Bovec – what to see, where to go


All those of you who know Bovec at least a little, know that this is a real paradise for family trips, not only family trips, but trips of all kinds. From the shorter ones, a few hours, to the ones that last for several days, without any problems for a week or more. Today, in a blog entitled “Where to go and what to see in Bovec”, I will take you on a circular route through some of the most famous locations in this part of Slovenia. In our wandering, we will stay in the valley of Koritnica, between Predel and Bovec, and at the end, we will go to the valley of Trenta.

I always say to myself before the start of the summer season, but this year I will have to go to Bovec several times. No matter how many times a year I am there, it always seems to me that it has been too little. The Soča region is one of those parts of the world where you can’t cultivate everything, walk through it, get to know it. All those valleys, canyons, natural pools, gorges, steep hills, deep abysses, beautiful mountains, hidden corners, all this cultural heritage brought by the past, all on such a small tip of the Julian Alps.

Most Slovenes go to Bovec via Ljubljana and towards Gorenjska and then via Rateče and Predel to the Koritnica valley, but you can turn the trip upside down and go in the opposite direction via Vršič.

What to see in Bovec:

By the way, if you are looking for ideas for similar trips around the Soča and Tolminka rivers, I suggest you read the blogs Bovec best attractions, Log pod Mangartom, Where in Kobarid, Attractions of Trenta in Tolmin, Natural beauties of Baška grapa and Family trip in Idrija. In all these blogs you have enough suggestions for a few holidays in northern Primorska. I also invite you to Lake Krn, which is one of the most popular spots in our mountains.

Fortress in Predel

Really amazing how many fortresses, bunkers and similar forts there are in the vicinity of Bovec. Who would say, yes, of course, if the Isonzo Front raged here in the First World War. But the vast majority of these fortifications around Bovec date back to long before the 20th century. From the times of the Turkish invasions, Napoleon… So centuries-old buildings. All these buildings tell us that the deletes around here were of great strategic importance to the rulers of that time. The impassability of the high mountain ridges forced everyone to set out on a journey through the valleys, and here, at the most exposed points, such and other controls awaited them.

The fortress in Predel (on the Italian side of the pass) was built for the purposes of World War I, in support of the fortress at Lake Rabelais. The fortress was built at the turn of the century and was dedicated in 1900. Since it was built according to plans from 1892, with very limited funds, it was obsolete at the beginning of the war in 1914 and could not withstand large-caliber howitzer hits. So soon after the start of the war, all the cannons and other equipment were moved to caverns, which were dug into the hillside above the fortress. From there, until the end of the war, they fired on Italian positions.

The fortress on the Slovenian side of the pass has a slightly more varied history, as it was built about 100 years earlier as a defensive fortress that would withstand the attack of the French army. Unfortunately, the fortress was never completely built and served its purpose only because of the extraordinary circumstances that arose. After a few days of siege, the fortress was captured by the French, who killed practically all the soldiers and burned the fortress. In World War I, the fortress served as a warehouse for equipment.

Today, you can see both fortresses while driving across the pass. Both fortresses are equipped with boards that will teach you about the entire history of both buildings. If you are not too interested in history, both fortifications have incredibly beautiful views and I keep wondering whether the soldiers who were stationed here, were also enjoyed these views, admired nature, or were only in fear for their lives… According to the records I read, it was probably something of both.

Mangart saddle

The road to Mangart saddle is for me the most magnificent road in Slovenia. It is amazing what designers and workers were able to do in a very short time about 80 years ago. How many of some projects that ended up serving nothing were built-in fear of opponents before and during the two wars. It is good that they used to do things the way they should and that, despite not serving their purpose, they can be used for tourism purposes today.

Apart from the fact that the road to Mangart saddle is, in my opinion, the most magnificent road in our country, it is also by far the highest road. The road ascends to an enviable 2055 meters high. The Mangart saddle can be visited at a time when the road for road traffic is passable.

The highest road in Slovenia is a real paradise for many athletes, in the summer season it is mainly cyclists, and in the winter touring skiers who set out to overcome almost 1000 meters of altitude difference from the crossroads, where the road between Predel and Log under Mangart turns into left and begins to climb. Of course, the road also serves many mountaineers who want to conquer the third highest peak in Slovenia from a slightly higher starting point.

In addition to all those who like to sweat, the Mangart saddle is also a real paradise for all flower lovers. The grassy slope, which faces south, is perfect for the lush growth of high-altitude flowers. There are really plenty of them here. Whenever there is enough food (meadow) in the mountains and water can be found, then the conditions for the life of mountain animals are met. Marmots and ibex are our hosts at this height, but if you have a snack, you will soon have jackdaws, a third species that enjoys the conditions offered by the Mangart saddle and generous people.

The road to the top of Mangart saddle is probably also the road in Slovenia with the most stunning tunnels carved into the rock and with the most beautiful views. They are insanely beautiful. The view towards Slovenia pampers us already during the ascent, and at the top, we can just sit back and enjoy the view over the edge of the vertical wall and the beauties below. Beneath the wall lies the valley of the Rabelj Lakes, and even if you try to imagine how fantastic the view of the valley is, you will still be surprised live.

You can read more about Mangart and Mangart saddle, and the way to the top of the 3rd highest mountain in Slovenia in the blog entitled Mangart.

Ascent to Mangart via ferrata via Italiana and Slovenian trail

Zaročenca Waterfall

  • Walking time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty of the route: easy
  • Height: 930 meters
  • Height difference: 80 meters
  • Starting point: parking lot just above the village Strmec (46.4201, 13.6028)
  • Recommended footwear: sports hiking footwear
  • Suitable for dog: Yes

On the way down from Predel to the Koritnica valley, somewhere in the middle between the Mangart viaduct and the picturesque village Strmec (the name is not accidental), a small parking lot awaits us along the road, and a yellow hiking board 30 meters higher, inviting us to walk to Zaročenca waterfall. The board says that it will take you 30 minutes to reach the waterfall, but I think the average hiker can walk in a good 15 minutes.

Perhaps the most difficult is the very beginning of the path because there is a fence along the road that can not be opened or bypassed, so for those of you who have grown lower jump or. stepping over it can be less of a challenge. But in the continuation, the path is extremely well-trodden, quite wide and easy. The trail is otherwise part of the increasingly popular Juliana trail.

After about 10 minutes of walking through a beautiful air forest, which is mostly dominated by beech trees, we will descend into a rather deep torrent bed, right at the confluence of the Predelnica and Mangart streams. The waterfall is beautifully visible from afar and on the way to it, you will have to jump along the bottom of the riverbed cross both streams, which will not be a big problem. You can get completely close to the waterfall and admire up close how the water falls over a vertical rock wall into a small pool below the waterfall.

The riverbed we descended a little more than 20 years ago witnessed probably the largest landslide ever in Slovenia. After several days of heavy rain, half the slope of the hill (1.5 million cubic meters) was literally torn off along the road to Mangart saddle, and all the mass of rocks, mud, water, trees and everything it picked up along the way rushed past the place we stand and continue it’s deadly journey towards the Koritnica valley and Log pod Mangartom, where it also took away some houses where unsuspecting locals slept, a bridge and much more… The consequences of showing this terrible power of nature are very visible today. At that time, it was possible to see all the applied material even up to Bovec and even further along the Soča valley.

If you walk along the bed of Mangart stream into a rather deep canyon up the riverbed, after about 50 meters you will reach a small waterfall and the end of the gorge, for classic hikers. At this place you are practically under the Mangart Viaduct, which unfortunately cannot be seen from this place. You will see it very nicely from the edge of the riverbed, where we came down from the forest…

On the way back to the car, part of the group (if there are more of you) can walk towards Log pod Mangartom (someone “sacrifices” and descends into the valley by car). The Julian Trail route towards the valley is beautiful, leading through a beautiful air forest, and from time to time we will have fantastically beautiful views of the mountain range that separates the Koritnica and Bavšica valleys.

Small Koritnica gorge

The small Koritnica gorge are located about a kilometer below Logorm pod Mangartom. The gorge is scarier inaccessible to visitors, but it can be seen from the bridge that crosses Koritnica just above the gorge. Even if you go down to the riverbed in front of the gorge, you won’t be able to see much. You can see the incredible depth of the gorge and the wonderful work of Koritnica, which for millions of years has carved gorge in the rock that are more than 10 meters deep and about 100 meters long.

Kluže and Herman’s Fortress

Our first part of getting to know the Koritnica valley is very historically colored. On the descent from Small, towards the Great Koritnica Gorge, every visitor who is in these parts for the first time will definitely stop at the magnificent Kluže Fortress. It is a fortress that has defied time in this place for more than 500 years. Of course, it has been demolished, burned and rebuilt several times over the centuries and today it serves as one of the largest cultural sites in the Bovec area.

The fortress is placed in an exceptional strategic position, which is also called the Bovec Gate. In the embrace of the extremely steep walls of Rombon and Slemen, Koritnica dug only a few meters wide gorge, which are over 70 meters deep! On the right bank of the Koritnica, at the entrance to the Bavšica valley, an extremely impressive fortress was built, which 500 years ago protected the Austro-Hungarian Empire from Turkish invasions.

In the fortress, you can see a permanent collection that describes the turbulent history of the places here. In the Kluže fortress, it is also possible to breathe a fatal YES to a new and happy marriage. However, this place hides a lot of interesting things, as not far away stands another magnificent fortress named after Captain Johann Hermann von Hermannsdorf, who was the architect and commander of the fortress in Predel, which defended the Austro-Hungarian Empire from Napoleon’s army.

Herman’s Fortress

  • Walking time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty of the route: easy
  • Height: 646 meters
  • Altitude difference: 114 meters
  • Starting point: Kluže fortress (46.3615, 13.5893)
  • Recommended footwear: sports hiking footwear
  • Suitable for dog: Yes

The fortress was built before the First World War, in support of the lower fortress of Kluže, which was already obsolete and could no longer withstand the blows of newer grenades and missiles. The fortress was heavily shelled during the First World War (over 3,800 grenades, weighing between 360 and 400 kilograms !!!) from 13 kilometers distant positions of the Italian army behind Kanin. Despite the fact that the fortress was “hidden” under the steep walls of Rombon, it was hit several times during the war (200 missiles hit it) and so badly damaged that it was useless for the army.

Today, a beautiful and wide promenade leads to the fortress, which is less than half an hour long, which initially takes us through a 100-meter-long, carved into the rock illuminated tunnel, and later, just before we reach the fort, we walk another mine bunker and two rock-carved spaces.The upper fortress of Kluže, as it is also called, is also a real beauty. You can still see its interior, the tunnels under the fortress, with beautiful views of the Koritnica valley, and you can also read the history of this building. Depending on the condition of the building, the movement in its surroundings is at your own risk, so caution will not be superfluous.

Great Koritnica gorge

After visiting both fortresses in Kluže, don’t be in too much of a hurry towards Bovec, as it is worth walking to one of the natural wonders, which lies about 70 meters below the Kluže fortress. A completely newly arranged path takes us past the fortress almost to the bottom of large gorge. At the time of my visit (beginning of June 2021), the path to the gorge was already passable, but not yet fully completed. Below is a beautiful suspension bridge, which gives us a beautiful view of the emerald green Koritnica and one of the most beautiful parts of the river in Slovenia.

Of course, you will not be able to miss the tunnel, for which I cannot tell you at the moment when it was made and why, but the fact is that it is there and that if you walk through it, it will lead you to a beautiful view of the gorge. , somewhere 60 meters below the bridge that crosses the gorge. For a walk through the tunnel, I recommend waterproof foresters, as a stream flows through the tunnel, which every now and then makes a pond about 10 centimeters deep along the bottom of the tunnel.

From the departure from the Kluže fortress, I suggest that you head towards Bovec for lunch, but you can continue your journey into the Trenta valley and stop at one of the many restaurants along the road.

On the way to the Great Soča gorge, you can also stop at the cemetery of soldiers from the Battles of the Isonzo and at the remains of a rather large bunker. In addition to the remains of World War I, you can also enjoy the fantastic views of Trenta and the crystal clear Soča.

https://youtu.be/Ej0rxADJ_Yw
Great Koritnica gorge

Great Soča gorge

  • Walking time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty of the route: easy
  • Height: 460 meters
  • Height difference: 50 meters
  • Starting point: Parking lot in Lepena (46.3358, 13.6459)
  • Recommended footwear: sports hiking footwear
  • Suitable for dog: Yes

It is difficult to say which part of the trip is the highlight, but the Great Soča gorge is certainly one of the highlights, and not just because the gorge are the largest of all that we saw today, or. the longest and also the most accessible (they are about 750 meters long and up to about 30 meters deep), but also because at the end of the gorge there is an extremely nice place to jump and cool off in the Soča. If you are not a fan of refreshment in crystal clear water, nature here offers you a lot of space to enjoy along the Soča and in the setting of the sun’s rays.

My advice is to choose a parking lot at the beginning of the road to Lepena as a starting point for visiting the Great Soča gorge (the price of parking is € 1 per hour) and walk up the left bank of the Soča, along the Soča trail. The marked path leads a few meters from the gorge, but the path is well paved also directly next to the troughs, practically all 750 meters.

The gorge is extremely picturesque and a true representation of the power and elegance of water. On the one hand, the exceptional power of the Soča in the gorge and the elegant waterfalls that flow from the right bank of the Soča through the walls of the gorge into the Soča. Really great. For all its beauty, I’m just sorry that photos never show all the beauty.

The water content of the Soča is highly dependent on the time of year and precipitation in that period. If you visit these parts in the spring months, then the Soča will certainly be watery and the gorge will be quite full, but in the dry summer months, this water will be a little less. However, it is not a minor warning not to be too brave when leaning over the walls of the gorge and catching beautiful photos and views.

Swiming in the small Soča gorge

The spring of the Soča

  • Walking time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty of the route: demanding
  • Height: 990 meters
  • Altitude difference: 104 meters
  • Starting point: Parking by the cottage (46.4092, 13.7256)
  • Recommended footwear: sports hiking footwear
  • Suitable for dog: Partly

At the end of our wandering through the beautiful northern Primorska, we can see another of the most beautiful springs, certainly the most beautiful river in the area. At the 49th serpentine ascent to Vršič, the sign directs us to the left towards the spring of the Soča. After a good kilometer of ascent, we park our car and pass the hut at the spring of the Soča, about 15 minutes long ascent towards the cave where the lake, which is the spring of the emerald river, rests peacefully.

The spring of the Soča is not as spectacular as, for example, the spring of the Sava Bohinjka (Savica waterfall), but the view of the lake in the cave is magical. Looking in the opposite direction, we can enjoy the view of the valley of Kekec’s (Slovenian film hero) land and above it on the mighty walls of the peaks in the Jalovec group.

https://youtu.be/wi5JkZ1NeWQ

Conclusion

As I wrote in the introduction, the Bovec district is the most beautiful part of Slovenia for me, and in today’s proposals, you could only get to know a part of what the rich natural and cultural heritage of these places has to offer. In future blogss, we will get to know some beautiful corners of the valley and mountains around the Soča.

You can also combine the trip with the suggestions I described in the articles Family trip to Gorenjska. Or Where to go in Idrija. Have a wonderful day and go to Nature!

Peter

Živijo, moje ime je Peter. Že vse življenje sem velik športni entuziast. Navdušen sem predvsem nad športi v naravi, vendar se pogosto znajdem tudi v dvoranah, saj sem tudi trener. Uživam v gibanju, v čudovitih razgledih, lepotah narave, njeni energiji. Skozi leta sem se naučil marsičesa, tako kar se tiče obnašanja v gorah, opreme, telesne priprave, soočanja s takšnimi in drugačnimi nevarnostmi in izzivi... Vse to in še kaj lahko najdete na tej strani.

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