The Vintgar gorge
For many tourists who come to Slovenia, the Vintgar Gorge is one of the main attractions. And rightly so, because it is beautiful! My husband Bine was born and raised a mile away from the gorge and has walked through it countless times. Until 1891 the gorge was still unknown and completely impassable. After that, the gorge was discovered by the then-mayor of Gorje and a photographer. In 1893 more than 500 meters of bridges were built to allow tourists to walk through.
I already knew the gorge from my first holiday in Slovenia, but after I met Bine in 1995, I went there several times with him, and of course, we took family and friends who came on holiday from the Netherlands. It is still beautiful to see, no matter how many times you have been there! It also looks different every time, depending on the season and the amount of water going through. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the gorge becoming so touristy, but of course, you can’t stop that.
We used to walk right in, without paying an entrance fee and later when Bine told the cashier that he is from Podhom, we were also allowed to enter without paying, since there was always someone from the neighborhood at the cashier desk who knew him, or at least the family name. I remember when the price was 300 tollars, the Slovenian currency before the Euro. An equivalent of €1.30. Nowadays, the price is already €10.00 per person! But I think it is still worth the price and the more visitors, the more the gorge needs to be »maintained«. Of course, that also costs a lot of money.
Recently it was on the news that a new measure has been introduced that says that only 245 people are allowed to enter the gorge at once, with a maximum of 2290 visitors per day. This makes the Vintgar Gorge the first natural attraction in Slovenia for which a maximum number of visitors has been set. Tickets can also be ordered online since 2021 and it is advisable to do this in time due to this new measure. You can order tickets here: https://vintgar.si/prices/?lang=en
At the end of the gorge, you can see the stone railway bridge with a single arch that rises 33.5 meters above the path and has a length of 53 meters. There is also the waterfall Šum at the end.
You used to walk back the same way, but during the Corona period this has changed and it has become a one-way street. At the end of the gorge you walk on and there are two routes you can walk to get back to the parking lot at the beginning of the gorge. One is 5.7 kilometers long and leads you past the church of Sveta Katarina, from where you have a beautiful view of the area. There is also a nice bar/pizzeria with a large terrace and a playground for the little ones. Highly recommended! The other route is 4.3 kilometers and leads past the village of Blejska Dobrava.
Make sure you are well-informed before you visit the gorge. My parents were there just 2 months ago with friends from the Netherlands and the parking situation was a disaster. When they finally got in line, once it was their turn at the checkout, they were told that they were in the wrong line and they had to rejoin the back of the other line, eventually entering the gorge almost an hour later than planned. Despite the crowds these days, a visit to the gorge is definitely worth it!