This week’s journey takes me back to one of my favorite adventures of 2016: my hike through Slovenia’s breathtaking Vintgar Gorge. The 1.6 kilometer gorge, carved through the vertical rocks of the Hom and Boršt hills by the jewel-toned Radovna River, is one of the loveliest and most favored river walks in central Europe.
Situated in Triglav National Park immediately adjacent to the small village of Gorje, Vintgar Gorge was discovered by village mayor Jakob Žumer and by cartographer and photographer Benedikt Lergetporer in 1891. While the natural form of the gorge was impassable, a 500-meter span of wooden pathways and observation bridges – later known as Žumer Galleries – were added and opened to the public in August 1893. The galleries and trail criss-cross the gorge in multiple places, offering visitors spectacular views of its numerous waterfalls, rapids and emerald-hued pools. Vintgar’s stunning beauty and proximity to Lake Bled (just four kilometers to the southeast), makes it one of Slovenia’s most important and popular destinations.
I visited Vintgar Gorge with my parents on a beautiful sunny afternoon in the early weeks of autumn 2016. While the gorge isn’t particularly well sign-posted in the village (or wasn’t during the time of our visit), our GPS had no difficulty taking us directly to the large gravel car park at its entrance. After paying a small admission fee, we embarked on our remarkable journey through this beautiful ravine.
At approximately 1.3 kilometers from the gorge entrance, we came to the Bohinj railway bridge. Constructed in 1905, this 33 meter (108 foot) tall viaduct is the largest stone rail bridge in the entirety of Slovenia.
Shortly after leaving the railway bridge, we came to the end of the gorge trail, marked by the picturesque, 13-meter high Šum waterfall. After passing a small cafe (not pictured), a short walk through the woods leads to a plunge pool beneath the waterfall, perfect for swimming on a hot summer’s day! We then retraced our steps and returned to the car park, delighted with the views of the gorge headed in the opposite direction.
While the gorge appears officially closed to visitors in the winter months, it is open daily in all other seasons from 8am to 7pm*. A small admission fee – used to support maintenance of the trail and galleries – is required upon entrance. The trail is dog-friendly but unfortunately not accessible for wheelchairs or strollers.
*Please visit the gorge website for updated information on opening hours.
Thank you for joining me on this adventure in Slovenia! – B. June
Next week’s journey: Prague – Czech Republic