Lake Bled may be Slovenia’s most well-known tourist destination. In summer, it’s packed with people soaking in the sunshine beneath the Julian Alps. Outdoor enthusiasts use it as a jumping off point for canyoneering, mountaineering, and waterfall watching. We found winter at Lake Bled much less crowded and just as beautiful.
Lake Bled (Blejsko jezero) is 2,120 m (6,960 ft) long, 1,380 m (4,530 ft) wide and instantly recognized by the small island topped with a pilgrimage church and steeple. On the north shore, Bled Castle stands guard on a cliff 130-meters above glacial Lake Bled. All around the lake, trees lead up to the high peaks of the Julian Alps.
Scroll down for the video!
Things to Do in Lake Bled During Winter
You can’t do this every winter, but according to locals we talked to, the lake freezes over once every 5-9 years. We were fortunate to be there the last day of safe skating for 2017.
The boys and I rented skates and glided around the lake while Henry shot video. It was fast, smooth, and so much fun. Had we more time, we could have skated out to the island.
If the lake isn’t frozen, there is a small manmade ice rink outside the Park Restaurant and Café overlooking the Lake Bled.
Rent skates inside the Park Restaurant and Café for the lake or the café’s rink. The rental pavilion is at the back of the restaurant.
Taste Lake Bled Cream Cake — Kremšnita
After returning our ice skates, we each ordered a slice of the Original Lake Bled Cream Cake. Park Restaurant and Cafe is the birthplace of this symbol of Bled cuisine. Even today, they continue to make the cream slice following the original recipe, which has not changed in decades.
The recipe was invented by Ištvan Lukačević. He modified an old Vojvodina recipe for cream slices to make a light and delicate dessert. The original Bled cream cake is recognized as a dish with a protected designation of origin.
We feel it is our duty to test the best cakes in the world and were ready to take this on. I haven’t had other cream cakes to compare, but this was really good. I honestly wasn’t expecting that much, but I liked it so much I had another piece the next day at the castle (it’s the same Original Bled Cream Cake; it’s brought over from the café).
Tour Bled Castle — Blejski Grad
You can’t miss this castle towering over Lake Bled. Bled Castle is the oldest Slovenian castle and is currently one of the most visited tourist attractions in Slovenia.
The castle has an interesting museum and chapel. We really enjoyed the print shop, as well. And the view from there is pretty great…I’ve heard. It was so fogged in when we were there that we didn’t see much.
Entrance to the castle is €10 for adults and €5 for kids under 14 years.
TIP: If you make a reservation for the castle restaurant 24 hours in advance, you can get into the castle for free…well, for the cost of a cup of tea.
Thanks to Matevž from Alpine Activities for the snowshoeing photos!
Snowshoe in Triglav National Park – Triglavski Narodni Park
We could have just rented snowshoes from Mamut and gone by ourselves, but the guided tour was a better option for us. There wasn’t enough snow around Lake Bled for us to snowshoe without driving somewhere in a car. Plus, I had no idea where to go.
Matevž picked us up at our hotel and drove us into Triglav National Park. We tromped through the woods, all the while learning about the trees, the park, and Slovenian culture. Our turn around point was a mountain hut. I use the term “hut” loosely. It was a big building with a restaurant and hostel rooms. After a beer and tea, we cruised back down. All in all it was a lovely day. I am going to write a whole post about it, so I will leave it at that for now, but I highly recommend contacting Matevž for any mountaineering, canyoneering, or outdoor adventure touring.
Cross Country Ski
Another option would have been to take a taxi to Sports Center Pokljuka, just beyond where we snowshoed. They rent skis and snowshoes and groom tracks for Nordic skiing and biathlon. There is also access to ungroomed backcountry trails from the Sports Center.
Walk Around Lake Bled
While Anders and I snowshoed, Henry and Finn took an icy walk around the lake. There is a path all the way around Lake Bled, so it is normally an easy 6 km (3.7 mile) walk. I think we visited the area during the iciest week of the year.
They found every angle for photographing the lake, castle, and island. On this walk, they passed Vila Bled, the residence of former Yugoslav President Tito. Vila Bled has been renovated and is today a high end hotel. They stopped by the Park Café for cream cake, strolled through Bled, and climbed the stairs to the castle, where Anders and I met them.
We spent two nights in Lake Bled at Hotel Triglav on the west shore. The hotel was built in 1906 and is filled with antiques and charm, but thoroughly modern in all the ways that matter.
And the view! From the dining room, our balcony, the pool…we could gaze across the lake at Bled Island. You have to watch the video to really appreciate the view.
The food was amazing. From our lovely dinner to daily breakfasts, we were fed in style and great taste.
The boys loved the pool and took the plunge both nights. I enjoyed the sauna and dreamed of the massages that take place in the spa.
Hotel Triglav is a one-minute walk from the train station (although we never heard the trains), has parking, and was about at 25-minute walk from the town of Lake Bled and the bus stop.
You can reserve a room through Booking.com. Click the link below and search for “Hotel Triglav.”
Lake Bled is easily accessed by car, bus, or train.
NOTE: The train station is at the west end of the lake, not in the town of Lake Bled. It’s very convenient for a stay at Hotel Triglav.
Have you been to Lake Bled in winter? Share your recommendations and links in the comments!
Thanks to Hotel Triglav for hosting us. The opinions expressed here at TravelingMel are always my own.