Bovec was a great discovery for us. No, we haven’t heard of it before. We didn’t have too much time at all to prepare our trip to Slovenia, so we read about it only in the train from Warsaw. And while reading the guide I came across the information that there are plenty of hiking trails in Bovec. Cool, it’s something for us, let’s go there!
Bovec is a small town in northwestern Slovenia, between the Triglav National Park (Triglav is the highest summit of Slovenia) and the Slovenian-Italian border. About 160 km from Lublana so it takes about two hours by car.
The town lies in a wide valley surrounded by the peaks of the Julian Alps and the highest parts of some of them are covered with snow throughout the year. Through the valley flows a rapid river called Soča (Isonzo in Italian), which bottom is dotted with small white pebbles that make the colour of water even turquoise or emerald on a sunny day. Smaller river, Koritnica, combines with Soča near Bovec.
My husband is my witness, that for the first time in the mountains I said I could live there, although I’m not a big fan of them. I’m not keen on reaching the highest summits and walking the ranges.
But Bovec is a completely different story! Bovec is a bit of heaven on earth. Firstly, the sea can be reached by car in only 2 hours (don’t think that I’ll give up my love to the sea – never! :D), and secondly, I am a great lover of nature, and Bovec area simply impressed me, thirdly, I like to have a choice what to do during my stay somewhere. I don’t like being bored.
To be honest, we arrived to Bovec focused on hiking, however, it turned out that not only trails (about 60km of routes in total) wait here for tourists, but also the natural conditions of the place provide the opportunity to practice many other sports.
And when I say ‘many’ I mean the a large number.
Bovec and nature
Natural conditions of Bovec attract not only mountains and nature lovers, but also people interested in history, and more or less active lifestyle.
Nature here is not only the valley and the mountains. It also Soča and Koritnica river, which I have already mentioned, gorges, as well as two (or more?) magnificent waterfalls: Boka and Virje.
Boka waterfall is the largest waterfall in the area (and certainly the most powerful waterfall in whole Slovenia), where the water freely falls from 106 meters, and then another 30 meters on the rocks. It can be 18 meters wide. The stream that waterfall creates, falls into the Soča river.
Boka certainly is a beautiful waterfall, and can make a big impression, but we liked the Virje waterfall more.
The Virje waterfall is much smaller, because it is only a few meter high, but it is easier accessible than the Boka waterfall. First of all, the water does not fall in one strong stream, but is breakable by rocks and it looks like a delicate curtains. To make the whole picture more idyllic, there is a beautiful turquoise lake under the waterfall, and under the rocks a small cavity, which allows you to enter behind the waterfall.
When we got there the weather was beautiful and we had swimsuits and towels, as we wanted later to have some rest over Soča. As a result, we didn’t go to Soča, but we spent the rest of the afternoon right here in our own private paradise. And although the water was freezing cold (we’re in the mountains, right?), we didn’t miss the opportunity to immerge swim under the waterfall. Sebastian jumped into it with cascades and I used the natural shower, which was formed in the middle of this miracle of nature.
I used to think that such a film location can only be found on tropical islands, but I was so wrong. We have it right under our nose! 🙂
Bovec and history
All these wonderful natural conditions, these passes, rivers and canyons, for centuries played a strategic role – in the days of the Roman Empire a trade route to Aquincum (now Budapest) ran here, in the late Middle Ages the Republic of Venice also secured the area by building a wooden fortress to defend against invasions of the Ottoman Empire (even Leonardo da Vinci in year 1500 created the plans of the full fortification of Soča).
The fortress was destroyed by Napoleon’s troops when they marched on Austria in the late 18th century, and rebuilt it about 80 years later, when the whole Europe took part in the arms race. The new fortress Kluže better suited the contemporary requirements. As its background and support, the other fortress called Hermann was built above Kluže in 1906.
History buffs will definitely be interested in the fact that the area of the Soča river played a very important role during the First World War. The river was a border between Italy and Austria-Hungary (Kluže and Hermann belonged to A-H), and here (actually, not only in the area of Bovec, but the entire length of the river, which measures 140 km) in 1915-1917 happened 12 bloody battles between the two countries called the battles of Isonzo. 12th combat proved to be crucial, it was the battle of Caporetto (Kobarid, Ernest Hemingway describes the battle in his novel A Farewell to Arms from 1929), which tipped the balance of victory to the Austria-Hungarian side.
29 months of continuous battles left great destructions over Soča. The area came to be called the second Verdun, since more than a million soldiers died here.
Fortress Kluže , covered by the Fortress Hermann, survived the war in an almost intact, but the damages of the upper fortress were so large that it has been never rebuilt.
Today, the ruins can be visited at your own risk, because they are not protected (you should have a flashlight), moreover smaller bunkers can be seen on the trail and there are also some other places associated with World War I in some further area, for example a military cemetery.
Through that area runs the Walk of Peace, the hiking and cycling trail that links the places associated with the First World War. The trail extends along the entire length of the Isonzo front, which counts about 100 km from the village of Log pod Mangartom until Mengore museum near town Most na Soči.
Bovec and sport
The area of Bovec is not only for hiking or trekking. This place offers a variety of sports, both during summer and winter.
Because winter is coming up, so I’ll start with snow activities: skiing, sledding and cross-country skiing are obvious, but it’s also hiking with snowshoes, as well as climbing on frozen waterfalls (ice-climbing) are quite popular here!
But we were in Bovec in the summer, and the number of sports that can be done here, surpassed our wildest expectations. I wished we prepared ourselves better and not only to hiking!
For calm people there is a golf course, tennis courts and good conditions for the practice of fly fishing, although it certainly requires skills and advance preparation (for example, the permission for fishing). Animal lovers will also find stables that organise horse riding in the mountains, or – for those less advanced – practice your riding skills in the valley.
I’ll mention again hiking trails because a lot of them differ by difficulty and length. So we can either reach summits, or explore the area from points that are not somewhere high, but the length of these routes provides movement for at least few hours. While the mid-hard trails were perfect for me, Sebastian did every morning a running training in the higher parts of the Bovec Alps.
Hiking trails often cross and connect with bicycle routes, so the lovers of two wheels have plenty to choose from. Slovenia in general is friendly to cyclists, and I mean here the opportunities for cyclists racer, for families with children, and for mountain bikers. There are various levels of difficulty, and for sure everyone will choose something.
Water adventures in Bovec
And now the icing on the cake! At least for me, because I always wanted to try some river sports like rafting, kayaking and canyoning (sport connected with moving through canyons with elements of climbing, jumping, abseiling or just walking). Or something I did not know before, called hydrospeed or riverboarding, which is simply rafting on the board, on which the participant lies on his stomach and controls the board with his own legs.
All of this is still ahead of me, but when I looked at those tiny kayaks passing next to us … I need to go back there! My nature of adventurer and collector of new experiences woke up and now I dream to return on Soča.
It is worth noting that the companies involved in the organization of these sports have many years of experience and focus on safety. All participants we’ve seen were equipped with professional equipment. There is also impossible to let someone inexperienced do sport on the river with a high degree of difficulty or without a guide, if his skills need one.
Soča is perfect for beginners and advanced, because there are passages where water flows calmly, as well as those that look quite scary (at least for me, but I guess after few lessons even I would dare to try).
You think it’s the end of attractions? Nothing could be further from the truth. In the area there are several caves for cavers, and for thrill-seekers there is a zip line, a rope park, where at the height of 200 m above the ground a rope, which is 500-600 meters long, is hanged. The speed of the “flight” over the canyon reach up to 60 km/h. And if it’s still not enough for you, you can over bungee jump from the bridge over Soča . Or watch the entire valley from a paraglider!
Well, what if you had enough of walking, and history, and adrenaline? What could you do in Bovec? Well, then it is best to take a car (you don’t have one? Relax, you can rent it here) and see what comes next: the Triglav National Park, picturesque towns over Soča (also it’s good to see them by bike!), Lake Bled with photogenic church on the island, you can go to the sea to my beloved Piran or to Lublana. Or maybe somewhere further, like to Villach in Austria (about 1 hour by car) or to Venice in Italy (2,5 hrs by car). Bovec not only offers plenty of attractions, but also is a perfect base for sightseeing!
So if someone asks me now if I knew any place in Europe, where for a week or two the family or group of friends would not be bored, and this place would be a good base for exploring the area, too, I will not hesitate and show him Bovec. And I’m sure he will be as delighted as we are!
Have you been already to Slovenia? Maybe you had the opportunity to visit Bovec? Or maybe you know any similar place that offers so much? Share your opinion in the comments!