Trenta valley, Soča valley and other parts of northern Primorska region have been a popular weekend trips destination for decades, but for many these parts of the country were also the main spot for spending summer holidays. In the last years the numbers of international tourists are consistently on the rise and I have to admit that besides Bled and Piran, Soča river & valley is usually what my international friends here in Germany and in other parts of the world know when I mention Slovenia. So this summer it was really about time I took Charlie over here and since we were hooked during our short August day trip, we decided to return in September with the Defender and stay a few days. This post is written based on my own experiences, all the visits and trips in the area I made over the years. The chapters are organised geographically, from the direction of Kranjska Gora over Vršič pass and then along Soča river all the way to Nova Gorica town. So, what can you see and do in this stunning part of Slovenia? Read more below.
VRŠIČ | mountain road over Vršič pass, connecting Gorenjska and Trenta
If you are visiting Trenta and Soča valley from Kranjska Gora you basically have 2 options – either you drive over Vršič pass or you drive over Italy pass Tarvisio and Predil lake. The ROAD OVER VRŠIČ PASS (1611 metres) was built for military purposes in the WWI and is now called Ruska cesta (RUSSIAN ROAD) to honour the Russian prisoners who built it. In the winter, the pass might be closed due to heavy snow, but in the summer it is a popular way to reach TRENTA from KRANJSKA GORA or vice versa. On both sides of the pass there are 50 serpentines, don´t miss stopping at the famous RUSSIAN CHAPEL, ALPINE BOTANICAL GARDEN JULIJANA, KUGY MEMORIAL and others.
There are also many CYCLISTS going over it, but this is advisable only for those who have much endurance. if you want to hike to some other mountains from here you can do so – MALA MOJSTROVKA (2332m) and VELIKA MOJSTROVKA (2366m), PLANJA (2453m), PRISOJNIK (2547m), RAZOR (2601m), SITNA GLAVA (2087m), SLEMENOVA ŠPICA (1911m), SOVNA GLAVA (1750m), SUHI VRH (2109m) or visit some of the mountain houses in the near – ERJAVČEVA KOČA (1515m), TIČARJEV DOM (1620m), KOČA NA GOZDU (1226m) or POŠTARSKI DOM (1725m).
MLINARICA FORGE | natural monument close to Vršič road
When descending down to Trenta valley on Vršič road you can make a stop at MLINARICA GORGE (korita Mlinarice), which is a lesser-known 700m long gorge with depths up to 100m, listed as a NATURAL MONUMENT. In some parts the gorge is only 1m wide which makes it impossible to cross completely without proper equipment. You can still walk a fair part of it, but since this lack of accessibility we decided not to stop this time.
JULIUS KUGY MONUMENT | a tribute to one of the biggest enthusiasts and explorer of the Julian Alps
Another interesting stop on Vršič road l the BRONZE STATUE OF JULIUS KUGY – a famous Slovenian mountain explorer and a great admirer of Julian Alps. The monument made by Jakob Savinšek was made at the 60. ANNIVERSARY OF ALPINE ASSOCIATION OF SLOVENIA and it is facing Jalovec mountain.
SOČA SPRING | shorter, but advanced hike to Soča spring from Vršič road
The queen of Soča valley, the Soča river itself, is almost 140km long and runs into the Adriatic sea near Monfalcone in Italy. Close to Vršič road you can stop and hike up to its SPRING – the hike is just about 20min long but is more difficult at the very end, so I´d say it´s not for people with less experiences and not for smaller kids. Still you can turn around before the difficult part starts, you still get to see something.
You can leave your car at a PARKING located next to KOČA PRI IZVIRU SOČE cottage (they have food and drinks as well). Just follow the signs to start the hike from here. We didn´t go all the way up with Lu this time.
KEKČEVA DOMAČIJA | fairytale-like location surrounded by mountains and meadows
Not far from SOČA SPRING you can visit a truly fairytale like location in Trenta valley for a lunch stop (only possible with a reservation before arrival) or just refreshment with drinks and snacks. You can also STAY OVERNIGHT here, they also organise several different events, from weddings to birthday parties.
I can´t say much about those services as we only stopped shortly for a plate of local cold meats & cheese – we really enjoyed the views and the relaxed atmosphere, but left with mixed feelings about the place.
ALPINE BOTANICAL GARDEN JULIJANA | the only one of such kind in Slovenia
Just a little bit further down the road you will find THE ONLY ALPINE BOTANICAL GARDEN IN SLOVENIA, called Juliana alpine botanical garden. Here you can walk between around 600 DIFFERENT PLANTS, some of which are ENDEMIC, but there are many alpine and submediterranean ones as well.
The best time to visit this garden is in Spring or Summer – we were there in September and most of the blossoms were gone already, but it was still a nice place to visit. In the high season the ENTRY FEE is 3€ for adults, of season you pay 2€.
THE SMALL SOČA GORGE | a shorter, but equally amazing section of the Soča river
A little bit less than 8km from TRENTA in the direction of Bovec there is a wonderful stop at SMALL SOČA GORGE, which as the name already indicates truly are smaller than the Great Soča gorge, but nevertheless equally beautiful. Very close to the main road there is an interesting, 100m long section of the river which you can admire from the bridge and from the river banks.
The Small Soča gorge can also be seen while hiking on the SOŠKA POT TRAIL or the famous ALPE ADRIA TRAIL. If you are just passing by with your own vehicle you can park near JELINČIČ FARM (and grab a bite to eat), close by there is also CAMPING KORITA. You really don´t need to walk very far to get the best views, so this is a great stop for everyone who is short on time too.
THE GREAT SOČA GORGE | beautiful emerald green water pools
Just 5min from SMALL SOČA GORGE in direction of Bovec, you can take a left turn from the main road, towards LEPENA VALLEY where you can visit quite a few points of interest – one of the most known and popular ones is the GREAT SOČA GORGE.
This gorge is around 750m LONG and its main attraction are the EMERALD GREEN WATER POOLS – you can check them out while hiking on SOŠKA POT TRAIL, in case you come with your own vehicle you can park it at one of the 2 PARKINGS (fees apply) just before CAMPING KLIN. The views are really stunning, just watch your step and wear proper shoes as the rock can be often slippery. The same road also leads to ŠUNIK WATERFALL, LEPENA VALLEY and KRN LAKE (more about these below).
ŠUNIKOV VODNI GAJ | easy hike up to the waterfalls in Lepena valley
Before this summer I have actually never heard of this place, but since I wanted to visit Lepena valley anyway, we took this opportunity and decided to visit it. Besides, it seemed rather like a hidden gem than a popular tourist spot, which was another good reason for visiting – also, since we were there during the week, we were totally by ourselves and met no other people.
There are more ways to access these waterfalls and you can leave your vehicle either at the PARKING close to the GREAT SOČA GORGE or you continue driving up to Dom dr. Klement Jug cottage in Lepena valley and leave the car somewhere along the way (this is what we did). Here we took the EASY CIRCULAR PATH along Šunik stream, the hike took us a bit over an hour altogether. First we were surrounded by amazing views on the mountains around Lepena valley, later on we walked through a forest pass WATER POOLS and smaller WATERFALLS to ŠUNIK WATERFALL. This area is supposed to have a HIGH-ENERGY VALUE and therefore good effects on our health and overall well-being.
LEPENA VALLEY | one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in Slovenia
One of the more beautiful ALPINE VALLEYS in Slovenia is 5km LONG and is one of the smaller, side valleys of Trenta, In Lepena valley you can visit quite a few natural monuments, for example the GREAT SOČA GORGE, ŠUNIK WATERFALLS & LEPENJICA WATERFALL, you can also take a longer hike up to the stunning KRN LAKE and continue hiking towards KOMNA, You can spend the night at KAMP KLIN at the start of the valley, not far from the main road between Bovec and Trenta.
If you are short on time or have no energy for a longer hike you can also just drive all the way to Dr. KLEMENT JUG COTTAGE in Lepena valley (you can otherwise start the hike to Krn lake here) and enjoy the views for a while.
KRN LAKE | the largest alpine lake in Slovenia
Around 300m LONG, 150m WIDE and an impressive 17m DEEP beautiful GLACIAL LAKE is a popular hiking spot amongst Slovenians. It is also THE LARGEST ALPINE LAKE IN SLOVENIA, located on 1391m above sea level, under the mighty KRN mountain (2244m) after which it has also gotten its name. The expression KRNSKA LAKES is used for DUPELJSKO LAKE and a smaller LOZNICA LAKE as well.
THE STARTING POINT for the hike is Dr. KLEMENT JUG COTTAGE in Lepena, from where you walk around 2hrs UP TO THE LAKE. Even though it would have been fun to swim in the lake in the summer, it is actually prohibited in order to protect the lake´s ecosystem. There are over 40 TYPES OF PLANTS and over 20 TYPES OF ANIMAL SPECIES found in and around the lake.
A DAY TRIP TO ITALY | Log pod Mangartom, Strmec na Predelu, Mangartsko sedlo, Predel pass and Predil lake
As already mentioned, you can reach Soča valley also from Italy, but you can of course take a day trip from Bovec towards PREDIL PASS where the state border is located. These are beautiful parts as well and you have a couple of nice places to stop.
For example in small towns LOG POD MANGARTOM ans STRMEC NA PREDELU, you can drive up ONE OF THE MOST SCENIC ROADS IN SLOVENIA called CESTA NA MANGARTSKO SEDLO (fees apply), or drive over the border to the Italian LAKE PREDIL which is super great for kayaking, SUP, swimming and walking around.
KORITNICA GORGE | Koritnica gorge or Kluže gorge natural monument
Besides Soča there are a couple of other charming smaller rivers and KORITNICA is one of them. It has its spring at Mangart mountain and runs into Soča near Bovec. The most interesting part of Koritnica is at Kluže fort, which is also great to visit, where you can see the 200m LONG AND 70m DEEP GORGEknown under the nameKORITNICA GORGE or KLUŽE GORGE.
This gorge is also listed as a NATURAL MONUMENT, the easiest and quickest way to see it is directly from the bridge at Kluže fort, just 4km from Bovec. Otherwise you can reach the river on several sections around Log pod Mangartom.
KLUŽE FORT | mighty fort, also known as Bovec gate
Not too far from Bovec in the direction of Predil pass, you can visit a historically important FORT KLUŽE, which is also known under the name “BOVEC GATE”. On this strategic location there was first a wooden fort, built for defence purposes in the times of Turkish invasions but was later on rebuilt with stone in Napoleon times.
It got its current imagine in the 19th Century and has yet again played an important defence role on the so-called SOŠKA FRONTA front. The entry fee is 3€ per adult and while you are already here you can also walk to the nearby FORT HERMANN (around 30min walk).
BOVEC | adrenalin capital of Slovenia
Bovec is the ADRENALINE CAPITAL OF SLOVENIA and is very well known in international circles in the last years, with loads of tourists (domestic and international) coming here especially in the summer months. Bovec itself is a rather smaller town, packed with a few restaurants, cafes, sport shops, apartments, hotels, a FOOD & CRAFTS MARKET and of course many agencies offering adrenaline adventures. The most popular ones are RAFTING, KAYAKING, CANYONING, ZIPLINE, PARAGLIDING and others. There is also a gondola lift which takes you to the top of KANIN SKI PLACE (the lower station is located in Bovec), you will also find a GOLF COURSE and an AIRPORT FOR GLIDER PLANES in Bovec, plus there are lots of possibilities for MOUNTAIN BIKE RODES and HIKING.
Bovec is also a GREAT STARTING POINT FOR VISITING OTHER NATURAL TREASURES in Soča valley. Very close by there are BOKA & VIRJE WATERFALLS, the Great and Small SOČA GORGE, SVINJAK MOUNTAIN (which is also known as the Slovenian Matterhorn). All the other attractions in this valley are basically good accessible from Bovec as well.
WATER SPORTS ON SOČA RIVER | the most popular water adventures in Soča valley
By now you all know that this area is most famous for its more or less ADRENALINE ADVENTURES and in this chapter I´m presenting a few of the most popular ones – rafting, canynonig and kayak.
Years ago we had a great team building adventure day with my office and we went RAFTING ON SOČA RIVER, which was absolutely awesome. I really recommend this if you are a group of friends since it´s really a fun thing to do together, but even if you go alone or in pair it is one of the best ways to experience the river from a different angle.
Rafting here is only possible in some of the sections, we started our adventure in ČEZSOČA. Organised rafting trip (you can choose between a half-day one or the ones which go for around 3hrs) with an experienced guide also includes all the equipment you will need (suit and helmets), you get to listen to the safety instructions first and get to know some of the techniques before you actually get into the water. We did around 10km and there is no need for prior experiences or knowledge, you just need to be able to swim. During this trip we also got the chance to jump into the river from one of the rocks, we also flipped our raft once which was fun and nobody got hurt – overall this was amazing and I can´t wait to do it again someday.
I admit, I never tried this, therefore no pictures, but there has to be a challenge for our next visits. As the name states canynoning is an ADRENALINE ACTIVITY, WHICH TAKES PLACE IN GORGES, CANYONS AND WATER POOLS of mountain rivers. During an organised canyoning trip you can expect to be swimming, climbing or sliding down rocks and jumping in water pools. Of course you will need proper gear and an experienced guide. There are lots of places for canyoning around Bovec – for beginners you can pick SUŠEC or PRŠJAK, for advanced and experienced FRATARICA, PREDELNICA, KOZJAK or GLOBOŠKI POTOK.
Soča is also known to be ONE OF THE TOP PLACES FOR KAYAK IN THE WORLD, regardless if you are an absolute beginner or experienced pro. There are sections of the river which are suitable for everyone, ranking from I to V in difficulty.
Beginners and those less experienced can take an ORGANISED KAYAK TOUR WITH AN EXPERIENCED GUIDE (you will also get all the equipment and instructions you need), those who are experienced enough to do it on their own need to PURCHASE THE PERMIT before heading into the water. Besides GUIDED DAY TOURS there are also many KAYAK SCHOOLS (also available for the kids) and many shops in Bovec where you can either buy or rent the equipment.
KANIN SKI RESORT | the highest Slovenian ski resort
With 2300m above sea level, Kanin is one of the most beautiful and scenic ski places in Slovenia, with views over the Alps as well as all the way to the Adriatic sea. Besides, Kanin is also THE HIGHEST SKI PLACE IN SOVENIA. From the top you can descend to SELLA NEVEA on the Italian side, where you have great possibilities for OFF-PISTE SKIING, otherwise you can enjoy the 30km OF MARKED SKI SLOPES.
It is possible to reach the top also in the summer with KANIN SKI GONDOLA LIFT (check the timetables online) which runs between Bovec and Kanin. In the warmer months it is also possible to do MOUNTAIN BIKING and PARAGLIDING from Kanin.
VIRJE WATERFALL | beautiful waterfall near Bovec
Another one of the many waterfalls around here, but equally worth visiting. It´s shape and the easy accessible water pool make it a very nice spot very close to Bovec (take the road to Plužna and follow the signs). There is a PARKING close to the waterfall (fees apply and you can only park for 2hrs, cars 5€, motorhomes 10€), from which there is only 5-10min walk down the hill. Virje waterfall is also accessible from other places but the walk will be longer then.
The area around this 20m WIDE AND 12m HIGH WATERFALL, which is created by GLIJUN STREAM is really magical, but swimming in the GREEN POOL under the waterfall is now forbidden in order to keep this place as natural as possible.
GLIJUN SPRING | Glijun stream spring near Virje waterfall
From the same PARKING I mentioned above at VIRJE WATERFALL you can continue to walk up to yet another interesting spot, to GLIJUN STREAM SPRING. On the way you will pass the stream itself, later on there is a LAKE and at the end the spring. The best times to come here are just after heavy rains or generally in Spring time.
BOKA WATERFALL | the most powerful Slovenian waterfall
Close to Bovec BOKA WATERFALL is another one you simply should not miss. Basically you can already spot it from the main road, but if you take just 15 minutes of your time you can walk up to the VIEWING PLATFORM to get a proper view. Boka is 144m High AND 18m WIDE which makes it one of the most impressive Slovenian waterfalls – the amount of water again depends on the season, usually the best time to see it is in the Spring.
Those of you who are looking for a longer hike and even better views you can hike further on from the viewing platform and end up on the top of the waterfall, which should take you about 1 hour. But have in mind that this path is very STEEP AND NOT FOR THOSE WHO FEAR HEIGHTS.
KOBARID | one of the historicaly most important Slovenian towns
Kobarid is a smaller town between Bovec and Tolmin and likewise a GOOD BASE for exploring the valley with many wonderful sights close by and others not too far away as well. You can see many of them on the so-called KOBARID HISTORICAL PATH. Kobarid is ONE OF THE HISTORICALLY MORE IMPORTANT SLOVENIAN TOWNS, exactly here the LAST BATTLE of the famous SOŠKA FRONTA front was fought – you can learn more about history in a very interesting KOBARID MUSEUM. Besides this one, you can also take a look at CHEESE-MAKING MUSEUM in MLEKARNA PLANIKA, since this valley is very well known for its cheese production as well.
Around Kobarid you can check out TRNOVSKA GORGE, BREGINJSKI KOT and NADIŽA VALLEY, LIVEK (on the picture above you can see NEBESA CHALETS – a unique peaceful place to stay with amazing views), KOLOVRAT, DREŽNICA, MRZLI VRH, KRN and PLANINA KUHINJA.
NAPOLEON BRIDGE | wonderful stone bridge close to Kobarid
On the way to Kozjak waterfall we shortly stopped at one of the most interesting and famous BRIDGES ON SOČA RIVER, the STONE NAPOLEON BRIDGE, which got its name after the French units in the times of WWII.
KOZJAK WATERFALL | charming waterfall close to Kobarid
If you continue driving towards NAPOLEON BRIDGE in the direction of DREŽNICA from KOBARID, you soon reach a LARGER PARKING close to KOREN CAMPING, which is the STARTING POINT FOR HIKING UP TO KOZJAK WATERFALL. This is a nice and easy 30min HIKE with a stunning waterfall at the end. Actually there are 2 waterfalls, SMALL KOZJAK and BIG KOZJAK (15m high). There is an entry fee of 4€ which has to be paid just a few minutes before you reach the big waterfall, but trust me, it is worth it.
The last part of the path runs on wooden bridges and ends with a WOODEN PLATFORM from which there is a nice view on the waterfall. It is not allowed to swim in the pool under the waterfall but you can dip in your feet further down along the stream.
DAY TRIP TO NADIŽA RIVER VALLEY | one of the warmest Alpine rivers
Somehow often overlooked and overshadowed by Soča, NADIŽA RIVER is just as beautiful and the trip to its valley might be a highlight for many. It is also ONE OF THE WARMEST ALPINE RIVERS, with water temperature up to around 20C in the summer which makes it perfect for holidays especially if you have kids – there are lots of CAMPSITES around here. Here we can find a NAPOLEON BRIDGE as well (although smaller than the one at Kobarid) and many other wonderful sites such as BREGINJSKI KOT for example. In the peak season there is a special PARKING REGIME in the valley so you can only leave your car at designated parking lots. Otherwise you can also come here with a bus from Kobarid.
HIŠA FRANKO | the only restaurant in Slovenia with 2 Michelin stars
In Slovenia, most of us have heard about ANA ROŠ often enough to know she is one of the best female chefs in the world and her RESTAURANT HIŠA FRANKO continues to hit the 50 BEST RESTAURANTS IN THE WORLD list year after year now. It is located in Staro Selo, very close to Kobarid and it is the ONLY 2 MICHELIN STAR RESTAURANT IN SLOVENA.
The menu is closely tied with local produce and ingredients and eating there surely is a great experience – we´ve not yet managed to try it out but it´s on the list. Until then, thanks to my dear friend Sabina for the piuctures above.
TOLMIN | turistic centre at the confluence of Soča and Tolminka rivers
Besides BOVEC and KOBARID, Tolmin is another larger tourist centre and also A GOOD STARTING POINT for further exploration. You can find something to keep you busy while hanging out in the town itself (for example TOLMIN MUSEUM), but most of the attractions are scattered around the town. I recommend visiting the ruins of TOLMIN CASTLE (great views), KOZLOV ROB LEARNING PATH, MEMORIAL CHURCH OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, BERI WATERFALL, CONFLUENCE OF SOČA AND TOLMINKA (there is an awesome pebble beach here) and the most known attraction around here – TOLMIN GORGE. You can read more about some of these in the next chapters. In Tolmin, there is also one of the more famous MUSIC FESTIVALS in Slovenia called METALDAYS.
TOLMIN GORGE | picturesque circle path in the gorges of Tolminka and Zadlaščica
In just2hrs WALKING you complete a nice CIRCUIT PATHwhich takes you throughTOLMINKA AND ZADLAŠČICA GORGE, between narrow rock cliffs, over bridges and pass many interesting spots such as “THE BEARS HEAD” (a round rock stuck between the walls of Zadlaščica canyon), theDEVILS BRIDGE (there´s a great view down towards Tolminka river 60m below), DANTE`S CAVE, THERMAL SPRING and TOLMINKA & ZADLAŠČICA CONFLUENCE where you also enter Triglav national park. The hike is fairly easy, but due to ofter slippery rocks please wear suitable hiking shoes.
About 5min driving from Tolmin pass Tolmin castle and ZATOLMIN town sou arrive to aPARKING (fees apply) at Tolmin gorge. If you want to avoid this parking you can also take PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION from Tolmin. You will also have to pay the entry fee to enter the gorge, depending on the season it will cost you 5-8€ for adults, but have in mind that the gorge is only opened between March and November.
BERI WATERFALL | lesser-known waterfall close to Podljubinj
One of the lesser-known waterfalls around here, which I still didn´t manage to visit yet, but since I´ve heard lots of good reviews about it, I´m happy to include it into this post. You reach this waterfall if you turn towards PODLJUBINJ in TOLMIN and follow the signs. After about 30min of walking on an EASIER PATH you reach the 25m tall BIG BERI waterfall, the lower and SMALLER ONE is 15m high.
MOST NA SOČI | smaller town next to emerald green lake
MOST NA SOČI is mostly known for its ARTIFICIAL EMERALD GREEN LAKE on which you can take a BOAT RIDE with a TURIST BOAT (1h panoramic drive), or explore the lake from a CANOE, KAYAK or with SUP. It is also possible to fish in the lake and there are some HIKING / WALKING PATHS around the lake.
This town is also the place you land if you take the CAR TRAIN from Bohinjska Bistrica and also if you are travelling with the awesome MUSEUM TRAIN which runs between Bled and Nova Gorica. The panoramic train routes are an attraction on their own, as the tracks pass lots of tunnels and bridges.
KANAL OB SOČI | charming smaller town and spectacular jumps into Soča from the main bridge
A little bit further down of Most na Soči in the direction of Nova Gorica you pass another cute town which goes by the name KANAL OB SOČI. The old town, which lies on strategically im portant location, was once surrounded with city walls, but today there are only 4 TOWERS left. The town is mostly known for hosting one of the more SPECTACULAR EVENTS in this area and that is JUMPING INTO SOČA RIVERfrom the bridge.
Besides this event, the town itself is quite charming and nice for a short stop and a walk around, maybe also lunch or a scoop of ice cream. On the main square you can check out NEPTUNE´S DWELL, CHURCH and you should also not miss a nice stretch of PEBBLE BEACH just under the bridge.
SOLKAN BRIDGE | the largest stone bridge in the world
In the lowest part of Soča valley, just before you reach Nova Gorica city, there is another beautiful and almost 220m long RAILWAY BRIDGE, known also as SOLKAN VIADUCT. With its impressive middle arch and an opening of 85m Solkan bridge is THE LARGEST ARCH STONE BRIDGE IN THE WORLD.
There are still a few points left for us to visit in Soča valley but I think we have covered a pretty big part of it in this post already. We´ll keep this post updated as we go, of course, and we can´t wait to be back over there soon.
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