A main attraction in the Bled region of Slovenia is undoubtedly visiting the spectacular Vintgar Gorge. But what many people don’t know is that there is an equally spectacular hike that will bring you back to your car. This simple loop will give you a bit of everything; get up close with the gorge and then have majestic views looking down into the valleys below.
The four Euro entry fee into the Vintgar Gorge is well worth it. The wooden boardwalks extending from the gorge are in great condition, and allow you to safely explore this exquisite natural feature that is part of Triglavski Narodni Park. Immposible to get lost on, this section of the trail lazily winds its way downstream passing back and forth over the river below. Towards the end of the gorge you will see a couple waterfalls and pass under a bridge for the local trains. There are restrooms at both ends of the gorge as well.
Once you leave the ticketed section of the Vintgar Gorge, you will follow signs to “Bled” or look for the yellow and white bulls-eye symbol on some of the trees. Fairly straight forward, this uphill walk has a couple of parallel trails so don’t worry about getting too confused.
As you enter back into civilization, the first thing you will see is the steeple from St. Catherine’s Church. First built in the early 15th century, this humble church was once the site of buried treasure from Napoleon’s retreating army. Sadly the treasure was recovered shortly after, but maybe they forgot a few pieces of gold… The frescos on the church were added later, in the 16th century. If the church is open you can also see the Baroque style altar from the 18th century.
From the Church look for signs with the “parking” symbol and Vintgar. A bit confusing as you are already in a parking lot. But they are trying to lead you to the other parking lot, the one at the other end of the gorge. The trailhead is across the street from the restaurant, and you will pass through a livestock gate. Once you find the trail head it is a very easy trail to follow.
The return section of the hike was one of the highlights of my trip to the Bled region. Uncrowded (at least in the off-season) this trail bring you through several grazing areas for livestock and provides grand, sweeping views of the Bled region, including the Julian Alps, Bled Castle, and the various small villages in the valleys below.
The gorge section of this hike does get extremely crowded due to its popularity. The inside tip from several locals was to either go first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon. This way you can avoid many of the bus tours coming from Ljubljana and Bled. I went in the off-season (October), and as you can see from the pictures had the place primarily to myself.