Soca Valley: All You Need to Know to Explore it

October 15, 2023

The Soca Valley is one of Slovenia’s most stunning natural wonders, offering breathtaking scenery. This picturesque landscape is located in the Julian Alps of Slovenia, near the Italian border, and stretches along the Soca River.

The Soca River has its source in the Slovenian Alps and flows into the Adriatic Sea in the east of Italy.

The name of the river Soca is Slovenian and is roughly pronounced “socha”. In Italian, the river is called Isonzo.

The winding paths of the crystal clear, turquoise river, the steep cliffs of the mountains and the lush forests are a paradise for nature lovers.

The enchanting natural beauty of the Soca Valley, with its clear rivers and stunning mountain scenery, is a must for all visitors. In Soca Valley, you will find excellent hiking trails to roam the mountains and enjoy panoramic views.

The area also has a rich history, and the Soca Valley has many monuments from the First World War, including memorials, museums, battlefields and bunkers. These sites provide an opportunity to learn about local history.

So the following article is a detailed description of the Soca Valley. We will show you the most beautiful sights, the settlements of the Soca Valley and provide you with information to plan the best possible trip to the Soca Valley.

Best time to visit the Soca Valley

Although there is a ski resort in the area during the winter, summer is by far the most popular tourist season in the Soca Valley. From the end of May to the beginning of October, the Soca Valley is at its most beautiful.

In the summer, especially in July and August, the Soca Valley is crowded with hikers (even with large camper vans and caravans), which makes traffic and parking difficult. So if you want to avoid the big crowds, early June is recommended or possibly the second half of September.

What you need to be aware of is the weather, as it rains quite a lot in the Soca Valley (and elsewhere in the Alps too). So we advise you to be flexible with your travel time and always be prepared for rain.

How much time to spend in the Soca Valley

The Soca Valley can be explored in a couple of days, but we think it is worth taking the time to enjoy it too.

The minimum time needed to see the most beautiful places is 2 days, but that means a busy itinerary.

If you want to really enjoy the beauty of the Soca Valley, the fresh mountain air, the nature, you will need a minimum of 3–4 days.

Or if you want to see the whole region, including other attractions in Slovenia and Italy, plan at least a week.

How to get to the Soca Valley

Soca Valley by car

Getting to the Soca Valley is basically slow and difficult, with only winding mountain roads leading to the valley. We therefore advise you to travel with a prepared driver and a suitable car.

Parking is available everywhere and free of charge in all except a few car parks. At the pay stations you can pay by credit card, cash or using the EasyPark app, which is popular in Slovenia.

Routes to the Soca Valley

From Slovenia, tourists most often arrive in the Soca Valley from Kranjska Gora, Bohinj or Nova Gorica.

Two roads lead from Kranjska Gora to the Soca Valley. One of them is the Road 206 through Slovenia, a narrow and very winding mountain road.

The other route takes you via Tarvisio (Italy) and Lake Predil (SS54 on the Italian side and road 203 in Slovenia), also winding but maybe easier to drive.

From Bohinj we recommend roads 909 and 403. This does not look like an easy route either.

And from Nova Gorica, road 103 leads up north along the Soca.

Moreover, another road leads to the Soca Valley, from Udine to Kobarid on the SS54.

Public transport in the Soca Valley

The best way to get around the Soca Valley is by car, but there are also public transport options. Firstly, there is a local bus service between Bovec and Tolmin. And from Tolmin there is a bus service to Ljubljana and to Nova Gorica.

In addition, the Nomago bus company also runs buses in the area, and you can find out about the routes on the Nomago website (which, note, shows local routes in Slovenian only).

Things to do in the Soca Valley

The Soca Valley offers visitors a wide range of sports activities. The valley also offers climbing, hiking and cycling, which allow you to discover the natural and cultural treasures of the area.

The Soca Valley is particularly famous not only for its beauty but also for its adventurous leisure activities. For example, it is possible to go skydiving in the valley, or rafting and whitewater kayaking on the Soca River. The fast flow of the river and the stunning scenery provide the perfect setting for these adrenaline-fuelled activities.

The Soca Valley is not only a paradise for sports enthusiasts and adventure seekers, but also an ideal place for a relaxing holiday.

There are several campsites in the Soca Valley, as well as hotels with spa facilities.

In summer, you can also swim in the Soca River itself (although the water is quite cold).

Furthermore, the countryside is full of charming villages offering traditional Slovenian hospitality. Local restaurants serve delicious local food and drink, which are well worth trying.

Towns in the Soca Valley


Bovec is a picturesque town in the Soca Valley, rich in natural treasures and recreational opportunities. As the town is located near the Mangart Mountain and the Soca River, it is the perfect starting point for mountain hikes and active leisure activities. The stretch of the Soca River around Bovec is suitable for kayaking and rafting. The town has restaurants and shops, and the area has many memorials from the First World War. Bovec is a true paradise for nature lovers and active tourists. Bovec is also an ideal place to stay, with a number of good hotels and campsites close to the town.


Kobarid is a town of historical importance in Slovenia, in the Soca Valley. It is famous for being the site of the famous “Battles of Isonzo” fought in the First World War, which is preserved in memorials and museums. The town is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, including the Soca River, Kozjak Waterfalls and Napoleon’s Bridge. Hiking, climbing, cycling and enjoying nature are all available in Kobarid.


Tolmin is a charming little town in the Soca Valley. The town lies at the crossing of the Soca and Tolminka rivers. Tolmin is famous for its natural beauty and recreational activities, including hiking, fishing and water sports. The area around Tolmin is home to a number of tourist attractions, such as the Tolmin Gorge and Tolmin Castle, offering beautiful sights.

Tolmin has a particularly large number of guesthouses and apartments, making it an ideal place to find cheap and family-friendly accommodation.

Kanal ob Soci

Kanal ob Soci is a picturesque town that is an ideal destination for nature lovers and those looking for relaxation. The most beautiful part of the town is the banks of the Soca River. The waters of the Soca River are ideal for kayaking and rafting enthusiasts, who can enjoy exciting water adventures. Furthermore, Kanal ob Soci offers a variety of restaurants, cafés and several guesthouses.

10 must-see places in the Slovenian Soca Valley

Here are the 10 best places to visit in the Soca Valley. There are breathtaking waterfalls, gorges, castles and even bridges on the list. These 10 places can be visited in about 2–3 days, so you can really enjoy a meaningful trip in the Soca Valley.

Great Soca Gorge, Soca

The Great Soca Gorge or Velika korita Soče is a rocky stretch along the Soca River in Slovenia. This area, with its gorge-like river valley and steep cliffs of the surrounding mountains, offers a spectacular view.

The Great Soca Gorge is one of the most impressive parts of the Soca River Valley. The rock walls are high and steep, creating extremely narrow spaces in some places. Together with the beautiful turquoise (or emerald) waters and the surrounding green forests and mountains, it is a magical scene.

The Great Soca Gorge is located near road 206 and is best accessed from the car parks along the road. The area around the Great Soca Gorge can be explored on foot via marked trails and lookout points, where you can enjoy spectacular views. There are also good viewing and photographic opportunities from the suspension bridges over the Great Soca Gorge.

Small Soca Gorge, Soca

The Small Soca Gorge, or Mala korita Soče in Slovenian, is the first really spectacular stretch of the Soca River from its source. Perhaps slightly less spectacular than the Great Soca Gorge, but more accessible.

The Small Soca Gorge offers great opportunities to spend time alongside the Soca, admire the vibrantly colored waters of the river, take photos, sit on the benches or stroll around the area. In summer, dips and short swims are common in the river section near Kamp Korita.

It is worth visiting the Small Soca Gorge on a trip to the Soca Valley, we think this is one of the most beautiful parts of the Soca River.

Fort Kluze, Bovec

Fort Kluze is located near the town of Bovec in Slovenia, next to the road 203.

The construction of Fort Kluze began in the 19th century, during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The fort was designed and built as part of the Monarchy’s defense system to protect the Austro-Hungarian Empire from potential enemies. Fort Kluze was of great importance for the defense of the surrounding area.

Fort Kluze is an exciting place to visit for enthusiasts of history and culture. The inside of the fort can be visited for an entrance fee of a few euros.

Virje Waterfall, Bovec

The Virje Waterfall or Slap Virje in Slovenian is a beautiful natural attraction located in Pluzna near Bovec.

The Virje Waterfall is located on the Glijun stream, which springs in the Julian Alps and flows into the Soca River.

The Virje Waterfall is a few minutes’ walk from the nearby parking lot. Parking costs a few euros, but the area is well-developed. The exception is the road to the car park, which is a little narrow. However, the magnificent view of the waterfall is well worth the effort.

The Virje Waterfall is at its most beautiful in summer, when visitors can see a beautiful emerald green lake below the waterfall. It is possible to swim in the lake, but we do not recommend it because of the cold water.

Boka Waterfall, Bovec

Boka Waterfall is the largest waterfall in Slovenia, with an overall height of 144 meters and a width of 18 meters.

Boka Waterfall is a waterfall on the Boka River, which flows into the Soca River shortly after the waterfall.

The Boka Waterfall is clearly visible from the road 203. You can park your car along the road and admire the huge waterfall among the rocks, either from the road or from the hiking trail leading to the waterfall.

Napoleon’s Bridge, Kobarid

Napoleon’s Bridge is a historic bridge in Kobarid, Slovenia. It is named after the bridge that was supposedly used by Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies in the 19th century. However, the current version of the bridge was built in the 20th century.

Napoleon’s Bridge is a prominent tourist attraction in Kobarid. The bridge blends beautifully into the surrounding landscape, spanning the Soca River and offering a stunning panorama.

Kozjak Waterfall, Kobarid

The Kozjak Waterfall or Slap Kozjak near Kobarid, Slovenia is a popular tourist attraction in the Soca Valley.

Kozjak Waterfall is located on the Kozjak Stream, a tributary of the Soca River. The waterfall cascades down a rock wall and then collects in a natural pool at the bottom. The surrounding green vegetation and dark cliffs make it a fabulous sight.

The Kozjak Waterfall can be reached by a 2 km walk from the nearest parking lot. The forest trail to the waterfall is a rocky path, and at the end of the path you have to climb some wooden steps. Hiking boots are highly recommended for the walk. The route is particularly exciting, as it runs alongside the Soca River in one part and features a World War I bunker too. Furthermore, you can also see the Little Kozjak waterfall on the way.

To visit the Kozjak Waterfall, you need to buy a ticket, which can be purchased near the waterfall. As it is unusual to expect an entrance fee for a waterfall, please note that there are therefore opening hours.

Tolmin Castle, Tolmin

Tolmin Castle is a medieval castle located in Tolmin, Slovenia. This historic building rises in the Tolminka river valley and plays an important role in the history and cultural heritage of the region.

Tolmin Castle dates back as far as the 12th century and served as a defensive structure in the Middle Ages. The fortress has been rebuilt and extended several times over the centuries.

The castle can be reached by walking up to the castle from the parking lot P2 in Tolmin on the hiking trail.

From the top of Tolmin Castle, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside, including the Tolminka River and the town of Tolmin. The picturesque landscape around the castle, with its mountains and lush green hills, is likely to provide visitors with an unforgettable experience.

Tolmin Gorge, Tolmin

Another and the biggest attraction of Tolmin is the Tolmin Gorge. The Tolmin Gorge is a truly unique natural attraction that offers a wonderful experience for nature lovers and active leisure enthusiasts.

Tolmin Gorge is a deep gorge carved out by the Tolminka River.

The gorge is famous for its stunningly beautiful natural formations of river and water carved stone walls, steep cliffs and canyons. The gorge is crossed by wooden bridges, which allow visitors to admire the natural formations up close.

To get to Tolmin Gorge, you need to book a ticket, which is best done online. The best place to park is car park P1, which charges a fee but is close to the entrance. If car park P1 is full, car park P2 is available, which is free of charge and free shuttle buses transport visitors.

After entering, a short walk takes you to the Tolminka River, and soon the most interesting part of the gorge. To get there, you need to go deep into the gorge, where there is a narrow path and a pedestrian tunnel with a few steps. By the way, the deepest and most beautiful part of the gorge is a dead end.

If you return from the gorge along the river, you can take the quicker exit, which takes you all the way back to the entrance, or the longer route up the mountainside.

If you decide to take the long way round, you can also see the Zadlascica River, which flows into Tolminka, and cross the Devil’s Bridge high above. And if you want to see everything, you can detour on the asphalt road to Dante’s (Zadlaska) Cave.

Dante’s Cave can only be seen from the outside, you can see a bit of the cave when illuminated by phone. The inside of the cave can only be visited on guided tours.

Kanal Bridge, Kanal ob Soci

Kanal Bridge (Most Kanal in Slovenian) is located in the Slovenian town of Kanal ob Soci and is one of the most iconic structures in the region. This arched bridge spans the Soca River and is emblematic of the town and the surrounding area.

Surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Soca River, lush green mountains and picturesque scenery, the bridge is an almost fairytale-like sight. The area is an ideal place for nature lovers to enjoy riverside walks, kayaking or cycling.

The best place to take photos is the riverside, specifically the “Kanal Bridge Viewpoint” on Google Maps, where you can take fantastic photos of the Kanal Bridge and the colorful houses around it.

Where to stay in Soca Valley

In the Soca Valley, it is worth spending a few days to explore as many attractions as possible. To do this, we offer options on where to stay in the Soca Valley during this time.

The most popular accommodations in the Soca Valley are mid-range hotels and typically cheaper guesthouses, as well as campsites offering the most freedom.

Hotels in the Soca Valley

For those who prefer hotels, we recommend the following accommodation options via

Camping in the Soca Valley

For those who prefer camping in the Soca Valley, we have found the top-rated campsites:

Other attractions near the Soca Valley

Fusine Lakes

The Fusine Lakes are located in a hidden place in the northeastern corner of Italy. The Fusine Lakes are a pair of two lakes near the Italian-Slovenian border, both with fantastic views of the Slovenian mountain peaks, such as Slovenia’s third-highest peak, the Mangart.

In the Fusine Lakes area you will find almost all the beauty of the Alps: picturesque colorful lakes, breathtaking rocky peaks, trickling streams and waterfalls, clean air, silence, interesting flora and fauna.

Lake Predil

Lake Predil is a beautiful mountain lake located on the border between northern Italy and Slovenia, on the way to the Soca Valley.

The vibrant color of Lake Predil’s water, fed by meltwater and rainwater from the mountains, makes for a stunning sight. The area around the lake is dotted with walking paths and lookout points so that visitors can enjoy the beauty of the landscape and the panoramic views.

Lake Predil offers visitors a stunning visual experience, and the surrounding area offers plenty of opportunities for recreational activities and enjoying nature.

Kranjska Gora

Kranjska Gora is a famous ski resort in winter and an important destination for hikers in summer. It has two important natural attractions: the Zelenci Nature Reserve and the Lake Jasna.

The Zelenci is a small turquoise-blue lake in a hidden place, actually it is the source of the river Sava. As it is warm water, it doesn’t really freeze in winter.

Lake Jasna is most beautiful from spring to autumn, when the water is emerald green and the mountains are clearly visible in the background. If you are in the area around Lake Jasna, you should also visit the waterfall nearby, which is a short walk along the road from the northwestern side of the lake.

Lake Bled

Lake Bled is a lake in the Julian Alps, in the western part of Slovenia, in the town of Bled. Lake Bled and its surroundings are Slovenia’s most famous tourist destination.

Lake Bled lies in an extremely picturesque location, surrounded by the mountains of the Julian Alps and forests.

Lake Bled and its surroundings are ideal for all types of visitors, often visited by young people, families with children and older people. Whether you come to Lake Bled for photography, a good meal, hiking, culture or nature, you will find it all at Lake Bled and its area.

Lake Bohinj

Bohinj is an important tourist destination in Slovenia and a popular holiday resort, especially in the summer season.

Lake Bohinj is the largest natural lake in Slovenia. The lake is suitable for a wide range of recreational activities, including swimming, kayaking, fishing, diving in the warmer months and occasional ice skating in winter. You can also walk around the lake or take a boat trip on the lake. Not only the iconic church with the picturesque bridge stands next to the lake, but there are also hiking trails, campsites, restaurants and hotels near the lake.

A few kilometers from Lake Bohinj you can reach the Savica waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Slovenia.

Overall, the Soca Valley is one of Slovenia’s most unique and attractive natural treasures. The combination of stunning scenery, mountains and a crystal clear river makes for a breathtaking experience for all those who explore this magnificent region. Whether for adventure or leisure, the Soca Valley offers travelers amazing opportunities.

The Soca Valley is truly a place where natural beauty, adventure and tranquility come together to offer visitors the experience of a lifetime. If you have the chance, don’t miss it.

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