If you’re visiting Slovenia, chances are you’ve got Lake Bled included somewhere in your itinerary. And while Slovenia’s most popular photo-destination is worth soaking in for days or even weeks, the surrounding area offers much more to be explored. If you need an excuse to take a break from the lake, then a trip to nearby Vintgar Gorge is the outdoor excursion you’ve been looking for.
The walking trail through Vintgar Gorge is a 1-2 hour experience, and the waters of the Radovna River offer endless aquatic photo ops along the way. Arrive early to beat the crowds, and you can make it back to Bled before noon.
Come explore Lake Bled’s gorgeous getaway: Vintgar Gorge
Finding Vintgar Gorge
Vintgar Gorge lies on the far eastern edge of Triglav National Park, about 3 miles (5 km) from Bled and 40 miles (64 km) from Ljubljana. If you’re coming from Lake Bohinj, it’s about 25 miles (40 km) from Savica Waterfall.
By car: about 1 mile north of Bled, the road splits, leaving you with 2 route options: going left will take you through the village of Spodnje Gorje; going right will take you through Podhom. Both routes are about the same distance and if there’s no traffic, you’ll reach the gorge within 10 minutes.
There are 2 entrances to the gorge and you can use either as your jumping off point. However, most people start from the southwest entrance. From our home at the incredible Penzion Berc on the southeastern edge of Lake Bled, the whole 4-mile drive took us around 15 minutes.
About Vintgar Gorge
Vintgar Gorge is a picturesque ravine that cuts sharply between the surrounding hills of Hom and Boršt. At the bottom of the ravine, the Radovna River carves its way through, creating a diverse mixture of beautiful waterfalls, mild rapids & pristine pools.
The pathway through the gorge is a combination of natural trails, wooden walkways and bridges that guide you back and forth across the river. At times, the path hugs the contours of the surrounding rock faces quite tightly…watch your head!
Although Vintgar Gorge is only 1 mile long, it’s a true mile of milestones for Slovenia:
- It was Slovenia’s FIRST mountain gorge to become accessible to tourists. On August 26, 2018, it’ll celebrate its 125th anniversary!
- It’s home to Slovenia’s HIGHEST fluvial (river-based) waterfall: Šum Falls (Šum = noisy in Slovene), falling from a height of 43 feet (13 meters).
- Slovenia’s LARGEST stone arch railway bridge crosses over the gorge, spanning a length of 213 feet (65 meters).
At the bottom of the Šum Waterfall, a small dam re-routes water to a nearby hydroelectric power plant, adding an element of manmade utility to the gorge’s natural beauty.
Know before you go
Vintgar Gorge is quite possibly the most popular day trip from Lake Bled. During summer, it’s crowded every day. Get there early to beat the crowds, and avoid the afternoon heat!
- Opening hours: 8:00am – 7:00pm, April – November. The gorge is closed to the public during winter.
- Cost: parking is free, but there’s a fee to enter the gorge: 5€ for adults; discounted rate for kids, students and groups. Pay at the small hut near the parking lot. CASH ONLY!
- Total length: 2 miles (3 km) round-trip, from the southwest entrance out to the Šum Waterfall and back.
- Degree of difficulty: the walk is mostly flat & relatively easy. The walkways are lined with handrails everywhere, so it’s also quite safe.
- Duration: anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on how fast you’re walking and how often you stop to take pictures.
Other useful tips:
- Pets: they’re welcome! We saw a couple of dogs on the trail.
- Babies: also welcome! Bring your little ones, but leave the baby strollers in the car. Although strollers are not expressly prohibited, they’re difficult to manage on the narrow walkways.
- Toilets: available near both entrances
- Snacks: Gostilna Vintgar is only a 5-minute walk from the southwest parking lot. Stop here for lunch or a beverage after visiting the gorge. You can also satisfy your appetite during the hike: just beyond the Šum Waterfall, there’s a small café that serves snacks, drinks & ice cream.
- Swimming: most people stop at the café and turn around to head back, but if you continue past the café…then go left across the bridge…and continue through the woods…there’s a path that’ll lead you down to a natural pool…where you can swim, and maybe meet some new friends!
More gorgeous stuff
Depending on the lighting & time of day…
…the waters of the Radovna River may appear turquoise…
…or emerald green.
If you have the opportunity to stack some rocks…well…stack some rocks! Everyone seems to be doing it…
You never know what sort of wildlife you may find within the gorge…
If you find yourself around Lake Bled looking for a little getaway, Vintgar Gorge is the perfect place to spend half a day. Enjoy!