The Vintgar Gorge near Lake Bled, Slovenia is an absolute must visit highlight during a trip to the country. Crystal clear waters, stunning waterfalls, and scenic boardwalks, make up a 1.6 KM trail that follows the Radovna River.
This Vintgar Gorge guide will go through everything you need to know about a visit. Whether you are interested in learning more about how to get there, parking, tickets, weather, or anything else, it will get covered in this article.
So, get ready to learn more about one of Slovenia’s top attractions!
1) Background & Facts
» The Vintgar Gorge is a 1.6 kilometer / 1 mile long gorge located about 10 minutes away by car from the town of Bled in Slovenia.
» If you are not familiar with what a gorge is, it is “a narrow valley between hills or mountains, typically with steep rocky walls and a stream running through it”.
» At Vintgar Gorge you will find 50-100-meter walls (formed by the mountains of Hom and Borst) on either side of the Radovna River, which carves its way between the two. It is these two walls that make the gorge such a scenic sight to take in.
» The name of the gorge is thought to come from the German word Weingarten (vineyard), due to the nearby vineyards of Podhom or that it got its name for being in the shape of a wine glass.
» The gorge was discovered in 1891 by photographer Benedikt Lergetporer and Gorje Mayor Jakob Zumer. It just took two years to then build the walkways and bridges for tourists. The gorge officially opened for tourists in 1893.
» Today, Vintgar Gorge stands as one of the most visited natural attractions in all of Slovenia with thousands walking its boardwalks during peak season.
Below is the English translated excerpt from one of the sign postings at the Vintgar Gorge entrance:
The gorge of the Radovna river between the hills Hom (843m) and Borst (931m) is called Vintgar. The reason for its surprising turn at Krnica lies in the geological past. In the last interglacial, the Bohinj glacier closed off the distributary of Radovna towards the Sava at Bled.
At the lowest point, the lake that had formed started to flow towards the Sava Dolinka. The substantial difference in elevation resulted in great water power. The river carved a 1,600 metre long gorge. The steep and precipitous walls of the gorge are from 50 to 100 m high.
The roar of the Radovna river echoes along the narrow gorge, which is full of rapids and pools. The gorge ends with a 13 metre high waterfall Sum, one of the few fluvial waterfalls to be found in Slovenia. Although the waterfall had been known for a long time, the rest of the Vintgar Gorge remained undiscovered until 1891. The secured tourist path was opened to the public on 26 August 1893. Since then Vintgar has been one of Slovenia’s most visited gorges.
2) How Do I Get From Lake Bled to Vintgar Gorge
There are three main ways to get yourself from Bled to the Vintgar Gorge entrance – by car, shuttle bus, or walk.
Driving by Car to Vintgar Gorge
If you are planning a trip to Slovenia and want to visit several cities all over the country, then having your own rental car is your best bet.
You will be able to be on your own schedule and visit attractions and participate in activities without worrying about public transport.
The drive from Bled to Vintgar Gorge is nice and easy. It should take less than 10 minutes by car to make the 5 km / 3 mile drive towards the main parking lot.
Vintgar Gorge Shuttle Bus
Understandingly, not everyone will be renting a car during their time in Slovenia. The country is actually very well connected by bus routes that can take you between various cities for pretty reasonable rates.
Once you have made it into the town of Bled, all that you need to do to get to Vintgar Gorge is take the 1 Euro shuttle bus.
Below you can find the Vintgar Gorge shuttle bus schedule from the time I visited. Now, there is a good chance the exact times change a bit from year to year, but end of the day there is still a shuttle bus out there to take.
Both the Green and Blue shuttle bus lines will get you there, with one trip every hour or so.
Note that the Vintgar Gorge shuttle bus usually runs from mid-June until mid-September.
Walking to the Vintgar Gorge
The last main option here is to simply walk to the Vintgar Gorge from Bled. Since the gorge is located just a few miles from town center, it can be a great way to explore the outskirts of town a bit.
The walk from Bled to the Vintgar Gorge should take about one hour as you mostly pass by open fields before making your way through the small village of Podhom.
Vintgar Gorge Parking
If you are driving your own car to Vintgar Gorge, then you will just want to make your way to the main Vintgar Gorge parking lot nearby the entrance.
While the parking area is quite large, the lot will fill up quickly in the high summer season. Below is a screenshot of the parking lot to give you a sense of what to expect.
You may also find some other ancillary parking lots if the main one happens to be all filled up by the time you arrive.
» Parking at the gorge costs 5 Euro for cars.
3) Vintgar Gorge Hiking Map
During my visit to Vintgar Gorge, visitors were able to complete the one-way trail and then turn right back around to the starting point on the same pathway.
Recently however, the rules of the Vintgar Gorge have changed. You no longer are able to head back on the same pathway back to the starting point.
Instead, it is required to do a loop trail around the gorge on the way back to avoid too much congestion on the route. There are two options here -> a 45 minute trail on a steeper section of terrain (Steile Seite) or a 90 minute trail on easier terrain (Hom Circular Route).
Below is the Vintgar Gorge hiking map that will show you the main trail through the gorge in brown, the 45 minute trail in red, and the 90 minute trail in green.
The below section is taken from the Vintgar Gorge website to give you some context on this new requirement:
Please note that the round trip will take you from 2 to 3 hours in total. We recommend that you wear hiking clothes and boots. Hiking poles may also come in handy. In case of rain the path can be slippery.
While visiting the gorge, it is forbidden to turn around and return the same way. From the exit point, two return routes are arranged and well marked.
It is extremely important to be aware that the tour, due to the changed visiting regime, is not suitable for people who cannot walk 6km without difficulty and that the route contains quite a few stairs and easier ascents. The route is not demanding, but it is certainly not suitable for everyone.
For the most up to date information please visit the Vintgar Gorge website prior to your visit to understand if the above still applies. You can read more about the Steep Side Steile Seite trail and the Hom Circular Route by following the links.
4) Helpful Things to Know
Now that you are aware of the new rules of the gorge, below are some helpful pieces of information to get you going in the right direction.
Vintgar Gorge Opening Hours
April & May: 10AM – 4PM
June: 8AM – 6PM
July & August: 8AM – 7PM
September: 8AM – 6PM
October: 9AM – 4PM
Vintgar Gorge Entrance Fee
Adults: 10 Euro
Child (6-15 years old): 2 Euro
Vintgar Gorge Tickets
You can purchase tickets ahead of time by going through the Vintgar Gorge ticket portal. Here will be able to choose your date and time of entrance that will reserve your spot.
If tickets are not sold out for a time slot, you will be able to purchase tickets at the entrance as well. During my visit, I bought tickets at the entrance booth prior to entering.
Vintgar Gorge Weather
During my travels, I have found that weather can be quite important to pay attention to depending on what you are trying to do for the day (especially higher up in the mountains).
When it comes to gorges though, I wouldn’t say the weather matters as much. If it is cloudy or sunny, you will still get the full effect of what the gorge has to offer.
I will say if you are visiting during rainy weather, that is when things can get a bit more tricky. The pathway may get slippery and if the longer loop rule is still in effect, then you may be hiking 2-3 hours in the rain.
So, when choosing a day to head to the gorge, just try and avoid those rainy parts of the day.
5) When to Visit the Gorge
Before moving along any further, I want to give you the most helpful piece of advice I have when it comes to Vintgar Gorge.
As you can imagine, the gorge can get quite the number of tourists on a daily basis. When you consider the volume of foot traffic on the same narrow pathway, this leads to a traffic jam of people.
When taking in such a scenic natural attraction like the Vintgar Gorge, you do not want the hordes of tourists taking away from that experience.
The main way to avoid this is to simply come directly at opening time (or even a bit earlier). By getting onto the boardwalks as early as possible, you will get to enjoy the serene gorge and its morning mists without the crowds.
During my visit to the gorge, I got there at 7:50AM for the 8:00AM opening. Even by then the gates were already open and they were letting people in. As you will see from the rest of the pictures in this guide, you will barely see another person on the boardwalks.
Now, fast forward about 2 hours later at 9:45AM when I got back to the entrance, below is what I was welcomed to. It was just a long line of people just waiting to get on the boardwalk.
So, if you don’t mind the early wake up and want to have Vintgar Gorge mostly to yourself, then getting there at opening is my recommendation to you.
The other option here is to come closer to the closing time of the gorge, when most of those day trippers have already came and left. While I did not visit during that time, it certainly would make sense that it would be less crowded.
Note: the new circular loop rule was not in place during my visit, so things may be a bit quieter throughout the day if this rule continues to be in effect.
6) Where to Stay in Bled
Bled is a charming little town located closer to the eastern end of the Lake. There are plenty of hotels, guesthouses, and apartments to choose from during a visit to the region. I thought it may be helpful to give three highly recommended options of where to stay.
During high season, these hotels will sell out. So once you know your dates I would advise to book your hotel as soon as possible.
Hotel Lovec is located in the heart of Bled, just a few steps from Lake Bled. It offers magnificent views of the lake and the surrounding Alps. All rooms provide air conditioning, a bathroom and a mini-bar. Some also have a balcony with park or lake views and cable TV.
Located on the shores of Lake Bled, the elegant Grand Hotel Toplice features panoramic views of the lake and the Alps. The hotel has a boutique wellness center with a thermal pool, saunas and various massage and beauty treatments. Guests can relax at the lake-view terrace.
Set in the heart of Bled, Rikli Balance Hotel enjoys an elevated position boasting panoramic views of Lake Bled, its Castle and the Julian Alps. It features a modern spa center with indoor and outdoor pools.
7) The Vintgar Gorge Trail
By now, you should be pretty prepared for a visit to the gorge. However, I did want to give you an idea of what to expect to see all along the trail from beginning to end, with some photos along the way.
After heading through the entrance, you will immediately be welcomed to the roaring blue waters of the Radovna River. The scenery here is just so special with the light blue waters surrounded by the forested greenery surrounding it.
You will continue to follow the river on the boardwalks and pathways that zig zag their way through and along the gorge.
As you continue along, the gorge itself narrows with the towering cliffs on either side and the crystal clear water down below.
The second part of the trail will be beyond the gorge itself and along the Radovna River towards the end of the pathway.
The landscape opens up more here as you are no longer confined to the gorge walls. Instead it will be a peaceful walk along the river until you reach the bridge viewpoint with the double waterfall down below. If you are patient enough you may even see a train head across the bridge.
Just a bit further along the pathway you will see signs pointing you to the Sum Waterfall. You can then head off to the nearby viewpoint area of the waterfall and even walk along the pathway to see the waterfall from above.
After checking out the Sum Waterfall, you will then need to decide how you will get back to the entrance on either one of the two circular routes. If rules have changed though, you may be able to walk the same pathway back to the starting point.
8) Frequently Asked Questions
How Long is the Vintgar Gorge Walk?
Vintgar Gorge itself is 1.6 km / 1 mile and should take about 30-45 minutes to walk through depending on how many breaks you take along the way. However, the full circular loop may take closer to 2-3 hours depending on which route you take -> +45 minutes for the shorter steeper trail and +90 minutes for the longer easier trail.
If during your visit the circular loop is no longer required, then the back and forth trail on the gorge should take about an hour + break time.
Can You Swim in Vintgar Gorge?
No you cannot swim in Vintgar Gorge. It can get quite dangerous throughout the waters so swimming is not an option here.
Can You Make a Vintgar Gorge Winter Visit?
The gorge is not open between November and March, making a winter visit not possible. However, you may still be able to walk the very beginning of the pathways prior to the gated gorge entrance.
This will still give you the chance to see the Radovna River and its beautiful clear water, but you will not be able to enjoy the gorge itself.
Is Vintgar Gorge Worth Visiting?
In my opinion, Vintgar Gorge is 100% worth the visit. Like I mentioned earlier though, I would highly recommend visiting during off peak hours -> either early in the morning at opening or later on in the day.
Having the gorge to yourself without the crowds is a much more enjoyable all around experience.
I hope by now you have a much better sense of everything you need to know about a visit to Vintgar Gorge. If you do have any questions or comments, feel free to add them in below.
Have fun out there and safe travels!