Visiting Vintgar Gorge is undoubtedly a highlight when visiting Slovenia. Here’s a Complete guide with everything you need to know about visiting this gem.
About Vintgar Gorge
Vintgar Gorge or Soteska Vintgar as it is known locally, is yet another one of Slovenia’s breathtaking natural attractions. If you’ve read our Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj guides, you will have seen that we’ve used the word ‘beautiful’ more times than we can remember when writing about Slovenia. And Vingtar Gorge is certainly no exception. It is truly beautiful!
The gorge itself is 1.6 km (1 mile) long and snakes its way between the walls of Hom and Boršt hills. It has been carved out over millenia and shaped by the Radovna River. What really makes this place so appealing, is the constantly changing colours and sounds of the river, as you traverse along the walkways and bridges that crisscross this stunning gorge.
Vintgar Gorge is located in the north of the country in the eastern part of the Julian Alps in Slovenia’s only National Park – Triglav National Park. Its close proximity to Bled, coupled with its easily accessible trails, makes visiting Vintgar Gorge perfect for everyone. It’s the ideal family friendly, dog friendly, photo friendly half-day trip.
Getting to and from Vintgar Gorge
There are several options available for visiting Vintgar Gorge from Bled:
The easiest and quickest option. It should take around 10 minutes to reach the car park from Bled, without any traffic. This gives you the freedom to stay as long as you want and to get there as early as possible. As of 2019, parking fees apply – €5 per car and €10 per camper van.
By Shuttle Bus
During the ‘Peak’ season (30th June to 16th September) there is €1 shuttle bus that operates from Bled Union and Bled Main Bus Station to Vintgar Gorge. The journey takes around 25 minutes depending on traffic. At the time our visit the bus departed Bled Main Bus Station at 08:30, 09:45, 11:35, 16:50, 18:50. From the gorge to Bled, it departed at 10:45, 12:45, 17:35 and 19:35.
By Public Bus
Outside peak season you will need to take a public bus and get dropped at the closest stop, which is Podhom. From there it’s a 1.4km walk to the park entrance. You can also start/finish the Vintgar Gorge Loop Trail from nearby. Click HERE for a map
For the more energetic, it is a 5km walk from Bled. From what we’ve heard, with the peak season traffic jams getting in, it may well be quicker than driving!
Entrance fees & opening hours
As of 2019, the entrance fee was €10 per adult with discounted rates for groups and children, 15 and under.
To keep you on your toes, the gorge has a varying opening and closing times over the seasons and is shut throughout the winter off-season
- April & May 8.00 – 18.00
- June 7.00 – 19.00
- July & August 7.00 – 20.00
- September 8.00 – 18.00
- October &November 9.00 – 16.00
- December – March – Closed
Check HERE for current pricing and opening hours.
Walking Vintgar Gorge
We’ll discuss avoiding the crowds, shortly. But, sneak preview, if you don’t want to be penned in on those boardwalks (think bumper to bumper rush hour traffic on the freeway), try to avoid the middle of the day, especially in peak season. We can’t stress this enough.
As mentioned the gorge is 1.6 km long (1 mile) one way. So most people take a couple of hours to complete the 3.2km return walk. If you like photography, you’ll probably want a little longer. What’s so nice about the walk is that every angle is different. Different colours, different backdrops, different photo opportunities.
The gorges boardwalks were painstakingly first built in 1893. Don’t worry, they have been well maintained. In fact, they do maintenance every year in the off-season, keeping them in great condition. You could easily do this walk in flip-flops, but we would still recommend closed shoes, with decent grip especially if its been wet or if you’re planning on scampering around the slippery riverside rocks.
This walk is short and easy making it family friendly. That said, strollers (prams) are completely impractical causing congestion on the boardwalks. We actually came across a pram, where the owners had discarded it on a ledge to the side of the boardwalk, just a couple of hundred metres into the walk.
Towards the end, the 1.6km trail passes under the lovely arched Bohinj railway bridge, constructed in 1906. The trail itself finishes at the alternate eastern entrance, about 50m from there is the Šum Waterfall (which literally means noisy falls). From here you have two options, make your way back to Bled by foot on one of the alternative trails, or like most people, turn around and do it all in reverse, back to the main entrance.
We had initially earmarked some spots for some photographs on the return leg, but in hindsight that was a little optimistic. In just that initial hour on the trail, it had gotten so busy we gave it up as a lost cause and just enjoyed the surrounding natural beauty as we negotiated our way through the oncoming hordes.
Avoiding the crowds at Vintgar Gorge
Vintgar Gorge is one of Slovenia’s most popular attractions for good reason. So, if you’ve seen those magical pictures of the gorge and envisioned yourself wondering along empty quiet boardwalks, you may well get a nasty surprise when you get there. Especially if you rock up in the middle of the day during peak season. Here’s a few tips on beating the crowds when visiting Vintgar Gorge:
- Travel outside of peak season and don’t visit on weekends, where possible. July-August is the European summer holidays and the gorge is at its busiest.
- Arrive early
- If arriving by car, be in the car park before the opening time for the month of your visit. Don’t expect to be the only ones with the same idea! Even still, it will be much quieter right on opening time.
- If arriving by shuttle bus, take the earliest possible bus you can, likely 8.30am.
- Go later in the day
- We’d only suggest this if you can’t get there early and the gorge is open late. Try to get there about 2/3 hours before closing time, as most of the crowds will likely have dispersed.
- Avoid the middle of the day. From 10:00-15:00 is generally the busiest period, when the tour buses start rolling in.
Photographing Vintgar Gorge
Vintgar Gorge is impossibly beautiful and if you have a passion for photography you’ll love it here. Here’s a few simple photography tips when visiting Vintgar Gorge.
- If you want to try and get a few pic’s without anyone in, go early or late, as explained above.
- Patience, patience, patience. You’ll never have somewhere this photogenic all to yourself. But if you’re happy to wait a while and/or play with angles, you can get those prized photos with no one in them, especially outside of peak season.
- You also need to remember the average person has no interest in photography and isn’t at all aware that they are about walk through your shot. So just stay calm and smile (Chris, take note!)
- Depending on your time of visit and the weather conditions, the lighting will differ dramatically. Have fun trying to capture the rivers ever-changing colours of translucent blue, turquoise and emerald green.
- Early in the morning, there is often a mist that hangs in the air above the water, which can really add a mystical feel to a photo.
- Different seasons also add different beauty to a photo. In Spring the surrounding trees will often be lush and green. Whilst from September onwards those beautiful Autumnal yellows and oranges start to come through.
- Tripods can be tricky. If you have standard size tripod, it’s not recommended to use it on the narrow boardwalks. Firstly it’s a hazard, secondly if you playing around with different shutter speeds for motion blur, the footfall on the board walks creates tripod movement. So the your shots won’t be sharp. The same goes for smaller Gorilla Pods, though they are a better option here.
- There are sections where you can get off the boardwalks and play with a tripod safely, so make the most of them.
- If you want to feature in your photo, try to wear a top that will standout, rather than a colour that blends into the background.
Most importantly just go and an enjoy yourself in this beautiful slice of paradise!
Like this post? Then pin it!
Planning a trip to Slovenia? Check out our other posts: