The town of Bled, Slovenia, is everything you could want for a cozy Christmas vacation. It’s charming, picturesque, and makes for a fabulous winter escape. It even has special Christmas events and activities to make your Christmas in Bled that much more spectacular!
Here are our picks for the best things to do in Lake Bled at Christmas, plus resources to help you plan your trip!
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The Best Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Bled
In no particular order…
Visit the Lake Bled Christmas Market
While some Christmas Markets in Europe are not open during holidays, the Bled Winter Fairytale Festive Lakeside Promenade is open on the holidays! You can visit from 11 am until 9 pm on holidays. Highlights include eating all the delicious food, shopping for Slovenian souvenirs, and enjoying some of the unique holiday photography spots they set up each year.
For more tips on visiting, check out our full Lake Bled Christmas Market guide.
Dance with the Lord of Bled Castle
While any visit to Bled should include a trip to Bled Castle, you can have an especially magical time visiting Bled Castle at Christmas! You can attend the “Dance with the Lord of the Castle” party on December 24th, 25th, 26, 31st or January 31st or 4th.
These special events are especially great for children because they include period-specific (and festive!) holiday entertainment.
Learn the Legend of the Sunken Bell
This light show is held annually on the night of December 25th, and it’s a great way to cap off a wonderful Christmas Day in Bled! According to the Bled Tourist Board, the local legend goes like this:
Once upon a time there lived a young widow in the castle of Bled. Her husband was killed by robbers and his body was thrown into the lake. She was so inconsolable that she gathered all her gold and silver and cast a bell for the chapel on the island, in memory to her husband. But the bell didn’t arrive there. The bell, the boat and boatmen sank during a terrible storm.
To learn how this sad tale ended up becoming an important local myth (with a satisfying, if still sad, ending), make your way to the show on Christmas!
Attend St. Stephen’s Fair & the Blessing of the Horses
Held the morning of December 26th, which is St. Stephen’s Day, the St. Stephen’s Fair is a great way to keep the celebrations going the day after Christmas. This event has been part of the local customs since the eighteenth century, although the tiny village of Kupljenik dates back to at least the fourteenth century.
The Blessing of the Horses is the focal point of the festivities. The health of horses has been integral to the survival of Slovenians in this part of the Julian Alps.
Christmas & New Year’s Eve Concerts and Parties
If you’ll be at Lake Bled until closer to New Year’s there are still Christmas and holiday events to attend. There’s a Christmas/New Year’s Eve concert on December 30th and a New Year’s Eve party for children held on New Year’s Eve.
Where to stay near Lake Bled for Christmas
If you’re looking for the perfect accommodations in Lake Bled, we have full guides to where to stay near the Straža Lift for anyone wanting to ski and another guide to the best Lake Bled hotels and accommodations that cover all of the best options at the lake. Here are our top picks:
Budget: In Bled proper, Back Hostel is close to both Bled Castle and the town of Bled, as well as a bus stop for getting around via public transportation or free parking if you have a car. The dorms are spacious and clean with wooden bunks. There is a shared lounge, bar area, and kitchen. Guests have raved about the hospitality here!
Mid-Range: Just 2 kilometers from the center of Bled Town, Nature Hotel Lukanc is budget-friendly yet easily accessible by foot or car to the lake (by foot takes about 15-20 minutes). Because it’s just a bit outside of the town, it’s much quieter than the rest of Bled, allowing you the opportunity to enjoy Slovenia’s best asset: its pristine nature. The hotel has its own restaurant, so you won’t even need to go into town for dinner unless you’d like to. You can also relax on the terrace and access the communal garden, which are both lovely places to relax and get away from it all in the summer.
Some units have their own balconies with beautiful views over the town of Bled, while still enjoying rural surroundings and plenty of greenery. The rooms are a little dated in terms of furnishings but they have everything you need, including extra-large beds, plenty of bedside tables, and big wardrobes so that you have plenty of room for your clothing should you choose to unpack and stay a few days. Desk space and TV is also provided, as well as a kettle for each room.
Luxury: Many of the accommodations on this list are not on Lake Bled itself, as there are limited accommodations that meet this criterion. Vila Bled is a notable exception, quite literally located on the shore of Lake Bled, surrounded by beautiful parklands. Why is this hotel so grand? Well, it used to be Yugoslav President Tito’s summer residence! How often can you say that you stayed in the summer house of an ex-communist leader?
This hotel is truly luxury at its finest: mid-century modern furniture, an unparalleled view of Lake Bled, a private swimming deck and boathouse, and a delicious in-house restaurant serving up Slovenian and international cuisine. The hotel itself is super Instagrammable, with salmon-pink walls and a stunning breakfast view of the oft-photographed island in the middle of Lake Bled. There’s also an in-house spa with jacuzzi and massage rooms.
The interior is a little bit on the older side, but to me, that just adds to the charm of staying in a place that used to be the stomping grounds of Josep Tito!
Still looking? Check out Where to Stay in Lake Bled: Hotels & Accommodations You’ll Love!
What to Pack for Slovenia in Winter
We have a full Slovenia packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!
A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. We suggest Lonely Planet Slovenia if you’ll be traveling quite a bit around the country, or if you are planning a multi-country Balkan trip, Lonely Planet Western Balkans includes Slovenia and many of its neighbors.
One or two swimsuits: While swimsuits may not come to mind for ski season, if you’re staying in a ski resort with a sauna, indoor pool, or steam room, you’ll likely want one! We suggest bringing two so you never have to put a cold wet one back on. We love this one.
Plenty of winter clothing: You can check our packing list above for our full winter packing suggestions for men and women. At a minimum, you’ll want to bring a warm winter jacket (I love this North Face parka), cozy snow boots, warm wool socks, touch-screen friendly gloves, a scarf, and a winter hat.
Any ski equipment and clothing: We’re not skiers ourselves, so we don’t have specific ski gear equipment, but special ski clothes — waterproof pants and jackets, goggles, etc. — and ski gear obviously should be on your packing list, unless you have decided to rent it all when you arrive at your Slovenia ski resort.
Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up in the best of times — and winter travel in addition to skiing will really do a number on it! If you use a moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside in the cold all day.
Sunscreen: We strongly suggest wearing sunscreen when you spend time outdoors, no matter the weather outside. The higher altitudes combined with the reflection of the sun off the snow can lead to unexpected sunburns. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen – it’s mess-free, works well in carry-ons, is ultra-protective, and blends in well.
More Slovenia Travel Resources
If you’re just starting to prepare for your trip to Slovenia, read our guide to planning a trip to Slovenia which features an 11-step checklist!
You’ll also definitely want to read our all-season, all-gender Slovenia packing list, which includes a huge winter section!
If you’ll be in the country during winter, check out the best things to do in Slovenia in winter. We also have a guide to visiting the Lake Bled Christmas Market and the best Lake Bled winter activities if you’ll be here in from the end of November through the beginning of January!
If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll find our Instagram guide to Bled helpful (Ljubljana on the way!).
If you need more Slovenia travel inspiration, check out the best places to visit in Slovenia, the best Slovenian castles, the most breath-taking Slovenian waterfalls, and what Slovenian souvenirs you should bring home.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Slovenia (or really, any part of the world)! Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, especially during the winter! – so it’s better to play it safe.
Pin this Guide to Celebrating Christmas in Bled for Your Trip!
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.