The 10 Most Beautiful Places in the Julian Alps

February 29, 2024

The Julian Alps are a unique mountain range in the Alps in Slovenia and Italy. In recent years, it has become an outstanding tourist region thanks to its fantastic natural treasures, which attract tourists to the Julian Alps for good reason.

The Julian Alps are particularly popular among tourists because of the many natural beauties they contain, such as waterfalls, lakes, rivers and mountain peaks, as well as the hiking trails and lookouts in their surroundings. Here you will find world-famous attractions such as Lake Bled and the Vintgar Gorge, which are among the most popular destinations in Slovenia.

It’s a medium sized area, but there’s plenty to see and do, so we recommend about 5-7 days to explore. The best method is camping (not wild camping, which is forbidden in both countries!), so it’s a good idea to arrive with a camper van or caravan, or even rent one. If you want to stay in hotels, the best choice is to stay in Bled or in Kranjska Gora.

The absolute best time to explore the Julian Alps is in summer. From about May to September is the period when temperatures are pleasant, the landscapes are at their most photogenic and all the conditions are ideal for enjoyable hiking.

The area is recommended to be visited by car, public transport is available but limited in this area. Basic hiking gear is recommended, but if you want to go up into the mountains you may need more advanced equipment. For the destinations on our list, you don’t necessarily need hiking gear, but comfortable hiking boots are a good idea. As most of the attractions are in the countryside, away from the major cities, so always be prepared with enough food. Although there are many restaurants and guesthouses in the area, it’s a good idea to prepare in advance. With fantastic views everywhere, don’t leave your photography equipment at home.

All the points on the list are related to water. This is true for almost all of Slovenia, a country with an extremely wide and beautiful water area. Slovenia has magical waterfalls, lakes and rivers alongside stunning rock formations such as mountain peaks and gorges.

After the basics, here are the 10 most beautiful places to visit in the Julian Alps, in Italy and Slovenia.

1. 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. Internationally, they are not as well known as other Italian lakes, such as those in the Dolomites, although their beauty is no less.

For us, the Fusine Lakes are one of our personal favorite destinations in the Alps because they are relatively easy to reach, not expensive and we believe the place has a healing power on the soul.

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.

The easiest way to get to the lake is by car, there’s a daily fee on the road before the car parks, which is a few euros. There are several car parks along the lake, we think it’s best to stop at the first lake and walk to the lakes from there. The first lake is right next to the road, the second lake is a little further away, where you have to walk a short distance along the mountain paths for the best views. There is also a direct road and parking area to the second lake, but the best views are not from there, rather from the other side, which can only be reached on foot.

2. Zelenci Nature Reserve

The Zelenci Nature Reserve is located on the Slovenian side of the Italian-Slovenian border. The Zelenci is a small turquoise-blue lake in a hidden place, actually it is the source of the river Sava. Zelenci a perfect photo spot in almost any season. As it is warm water, it doesn’t really freeze in winter.

The easiest way to get to the lake area is by car, where you can park your car a few hundred metres from the lake, and then walk to the lake along a small forest path. There is a wooden lookout next to the lake with a fantastic view of Zelenci.

3. Lake Jasna

Lake Jasna is located in Kranjska Gora, also close to the Italian-Slovenian border. Kranjska Gora is a famous ski resort in winter and an important destination for hikers in summer. Lake Jasna is most beautiful from spring to autumn, when the water is emerald green and the mountains are clearly visible in the background.

The best photos are taken from the small peninsula in the middle of the lake and the pier there, which unfortunately is often crowded with tourists, complicating the challenge for photographers. Parking is available in several small car parks by the lake.

If you are in the area around Jasna Lake, you should also visit the waterfall nearby, which is a short walk along the road from the northwest side of the lake.

4. Lake Bled

Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s most famous destinations. Almost everyone has seen photos of the blue-water mountain lake surrounded by forests, with a castle standing on a high cliff and a small island with a church in the middle of the lake. This is Lake Bled.

The lake is of mixed glacial and tectonic origin. It is 2120 m long, 1380 m wide and has a maximum depth of 29.5 m. In the middle of the lake there is a small island with a church, which can also be visited. You can hire a boat or take a group of boaters to the island from one of the lake’s several shores.

The lake is surrounded by mountains and forests. On the northern shore of the lake, overlooking the lake, stands the medieval Bled Castle, which houses a museum.

There are many beautiful views of Lake Bled. It is worth walking around the lake itself, which is about 6 km. There are also lookouts from the surrounding hills, for example the best in our opinion is the Ojstrica lookout on the southwestern part of the lake. On the eastern side of the lake there is a bobsleigh facility for adventure seekers, which you can find on the map as Straza Bled. It also offers a stunning view of the lake.

In the town of Bled, which surrounds the lake, you’ll find shops and many restaurants, where you can taste the specialities of Slovenian cuisine, such as Bled Cream Cake. On the eastern shore of the lake, cafés and restaurants offer Slovenian dishes with excellent views of the lake.

The town of Bled is an ideal place to find a hotel and stay for a few days while exploring the Julian Alps. It is close to the highway, to many attractions and the town itself has basically a pretty good infrastructure.

Furthermore, there are parking lots on the northeast and southwest sides of the lake, all of which are for a fee.

There is also a small beach on the southwest side of the lake, which is very popular in summer.

If you want to see the whole of the Julian Alps, summer is the best time to do it. From around May to September is the ideal time to travel there. If you only want to see Bled, we rather recommend spring or autumn, because in summer Bled is brutally crowded with tourists. In the summer months, traffic jams are common and parking is difficult. In spring or autumn, on the other hand, it’s easier to do everything.

5. Vintgar Gorge

The Vintgar Gorge is a 1.6-kilometer gorge in northwestern Slovenia in the municipalities of Gorje and Bled, four kilometers northwest of Bled. It is the most famous gorge in Slovenia and perhaps the easiest to visit for tourists. Carved by the Radovna River, it is the continuation of the Radovna Valley.

The gorge can be visited only by paying an entrance fee, and be aware of the opening hours, because the gorge is closed in winter.

There is a path with wooden bridges along the gorge, which you can walk next to the water for about 1.5-2 km. The gorge path is one-way, so you walk along it from the entrance to the end, and then take another road back to the starting point on foot or by bus.

There are parking lots at the entrance, but be careful, because often locals will direct you to a farther parking lot just to get you to pay the fee, while there are still spaces available in the closer parking lots.

The Vintgar Gorge is a popular attraction in Slovenia that we highly recommend visiting. It can easily be combined with other attractions in the Julian Alps.

6. Lake Bohinj

Bohinj is an important tourist destination in Slovenia and a popular holiday resort, especially in the summer season. The symbol of Bohinj is Lake Bohinj with the bridge and the church of St. John.

Lake Bohinj is the largest natural lake in Slovenia. It is considered by many tourists to be one of the most beautiful destinations in the area, so it should definitely be on our list.

Lake Bohinj 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. That’s why it’s worth spending half a day or even a whole day in and around Lake Bohinj. If you also want to see other sights in the area, you should plan to spend even more time here.

You can reach Lake Bohinj from Bled, about half an hour by car. On the way you can admire interesting landscapes, rocks and the Sava Bohinjka river. The lake is located a few kilometres after the village of Bohinjska Bistrica. Parking is available in many places along the lake shore.

7. Savica Waterfall

On the more secluded side of Lake Bohinj, in Ukanc, is the 51 m high Savica waterfall, the source of the Sava Bohinjka river, which is well worth a visit. If you leave your car here, you can take a 21-kilometre round trip, including the source and waterfall of the Sava and Lake Bohinj.

You can get to the Savica waterfall starting from Lake Bohinj, passing through the village of Ukanc, and then there will be a parking lot in a forest area with guest houses. You can leave your car there and then hike up to the waterfall. There is also a bus stop next to the car park, saved on the Google map as Slap Savica/waterfall. You can easily find the parking lot by using this location. By the way, both the parking lot and the waterfall itself are for a fee, both a few euros. If you want to use public transport, there are buses from the village of Ukanc up to the bus stop in the summer season.

The hike to the waterfall is steep, with many steps. It’s not long, only about 850 metres, but there is about 140 metres of elevation gain in between.

As the waterfall is visited by many tourists in the summer, it is best not to visit during the high season and not during the peak times of the day. So you can still enjoy the hike and the breathtaking beauty of the Savica Waterfall.

8. Soca Valley

The Soca Valley is a larger area within the Julian Alps, along the Italian-Slovenian border. As the name suggests, it is the valley of the Soca River, which has become a popular tourist destination in recent years.

The Soca Valley offers many recreational activities for tourists, such as hiking, climbing, rafting, swimming. Our favorites are the photo opportunities, which are guaranteed at many points in the Soca River Valley. Along the valley there are numerous small wooden suspension bridges worth stopping to photograph. From them you can see the vibrant turquoise waters of the Soca River and the impressive rock formations of the valley.

There are several interesting municipalities along the valley, such as Bovec, with several breathtaking waterfalls in the surrounding area, and Kobarid, where the Napoleon’s Bridge and the waterfall in the forest above are the two main attractions. A little further south is Kanal ob Soci, where the city itself is a stunning sight with its colorful buildings and the brightly colored waters of the Soca River.

There are two options to reach the Soca Valley from the north. In both cases, you need an experienced driver who is not afraid to drive in the mountains.

From Slovenia, you can reach the Soca Valley mainly from Kranjska Gora on the extremely winding mountain road 206. This is a shorter route, but not faster. There’s no border to cross, you stay in Slovenia the whole time.

The other option is to cross into Italy and take a detour via Tarvisio. That route passes near the above mentioned Fusine Lakes, and directly alongside the not on the list but fantastically beautiful Lake Predil, and then beside Mount Mangart. Note that if you take the second route, it is still worth returning along the 206 road to Mala korita Soče, because around this point you will see the most suspension bridges and it is relatively easy to get close to the rocky valley. We recommend the this route because of the other attractions.

From the south, the Soca Valley is easily accessible from Nova Gorica via road 103.
If you are arriving from Bohinj, we recommend the road 909 and then road 403.

From Udine, the Italian road SS54 is a good option towards Kobarid, which after the Slovenian border becomes road 102.

Parking is available everywhere, although too many visitors can be a problem at peak summer times. Because the road is winding and forks in many places, be prepared with a GPS and an experienced driver, but a better car won’t be bad either.

9. Virje Waterfall

Virje Waterfall is located next to the town of Bovec in the Soca Valley. Virje Waterfall is a small waterfall in the middle of the forest, with water cascading over mossy rocks into a small emerald lake. The waterfall is fed by the Gljun stream.

We can safely say that it is one of the most beautiful waterfalls we have ever seen. It is a perfect place for photographers.

The car can be parked not far from the waterfall, from where a slightly steep but short path leads down to the waterfall. Some people try to swim in the lake, but the water is very cold, so swimming is not recommended.

10. Kozjak Waterfall

Kozjak Waterfall is another wonder of the Soca Valley area. The Kozjak Waterfall is a 15-meter-high waterfall hidden in the depths of a rock gorge, forming a wonderful emerald-colored lake below.

The Kozjak Waterfall can be reached from the town of Kobarid. You can park your car after the Napoleon Bridge. The Kozjak Waterfall is located about 1.5 km from the nearest parking lot, accessible by a footpath. You’ll find the waterfall at the end of a gorge, with a wooden path leading to it. The place is also a wonderful photo spot, but you have to expect a lot of tourists.

So the Julian Alps really offer a wealth of breathtaking destinations for tourists. It’s definitely worth spending a few days or a week here and discovering the alpine nature. The Julian Alps have a special natural richness that other areas do not have, and it is rare to find so many natural treasures concentrated in such a small area. If you like it, you should discover it too.

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