You might have heard that Lake Bled in Northwest Slovenia is a very charming place during summer when one can swim in the lake, go hiking early in the morning, eat the best ice-cream in the world or just sit on the lakeshore and relax.
However, you might wonder how colder weather, possible rain or snow, could affect your experience of visiting Lake Bled.
'Should I visit this place in winter?'
While our grandparents were able to predict that winter would bring very low temperatures so that the lake would freeze and the snow would stay on the ground for weeks, we cannot anymore.
Even though the weather is very unpredictable nowadays, there is no doubt that if you plan to visit Bled in December, January or February, make sure to pack warm clothes: a coat, waterproof boots and a woollen cap.
So, what are the first things that come to my mind when thinking about Lake Bled in winter? Snowy-capped mountains, that is for sure. And the smell of mulled wine, morning frost and the taste of hazelnuts. And … Christmas lights, ice-skating, sauna, morning frost, footprints in the snow, skiing, getting rosy cheecks while being outside…
If you are still not convinced whether to visit Lake Bled in winter or not, let me help you decide by giving you a list of things one can do in Bled during the coldest season of the year.
1. Take a walk by/around Lake Bled
There are things one can do at Lake Bled all year round and taking a walk by the lake is one of them (well, except if it rains cats and dogs or if it snows heavily, but that does not happen often).
You may just take a short stroll or walk around the entire lake that would take you around one hour and 15 minutes.
While walking around the lake, you will see all the main attractions: Bled Island (that lies on the western part of the lake), traditional pletna boats, Bled Castle sitting atop a cliff that rises above the lake, swans and geese swimming in the lake and the place where you will get famous Bled Cream Cake made according to the traditional recipe (Café Park near Park Hotel).
2. Go to Bled Island by a traditional pletna boat
For some, no visit to Bled would be complete without visiting Bled Island, the little island with the church of Mary and other historical buildings.
If you wish to relive the journey of the first visitors of the island — pilgrims — I would advise you to hop on the closest pletna boat waiting by the lakeshore for passengers.
Pletna boat is a typical boat for Lake Bled, recognisable for its colourful roof. ‘Will I have to row it by myself?’ — asked one of my guests that took part in my walking tour. The answer is no.
So called pletnars will do that for you. The only thing that you need to make sure is to ring the wishing bell that you will find in the island’s church three times so that your wish will come true!
*Note: Pletna boats are not able to take passengers to Bled Island in case of strong wind or when the lake freezes (that could happen in January).
3. Visit Bled Castle
The castle of Bled ― that is more than 1000 years old ― sits on the cliff that can be seen from afar.
The castle’s complex consists of a museum, a charming chapel, a gallery, a printing press, a forge, a wine cellar, a high-end restaurant and a café.
From its courtyards, you will get to enjoy the view of the lake and the surrounding villages from above. The castle is open every day.
4. Catch some Christmas spirit
Each year during the Advent season, Lakeside Promenade turns into a Christmas market with Christmas stalls selling local crafts, street food and warm drinks, including mulled wine.
When the festive season starts, the Christmas lights enlighten the promenade and that is the time when people start to celebrate the end of the old year.
In many Slovene homes where they nurture tradition it smells of ‘potica’ in December. Potica is a festive cake that would typically include walnut paste, but there are other fillings as well. If you visit Bled Island, you will come across various kinds of potica in Potičnica, a café and souvenir shop.
4. Go ice-skating in Bled Sports Hall
If you like winter sports or if you look for a bit of romance, you may go ice-skating while in Bled.
You can ice-skate in the Sports Hall (Ledena dvorana in Slovene) from 15 December on (from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm) that is located close to the lake (see on the map).
They also rent out skates and organise fun events such as ‘Disco on the Ice’ (every Friday from 9:30 pm until until 11 pm). The entrance fee for adults in 5 EUR (3,50 EUR for children) while renting the skates costs 4,50 EUR.
For a long time, Bled has been known for hockey. Nowadays young generations of hockey players practice in the Sports Hall that in 2002 turned into a venue for the 35th Chess Olympiad.
5. Treat yourself in wellness
Being a health resort for centuries that was once visited by noblemen who wanted to soak in thermal spring water, Bled still offers wellness, as well as various beauty treatments.
If you wish to swim in Bled in winter, you can choose from three indoor swimming pools. The only swimming pool that is filled with thermal water which is not being warmed up (22 degrees C / 72 degrees F) is situated in Grand Hotel Toplice by the lake.
The other two swimming pools with heated thermal water are located in Hotel Park (27 degrees C / 80 degrees F) and Rikli Balance Hotel — Wellness Živa (31 degrees C / 88 degrees F).
The three hotels also offer saunas and massages while in the Wellness Živa you can also experience so called alpine wellness programs.
6. Go skiing on Straža Hill or to ski resorts near Lake Bled
If you come to Bled at the right time (when it is cold enough) you may experience skiing on one of the shortest ski slopes in Europe. In winter, one of the hills — Straža Hill — turns into a ski slope that is located almost in the centre of Bled.
Straža ski slope that is open when the temperatures go below freezing is ideal for beginner skiers, including children. If there is not enough natural snow on Straža Hill, they replace it with artificial snow.
Near Bled, there are various ski resorts, the closest one being Vogel in Bohinj Valley. You can get to Vogel by ski bus that stops in Bled, as well as to some other ski resorts (Kranjska Gora, Krvavec).
7. Experience cross-country skiing in Pokljuka
You might have heard of the international biathlon competition that takes place every year in Pokljuka, a massive karst plateau that lies near Bled (you can see it very well from Bled Castle).
Located in the Triglav National Park, the only natural park in Slovenia, Pokljuka offers well-maintained cross-country skiing trails (more than 30 km / 19 mi), as well as ski slopes (mainly for families) and sledging slopes.
Pokljuka Plateau that is covered with spruce trees and is thus known as clean air haven lies at 1347 metres (4419 mi) above sea level and is accessible by car and shuttle (there is a parking area, as well a hotel and other types of accommodation — chalets on the top).
You may also go cross-country skiing in some other places in Alpine Slovenia, including Planica Nordic Centre and Kranjska Gora ski resort.
8. Visit Radovljica Old Town
Close to Bled, there is a town of Radovljica that has a cute old part featuring medieval architecture. It is a very charming place for taking a walk and admiring Renaissance buildings that stand at the main square.
The biggest building at the Linhart Square — Radovljica Manor — hosts two museums, the Beekeeping Museum and the Municipal Museum. Close to the manor is also the Pharmacy Museum that opened in 2019.
At the main square, you will also find several restaurants that offer local cuisine and cafés where you can treat yourself with something sweet. During the festive season, Christmas stalls line the Radovljica Manor.
From the viewpoint that lies on the edge of the old town you will be able to enjoy the view of the vast landscape and the mountains (Julian Alps).
For more info, you may visit Radovljica tourist info point that is located just at the entrance to the old part of the town.
9. Trip to Bohinj Valley in Triglav National Park
Many who travel to Lake Bled, continue their way towards Bohinj Valley with Bohinj Lake, another glacial lake in the area of the Julian Alps.
In winter, you may have a walk by Bohinj Lake, see Savica Waterfall, go skiing to Vogel (and take a famous cable car to reach the top), visit museums (Alpine Diary Farming Museum in Stara Fužina, the Oplen House in Studor that is a typical farmhouse of Bohinj), go cross-country skiing or visit the aqua park in Bohinjska Bistrica.
You can get from Bled to Bohinj either by bus or by train. If you decide for train, have in mind that you will be commuting on a scenic railway that opened in 1906!
Hopefully you have got an idea of how visiting Lake Bled in winter would be by now. If you have more questions, do not hesitate to contact me. You can find me on social media or just leave a comment.
- PRACTICAL INFORMATION -
LOCATION: Lake Bled (Blejsko jezero in Slovenian) is located in the northwest of Slovenia at 475 m (1500 ft) above sea level. It is named after the small alpine town it lies in — Bled. Bled sits on the edge of Triglav National Park.
GET IN: You can get to Lake Bled by bus, train or car. See useful information for bus and train connections.
BUS: Lake Bled is situated in the heart of Bled. If you come to Bled by bus and get off at the main bus station (near Bled Rose Hotel) you will need to walk only a few minutes to reach the lake.
TRAIN: The train station is located above the lake, around 3 km (1.8 mi) from the centre of Bled (see on the map). The trains running from Nova Gorica (near Slovenia-Italy border), Most na Soči (Soča River) and Bohinj (Lake Bohinj) stop at Bled train station that is named ‘Bled-jezero’.
However, if you are coming from Ljubljana or Kranj to Bled, you need to get off at the train station in Lesce (see on the map), a small town near Bled. From there, you may take a bus or a taxi to get to Bled. It takes around 10 minutes to get from Lesce to Bled by bus/car.
CAR: If you come to Bled by car, you can leave it at many parking areas across the town of Bled. You need to purchase a parking ticket from the nearest parking machine.
WEATHER: Get the most accurate weather forecast for Slovenia on the official website of the National Meteorological Service of Slovenia here. Keep in mind that Bled is in the northwest (NW) of Slovenia.
Are you planning a trip to Lake Bled and have some questions? Do not hesitate to write me here or contact me through social media.