While Lake Bled, the darling of Instagrammers and photography enthusiasts, is no hidden Balkan gem, it often gets overlooked when it comes time to plan holiday travel. This is a shame since the town’s ski resorts and winter activities make it the perfect place to venture for a cozy, magical Christmas season trip.
We spoke with Diana Šebat from the Bled Tourist Board to help you get everything you need to plan the perfect visit to the Lake Bled Christmas Market this year.
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How to Visit the Lake Bled Christmas Market Festive Lakeside Promenade
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip to the Lake Bled Christmas Market, also known locally as the Bled Festive Lakeside Promenade:
What are the dates and times for the 2019 Lake Bled Christmas Market?
The market opens on November 29th and runs daily through January 5th, 2020. From Mondays through Thursdays the market hours are 3 pm until 7 pm. On Fridays through Sundays, the market has longer hours and is open from 11 am until 9 pm.
Where is the market located?
The Festive Lakeside Promenade is located along the waters of Lake Bled near the Heart of Bled. You won’t be able to miss it!
What kind of entertainment will there be for adults?
There are many festive activities available for adults at the Bled Christmas Market every day, including the wheel of love, the life-sized nativity set, and the supersized Christmas chair under the gigantic Christmas tree. Of course, there are also traditional Christmas market activities available like eating delicious local treats, sipping wine, and shopping for gifts.
In addition to the daily festive atmosphere, there will be quite a few special events, like baking demonstrations, wine tastings, and traditional Slovenian Christmas traditions like the Legend of the Sunken Bell.
What kind of entertainment will there be for children?
Kids can enjoy the sweet treats and the festive atmosphere, like the life-size nativity, but they’ll especially love the Slovenian Folktales presentation every Saturday and Sunday from 3 pm until 6 pm.
What kind of goods will be for sale?
You’ll find a great mix of traditional Slovenian souvenirs and more seasonal Christmas decorations and gifts available. We always suggest buying from local craftsmen, and the Bled Christmas Market is a great place to shop for locally made Slovenian gifts and souvenirs!
What kind of food and drinks will be available?
In addition to typical Christmas Market fare like Gluhwein (mulled wine), you’ll find local Slovenian dishes like Potica.
Is there a ticket price to get into the events?
The main promenade is free to attend. We suggest bringing cash so you can shop and purchase food. Occasionally special events might have a ticket price.
Are there any other special festivities in Bled this December or January that travelers might want to attend?
Yes! There are events at Bled Castle, like the Dance with the Castle Lord held several days between December 24th and January 1st. There are also special winter hikes and St. Stephens Fair and horse blessing.
How can travelers learn more?
We have our own recommendations and resources for visiting Lake Bled below. I want to thank Diana from the Bled Tourist Board for helping to answer our questions about this spectacular event! For more detailed information about the market, check out the Bled Tourist Board website.
Where to stay near Lake Bled
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!
If you know you’ll be coming to Bled near Christmas, check out the best things to do in Bled in winter and how to celebrate Christmas in Bled. And check out the best things to do in Slovenia in winter if you’ll be seeing more of the country.
You’ll also definitely want to read our all-season, all-gender Slovenia packing list, which includes a huge winter section!
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 Visiting the Lake Bled Christmas Market & Festive Lakeside Promenade 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.