Vintgar Gorge is one of the most visited natural sights in Alpine Slovenia. It offers a pleasant walk alongside an alpine river named Radovna.
You will get to know the sounds and ever-changing flow of Radovna River very well as it will accompany you during the entire hike through the gorge.
Inside the gorge, you will also see a waterfall and an old railway bridge.
The gorge is located in Gorje, a small municipality near Bled.
Mysterious gorge shaped by Radovna River
When standing at the entrance to Vintgar Gorge that is tucked between two hills — Hom and Boršt, you will already hear Radovna River roar inside the gorge. You might feel butterflies in your stomach before going in as the atmosphere there is kind of serious and awe-inspiring at the same time.
Radovna River flows from below Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia. That is why it is crystal clear (and very cold too!) as you will see when walking along it.
You will notice different species of fish swimming in cold mountain water, including a native brown trout.
Radovna River that is most powerful in spring due to snow melting in the mountains turns into a waterfall at one end of the gorge. The waterfall is called Šum which would literally translate as Noise Waterfall.
It can be indeed quite noisy when standing on the wooden bridge in front of the playful waterfall!
Discovery of the gorge
Back in time, the locals know about Šum Waterfall but did not have any idea there was also a beautiful gorge just behind it.
It was not until 1891 two local men — the then mayor of Gorje, Jakob Žumer and photographer and cartographer Benedikt Lergetporer from Bled walked through the gorge for the first time and documented their discovery.
Soon a plan to arrange walkways and wooden bridges inside the gorge to make it passable and safe was out and the locals took action.
Take a walk on Žumer's galleries and admire old railway bridge
Jakob Žumer, one of the discoverers of Vintgar Gorge played a leading role in the history of the gorge. Among others, he supervised the construction of the passageways inside it.
That is why the most beautiful part of the gorge is named after him — Žumer’s Galleries.
This narrow gorge with steep sides that are covered with beech trees ‘hides’ another historically significant attraction.
While walking along Radovna River flowing powerfully and creating pools and waterfalls, you will come across an old railway bridge made of stone that spreads over the gorge.
That railway track was built at the beginning of the 1900s and was part of the railway line between Prague in the Czech Republic and Trieste in Italy.
Today, you can experience crossing that stone bridge over the gorge by taking a train going from Jesenice to Nova Gorica or vice versa. The train stops in Podhom, Bled (the name of the train station is ‘Bled-jezero’), Bohinj and Most na Soči, among others.
Making a circular hike around Hom Hill
The gorge of Radovna River is narrow and quite deep — the deepest parts are around 300 metres while its walls are very close to each other in some places. Consequently, the amount of the sunlight that comes in is limited.
Therefore, Vintgar Gorge offers a shaded walk/hike — which is a good option during hot summer days. However; there is another trail that is almost parallel to that one in the gorge.
If you end your walk through Vintgar Gorge by Šum Waterfall and do not feel like going back on the same trail, then you can exit the gorge and walk back on the other (more sunny) side of Hom Hill until you reach the settlement of Podhom where you probably left your car or bike.
Like that, you will do a circular hike, which however takes more time, but offers stunning views.
Besides, if you return to the starting point by following the trail on the other side of the hill you will avoid large groups of people walking into the opposite direction in the gorge.
Walking on the sunny trail running parallel to the gorge, you will pass by St. Catherine Viewpoint from which there is a beautiful view of Gorenjska region and the mountains (the Karawanks and Kamnik-Savinja Alps).
Further on the hiking trail that is mostly flat and grassy, you will also see Bled Castle and some peaks of the Julian Alps.
One part of this hiking trail is described in this article. It starts at St. Catherine Viewpoint above the village of Zasip and ends in Podhom.
- PRACTICAL INFORMATION -
LOCATION: Vintgar Gorge is located in a small municipality called Gorje near Bled. The gorge is part of Triglav National Park, the only national park in Slovenia.
OPENING HOURS: Vintgar Gorge is open between 7 am/8 am and 6 /7 pm each day during spring/summer months while in autumn the opening hours are shorter (September: 8 am to 18 pm; October and November: 9 am to 4 pm).
The visiting season starts in April and ends in November. In December, January, February and March, the gorge is closed.
ENTRY FEE: Entry fee for visiting Vintgar Gorge is 10 EUR for adults. There are discounts available for children, students and groups.
The gorge has two entrances (one in Podhom and another one in Blejska Dobrava) and at both there are small wooden cottages where you can buy tickets.
GET IN: The gorge can be reached by public transportation (regular bus or shuttle bus), car, bicycle or on foot.
BUS: You can take a bus from the main bus station in Bled (near Bled Rose Hotel) or from the bus stop Bled Union (opposite Union Hotel). Take off at the bus stop in the village of Spodnje Gorje (bus direction is Krnica). You may check the bus timetable here. From the bus stop, it takes around 15 minutes to reach the western entrance to the gorge.
SHUTTLE BUS: From the end of June until mid-September, you can take a shuttle bus to get to various natural and cultural attractions in Bled and nearby, including Vintgar Gorge. The bus stops at several locations in Bled (main bus station, Bled Union bus stop etc.) and costs 1 EUR. See the timetable here.
CAR: In case of coming by car, you can leave it at a big parking area close to the gorge entrance in Podhom.
You can also park your car at the parking in front of LIP Bled factory in Bled-Rečica and take a free bus to the gorge entrance from there. The parking fees are 5 EUR (cars) and 15 EUR (buses).
BIKE: You can also cycle from Bled to Podhom-Spodnje Gorje and leave your bicycle at a bike parking area close to the entrance to Vintgar Gorge.
WALK: If you are going to walk from Bled to Vintgar Gorge, it will take you approximately one hour. The road is not shaded and if you will be walking there in summer, you might want to start your journey early in the morning.
GET AROUND: The gorge is around one kilometre and a half long (around one mile) and you will need approximately 30 minutes to get from one end to another.
There are well-maintained walkways and wooden bridges inside the gorge. In some places, the narrow paths were carved into the gorge-side.
Please be advised that is not possible to pass through the gorge on a wheelchair or with a stroller.
RECOMMENDATIONS: I would recommend you to wear comfortable walking or trekking shoes. Also, do not forget to take some warm clothes with you as it can be quite fresh in the gorge, even during summer months.
If you plan to visit Vintgar Gorge during the high season — that is from June to August/September, you can expect the gorge to be a very lively place (sometimes even crowded). If you prefer a bit more peaceful walk through the gorge, it is best to be there early in the morning.
GEOCACHING: A small cache is hidden somewhere in the forest near Šum Waterfall.