I love visiting Bled. There’s something so special about this picturesque little town on the edge of one of the world’s most beautiful lakes. Between Bled Castle and Bled Island, there’s no shortage of charming, picturesque spots here.
But Lake Bled is not just a summer destination! You can ski at Bled, visit the Bled Christmas Market, and enjoy the fabulous lakeside hiking (provided you pack the right clothes)! Here are our picks for the best things to do in Bled in winter and the best Lake Bled winter adventures.
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The Best Lake Bled Winter Activities and Things to Do
In no particular order…
Visit Bled Island
No trip to Lake Bled is complete without a visit to the gorgeous little Bled Island in the middle of the lake! And yes, you can even get there in winter (more on how to get there below).
While on the island, take in the beautiful views from inside the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria (also referred to as the Church of the Mother of God), the island’s (and perhaps the country’s) most famous landmark. The island historically was used to worship a local Pagan goddess, Živa. When the local people were forced to convert to Christianity, the island continued to be a focal point of female spirituality in the form of a place to pray to the Virgin Mary. You can read more about the current fifteenth-century church’s history and architecture, including The Legend of the Sunken Bell, here.
You can climb up the ninety-nine steps to the top of the church tower for gorgeous views. If you find this a bit tiring, you’ll be shocked to learn that it’s a tradition for couples who marry on the island for the groom to carry his bride up all ninety-nine steps!
The island is small. While there are fewer tourists here in winter, we still suggest going early in the day so you can enjoy your time in this peaceful place sans crowds.
Take a Ride in a traditional Slovenian Pletna
While there are several ways to get out on the water and visit Bled Island, my vote is to ride in a traditional Slovenian Pletna to transport you in style! And yes, they even operate in winter. These special boats – only found at Lake Bled – have been a fixture here since the sixteenth century!
The trip costs fifteen Euros per person (reduced prices are available for children), and they leave from four different points around the lake. Note that there are some websites that quote older prices, but we’ve been told fifteen Euros is now the standard. We will update the post if we hear differently.
For the trip, the ride to the island is about twenty minutes each way, and you’ll get thirty minutes to explore once you’re there. So prepare to be gone a little over an hour.
Other options are to go in your own rowboat, which is about fifteen Euros per hour for a boat that fits up to three people. There are also larger boats available. This is great for anyone who wants to spend more time on Bled Island or if you’d like to save a bit of money and split the costs.
Unwind with a Wine Tasting
Slovenian wine, while not widely exported, is a true delight. The wine tasting was a highlight of my own time in Slovenia, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest you spend an evening doing the same!
During this two hour Bled Wine Tour, you get to spend your evening in a hundred-year-old wine cellar learning about the different Slovenian wine regions and traditions. Altogether, you get to try out seven different local wines!
The tour includes a few local appetizers to try as well. You’ll leave with a deeper appreciation for Slovenian wine culture and a certificate for “becoming an ambassador of Slovenian wines.”
Relax at the Spa
What’s better after a long day skiing or hiking in the cold than a nice, relaxing spin in the jacuzzi or delightfully sleep-inducing massage? To be perfectly honest, sometimes I go to ski resort towns and JUST use the spas and steam rooms. I don’t have to hit the slopes to feel cold and need to relax!
If your hotel doesn’t include a spa, sauna, steam room, or massage services, you can always head to a local one, like Spa & Wellness Essence, which is the area’s top rates spa according to travelers.
Take a Holiday Picture at the Bled Heart
The Bled Heart is one of our favorite Bled Instagram spots, but it’s even sweeter when it’s decorated for Christmas! If you happen to catch it when it’s a bit fancier than normal, congrats! Make sure to get a cute pic to share with your loved ones back home!
Visit the Bled Christmas Market
Held from the end of November through the first few days of January, the Bled Christmas Market is also referred to as the Festive Lakeside Promenade. If you’ll be in town and want to visit, you’ll be happy to know it’s open every day!
We have a full guide on how to visit the Bled Christmas Market, including tips, hours, and more!
Celebrate Christmas at Lake Bled
If you decide to visit Bled at Christmas, there are a few special events you’ll want to make sure to attend! In addition to the regular Christmas Market events, Dance with the Lord of the Castle at Bled Castle held throughout Christmas Week, the Legend of the Sunken Bell on Christmas Day, and St. Stephen’s Fair on December 26th.
Whether you want to stay in Bled and ski at the Straža Lift or you want to enjoy some of the area’s other ski options, there’s plenty of skiing (or snowboarding) to be enjoyed here this winter!
Another option for those who are a bit more adventurous is to try out a Julian Alps Ski Tour, which goes beyond your typical day on the slopes, taking you to ski in more remote spots and adding in some true mountaineering into the mix! Great for experienced skiers who want to try something new!
Visit Bled Castle
After Bled Island, Bled Castle is the second most famous landmark in the town. It’s over one thousand years old (though most of what you see today is much newer), and it’s been a famous Slovenian site since at least the seventeenth century!
Inside you’ll find a museum, restaurant, and wine cellar, while outside you’ll see stunning views of the (possibly snow-covered) lake below!
For more information on how to visit, check out the castle’s website.
Try Out Snowshoeing
If you’ve never experienced snowshoeing before, but you’ve always been curious, your trip to Bled is a perfect time to give it a try! On the Winter Snowshoeing Fairytale Experience, you can go at a gentle pace or test yourself by going faster, so it’s perfect for beginners or those who already know the ropes (so-to-speak).
This is a fantastic way to get out into nature since the countryside you’ll visit is only accessible by snowshoe. Imagine spending hours in a serene, unblemished snowy alpine landscape without a care in the world!
Go for a Picturesque (and Snowy) Hike
There are several famous hiking trails around Lake Bled that you can explore, just make sure you pack warm clothes and the right shoes for the weather! Ranging from easy to intermediate difficulty normally, expect the difficulty to be increased with the snow.
We have a few of the most famous lookout points listed in our Bled photo guide, check it out if you have your heart set on a specific view.
Go Ice Skating
Some years (but not all) Lake Bled actually freezes enough for it to be a safe natural skating rink! However, even if the lake doesn’t freeze over, there’s plenty of ice skating fun to be had at Bled. You can also skate at Bled Ice Hall or the Bled Ice Skating Rink with a view.
Adults can skate for five Euros, with discounts available for children.
Climb Mount Triglav in the Snow
The Mount Triglav Winter Climb is a specialized two-day tour that will take you from Bled to Mount Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia. Here you’ll spend the day ascending the mountain, climbing for about nine hours, before making your way to the highest mountain hut in the country.
You’ll overnight here and finish the climb to the top (two more hours) in the morning. The descent takes about ten hours, and you’ll have transportation at the bottom waiting to take you back to Bled.
Not for the faint of heart, but true thrillseekers will jump at the chance to topple Slovenia’s highest peak!
Try Out Ice Climbing
We adore Slovenia’s beautiful waterfalls, but I’ve honestly never considered trying to climb one before. But if you visit Lake Bled in wintertime, climbing a frozen waterfall is an actual possibility!
On the Bled Ice Climbing Experience, you’ll learn basic ice climbing techniques from an experienced, professional guide before you climb the waterfall on your own. A one-of-a-kind Slovenian alpine experience, indeed!
Attend the Winter Swimming World Championships
At Lake Bled, the geese aren’t the only beings crazy enough to swim in the water in the wintertime! If you happen to be in Bled during the first week of February, you can attend the Winter Swimming World Champions, where swimmers compete outdoors in the cold!
Go Cross Country Skiing at Pokljuka
Pokljuka is an easy shuttle ride from Bled, and it has some of the world’s best cross-country skiing on offer! You can rent everything you need at their local sports center, before enjoying your own snowy adventure.
Watch the Biathalon World Cup & World Championships
If you only catch a glimpse of a Biathalon competition during the Olympics, you’re missing out! This sport, which combines sharpshooting and skiing, is much more exciting in person!
The IBM World Cup will be held in Pokljuka Jan 22-26, 2020, while the World Championships will be held here on February 10-22, 2021. Tickets should be purchased ahead of time and cost about 25 Euros.
Go Sledding at Lake Bohinj
Lake Bohinj is hardly a hidden gem, but don’t overlook this serene location in winter! You can go sledding here, or you can choose to spend some of your skiing time cross-country skiing nearby.
Set aside a bit of time to visit the lakeside Church of St. John the Baptist.
Guided Tours Mentioned in this Post
Here are all the guided tours mentioned in this post in one easy-to-reference list:
Where to stay near Lake Bled in Winter
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!
We also have a guide to visiting the Lake Bled Christmas Market if you’ll be here in from the end of November through the beginning of January, plus how to celebrate Christmas in Bled if you’ll be here for Christmas! And check out the best things to do in Slovenia in winter if you’ll be seeing more of the country.
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 Lake Bled in Winter 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.