If you love raw nature and flowing water there is a very strong case for visiting all four of Slovenia’s top gorges during your trip. Each one is unmissable and for those of you who have the time, please, please, include each one into your daytrip schedules.. But here is the thing.. these are just our top 4, the exciting thing is we know there are still more to find!
Walk in stunning natural locations alongside the sheer power, changing colour and beauty of these water passages as they slice and rage through solid rock mountains. Each one could be the main focus of your day or part of a wonderful multi-stop daytrip.
And you can be sure that where there is a gorge, you will find stunning bridges, waterfalls and carved rock. Each gorge has its own characteristics & features, offering a different experience to the other, meaning if you really have to choose just one, then depending on your route for the day, your companions & fitness levels, you can decide which is the best gorge for you.
We do not exaggerate when we say that Tolmin Gorge, (1hour 20 mins), is a "Must See" secret place to visit. So many countries in the world would be very proud to have such a treasure, but there are so many other beauties here in Slovenia that many visitors do not even get to hear about this one!
The gorge is equally as breath taking in it's stunning beauty as the stony walk you have to do to see all its parts. The basic walk from the car park up to Devil’s Bridge takes an hour or so.. take your camera and hold on tight to it as you twist and turn up stone steps right over the gushing water!
After the "Devil's" bridge you can choose to walk further up the mountain trail to visit a lovely secret café, using a hidden path starting at Dante’s Cave, (apparently this is the cave where Dante got his fiery inspiration)! Reaching the café you ring the cow bell for service and are rewarded with one of Miriam’s superb strudels and choice of other mountain delicacies, local cheese and a stunning view of Mt Krn 2,244m in a mini region that might remind you of a mix between Switzerland in Europe and Laos in south east Asia.
Lake Bled is one of the Slovenian beauties that most visitors have actually heard about and just 10 mins from the lake is the super cool Vintgar Gorge, (70 mins). This is the least demanding walk along superbly maintained wooden walkways suspended above the icy crystal clear water. (So perhaps the best choice if your walking ability is limited or restricted). The natural beauty of this narrow cutting, where water slices through sheer rock on its way to join Slovenia's longest river Sava, will amaze you.
The geological structure of the rocks and constantly changing colour of the water will amaze you, we had a guest from the States who said the particular geological lines of the gorge wall here was uniquely interesting. For those who want a longer walk, then Bled is a 90 min hike from the end of the gorge, so you could spend a quiet, enjoyable day in nature hiking from and back to the lake.
Hidden away, just around the corner from Slovenia’s most majestic lake Bohinj is a wonderfully maintained trail up to the Little Bridge Gorge, (Mostnica) (80 mins). Better still, you can continue up from the top of the gorge emerging from the forest and follow a stone track with Alpine mountains towering all around, shepherds’ huts scattered in neighbouring fields, go past a choice of 2 inns and reach the double waterfall at the end of the trail.
There are easy to follow paths on either side of the gorge, we recommend you walk up along the right hand side, so keep the water on your left so you don't miss the “Elephant” sucking crystal clear water into his trunk and then come back down on the other side, where absolutely stunning stone and water features will reveal themselves. (So both up and then down, keep the water on your left side).
The walk to the double waterfall (there and back) from the pretty car park with a view of lake Bohinj takes around 5 hours, but if you just want to see the gorge and back it can be done in about 2 hours. (If you can make the time and have the fitness for the full 5 hour walk then you really MUST do it!, it's so wonderful)! But you could easily spend the whole day hanging around by the gorge, maybe with a pick nick, dipping your feet into the ice cold water as hardy people even swim on the hottest summer days in the ice cold crystal clear water.
We'd seen photos of another gorge and often wondered where it was, in fact we had tried to find it once, but had missed the stop, so on a bright September day we planned to "walk" the Soca gorge (100 mins),combining a visit to the source of this most beautiful river and we were not disappointed. The crystal clear water springs out of a strangely rectangular hole in a mountain at the base of the amazing Vrsic pass, (yet another great road trip day out) and you have to climb a little bit holding steel ropes to get there.
The river flows down into the stunning Soca valley and you can park and catch up with the gorge along the walk following the river. You hear the buzz of the motorbikes and cars hidden through the trees and rock on the other side of the river as you go and you can't help thinking, "gosh, all these people are just driving past and missing this magic!"
The colour of the gorge and the sheer height of the cliffs the water has created will blow you away. Every step you fall in love with this place. Some people jump off a cliff into the ice cold water, others swim or toggle their toes in the water.. most people just marvel at the sheer beauty of this place.
We honestly couldn't tell you which of these 4 world class gorges is our favourite, we love them all and get excited about visiting them every time we go.
We have also only recently discovered another little jewel of a gorge called Cramp Gorge, (Krcnik) (75 mins). This little beauty is tucked away in the rolling wine and cherry hills above Nova Gorica and a real adventure to find. It's so called after the local mayor's son jumped into the crystal clear water from the stunning natural stone bridge created by the prince of darkness to collect the gold at the bottom of the gorge.. but got cramped up and drowned.
This gorge is perfectly placed to form part of a cherry tour exploring the stunning stony Karst hill towns of Dobrovo (60 mins) and Smartno (55 mins), with castles popping out over hills packed with vineyards and views over Italy. Then make your way down to the river and the gorge for a cherry fuelled pick nick and so much green you will need to adjust your sunglasses! It really is the end of the road in this particular direction and at the end of these quiet roads are even 3 completely deserted villages to explore.