What if you have a few extra days and you want to discover more of Slovenia? The beauty of Slovenia is that it is small, yet offers a great deal of diversity just a short drive away.
You’ve just finished with the last hour of amazing kayaking on Soča river. We have taught you just about everything you must know about kayaking and on top of that, you learned a lot about Soča river, Bovec, surrounding mountains and the near area.
But, what if you have a few extra days and you want to discover more of Slovenia? By driving only a short distance from Bovec (1.5 hours max) you can do some other activities like cross-border biking over the mountain passes or hut-to-hut multi day hiking. Perhaps try some local wines and do some olive oil tasting. The beauty of Slovenia is that it is small, yet offers a great deal of diversity.
HIKING IN THE JULIAN ALPS
From Bovec, you can drive 45 minutes to Vršič pass and hike to Slemenova špica (easy to moderate hiking, 3 hours round tour). Along the way, you will follow the Soča river upstream. As the road starts to ascend, you’ll start noticing road turn marks, starting at 57 and going down as you continue to drive up. At road turn no. 49, you have the option to veer off and hike to the spring of Soča river. If you thought that it’s emerald green when you kayaked with us, you’ll now see that the source has a turquoise like colour, almost incredible to believe how beautiful it is.
When you check this off the list, continue to drive up till you reach the top. Vršič road is one of the most scenic European roads, leading up to Vršič mountain pass at 1611m. It was built during WWI by Russian prisoners of war, along with the Russian chapel (built in 1916) which today stands as a memorial to all soldiers that fell there.
When you park, follow the signs to “Sleme”. The beginning of the trail is quite steep, but it eases off eventually and becomes very gradual till the very last bit again, approaching the summit. This will take you about 3 hours give and take.
You can then either return to Bovec, or descend in the direction of Kranjska Gora (30 minutes drive) and visit this charming little village, a ski resort, only a 10-minute drive from the Italian and Austrian border that hosts many World Cup Alpine Ski races.
Eliminate the element of driving and head out of foot right out the door of your lodging in Bovec. Set foot first on Soča trail, walking upstream Soča river till you reach the split off to Lepena valley. From there you can set off to an amazing hut-to-hut hiking experience in the hearth of Triglav National Park. Pass Krn Lake and enter into the Valley of Seven Triglav Lakes from where you can then either descend to Bohinj Lake, the quiet pearl of Julian Alps, or opt to do more.
For more hiking continue towards Triglav, with its 2864m being Slovenia’s highest peak. Later on pass through Alpine meadows where grazing cattle on high alpine pasture is still very much alive. Don’t miss out on trying some of the local fresh cheeses or butter milk with buckwheat mesh, a traditional Slovenian dish, before descending towards the picture perfect setting of Bled Lake, Slovenia’s number one highlight.
ROAD CYCLING AND BIKING
If you’re a MTB rider, you might already have checked some awesome trails around Bovec with us, as they are absolutely fantastic. But if you prefer the slick tires and smooth paved roads, then you have a couple of options you can tackle.
For strong riders that love the challenging mountain passes and multiple climbs during one ride, we recommend this epic riding around the northern mountain range of Julian Alps. The loop is Bovec – Vršič pass – Kranjska Gora – Rateče (SLO-IT border) – Tarvisio (Italy) – Predil pass (IT-SLO border) – Bovec.
You start out riding from Bovec, upstream Soča river, like above already mentioned, all the way to the top of Vršič pass and then descend to Kranjska Gora. You’ll do 57 switchbacks and about 1000m of elevation gain/loss just with this climb. You can stop in Kranjska Gora for a cappuccino, or if you need any quick fix bike repair, as there are multiple bike shops. Then continue riding in the direction of Italy. Here you can hop on the cycling path that will take you all the way to Tarvisio. No cars, every cyclist heaven!
On the way, you can stop to admire Zelenci, the spring of river Sava which after 990km becomes one of the main tributaries of the Danube river. Shortly after you will cross the border with Italy. No need to show passports, as both Slovenia and Italy are part of the EU and part of Schengen.
On the Italian side, you can do a short deviation to the loop, if you’d like, and visit two glacial lakes Laghi di Fusine. In Tarvisio you can sit down for a proper Italian pizza, to regain strengths, so you won’t “hit the wall” climbing Predil pass.
Leaving Tarvisio, the first 12km the road is fairly flat, so you’ll be flying. Then the road starts climbing and it culminates at Predil pass at 1161m, where again, you cross the border (no need to show passport), re-entering Slovenia again. You’ll pass some interesting historical buildings, military forts, remnants of WWI.
The last thing that you have to do is descend back to Bovec. With this climb you’ll do about 400m of elevation gain and 850m loss. If you’re a super strong rider, you can add on also a climb to Mangart saddle – between Predil pass and village Strmec na Predelu (adds 22km and 1100m of elevation gain/loss).
The whole loop in total sums up to 95km and 2100m of elevation gain/loss. It’s tough and you’ll sweat, big time! But it’s really worth it, because the views are just breathtaking. Many local cyclists like to do this loop as part of their training for Tour de France or the Spanish La Vuelta, for example.
However, if you prefer the flat to rolling terrain, and something more relaxing, that we strongly recommend to ride a bike from Bovec to Most na Soči (45km), then hop on a train that runs underneath the southern mountain range of Julian Alps and see the daylight again in Bohinj valley. Then ride again just 9km on a flat cycling path and you’ll reach Bohinj Lake, definitely a must see in Slovenia. Time for a swim, you’ve deserved it.
The next day you can easily bike to Lake Bled (only 26km to get there) and taste the local pastry called kremšnita. You can reach Bled and Bohinj area also by car, taking the same Bohinj railway as the train accepts cars as well.
WINE AND OLIVE OIL TASTING
Speaking of tastings, if you’re more of a foodie, and would like to try some world-renowned wines and olive oil, then you must definitely visit Brda wine region, Slovenia’s most beautifully stacked vineyards on rolling hills. This charming area that is only 1 hour drive away from Bovec, at first glance resembles Tuscany, one might say. But when you get to know it better, you’ll learn that it’s quite different.
Here local wine makers preserved a 200 years old method of wine producing, knowledge and love for vines and olives is passed from generation to generation.
Put on some comfortable shoes and set out on a “wine cellar tour” to visit Movia, Kabaj, Kristančič, Dolfo and many more. They all produce high quality wines and some of them have been listed among Top 100 wineries of the world by the Wine & Spirits magazine more than once.
Although many of them do ship their wines by post, we strongly recommend getting an extra bottle to take with or simply just enjoy the moment and keep great memories. Just make sure to book your stay for the night beforehand, as we’re definitely supporting the drink & DON’T drive strategy!
Smoked prosciutto and cold pressed virgin olive oil are great companions when wine tasting. Get your bottle of cold pressed virgin oil made by local producers like Bučinel, Giuliana (Miha Jakovčič) or Kmetija Sirk.
FOR THOSE WHO WANT MORE...
If you’d like to do some of the above suggested (or all off it) with a guide, solo, or in a group, you can contact Staša at TrekTrek, and she will give you even more options on what to see and do actively in Slovenia.
At TrekTrek they have a team of versatile guides who between them speak a dozen languages and they’ll help you every step of the way. And if you prefer to go on a self-guided trip, they’ll provide you all information needed, like itinerary booklets, maps, book lodging for you, handle your luggage transfers if on a biking trip, etc. Staša is a good friend of ours, so we promise you’ll be in good hands!
Srečno pot! Stay healthy, stay safe and do active travel so you stay sane!