Aug
24

Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia: Everything You Need to Know

Slovenia. Green. Active. Healthy.

Worded Slovenian Tourist Board’s Catalog in my hands. Rightfully.

Slovenia is one of the world’s most sustainable and greenest country with more than half of its territory covered in forests and woods.

It’s active with 10 thousand km of hiking trails.

and it’s healthy with 87 natural thermal springs.

Also, this gorgeous Balkan country amazingly bridges the Alps, the Mediterranean, and the Pannonian Plain in doable distances.

Slovenia is a dream come true for nature lovers.

Having said that, Slovenia with numerous lakes, rivers, waterfalls, gorges, caves, mountains, hills, wine valleys, countryside, and national parks promises a bear hug by virgin nature.

Vintgar Gorge is one such place in Slovenia where nature comes alive in all its glory that makes it one of the best natural attractions in Slovenia.

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vintgar gorge slovenia europe

What’s Vintgar Gorge?

Discovered in 1893 by Jakob Žumer, the Mayor of Gorje, and Benedikt Lergetporer, the cartographer and photographer, Vintgar Gorge is a 1.6 km (about a mile) canyon formed by Radovna River inside Triglav National Park.

Also known as Soteska Vintgar and Bled Gorge (Blejski Vintgar,) it’s Slovenia’s first mountain gorge opened to the public.

vintgar gorge bled slovenia

The gorge impressively carves its way through the high rock formations of Hom and Boršt hills as wild yet beautiful Radovna River flows through it.

The trail leads you over wooden walkways (named Žumer Galleries after Jakob Žumer) and bridges along and across the crystal clear Radovna river that elegantly transforms from rapids to waterfalls to pools as you make your way to the end of the Vintgar trail.

best natural attraction in slovenia vintgar gorge

The trail culminates with the mighty 13 m high Šum waterfall which literally translates to the Noisy Falls.

At the height of 13 m (43 feet), it’s the largest river waterfall in Slovenia.

How the Name Vintgar Originated?

There are two explanations about how the name came into existence.

First says that Vintgar originates from German Weingarten (the vineyards in Podhom), while the other says that the gorge section makes one remember of a wine glass.

Well, vineyards or wine glass, whatever, nature at Vintgar definitely gets you high 🙂

Where’s the Vintgar Gorge?

Vintgar Gorge is located about 5 km northwest of Bled in Zgornje Gorje in the municipality of Gorje, Slovenia.

boardwalk along the radovna river vintgar gorge

Getting To and From Vintgar Gorge

Vintgar Gorge can be easily visited as a half-day trip from Bled. It can be reached by a rental car, regular bus, shuttle bus, train, bicycle, and foot.

By Car

Goes without saying, the fastest and easiest way to reach the gorge is by car.

Vintgar is about 5 km from Bled and takes 10 minutes to reach via Podhom while it’s 34 km from Kranjska Gora and takes 35 minutes via Mojstrana and Dovje.

The gorge can be done as a half-day trip from Kranjska Gora if you have a rental car as public transport takes a lot of time.

By Bus

A regular bus leaves from Bled main bus station and Bled Union bus station daily. Get down at Spodnje Gorje and walk to the gorge’s western entrance. Check the bus timings and prices here.

shuttle bus schedule at vintgar gorge

A shuttle bus leaves Bled main bus station and Bled Union bus station for Vintgar Gorge daily from the end of June to mid-Septemeber and costs 1€ per adult.

The closest bus stops are Podhom and Spodnje Gorje which are about 20 minutes (1.4 km) and around 25 minutes (1.7 km) walk away from Vintgar Gorge entrance.

Click here for the schedule of the shuttle bus.

By Train

You can also catch a train from Bled Jezero to Podhom and then walk to Vintgar Gorge.

By Bike

Rent a bike and paddle your way to Vintgar Gorge. It’s good for your health and environment plus gives you the freedom of being up close with nature.

By Walk

If you don’t mind a bit of walking you can get to Vintgar Gorge from Bled by foot. Though, it’s not a good idea in the peak summer season because of the harsh sun.

From Bled move northwest on Prešernova Cesta then head north on Partizanska Cesta to Cesta Vintgar.

As you reach Podhom, signs will show you the way to Vintgar gorge entrance.

To return, you can either retrace your footsteps or, from Šum Waterfall, you can walk eastward over Hom to Katarina Bled (Church of St Catherine) and then head south through Zasip to Bled.

Saint Catherine that stands on Hom Hill offers breathtaking views of the mountainous alpine landscape (Karavanke, Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the Julian Alps) of Upper Carniola (Gorenjska) region.

The circular trail is about 6 km roundtrip and can take anywhere between 3 to 4 hours.

Parking at Vintgar Gorge

There’s ample parking space at relatively cheap prices available near the gorge.

The parking lot just at the gorge’s western entrance is the best if you find a space. It fills up fast. We arrived at 8 am (which was literally early as per us) and half of the parking lot was already occupied (we were wrong, of course.)

And it gets impossible to find a parking space once the tourist buses arrive at around 10.

The other option is a parking lot at LIP Bled in Rečica. But that’s a bit away from the entrance.

You can walk downhill (about 10 minutes) from the parking lot to Vintgar Gorge entrance and of course, a walk uphill from the entrance to the parking lot again.

Or you can catch a free shuttle bus from Rečica to the gorge’s entrance.

Practical Information

Entrance Fee

Adults: 10€
Children 6-15 years: 3€
Children up to 6 years: 1€
Adults over 10 people: 7€

Opening Hours

April, May, and September: 8 am to 6 pm
June: 7 am to 7 pm
July and August: 7 am to 8 pm
October and November: 9 am to 4 pm

Parking

Parking available in front of the Vintgar gorge entrance and LIP Bled in Rečica
Parking fee: car 5€, campers 10€, bus 15€

Note: Vintgar Gorge has two entrances – one at Podhom and another at Blejska Dobrava.

wooden walkways along radovna river soteska vintgar bled
vintgar gorge inside the triglav national park slovenia

A Walk to Remember Through Vintgar Gorge

It didn’t take us long to fall under the charm of Vintgar Gorge. Really.

We gasped, awed, and basked in the joy of being one with nature.

It’s enchanting with a boardwalk crisscrossing along the deep emerald green water and sometimes turquoise blue water (depending upon the weather) of Radovna River flowing down from Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia.

vintgar gorge entrance podhom
Bled Gorge Blejski Vintgar

You know, the best thing about Vintgar Gorge hike is that it’s pretty easy and flat and thus, suitable for any age group.

And you don’t even need a map or won’t get lost as there’s only one way to get around 🙂

Our daughter walked the boardwalks and bridges with enthusiasm and never for a second felt tired or bored.

mini-me walking the vintgar gorge bled
vintgar gorge gravel path without handrails

The boardwalks are safe with handrails though you’ll have to exercise caution at intermittent gravel paths that miss the fencing.

Resist the urge to sit and eat at a lovely restaurant, Gostilna Vintgar at the start of the gorge.

Walk the gorge while it’s unbusy and you can treat yourself with good food and a cup of coffee or maybe ice-cream after the walk.

gostilna vintgar restaurant
Pic Courtesy: Gostilna Vintgar

After buying your entrance ticket from the ticket booth, walk a little further to a tripod gate and swipe your entrance ticket. Once in, you are welcomed by breathtaking sight and roaring sound.

The sound of Radovna is the most powerful during spring when the snow starts melting in the mountains.

soteska vintgar gorje bled

You walk along the river on wooden walkways and walk across the river on wooden bridges.

vintgar gorge wooden walkways  Žumer Galleries

The lush vegetation and steep rock walls enhance the experience.

radovna river crystal clear emerald water and lush vegetation

The boardwalks transform into gravel paths in-between which are muddy and slippery at certain places.

narrow wild radovna river vintgar gorge
calm radovna river vintgar gorge

The river becomes wider and flows calmly at some places while it becomes narrow and gushes strongly at another. The trail thus never loses its charm.

The bends and narrow passages give the gorge a curious vibe.

The narrow and deep gorge allows a limited amount of sunlight making it a perfect summer hike.

vintgar gorge slovenia

The color of the river mysteriously changes from emerald to turquoise to cerulean with passing turns and bends.

clear water of radovna river

The water is so clear that you can easily spot fishes swimming in the river.

clambering down to take pictures along the river at vintgar gorge gorje

You can even clamber down to the river bank (cautiously) to click the pictures or dip your toes in or join other people meticulously stacking the rocks by the river shore.

After a while, you’ll come across a historic single-arch stone Bohinj railway bridge (Bohinjska proga) dating back to 1906 crossing the gorge above the trail.

Bohinj railway Bohinjska proga vintgar gorge

You too can experience the views over the gorge from the bridge by riding a train from Jesenica (Slovenia) via Nova Gorica (Slovenia) to Trieste (Italy) and vice versa.

bohinj railway bridge and dam waterfall vintgar gorge
vintgar dam gorje

Another attraction just under the old bridge is a dam from which the water is directed to the Vintgar hydroelectric power plant under the Šum waterfall.

muddy path beneath the bohinj railway bridge near the dam
vintgar gorge zgornje gorje

You’d love the occasional splashes of water while standing near the powerful dam especially on a hot summer day.

bridge towards sum waterfall vintgar gorge
gravel path towards sum waterfall

Don’t confuse the dam with the Šum waterfall. You’ll have to cross another tripod gate and then walk past a little cafe to get to the waterfall.

Walk down the stairs from the cafe and then take the left turn to cross a bridge. A signboard will guide you to a gravel path that takes you to the Sum waterfall.

sum waterfall vintgar gorge
travelers photographing sum waterfall soteska vintgar

From here, you can retrace your steps to the entrance that gives you a chance to see Vintgar Gorge in a different light or take a loop trail through SvKatarinaChurch, Zasip and Podhom to the parking lot if time and distance aren’t the issues.

way to loop trail through Sv. KatarinaChurch

Our Experience

We visited Vintgar Gorge in June 2019. At 8 am, the gorge was already huddled. We could imagine the crowds during the middle of the day.

Anyways, it was expected because of the peak season.

We actually scooted along the gorge, navigated and weaved our way through the selfie-obsessed crowds.

Taking decent pictures was out of the question, the queue built up behind us whenever we stopped to take pictures.

It took us a little about 35 minutes to walk the entire length of the gorge. Thanks to people pushing us to walk further. It could have taken us more than an hour if we would have leisurely stopped to take good pictures.

It’s difficult to not stop and take pictures owing to the photogenic beauty of the gorge. Alas! Crowds can kill your desire.

We managed to grab a seat at the little cafe near Sum waterfall to have a much-needed coffee break.

It was beautiful to sit amid nature listening to the roar of the rapids.

We waited for the crowds to thin out a bit but in vain.

By the time we hit the trail back to the entrance, the walkways and bridges were so crowded that we had to squeeze past people walking in the opposite direction.

The gorge is quite narrow at some places that hamper two-way traffic.

crowds at vintgar gorge in june summer
roaring radovna at vintgar gorge slovenia

We stepped off the boardwalks occasionally to enjoy a moment of calm away from the horde of tourists.

It was around 10:30 am by the time we exited the gorge.

The cars were lined waiting for other cars to empty the parking space at the parking lot.

So, the moral of the story is to get here as early as possible for a pleasant experience. Early means, you should be there before it opens to the public whether it’s 7 am or 8 am depending upon the season.

Or else visit during the last two hours before closing for a unique perspective. The experience is quite different during the late afternoon or early evening like after 4 pm.

things to do in bled vintgar gorge

How Much Time Do You Need?

The gorge is 1.6 km one way (3.2 km roundtrip) and takes a minimum of 2 hours to complete a roundtrip.

However, if you are a photography lover, set aside some extra time say 35 minutes or so.

It normally takes half a day at the gorge including the travel time.

Best Time to Visit Vintgar Gorge

Vintgar Gorge is open to the public during the spring, summer, and fall months. It’s closed in the winter months.

the beauty of vintgar gorge slovenia
Vintgar Gorge in Spring (Pic courtesy: Unsplash)

beauty of vintgar gorge as winter approaches
Vintgar Gorge as winter approaches (Pic courtesy: Unsplash)

Unarguably, the spring and autumn months are the best times to visit Vintgar Gorge. The weather is pleasant and the tourists are less.

vintgar gorge during fall
The beauty of Vintgar Gorge during fall (Pic courtesy: Unsplash)

The fall foliage turns the gorge into a remarkable sight.

I’d strongly recommend not to visit during the peak season (June, July, and August) and if you do accidentally or unknowingly like us, plan to visit early.

soteska vintgar slovenia

The best time of the day to visit Vintgar Gorge is as soon as it opens. The crowd builds up during the middle of the day as the buses with loads of tourists arrive say between 10 am to 3 pm.

Places to Eat Near Vintgar Gorge

Gostilna Vintgar

Conveniently located at the gorge’s entrance, Gostilna Vintgar is a great place to eat after walking the gorge. The food is fresh and home-made with a great variety to choose from.

Gostilna Kurej

Gostilna Kurej is rated highly and recommended strongly by the travelers for its quick service, courteous staff, outside seating area, and amazing food.

Gostilna Fortuna

Situated in Spodnje Gorje, Gostilna Fortuna aka Gostinstvo, Jožica Štefe, s.p. is another great restaurant known for its amazing food and service.

Places to Stay Near Vintgar Gorge

Kranjska Gora and Bled are great places to stay for Vintgar Gorge hike because of their proximity to the gorge.

Kranjska Gora is less touristy as compared to Bled and thus, offers a peaceful stay.

Zgornje Gorje, Jesenice, Rateče, Žirovnica, and Mojstrana are small villages in and around Kranjska Gora that afford some lovely hotels and apartments.

We recommend Apartma Natura, Sovica, Penzion Berc, Hotel Triglav, Castle Hostel 1004, and Rudi Hiti’s Guest House in Bled.

Apartment Leposa, Špik Alpine Wellness Resort, and Boutique Skipass Hotel are some of the best stay options in Kranjska Gora.

If our recommendations don’t fit your style, use the search box to find the accommodation as per your requirements.

Booking.com

Recommended Vintgar Gorge Tours

Tips for Vintgar Gorge

  • Plan a visit as early as possible. Can’t stress this enough.
  • There are toilets at both the entrances of the gorge and in the parking area but no washrooms along the trail.
  • Keep your entrance ticket safe as it’s needed for the return walk.
  • The gorge is exceptionally photogenic but crowds can dishearten photography lovers. It’s hard to avoid all the people coming in your way. Carrying a Gorilla Pod that can be fixed on the railing might help you in clicking clear and people-free images.
  • Wear comfortable shoes with a good grip. We love sketchers.
  • Carry a light waterproof jacket especially for kids as it gets a bit nippy at the foot of the gorge.
  • Don’t forget to carry a bottle of water. We always carry Vinod steel ecofriendly waterbottle.
  • Carry light snacks when traveling with kids.
  • Pack your stuff in a small light backpack for an easy walk. Quechua is our favorite for short hikes.
  • Pets are allowed inside the gorge but with leashes. An adamant dog every so often refused to walk forward blocking our way (I guess, was too enchanted with the views to move forward…haha) till the end of the trail.
  • Please be aware that gorge isn’t wheelchair friendly.
  • Leave the baby strollers in the car as they can be difficult to handle on the narrow walkways.
  • Bring swimwear if you plan to swim. There’s a natural pool a bit further from the cafe at the end of the trail hidden in woods where you can swim.

Suggested Reads

Vintgar Gorge is a must-visit when in Slovenia. The gorge you see in pictures is not half as beautiful as it’s in reality. Go, see it for yourself.

It’s worth it despite the throngs.

For more information on Vintgar Gorge, you can visit the official tourism websites here and here.

Have you been to Vintgar Gorge in Slovenia? How was your experience? I’m curious to know!

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