As we pulled away from the parking lot at Vintgar Gorge, the shuttle van driver asked, “How was the gorge?” “Crowded!” I responded, “But beautiful.” He went on to explain that three years ago nobody cared about the gorge, and now, everyone wants to see it and he can’t figure out why.
I suspect as Ljubljana becomes more and more popular as a tourist destination, the day-trip visitors to Vintgar Gorge will grow exponentially. Right up front, my advice for anyone interested in visiting the gorge would be to do so in the spring or fall. I would not go so far as to say don’t go in the summer, if that’s the only time you can go.
I would say that if you’re going to go in the summer be there at 7:00 a.m. when the gate opens. Otherwise, the peaceful beautiful trek through the gorge you’re thinking of, may look a little like this.
Day Trip from Ljubljana
We took the bus from Ljubljana to Bled, Slovenia, which in actuality is only maybe a 45-minute drive from Ljubljana but because of the two-lane roads that amble up the mountain to the town of Bled, it took about 75 minutes to reach the bus station. From the station we hopped on the shuttle to the gorge.
The line to purchase tickets can be daunting, but it actually moves fairly quickly because it’s a cash only sale. We discovered there is a second window inside the little building. That’s a hint for those of you who may be deterred by the length of the line.
Tickets in hand and with eager anticipation we headed down the trail and got our first glimpse of the river and gorge. Beautiful, no doubt about it. We got maybe 50 feet before we saw just how not relaxing this trek was going to be. So, we each took a deep breath, found our zen place and on we went because we were in freakin Slovenia and we weren’t going to miss out.
It Was Crazy!
The only real issue was the walkways. They are narrow most of the way, sometimes as narrow as maybe just 12 inches wide and visitors have to come and go on the same path way. It’s nearly impossible at times which creates traffic jams until someone steps up and moves forward. And sometimes, we were literally pressed up against the granite walls of the gorge in an attempt to either pass or let someone pass.
Side-swiped by Backpacks
Okay, wait. There are other issues. It’s only natural that people want to stop and take photos. Not surprisingly, they want to pose for said photos while they create yet another traffic jam in anticipation of getting that perfect shot. No one really knows what they’re headed in to as they enter the gorge, so the full scale back packs, baby carry packs, walking sticks, coolers, lunch packs, etc., are not only not necessary, they all just add to the congestion.
I can’t tell you how many times I got side-swiped by a backpack when someone turned without
caring thinking. We were shocked to see a couple with a baby stroller and we found it hard to believe the ranger at the entrance allowed such a thing because there is simply no way anyone can push a stroller, which is why they were carrying it. It was crazy!
Keeping it Real
This post sounds cranky, right? Truthfully, I had a moment in the beginning when I thought, “Oh hell no, let’s just scrap this idea!” But, really, the gorge is stunning and I’m glad we went. I’m just keeping it real with this post because not all travel experiences top the charts.
The night before we went I read a blog post about Vintgar Gorge and I had to laugh as I then read it aloud to Abi because I swear it could have been written by yours truly. It was all about the lack of regard for personal space and people stopping to take that perfect photo with 30 – 40 people lined up waiting for them to snap the damn picture. I knew exactly how that blogger felt because I’m writing pretty much the same post.
Let’s Go For It!
Vintgar Gorge is inside Triglav National Park, which is why – as explained by our shuttle driver – it is unlikely the walkways will ever be expanded. Hopefully, though, as the numbers of visitors to the gorge continue to grow, the park service will find a better way to host said visitors. Maybe a timed entry?
With all of that being said and with all of the bumps and scrapes and having been smushed into the side of a granite cliff, I’m still grateful. As we found our zen place at the beginning of the trail we told each other it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so let’s go for it. And, we did!
If you go:
- You can purchase a round trip bus ticket and shuttle ticket at the train station in Ljubljana. 21.50€ per person.
- Entrance fee to the gorge is 5€ per person.
- The shuttle company will allot two hours for your visit, it’s enough time especially if you’re not there in the summer.
- There are restrooms at the entrance and at the end.
- The Vintgar Gorge trail is 1.6 km and it is an easy walk. When not on the wooden walkway, the terrain is rough.
- Snacks and drinks are available at the entrance and at the end.
- Wear sensible shoes.
- There are picnic tables at the entrance and at the end.
- There is a gravel parking area.
Gorgeous, Patti but I loved your “keep it real” comment as there’s nothing like a crush of people to turn a wonderful destination into a “get me the hell out of here” experience! Vintgar Gorge appears to have been discovered by the August tourists but I’d love to see it during the off season. A leisurely walk to enjoy the beauty there would be so much more my idea (and yours) of a good visit!
Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted…Playing Twenty Questions: Life as Expats, Life as Travelers, Life in Lagos, Portugal – Part Two
I think trekking the gorge in the fall would be stunning with the color of changing leaves and a fall crisp in the air. It really is a special place.
Although it’s gorgeous, sounds like the over crowding at our national parks. Seems we need more natural areas for people.
Gaelyn recently posted…Ten years blogging
Definitely, Gaelyn. I think the Slovenian park service is not at all prepared for the onslaught of tourism to this particular park, but hopefully, they’ll find a solution.
I can see why Ljubljana is so popular. All those waterfalls and natures. It’s gorgeous!
Slovenia is a beautiful country, so green and lush. We’d love to return more one day to explore further.
Beautiful – but that sucks and living in Croatia now I can tell you that yes, it’s better seeing a lot of these places in the shoulder season. But I would never have expected that of the Vintgar Gorge, didn’t think so many people had heard of it. Wow.
Frank recently posted…Hiking Mt. Dinara, Croatia’s highest Peak
Well, as the shuttle driver said, he has no idea why the gorge has suddenly become so popular. But, it stands to reason because Ljubljana is quickly becoming a highly desired travel destination, and the gorge is only an hour away. I’m super glad we went, but lordy it was a pain in the arse! 🙂
Inevitably, I walk away from an experience like this wanting to send a list of “suggested improvements” to the folks in charge. Did anyone ever hear of storage lockers.Your controlled entry idea makes a lot of sense. Obviously they are not concerned about the maximum capacity of the walkway.Yikes! Still, I would have endured it all for that view. And, I would have been that annoying tourist trying to get “the shot.” Beautiful!
Suzanne recently posted…Captured Moments – Opportunity
You’re a kindred spirit, Suzanne! I highly suspect the Slovenian Park Service is overwhelmed with the recently found popularity of the gorge and hopefully, they’ll tune in soon and come up with some solutions before the gorge is over touristed and they’ll have to shut it down. p.s. We took a few of “the shot” pictures as well, but we tried to be cognizant of those around us. 😉