Let's discover the magnificent Soca Valley Slovenia where the famous Emerald river runs. This area offers brillant scenery with the Julian Alps and the incredible colors of the Soca River Slovenia. It is also a great place for a little bit of adrenaline with Soca Rafting, Kayaking and Canyoning. Let me show you around and help you plan your trip 🙂
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Experiencing the River Soca Valley - Video
Let's start with a short video to see the waters of the Soca River flow, the change in shades of green and the magnificent mountains of the Soca Valley.
Why the Emerald River ?
Are the Emerald River colors in the photos real?
I can tell you that the name Emerald River is not overselling it. The colors are really unbelievable and make you think of jewels: sometimes Emerald, sometimes aquamarine but never boring!
So, to my opinion, it is one of the best things to do in Slovenia.
But you may wonder...
Why is the Soca River color emerald green?
From what I have read (but I am not expert):
The colors comes from the small particules of bed-rock suspended in the water (the rock flour) which reflect more of green and blue when hit by the light.
Since the region is mainly limestone and marl deposits, the colors remains for the whole length.
Seeing those colors in Mountain lakes and river is quite frequent. What makes the Soca river special is that it retains the color from a very very long time, through all its length!
River Soca Valley Map + Access
The region of the Soča Valley starts from the North of the Triglav National Park, just south of the VRSIC pass and goes all the way down to Nova Gorica where the river cross the Border. In Italy the river is known as Isonzo (and on Google Maps too).
Below is a map to give you a general idea of the course of the Soca River in the West of Slovenia. The Soca River is 136km long.
Best spots to Photograph the Soca River
A detailed map of the West Region with all my favorite locations to stop by the river and capture its beauty is available in the eBook: The Road Trip Guide - Slovenia. It also contains the GPS coordinates of each stop and a picture to help you decide if you want to stop.
All these views, along with many other beautiful places, are included in my eBook: The Road Trip Guide-Slovenia.
It is a practical tool to plan your trip with maps, photos, planning tips, GPS coordinates...
How to get to the Soca Valley
The most scenic (and common drive) to get to the Soca valley is via the North.
Driving from Ljubljana or Lake Bled you can enjoy the beautiful drive up to the Vrsic Pass and then down through the Trenta Valley to Bovec.
The best part of the Soca River is this section North of Bovec.
- Ljubljana to Bovec via Vrsic Pass: 2h30 drive without stopping
- The drive is on a mountain road with 50 sharp bends but it is worth it! (Check out my guide about driving in Slovenia)
- Note that in Winter, the pass is closed and you reach Bovec via Italy.
If you don't want to drive you can book a day trip from either Bled or Ljubljana:
Trenta Valley (North Soca Valley Slovenia)
From the Vrsic pass (see photos of the pass here) to down in the the town of Bovec is, to my opinion, the best section of the Soca Valley. It starts with the Trenta valley and flows down with wide and narrow sections. YOU can enjoy the high peaks of the Julian Alps.
However it is not always that easy to capture the beauty because of the high summits
What's great is that you can frequently stop to walk on a small footbridge to enjoy views of the river and the water flowing.
The road is in good condition, it is quite easy to drive once you have finished all the sharp bends. At the beginning, the valley is quite narrow with walls on each side.
And then it opens up. And the best part is to turn around to admire where you drive from!
Sometimes I just stop and simply looked at the water flowing, hitting the rocks. It is so transparent! Quite mesmerizing...
Stop "TD Soca Lepena"
I have decided to create a separate section for my favorite stop along that river - This is where a big sign indicates TD Soca Lepena.
At this spot, the river bed gets really narrow with beautiful white rocks on each side that have been sculpted by the flow.
The colors get quite intense, especially because of the contrast with the white rocks.
Plan a little time to explore the area and get down the rocks to see how the water carved its way.
Bovec, Soca Rafting and other Activities
And then you arrive to an open flat area where you will find the town of Bovec.
This is a great place to establish your base (see later in the article for accommodation suggestions if you decided to stay overnight).
But even if you are only passing through, you might want to enjoy one of the great experience around the rivers : Kayaking, Rafting, Canyoning...
Bovec is the adrenaline capital of Slovenia.
This is the view towards the North where we drove from:
One of the top activities to enjoy near Bovec is rafting on the Soca River.
It is of course guided with a leader at the back.
It will take you through the rush of Class III rapids and enjoy the natural slalom areas created by the rocks.
You will spend 1h30 on the river admiring its beauty from up-close. If you love rafting, the Soca River is one of the most beautiful place to do it!
Possible mid-april to August
Soca River Kayaking
If you want to enjoy the river in a quieter environment, there is a possibility to climb in a Kayak and glide on the calmer section of the Soca River.
Possible April to September
Soca Valley Canyoning
Want something with more movements? Why not enjoy some canyoning? There are several canyons to enjoy in the area including:
- Canyoning in the Susec Canyon - it offers the easiest canyoning experience - It is suitable for beginners and families
- Canyoning in the Fratarica Canyon - This is a more advanced trail with some sections requiring getting down by ropes and focus jumping. Concentration is required
Waterfalls in the Soca Valley
The Soca Valley is also home to charming waterfalls. Here are 3 falls that are not far from the main road or require a short hike. You will see, they are very different:
Slap Virje Waterfall
Slap Virje was one of my favorite waterfalls in Slovenia. It is hidden not far from Bovec. A short walk downhill takes you to this enchanting cove where the water flows delicately on a rock wall covered with plants. At the bottom is an emerald pool.
I really thought I would see fairies flying around!!!!
Slap Boka Waterfall
Slap Boka is one of the most famous waterfalls in Slovenia because it can be seen from the road and it is an impressive drop againts a vertical wall. The first drop is 106m high and the next one is 33 m high.
You can climb 15min to a platform to see it a bit better but part of the view is still blocked. To really see its power, you need to hike further and it is not an easy climb.
Learn more on my article about Slap Boka waterfall
Slap Kozjak Waterfall
Slap Kozjak is quite famous too but completely different.
You have to complete a 1h15 return walk from the parking.
The trail is quite easy and well maintained. At the end you cross small bridges and you get a to a small platform to view the hidden 15m high waterfall.
And once again the color is stunning.
See more photos and get info on my article about Slap Kozjak.
South section of the Soca Valley slovenia
The South section of the Soca river is not as famous, but it also offers splendid locations.
Near Kobarid is the famous Napoleon Bridge. At this spot, River Soca is quite narrow so its color is more intense. I let the photo speak for itself:
Most na Soci
Further downstream the Soca River meets the Idrijca River. At this location is the town of Most na Soci and a beautiful green lake-looking section of the river. Quite different from what we have seen before. No more high peaks, we are South of the Triglav National Park.
Kanal ob Soci
As we drove towards the Brda region, I discover another stunning spot on the river: the small town of Kanal with colorful house, historical ruins and multiple shades of green.
Where to stay in Bovec? Soca Valley accommodations
If you want to explore the Soca Valley and admire the Soca River, the best spot to stay nearby is definitively in Bovec.
It is very central with great views of the mountains and easy access to all the waterfalls, War historical buildings and soca river activities.
Here is the center of Bovec:
- WHERE I STAYED
I opted to stay in an apartment. It was a little bit outside of Bovec but with a fantastic view from the windows (too bad we did not have a balcony).
The Apartment Wallas was beautifully decorated with lots of space and all the equipment you might need. Below is the picture I took from the window!
- LUXURY - Ideally located, Hotel Dobra Vila Bovec offers countryside decor, large rooms and his home to an outstanding restaurant. People indicate that breakfast is 'to die for' - Check out photos and book
- CENTRAL HOTEL - Right in Bovec, the Garni hotel offers modern, well equipped room. It has a family suite and some rooms have mountain views 🙂 - Check out photos and book
- CAMPING - want to get closer to nature, enjoy a camping stay with amazing views of the mountains - Check out photos and book
- BUDGET / HOSTEL - Thirsty river offer budget double rooms and dormitory only 15min walk from Bovec - Check out photos and book
PLANNING TIPS - Valley of Soca Slovenia
How to get to Soca Valley
- Ljubljana to Soca Valley (Bovec): 2h30 (via VRSIC pass) or 2h via Italy
- Lake Bled to Soca valley (Bovec): 2h (via VRSIC pass) or 1h30 via Italy
- I recommend the drive via the VRSIC pass (closed in Winter) as it offers splendid views of the Julian Alps.
- If you don't want to drive, day trips from Both bled and Ljubljana take you to some of the best views of the Soca valley - Check out program and book
Visiting the Soca Valley
- You can just drive through over a day or stay for several nights to enjoy all the activities and surrounding roads and mountains.
- Plan enough time to be able to stop everywhere and enjoy the views
- Get ready with my guide to driving in Slovenia.
The GPS coordinates of all the locations listed in this article are available in my eBook: The Road Trip Guide - Slovenia
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