a booking through the link below.
Book a Tour: Mount Triglav Winter Climb
Postajna Cave and Predjama Castle
Located within Postojna Cave Park, both Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle are considered national gems in Slovenia. A visit here makes for a truly adventurous day trip from Bled. Firstly, Postojna is said to be one of the most captivating and impressive caves in the entire world. To explore the millions of years old subterranean, you must take a magical underground train ride where you’ll encounter a variety of unique cave formations, wildlife, and fauna.
Located within the same national park, Predjama Castle looks like something out of a twisted fairy tale. Perched amid a 123-metre-high cliff, it is the largest cave castle in the world. The medieval structure is both mysterious and magnificent, inspiring several feature films, including the Game of Thrones. Again, you can plan your own trip, or go as part of an organised tour.
Book Your Tour: Postajna Cave and Predjama Castle Day Trip
14. Do Nothing at All
One of our favourite Winter Activities in Bled was to do nothing whatsoever. It was quite satisfying to wrap up warm and find a peaceful spot on the lakeside to sit back, feed the ducks and enjoy the view. Lake Bled has a way of conjuring up all the romantic vibes, and we’d cuddle up together feeling grateful to experience such natural beauty. That is until we got too cold, and it was back to the Christmas market for more mulled wine!
Best Restaurants in Bled
Ya’ll are going to need to fuel up for all these wild winter activities in Bled, so here’s a list of our favourite places to eat.
- Vegan: Public & Vegan Kitchen
- Pizza: Pizzeria Rustika
- Slovenian Food: Vila Ajda
- Bled Cream Cake: The Park Cafe
- Mulled Wine & Pretzels: Bled Christmas Market
Things to Know Before Visiting Lake Bled in Winter
Here I’ll list some of the travel tips that we accumulated during our visit to Bled in winter. Hopefully, they will help you have a hassle-free break in the magical lakeside town.
You’ll likely start your Slovenian adventure in Ljubljana. I suggest staying at least a day in Ljubljana before continuing your travels to Lake Bled. As I already pointed out, Slovenia is a relatively small country compared to most in Europe. That means, getting around is pretty straight forward. But, best of all, it doesn’t take a lot of time! For this reason, many choose to rent a car when travelling in Slovenia. The roads are quiet and in good condition, and you’ll be rewarded with astonishing views along the way.
If you don’t have that much time, but still want to branch out to other parts of the country, you have a couple of options. The first is to go on an organised tour like the ones we recommend above. Or you can try your hand at the public bus network. We used it a couple of times during our time in Slovenia, and despite warnings from our friends, it seemed to be reliable enough. Be sure to use the official Slovenian bus network website to plan your route.
Once you’ve arrived at Lake Bled, it’s highly unlikely you’ll need to use public transport. Even in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s biggest city, we managed to get around everywhere on foot and Lake Bled is no different. There are, however, city buses available should they be required.
What to Pack
When packing for Lake Bled in Winter, it’s important to remember that you’ll be spending a lot of your time outside taking part in winter activities. Having the right winter gear is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable time. I found this Slovenia Packing List, which is the perfect resource when preparing for your trip. Invest in a decent coat, we recommend sustainable fashion brand Pangaia, their puffer jackets are made of natural wildflowers.
It’s not uncommon for several Bled businesses to shut up shop during the Winter. After all, they make a killing in the peak season, so who can blame them? You can be assured that it’s business as usual at any of the recommendations I’ve made on this blog, but don’t be disappointed should you find others where it’s not. One example that comes to mind is the popular Summer activity Tobogganing, and there are several others. On the bright side, many of the Lake Bled winter activities are unavailable during the Summer.
Lake Bled is an extremely safe place to travel to; however, all those winter activities naturally involve an element of risk. That’s why it’s imperative to have travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. If the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll want the best cover money can buy.
For this reason, we always recommend World Nomads for travel insurance. They are affordable, offer a variety of packages and add ons, and allow you to make amendments to your policy while travelling. Say, for example, you go scuba diving or hiking a mountain, World Nomads will amend your plan accordingly. It’s a super handy feature that we’ve used numerous times including the time we trekked to Annapurna Base Camp.
If you need further convincing, read our article on why you need travel insurance. Or get an on-the-spot quote from World Nomads using the form below.
Staying Connected in Lake Bled
If, like us, you rely on the internet when you travel (let’s face it, who doesn’t anymore), we have the perfect solution. After coming home to too many hefty phone bills and buying countless international sim cards, we were desperate for an affordable solution.
That’s when we discovered TravelWifi. TravelWifi’s portable pocket wifi allows us to quickly and securely connect when we need it the most. Click the link for more information on coverage, packages, and the latest offers.
More on Slovenia
Planning a trip to Slovenia? Check out some of our other articles to help plan your trip:
- 1 Day in Ljubljana – The Best 1 Day Ljubljana Itinerary
- Gay In: Slovenia – An LGBT Travel Guide
- Hiking Ojstrica – The Best Lake Bled Viewpoint
- The Best Slovenia Instagram Spots
Did you enjoy our guide to Lake Bled in Winter?
Let us know! Well, that concludes Lake Bled in Winter + 14 Lake Bled Winter Activities. We hope you enjoy your time in this magical town. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here, where we share further travel advice & inspiration.
Stay adventurous and happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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