Lake Bled in Slovenia is one of those places that looks like it’s straight out of a travel brochure (or rather an Instagram or Pinterest feed today I guess). But the lake itself isn’t the only beautiful spot in this part of the world. A few miles outside the town of Bled you’ll find the Vintgar Gorge, one of the greenest places I’ve ever seen, where the turquoise waters of the Radovna River flow between the gorge’s steep rocky walls.
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In some stretches the river bubbles and swirls its way through rapids and mini waterfalls, and in others it’s so languid you can see right through to the swimming fish and the riverbed below. And if that’s not enough green there’s also the thick foliage, the trees above and the mosses and wildflowers clinging to the rocks.
The Vintgar Gorge was only discovered in 1891, but within a few years it was opened up to visitors, with a network of wooden bridges and pathways had been built so visitors could get in and explore. The paths are still there today, though they’ve been rebuilt a few times since the 1890s. The walkways twist and turn for 1600 metres, clinging to the cliffside with sheer rockfaces towering up to 100 metres above you.
The path’s a fairly easy walk though it can get busy on a sunny day. Because it winds along the cliff you never know what you’re going to come across around the next corner, from deep pools with swirling shoals of fish to patches of delicate wildflowers. At the end of the path you reach the Šum waterfall, Slovenia’s largest waterfall, set underneath the Bohinj railway bridge with a little café if you need a break.
To get back you can either retrace your steps along the cliff path, or you can walk down to the waterfall and then follow the path through the woods and back to Lake Bled. There’s also a plunge pool below the waterfall if you’re feeling brave too (though in May the water was freezing so we stuck to taking photos instead!).
Vintgar Gorge is located around 4km north of Lake Bled. You can walk there from Bled which takes around three hours altogether. Otherwise there’s free parking outside or you can catch a bus from Bled’s bus station. The gorge is open daily from 8am–7pm (though it’s closed in winter as it can get dangerously slippery in snow and ice) and entry costs €5 for adults (€4 for students or €3 for children 6–15).