A little pre-season time off gave me a chance to explore one of the Hop-on Hop-off network day stops, something I’m very glad to have done and I highly recommend doing so as well – here’s how to make the most of Bled and the Triglav National Park.
Take a trip over to Vintgar Gorge, a beautiful canyon cut through the hills by centuries of water flowing from the Julian alps. It’s only €4 entry, and it’s easy to get a shuttle from the town, so well worth the trip. The path winds through the gorge on wooden walkways, which don’t spoil the view at all, in fact they provide some pretty cool photo opportunities.
There’s chances to get down to water level as well, and taste the fresh mountain water. The river itself is a series of pools, waterfalls and rapids, each turn providing a fresh view, and another unmissable snap. On the way back you can head through the gorge again, or venture along some of the lesser tracked paths through the Triglav National Park. Navigation isn’t so simple, but all paths lead back home.
Back in Bled the lake has plenty to explore, you can take a boat over to the church on the island for €14 per person. This is no motor boat, but one of the locals rowing the traditional boats across, which is quite a distance depending which end you jump on at. The church is an extra €6 to enter, however the bell tower is included in the price, and the views from the top are pretty spectacular. Don’t feel like you’re missing out if you don’t climb it though, the view from the island in every direction is awesome.
Lastly, climb up to the castle, a good uphill walk of about 15-20mins depending on how fit you are. The views from inside are again great, but if you want avoid the €10 charge (the castle itself won’t blow your mind – but the view from the cafe might) head around to the right of the building. There’s an iron fence here that you can follow until you see a path on your left – climbing this will give you the best views that I found of the lake and the island.
Triglav National Park With 3glav Adventures
Another good option is to explore the rest of the Triglav National Park with 3glav Adventures, our adventure partners in Bled. You’ll start the day early; we drove around to the north side of the park, entering from Kranjska Gora and starting the winding road up to the pass. Soon after was the first stop Jasna lake, not huge, but the calm water meant you could get an excellent photo with a reflection of the snow capped mountains in the distance. From here the road winds alpine style up the pass, and with each corner another jaw dropping view.
The second stop has a little more history, a wooden church built in a Russian style – dedicated to the Russian prisoners of war who built the road, and died in the process. While it’s only small, it’s a poignant reminder of how the road came to be, and the lifestyle of the people in the region before they were connected. On the way up there are plenty more places to stop and take a photo, or have some lunch – little restaurants are dotted about, or you can take a picnic.
The top of the Vrsic Pass offers even more views, down into the valley on both side of the saddle. From there it’s back to the alpine road, hairpin corners and all. The next (and possibly my favourite) stop is near the bottom of the valley, the source of the Soca river. It’s a 15min rocky climb up to the waterfall which is pretty impressive by itself, you will be rewarded with where the river simply appears from under a rock. A sheer rock face, with a glowing green pool at the bottom, which quickly flows down to the waterfall just below. All you’ll want to do (once you’ve got your snaps) is just sit on the side and relax, marvelling at how awesome nature can be.
From here the road chills out a bit, running along the bottom of the valley, next to the turquoise grey Soca river, there’s still plenty of chances for pics here especially at the Boka falls – another short rocky climb up the side of the valley, this time however it’s not possible to get close to the source as this waterfall is over 100m high, coming from an underground network and straight out of the side of a cliff. The viewing platform is enough however, providing a wonderful view of the intense waterfall.
You’ll be given your wet suits here, and get ready to adventure some more – this time floating down the rapids of the Soca river. Rafting is not only good fun and active but with the glorious Slovenian scenery all around it’s enjoyable to everyone. The grade varies between 3-4, so it’s challenging enough to keep the adrenaline junkies happy while being calm enough that you won’t be thrown in (I can’t guarantee you won’t be pushed though).
Your penultimate stop is another contender for my favourite, the Kozjak Waterfall is an easy and relatively flat walk, about 20mins from the car park. There are sections of walkway that have been built to provide access to the final grotto, a dark and brooding place filled with the spray coming off the powerful falls. The last stop of the day was another lake, Bohinj. Larger than Bled, and equally as pleasant to the eye, the town has plenty to do, but we stuck with dinner before heading home to get a well earned rest.