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Hidden Italy & Slovenia with Lakes & Julian Alps

West Slovenia - Soča Valley & Lake Bled
Starting point:

Locanda al Castello in Cividale del Friuli for two nights.

Day 1
Explore Cividale del Friuli

There’s no need to exert yourself too much to begin with – spend your time exploring the enchanting medieval town of Cividale del Friuli, set on the River Natisone about a mile from the hotel. It is a timeless yet fascinating place, with pretty squares, great cafés and wine bars, and the pre-Romanesque jewel of a chapel known as the Tempietto Longobardo. The heart of the town is its historical centre and the Piazza del Duomo. Here you will find the de Nordis Palace and the Palace of Provveditori Veneti which houses the National Archaeological Museum. There is also a daily market in Paul Deacon square. If you do wish to stretch your legs, however, ask Stefano to suggest a warm-up walk in the Italian hills surrounding the town.

Day 2
Cividale del Friuli to Kobarid: 17.5km, 6hrs

You are transferred to a mountain hut at 1,300 metres to begin the most demanding – and most rewarding – walk of the holiday. You ascend to the chapel at the 1,643-metre peak of the Matajur, from where, on a clear day, you have one of the greatest panoramas of the Julian Alps. The views also encompass the Dolomites, the Adriatic Sea and the lush meadows of the Soča Valley far below. From the peak you head eastwards across grassy uplands and alpine pastures to Idrska PL, from where you descend, at times steeply, through the forest to reach some rural settlements around Livek. The walk continues down into the valley from here, via a minor and traffic-free road (5km) to Idrsko, where you follow field paths for the short distance to Kobarid. You stay in the Hvala Hotel, Kobarid for two nights.

Day 3
Circular walk via Soča Gorge: 5km, 3-5hrs

Today’s short but delightful walk explores Kobarid and the area immediately surrounding this well-preserved Alpine town, which boasts a number of important historical and natural attractions. The trail (which will take at least half a day, including stops) takes in the award-winning World War I Museum which relates Kobarid’s role in a famous battle (pay locally), an historic bridge, a Roman settlement, the beautiful Soča Gorge and the cascades at Kozjak – one of Slovenia’s most picturesque waterfalls.

Day 4
Kobarid to Bovec: 16km, 5hrs

The day starts with a short transfer to the beginning of a very picturesque walk that follows the course of the Soča, revealing idyllic river scenery. You criss-cross the river and rise gently to enter peaceful woods and meadows, passing through quaint villages as you approach your destination of Bovec, a popular centre for all kinds of outdoor activities. You stay in the Martinov Hram for three nights, or choose to upgrade here to the Dobra Vila.

Days 5-6

We suggest three different routes for your time here, two of which are fairly long but not difficult, while a further route is a leisurely half-day walk if you feel like something shorter.

• LEPENA VALLEY: 16.5km, 5hrs

Perhaps our favourite is a linear walk upstream along the fast-flowing Soča River, and into the Triglav National Park, where you branch south into the remote Lepena Valley. The Lepena Valley is backed by a range of impressive peaks, where you follow shady and silent paths alongside mountain streams and cascades. Return by taxi (pay locally).

• KLUŽE: 16.5km, 5hrs

The second full-day walk is a pleasant circular route through pastures and secluded river valleys, passing the mighty fortress of Kluže, situated above a wild gorge. From here, you cross meadows to a confluence of rivers, then follow the Soča downstream back to Bovec.

• PLUŽNA: 9km, 3hrs

The shortest option leads to Plužna, a charming village situated on the sunny side of the Kanin mountains. Nearby is the source of River Gljuna and its waterfall, which is a lovely place to linger. You return via a small man-made lake and through attractive woods and meadows.

Day 7

Today you are transferred to Kranjska Gora, just over an hour’s drive away, where you spend three nights. You will arrive in plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely exploration of the village and immediate area. Here, you stay at the Rožle House Apartments, located in the heart of the village, or you could choose to upgrade to the Hotel Miklič.

Day 8
Circular walk via Sava Dolinka Valley: 19km, 6.5hrs

For your first day at Kranjska Gora, we suggest a circular walk through the Sava Dolinka Valley, which is framed by splendid mountains. You follow tranquil paths by the river – which has its source here and ends its journey in the Black Sea – eventually leading to a narrow gorge, before taking a gentle track back into town.

Day 9
Circular walk via Koča v Krnici: 17km, 5.5hrs

You take an easy-going forest track south to reach the mountain hut of Koča v Krnici, where you can pause to take in the awe-inspiring scenery. Its setting is peaceful and isolated, and is framed by a fearsome and spectacular range of mountains. You return via an alpine road, stopping to admire a Russian chapel en route.

Day 10
Kranjska Gora to Ribčev Laz: 14.5km, 4.5hrs

The day starts with a transfer to a high-altitude location in the mountains known as Rudno Polje, which is also a popular spot used by hikers and climbers to make the epic ascent of Mount Triglav. From here, you cross high, panoramic meadows before descending through woodland to the lower Bohinj Valley. Wandering through rustic villages surrounded by beautiful rolling countryside, you then continue along the shore of beautiful Lake Bohinj (or take a boat – pay locally), the mightiest peaks of the Julian Alps mirrored in the calm waters. Your hotel for the next two nights is the Alpine-style Hotel Jezero in Ribčev Laz.

Day 11
Circular walk via Slap Savica: 12.5km, 4hrs
Circular walk via Mostnica Gorge: 14.5km, 4hrs

We offer a choice of two walks for your day in Ribčev Laz. A shorter one leads you to a dramatic nearby waterfall of Slap Savica, one of Slovenia’s famous sights, with a 60-metre drop. There is also a longer route to the Mostnica Gorge, known for its erosion potholes, a natural bridge and numerous waterfalls. Alternatively, you could take the cable car (pay locally) into the mountains above the far end of Lake Bohinj in order to access some marvellous high-level walks with sweeping views.

Day 12
Ribčev Laz to Milno: 13km, 4.5hrs

Today's walk starts with a transfer, after which you criss-cross the River Sava Bohinjka, passing through woodland and farmland (across which are scattered numerous handsome farmhouses), to the Ribno Plateau, where you are greeted by a sweeping panorama of Lake Bled and the surrounding mountains. From here you descend via the picturesque village of Milno to your hotel for your final two nights, Vila Prešeren. Alternatively, upgrade to Vila Bled overlooking the lake.

Day 13
Circular walk via Vintgar Gorge: 16km, 5hrs
Linear walk via Radovljica, return by bus: 13.5km, 4hrs

For your final day we recommend the long but scenic walk to the Vintgar Gorge (for which a small entrance fee is payable locally), which takes you along the shores of Lake Bled to panoramic Bled Castle, then through a string of small villages towards another excellent viewpoint, and finally along a wooded trail to the gorge. Here, a series of boardwalks and bridges lead you spectacularly upstream along the entire length of the gorge. A gentle country trail then leads you back to Lake Bled.
Another option for your day here is to wander across the surrounding countryside to reach the delightful town of Radovljica for a spot of lunch and sightseeing, before returning by bus (pay locally). Alternatively, you may well prefer to spend your last day relaxing by the lake and enjoying the memorable setting, perhaps hiring a boat to row across the lake to ring the ‘wishing bell’ on the island!

The remarkable city of Venice

To extend your holiday, why not add a couple of nights in Venice if you are flying via this romantic city?

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