If you love nature, visiting Vintgar Gorge in Slovenia should definitely be among the must-do items in your itinerary for the country. Even in a country with spectacular natural beauty everywhere, walking the trail at Vintgar Gorge is an amazing experience!
Keep reading to discover why you should visit Vintgar Gorge, and my tips for an enjoyable visit.
Vintgar Gorge, or Soteska Vintgar, is almost a mile long and a little over 800 feet deep. Carved over years and years by the Radovna River, the gorge is located in the eastern portion of Triglav National Park, just about 2.5 miles from Bled.
We loved our walk through Vintgar Gorge in the late spring. The roar of the river as it races along, its pretty blue-green color, and the awesome canyon walls closing in on both sides make the walk a remarkable experience.
VINTGAR GORGE: WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT!
Vintgar Gorge is stunning, no question. But what’s really cool about the place is that a trail takes you all the way through the gorge, from one end to the other. Walking this gorge is definitely one of the coolest things to do in Slovenia!
Wooden boardwalks cling to the canyon walls or criss-cross the water at various points, and in other parts, a packed trail runs along the side of the river. So you can literally trace the path of the river through the entire gorge!
Astonishingly, the boardwalks were first built all the way back in the early 1890s, and Vintgar Gorge opened to the public in 1893. Of course, the boardwalks have been renovated or replaced many times since. When we visited, the bridges and walkways looked well-maintained.
The gorge lies between the steep sides of two hills, Hom and Boršt. Walking the boardwalks between the steep canyon walls is both exhilarating and awe-inspiring!
As you enter, you walk along a path with lush greenery around you and the river flowing alongside. You’ll love the pretty teal color of the water.
When we visited in very early June, the entrance was flush with many varieties of wildflowers, and made for a beautiful beginning to our walk.
Soon you come to the first boardwalks, and the excitement begins. You can stand on the bridges and watch as the river speeds along below, cascading over boulders and swirling in pools of frothy white.
The Radovna creates lots of rapids and little falls as it makes its way through the gorge, and the wooden bridges are prime spots for viewing (and photographing) the action.
While the flow and noise of the river is definitely riveting, you’ll also want to appreciate the beauty of the canyon walls, the bright green of the vegetation, the moss-covered boulders, and, in season, the myriad wildflowers that you’ll encounter all along the trail.
The gorge is home to numerous unique plant species and many of them were actually documented late in the 19th century by an area botanist.
Eventually the wooden boardwalks give way to a trail along the side of the water. The trail is paved in parts and packed dirt in others.
Here and there the river slows down enough for you to appreciate its pretty emerald green color, before gushing rapidly again over rocky terrain.
At the end of the gorge, you’ll come to the magnificent Šum Falls. Here you’ll also see the stone bridge of the Bohinj Railway, which crosses the gorge high above the trail. The bridge is in use, and you might even see a train make its way across when you’re there!
Exit the barrier at the far end and follow signs to the bottom of the waterfall. You can use your entrance ticket to get back in, so make sure to keep it safely!
When you exit the trail, you can grab a drink or a snack at the cafe just outside. To get back to the parking lot, you can retrace your steps along the gorge back to the entrance, which is what we did.
Or you can hike a longer trail outside of the gorge back to the parking lot, which might make sense if the gorge is super crowded when you visit. You can even walk all the way to Bled if you didn’t drive yourself to the gorge.
Note: You can no longer retrace your steps through the gorge to get back. Return via Katarina for a longer but easier route. There is also a shorter but steeper way back. Both return routes are well signposted. See the official website for details.
VINTGAR GORGE: TIPS FOR A GREAT EXPERIENCE
While Vintgar Gorge is beautiful whenever you choose to visit, you will have a much more enjoyable time if you plan your visit. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your trip:
Visit early or late in the day
Vintgar Gorge is popular, and the trail is narrow (single file in many places). Thus, it can get uncomfortably crowded during the day, particularly if you visit in the high season months of July and August.
Even when we visited in very early June, it got quite crowded in the early afternoon. Thankfully, by then we were almost back at the parking lot.
Two hours is a decent amount of time for the walk to the end and back, with plenty of photo stops. So if you plan to visit later in the day, find out the closing time for the day of your visit and work backwards to give yourself enough time to enjoy the gorge and take photos, yet not have to deal with the worst of the crowds.
Of course, if you don’t mind waking up early on vacation, plan on being at the entrance at opening time.
Not only will you not have to deal with large tour groups that typically tend to arrive starting at 10 a.m., you’re also likely to have stretches on the trail where you’ll be able to take photos with no other people in the frame.
Believe me, this becomes pretty much impossible later in the morning and into the early afternoon.
Note: Now that the route is only one way, the congestion during the day is likely less, but you’ll still have a better experience early or late, since the gorge is very popular.
Visit in the shoulder season months
Another great way to avoid crowds, not just at Vintgar Gorge but also at the extremely popular Lake Bled nearby, is to visit in the shoulder season months of May-June or September-October.
We visited in the very early part of June in a particularly wet year in Europe, and still got a perfect weather day for our visit to Vintgar Gorge.
One of the upsides to visiting in the late spring is the bright green of the new leaves on the trees in the canyon that beautifully complements the turquoise water.
You’ll also love the wealth of wildflowers blooming along the trail, on the canyon walls, and amidst the boulders next to the water.
In my opinion, the color from the wildflowers took the beauty of the already stunning canyon up another couple of notches, and I could not stop taking photos of all the different varieties we saw in the gorge.
In the fall, leaf colors make for a stunning contrast to the dark canyon walls and the blue-green water. I have seen so many gorgeous fall photos from Vintgar Gorge online that I am already looking forward to a fall visit to the region.
Vintgar Gorge is officially closed during the winter.
The wooden boardwalks do tend to be wet, and were slippery in places when we visited. Wear proper walking shoes with good grip to avoid slipping or falling.
If you plan to visit early in the morning, especially in the shoulder season months, dress in layers, because the gorge tends to be cooler.
It also feels damp because of the wet canyon walls and the drops of water that occasionally drip on you as you walk, so a light waterproof jacket with a hood might come in handy.
You can swim in the pool at the bottom of the Sum waterfall, so pack a swimsuit if you’d like a dip when you visit.
Hiking boots and weather-appropriate clothing are also recommended for the trails back, which tend to be muddy and slippery at wet times.
VINTGAR GORGE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Here is some more information to help you plan for your visit to Vintgar Gorge. Vintgar Gorge is also called Bled Gorge.
Visiting Vintgar Gorge from Bled is a cinch, because it’s so close, but the gorge is also within easy driving distance of Ljubljana or Lake Bohinj.
The Vintgar Gorge trail is narrow in many places but there is no particular gain or loss of elevation, so it’s a relatively easy walk for most people. There are a few dozen steps that you encounter in the course of the walk through the gorge, but never more than a few at a time.
At the end of the trail into the gorge, if you decide to view the Sum Falls from the bottom, you have to climb down about 50+ steps, and then climb back if you plan to return to the parking lot via the gorge.
The out and back distance is about two miles.
Note: It is now not possible to return via the gorge, putting the total route at about 2-3 hours to complete, depending on which route you choose for the return.
The return via St. Katarina is 3.5 miles round trip. Budget at least 3 hours. The return via the short steep path is 2.7 miles total. Allow about 2 hours.
Getting to Vintgar Gorge from Bled
Most people visit Vintgar Gorge from Bled. In fact, Vintgar Gorge makes for the perfect part-day trip from Lake Bled if you enjoy hiking and nature.
By car, the entrance to the Bled side of Vintgar Gorge is just 10 minutes from Bled center. If you drive yourself, there’s a parking lot just outside the entrance, where you should find a spot if you arrive early or late in the day. The parking fee is 5 Euros for a car at the time of writing.
If the lot is full, you’ll have to hunt for a spot in the overflow parking lot a little ways up the hill and then walk back down to the entrance or take the shuttle to the entrance if it is running when you visit.
If you’re up for a hike, you can travel to Vintgar Gorge from Bled on foot. The walk is beautiful, and it will take you a little over an hour to get to the gorge. You can also opt for an e-bike tour.
In season, there’s a bus that runs between Bled and Vintgar Gorge. There’s also a shuttle provided by Mamut Slovenia, and their office is right by the bus station. This was the shuttle we used, since we didn’t have a car. It costs 10 Euros return, and you can choose to be dropped off at Bled Castle on the way back from Vintgar Gorge.
If you are based in Ljubljana, you can combine a day trip to Lake Bled with a visit to Vintgar Gorge. Do it independently or join a tour.
When is Vintgar Gorge open?
Vintgar Gorge is open from April until November. Opening and closing hours vary. During the high season months of July and August, the gorge opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m.
Check the official website for opening and closing times for the date of your planned visit.
How long to spend at Vintgar Gorge
We found two hours to be ample time to walk to the end of the gorge and back, with lots and lots of photo stops on the way in, and a few photo stops on the way back.
If you visit first thing in the morning, take your time on the way in, because that’s your best chance at getting good photos all along the trail. By the time you make your way back, you’ll find you are crossing a lot more people making their way in, and you’ll be holding up people if you stop at narrow sections of the trail to take photos.
Vintgar Gorge entrance fee
At the time of writing, the entrance fee to Vintgar Gorge is 10 Euros for an adult, with discounts for groups. Visit the official website for current pricing and to book tickets online. We bought our tickets on the day of our visit at the ticket booth just outside the entrance to the gorge.
So there you have it: my guide to visiting the spectacular Vintgar Gorge! If you are planning a trip to Slovenia, be sure to also check out my article on other fun things to do in Lake Bled, and things to do in the Slovenian coastal paradise of Piran.
Have you visited Vintgar Gorge? If you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts, so comment below to respond! If you haven’t had a chance to visit yet, I hope you will add it to your itinerary for Slovenia.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR SLOVENIA TRIP
Lake Bled: 10 Fun Things to Do in Lake Bled
Postojna Cave: How to Do a Fun Day Trip to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle
Lake Bohinj: What to Do at Lake Bohinj in the Summer
Ljubljana: The Best Things to Do in Ljubljana
Vrsic Pass: An Epic Day Trip from Ljubljana to the Vrsic Pass
Piran: 10 Best Things to Do in Piran!
Slovenia: 25 Best Things to Do in Slovenia
Day Trips: 20 Exciting Day Trips from Ljubljana You Must Do
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California: 7 Amazing Experiences at Death Valley National Park
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