Slovenia is an immensely underrated country. Home to some of the top outdoor sport locations in Europe, it’s not a destination to overlook. Carving it’s way down from Italy to North-Western Slovenia is the Soča River. With crystal clear water fresh from the Julian Alps it adds luxurious sparkle to the already picture-perfect natural landscape. There is so much in Slovenia for thrill-seekers. Hiking, skiing, paragliding, kayaking and everything in between. Even the most crazy adrenaline junkies would struggle to get bored.
Slovenia has become one of my favourite countries. I discovered it in 2017 alongside my friend, Amy. As someone who has always been desperate to travel far and wide, I had no idea there were places of such pristine beauty so close to home.
Planning our low budget trip to the Soča Valley was a bit daunting. At the time we were too young to rent a car. Perhaps I was looking on old websites but at the time, I remember thinking you could only get there by private car. Once I realised I could get the bus for around 15 Euros, I was very excited.
Buses run twice a day from Ljubljana bus station, at 11:15 and then again at 17:15. I would suggest getting the 11:15 bus because there are some gorgeous views on the way that you wouldn’t want to miss.
You will probably have one stop, long enough to grab some food. Even so, you should buy some Burek and Doughnuts from the bakery at Ljubljana bus station. The 11:15 bus should arrive around half three which is early enough to grab yourself a coffee and a game-changing burger in Bovec town square.
Where to stay
During our visit we stayed in Hostel Soča Rocks which opens in March, just in time for the peak season, attracting all the backpackers who come to Bovec to get a taste of what the Soča has to offer. They organise daily trips and activities such as; canyoning, kayaking and white water rafting so you can definitely experience some of the best of Slovenia.
Dorm beds are only around £13 and are comfy and clean. Amy and I were there just on the fringe of peak season but still managed to meet some great people. One night was spent drinking beers and playing Pictionary with the two lads we met in our dorm.
The great about Hostels in Europe is the kitchen, Soča Rocks has a spacious kitchen, fit for the large number of guests they must host in the peak season. They also have a bar that serves some delicious Vietnamese coffee that we got quite addicted to. When you’re not out kayaking or hiking you can kick back in the hammocks, admire the view of the mountains that surround you and watch the para-gliders swaying in the distance.
An easy day out
Amy and I weren’t really prepared for all the hiking that was available. Once there though, we got the itch to venture out into the wilderness. Sadly we didn’t have the gear to go on a grand adventure so we decided to visit one of the nearby waterfalls.
Virje Waterfall is a simple walk from the centre of Bovec that lasts just under an hour and follows just one road most of the way. We didn’t know what to expect from it before going, having only heard about it when we asked the hostel staff where is a good short walk. When we arrived we were taken aback by the beauty of it.
Tucked away nicely, it’s a quiet and gentle waterfall. Consisting of two pools of clear, turquoise water and protected by large, moss-covered boulders. It makes a dazzling yet peaceful spot to have a picnic. We swam, climbed and stayed admiring Virje until the sun was going down and we felt shivers coming.
White water rafting
We couldn’t leave Bovec without trying at least one of the water sports that brings so many people to the region. We were torn between kayaking and rafting but decided on rafting because neither of us had been on a kayak for a while so wanted to come back when we were more confident. We organised it through the hostel and it cost us 30 Euros each.
Rafting through the Soča was such an incredible experience to have. We started out on simple rapids to get us warmed up but progressed to faster ones where we would crash over rocks and leap with the currents. Our guide was hilarious and helped to make it even more enjoyable. At one point we propped the raft, upside down, over of the large rocks and he had us doing (well attempting to) front flips off it and into the water.
Snuggled up nicely in our wet suits we got to enjoy swimming in the otherwise freezing water. Our guide was explaining that it comes straight down from the Julian Alps and is so clean you can even drink it.. it tasted nicer and more refreshing that any other water I have drunk. He shocked us by apologising that the river isn’t as clear as normal because it was a cloudy morning, I can not even fathom how wonderful it looks when the sun is out. Afterwards, we got back to the hostel and enjoyed a nice cup of Iced Vietnamese coffee in the afternoon sun.