Vintgar Gorge in Slovenia is a truly stunning place and was one of our highlights when visiting this amazing country.
Spanning an impressive 1.6 kilometres, Vintgar Gorge has been carved out by the power of the Radovna River over millennia and is one of Slovenia’s most popular natural attractions.
A wooden boardwalk trail follows the turquoise river to the end of the gorge, passing small waterfalls and crystal clear pools, and providing unbelievable views along the way.
Like many places in Slovenia, it’s absolutely gorgeous, and pictures just don’t do it justice.
Here’s what you need to know about hiking Vintgar Gorge, including details on the hike, how to get there, entrance fees, opening hours, parking, and what to expect on the hike.
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About Vintgar Gorge
Located in the stunning Triglav National Park, Vintgar Gorge is one of Slovenia’s top tourist attractions. For over 130 years, it has welcomed visitors from around the world to experience its unrivalled natural beauty.
Carved out by the Radovna River, a stunning river that can either look a bright aqua or emerald green colour depending on the light, the gorge is full of small waterfalls, rapids and erosion potholes where the river briefly slows.
Opened to the public in 1893, Vintgar Gorge has become one of the most popular natural attractions in Slovenia. Visitors can walk along boardwalks and trails, crisscrossing over the river on narrow bridges for the length of the gorge.
Located just a few kilometres from Bled, it’s an easy ten-minute drive, and hiking the Vintgar Gorge is one of the top things to do in Lake Bled.
Fun Fact: The name Vintgar is thought to come from the German word for vineyard, probably due to the nearby vineyards in Podham, or another version says that the gorge is named for its shape, which resembles a wine glass.
Vintgar Gorge Hike
The Vintgar Gorge hike is 1.6 km of boardwalks and trails along the Radovna River, however, the trail is only one way and it’s not possible to return along the same trail.
It’s a great, family-friendly hike, although strollers and wheelchairs are not permitted on the trail.
At the end of the gorge path, there are two options to return to the entrance: the Green Trail – St. Catherine Return Route or the Red Trail – Blejska Dobrava Return Route. Both the Red and Green Trail lead back to the P1 parking lot.
The St. Catherine route, or Green Trail, takes between 1.5 – 2 hours and passes by Katherine’s Church and two viewpoints.
The Blejska Dobrava return route, or Red Trail is a bit steeper (we can attest to that!), but shorter. The map suggested it would take about 45 minutes, but it took us closer to an hour and a half.
What to Expect from the Vintgar Gorge Hike
The Vintgar Gorge hike is a 1.6km long trail, with well-maintained boardwalks and trails that run alongside the Radovna River. Bridges cross the river at points, where you’ll be able to walk over the rushing water and get some great views of the gorge.
There’s plenty of white water as it passes through the gorge, but in other parts, the water is calm and you might even spot some fish swimming around.
When the water isn’t white, it’s a gorgeous shade of turquoise, that can change from aqua to emerald green, depending on the light and time of day.
The first half of the hike is a boardwalk trail that follows the river, and there are a few bridges that cross over the water.
The second half of the Vintgar Gorge walk is a mix of boardwalk and gravel paths along the edge of the river.
The entire hike is gorgeous, and there are so many spots where you’ll want to stop and take in the views or snap a photo. And while you definitely should stop for the views, the trail is narrow, and during the summer months, it can be very busy, creating traffic jams when people stop for photos.
Towards the end of the trail is the Vintgar Dam, and high above is the Bohinj Railway Bridge. It’s a beautiful bridge, but unfortunately, we didn’t see a train pass by overhead.
The Vintgar Gorge hike is easy to navigate, and the entire trail is fairly flat, with only a few steps up to cross the bridges. It’s a great, family-friendly hike.
At the end of the trail is a kiosk and cafe, where you can grab a bite to eat or purchase a souvenir. Just behind the kiosk is the impressive Šum waterfall, the highest fluvial waterfall in Slovenia.
You can see the top of the waterfall from a bridge at the end of the walk. But for a better view, you can pass the kiosk and head down the stairs, turn to the left and cross the bridge to get closer to the bottom of the falls. There’s a wood viewing platform there where you’ll have a great view of the falls.
This is one of the few river waterfalls in Slovenia.
In previous years, you were able to walk back along the gorge trail, but it’s now one-way and you have to hike back on one of two paths.
There are two trails back to the entrance, one takes you past St. Katarina Church, where you can pick up a shuttle bus back to Bled, or continue walking another 2 hours back to the entrance.
We chose to walk along the other side of the river, where the trail passes through a small town and then along a quiet, shaded trail, before returning to the main parking lot. This option is a touch faster than the St. Catherine return route, but it is a bit steeper in sections.
Things to Know About Hiking Vintgar Gorge
Neither the Lonely Planet guidebook (which I love to use), as well as several websites that I used to plan our trip, mentioned that there was an additional hike back.
So when I was planning our day, I assumed a 1.6km hike would take us under an hour, and then we could continue on to explore Bled.
However, with the extra hike back, we spent close to 3 hours at Vintgar Gorge, which cut into our time in Bled. Plan accordingly!
There is a Vintgar Gorge Shuttle which arranges transportation from Bled to the entrance of the gorge and then picks up hikers at the church after the hike through the gorge, saving you 2 hours of hiking. In hindsight, this would have been a good option, giving us a chance to explore more of Lake Bled
Vintgar Gorge Tickets
Vintgar Gorge tickets can be purchased online ahead of time or at the entrances.
However as there is a limited number of tickets, it’s best to purchase online in advance, especially during the busy summer months.
You will need to choose a date and time slot, as they limit the number of visitors allowed in the gorge at any time.
Vintgar Gorge Entrance Fee: Adults 10€, Students, senior 7€, children 6-15 3€, under 5 are 1€, pets are an additional 3€
Parking Fees at Vintgar Gorge
The P1 parking lot is right by the entrance, but it can be busy. Alternatively, you can opt to park further away at P3 LIP Central Parking and take the shuttle to the main entrance.
Parking starts at 7€ per car in the central parking lot, 10€ at the lot near the entrance, and 10€ for campervans.
Vintgar Gorge with Kids
Vintgar Gorge is a great spot to visit with kids. The hike is short and flat, making it easy for kids, and the boardwalks and bridge across the river keep the hike fun.
My guys are huge fans of boardwalks and were so excited to do this hike. It’s pretty flat the entire way, and only a few steps, although the trail back wasn’t as much fun for them.
The boardwalks and bridge have railings, which were ok for my guys who are 8, but you would need to stay close to younger kids, as they could be shorter than the railings.
And while the trail is flat, it’s narrow and not suitable for strollers. Strollers aren’t permitted on the trail, but it’s easy to walk with young kids, or a carrier is a great option for little ones.
How to Get to Vintgar Gorge from Bled
By Car: This is the easiest and fastest way to get from Bled to Vintgar Gorge and is only a 10-minute drive.
Walking: It’s possible to walk from Bled to Vintgar Gorge and takes about an hour from Bled Castle.
Bus: It’s a short bus ride from Bled to the Podhom bus stop or the Spodnje Gorge bus stop. From either bus stop, it’s about 20 minutes to walk to the Vintgar Gorge entrance.
Bike: It’s also possible to rent bikes and cycle from Bled.
Shuttle: Mamut Shuttle offers a direct shuttle from Lake Bled. The cost is for a round trip and includes the entrance fee to Vintgar Gorge and also saves you the return hike. This is a great option if you’re short on time or don’t want to do the full 2-3 hour hike.
Vintgar Gorge from Ljubljana
Ljubljana to Vintgar Gorge is 65 km and takes about 45 minutes to drive. If you’re making the day trip from Ljubljana, it’s best combined with a visit to Lake Bled.
Best Time to Visit Vintgar Gorge
Vintgar Gorge is only open seasonally and closed during the winter months. It usually is open from the end of April until early November, but best to check the website to confirm.
Vintgar Gorge Opening Times:
April: 10 am – 4 pm
May: 9 am – 5 pm
June: 8 am – 6 pm
End of June – mid-August: 7:30 am – 7 pm
Mid-August – mid-September: 8 am – 6 pm
September: 8 am – 5 pm
October – November: 9 am – 4 pm
If you are purchasing your tickets ahead of time, you will be limited to visiting at that time.
It’s best to go early in the morning, as the busiest time at Vintgar Gorge is between 10 and 1 p.m. Alternatively, you could visit in the afternoon when most of the tourist buses have already left.
We arrived in the early afternoon, and while it was still busy, it wasn’t so crowded that we couldn’t enjoy the hike.
Summer months can be very busy, as with many tourist areas. We visited Vintgar Gorge in June, and it was busy, but not too busy to detract from our visit. I would suggest visiting in May or June, or September or October when crowds will be fewer.
What to Bring when Hiking Vintgar Gorge
Good footwear: You’ll want shoes or hiking boots that are non-slip and have good grip, as it can be wet and slippery in spots. Closed-toed shoes or sandals are best.
Good camera: I only brought my iPhone, but with the rushing water and lighting in the gorge, this is a great spot for fantastic photos/photographer’s dream.
Gorilla Pod: The Vintgar Gorge is absolutely stunning and you will surely want to take a few photos. But due to the narrow trails, a regular tripod wouldn’t be easy to use, so a small gorilla tripod is perfect to attach to the railings of the boardwalk bridges – just be sure to wait until no one is on the boardwalk at the same time or the boardwalk shakes a bit and results in blurry photos.
Where to Stay in Bled
When visiting Vintgar Gorge in Slovenia, the nearby town of Bled makes for an excellent base. Bled not only offers proximity to Vintgar Gorge, but there are also plenty of great things to do in Lake Bled, including the iconic Bled Castle and Bled Castle.
There are a few hotels in Bled, as well as many private apartments offered by homes in the area.
In a great location and boasting fantastic views of Lake Bled and the Julian Alps, Hotel Park features comfortable rooms with a private balcony, an on-site restaurant that serves the famous Bled Cream cake, as well as an indoor pool and a covered sunroom with fantastic views of Bled Castle perched above the lake.
For a unique stay, Garden Village Bled offers deluxe apartments, glamping tents with private hot tubs and tree house accommodations. Enjoy the Finnish sauna set between the trees over a stream, or the restaurant that has a stream flowing through it. Garden Village Bled is only a few minutes walk from the lake, or 15-20 minutes walk to the centre of town. Be sure to book well in advance, as it is a popular place to stay in Bled.
While the Vintgar Gorge is only 1.6km long and should take less than an hour to walk, plan at least 2-3 hours which allows for stops along the boardwalk to appreciate the river, as well as the hike back.
No, unfortunately, while the trail is fairly flat, it is not possible to use a wheelchair or stroller on the path.
No, due to the flow of water, as well as the rapids and waterfalls, it’s not safe to swim in Vintgar Gorge. And as the Vintgar Gorge is located in the Triglav National Park protected area, swimming can harm the biodiversity and is not permitted.
Yes, Vintgar Gorge is absolutely worth visiting in my opinion! It’s one of the most popular natural attractions in Slovenia for a reason – an easy hike with stunning scenery, alongside the impressive, and beautiful, Radovna River.
Final Thoughts: Hiking Vintgar Gorge
Hiking Vintgar Gorge in Slovenia is an experience not to be missed. It’s an easy hike with stunning scenery, where you can appreciate the powerful force of the Radovna River. Whether you’re looking for a beautiful hike or simply wish to appreciate Slovenia’s natural beauty, Vintgar Gorge won’t disappoint.