Soča River is an alpine river in Slovenia’s only national park, Triglav and it’s probably the most beautiful river in Europe! At least that’s how we feel about it after spending a couple of days in Soča Valley this summer. One of the main reasons is its color: we’ve never ever seen such an incredibly turquoise river as Soča. Do you believe this color exists for real? Here it is, it does!
Then there’s Soča Valley with a long and amazing hiking trail surrounded by the picturesque peaks of the Julian Alps. The road coming from Vršič Pass, the highest mountain pass in Slovenia also continues in Soča Valley and it runs quite close to the river for the most part. Several picnic spots and hanging bridges gave us reasons to stop from time to time.
The tragic past
It’s so hard to believe that this magical place has such a bloody and tragic past. During First World War it was the scene of twelve battles (the battles of Isonzo – after the Italian name of Soča which is Isonzo) between the Kingdom of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Over 300 000 soldiers lost their lives here and the color of the river was often red…
Today Soča Valley is a peaceful and popular place for outdoor activities like hiking or rafting on Soča River. We spent our 2 days with driving and hiking through Soča Valley and we totally fell in love.
How to access Soča Valley
This area is not such a well-known part of Triglav National Park as easily accessible Lake Bled or Lake Bohinj. But it rewards with stunning, unspoilt beauties of nature! We had to drive the challenging narrow mountain road through Triglav National Park to reach Soča Valley (which is a marvelous scenic drive, by the way!), but it’s way less crowded than the area around Lake Bled.
We highly recommend to rent a car if you want to visit Soča Valley as it’s the only way to stop wherever and whenever you want to – and you will want to stop quite often. 🙂
Hiking to the source of Soča
The source of Soča River is located high up in the Julian Alps – at an elevation of 876 metres (2874 feet) in Trenta Valley. There’s a short trail leading to the source and we were curious to see it.
We parked at Koča pri Izviru Soče mountain hut which is right next to the road a couple of kilometres before the village of Trenta. A lovely and easy trail starts at the hut and it runs next to the little cascading falls of baby-Soča. But at the last section it gets a bit more challenging. The source lies deep in a cave and we had to hold onto chains to get close enough to see the crystal clear pool.
Less than an hour is enough to do this hike and it’s very pretty! (Okay, you may soon be bored with it, but everything in Soča Valley was so-so pretty. 😛 )
The Soča River Trail
So there’s a trail along Soča River starting from its source and finishing at the town of Bovec. The overall length of Soča River Trail is about 20 km. It’s a moderate trail, but you possibly won’t be able to do it within one day – or you can if you don’t have to go back or have a way of transport to get back to the trailhead.
We hiked sections of the Upper Soča Valley Trail and enjoyed every moment there! Not that we planned where to start or finish our short hikes. Actually, we drove from Vršič Pass to Kobarid the day before and we collected a bunch of ideas where to stop for hiking the day after. So basically we were just driving and sometimes we decided ‘Hey! Here’s a hanging bridge, let’s get across and hike a bit along the river here!’.
I think we ended up hiking the most in the area near Trenta, but we have no doubts other parts of the Soča River Trail could be just as breathtaking.
Slovenia’s highest waterfall: Boka
You can’t drive through Soča Valley and not see Boka, the highest waterfall in Slovenia. Mainly because it can be already seen from the road. But there’s also a short walking trail to a viewpoint which is worth to take. The 106 metres high Boka is impressive, the only thing we missed is that it’s not possible to get close to the waterfall.
Not like Virje. Virje waterfall is also located in the Soča Valley and you can reach it on a short trail from the small town of Plužna. And you can get as close to it as you want – even jump into the pool (if you dare! we warn you it’s very cold).
Virje waterfall is much smaller than Boka still we liked it better. It’s more hidden and more charming. It has the same fabulous color as Soča River and the falls with the small pools are right out of a fairy tale. And it’s a place where you find refreshment even on a hot summer day.
We are not yet out of lovely waterfall hikes! Actually, they are so easy and short we wouldn’t even call them hikes rather just charming nature walks. Whatever. The next one you should know about is Kozjak Waterfall (Slap Kozjak in Slovene).
The short trail through the forest to the waterfall starts from Kobarid. If you drive to the direction of Drežnica you’ll soon notice a parking lot, that’s where it starts. It took us about 20 minutes to reach Kozjak waterfall that is hidden in a narrow canyon. This canyon is really so narrow that only a few light beams could reach the waterfall and the pool from above. A mysterious and gorgeous view!
There’s an enchanting glen in Slovenia with a boardwalk running along the blue water and countless little waterfalls. It’s called Vintgar Gorge and it’s a popular and busy place near Lake Bled. And it’s popular for a good reason! We’ve been there and we could only recommend to go and see it for yourself.
What a lot of people don’t know however is that Vintgar Gorge is not the only place of this kind in Slovenia. Tolmin Gorges hidden in the Soča Valley near the town of Tolmin is also a fairy tale glen with clear water in all shades of blue. A 2 kilometres long loop led us through Tolmin Gorges and it was a pretty easy and rewarding hike!
There’s a small entrance fee to the gorge, but parking is free.
Where to stay
Soča Valley is a remote paradise with no big cities nearby. There are lovely mountain towns though – like Bovec or Kobarid where guest houses and apartments are privately owned. You can also find some campgrounds in the valley. So are you ready to go?
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