Slovenia, located in the Adriatic coast, has great neighbors (Italy, Hungary, Austria and Croatia) and is quite small. It’s the same size as Wales, and has similar charm as well. Like the Britain country, Slovenia is a territory full of nature and biodiversity. Within about 20,000 square kilometers, there are one of the biggest forest areas in all of Europe and 40 protected areas.
Kayaks on the crystal-clear waters of River Soča
Eastern Alps shape the country topography and contribute to the formation of deep valleys, crystal-clear rivers, torrents and underground waters. All these have made this country ideal for adventure and water sports. During summer, Slovenia offers a whole range of choices to get in shape without sweating.
Nattule gathers 5 different options according to your adventurer profile:
1. Best in the Group
Slovenians are famous for their kindness. They’re always ready to help you. Their hospitable character is kind of like yours, like traveling in groups to spread your natural friendliness. This group effort will be useful for rafting, the king of water sports in Slovenia.
Slovenian rivers draw multitude of adventurers every year, from every European corner, in order to try their descents. The two most popular are Soča and Sava Rivers, that have their source in the northern part of the country, in the heart of the Julian Alps, although they flow in opposite directions. Whichever one of them is a good choice to organize a gathering with your university friends.
If you decide to go on the River Soča, also known as the Emerald River, the best option is to get to Bovec, a village located on the upper side of the valley. Bovec lives off of tourism and many tourist companies develop their activities there. The descent begins at the Boka Waterfall, and is quite easy at the beginning. It will allow you to check your group coordination.
Rafting in Soča: excitement in an unbeatable setting
Afterwards, the route gets a little rough with rapids and waterfalls until you get to the village of Trnovo. The landscape is a plus when you choose this river. Soča Valley is among enormous beech forests and karstic structures that will amaze you. This setting was used to shoot the Chronicles of Narnia movie.
If you feel that you’d do better going in a group rather than alone, you may repeat the experience on the upper part of River Sava, that crosses Slovenia diagonally. You will find rafting companies in Kranjska Gora, a little village on the river shore, that during winter time is a meeting point for skiers. The Sava River goes through a big gorge, but its descend is an easy one. It does not have many rapids, so it is a good option if you are not too brave.
Teamwork going over the rapids
2. For Romantics and Nostalgics
If your adventure profile is more relaxed or, all of a sudden, you want to surprise your partner with a romantic trip, Slovenia is the perfect destination. From north to south, this country is full of unique nature spots that you can visit by boat.
In the northwest part of the country, Bled Lake is one of the most emblematic nature destinations of Slovenia. Go canoeing in this wonderful lake of glacier origin, surrounded by spectacular green mountains, and row towards the little island where the Assumption church is located and where you will realize that you are in a unique and remarkable place.
In this fairy tale place, the views from the castle tower are the best gift. Visit it at sunset, which is the best time of day to admire this landscape.
Tradition and romanticism at Bled Lake
Another one of the beautiful landscapes in the area is located 27 kilometers southwest of Bled and is about an hour drive from Ljubljana. There you will find Bohinj Lake, a jewel not as well known as Bled, but very authentic as well. Located in the National Park of Triglav, it is one of the most popular destinations in all of Slovenia along with the Triglav Peak, which is the highest mountain in the country.
Located in the hillside of Vogel Mountain, this place is said to be two steps behind the rest of the world. The Bohinj surroundings are full of nature, calm and mysticism and is also a place of retirement for many famous novelists and philosophers, such as Jean Paul Sartre. With an unbeatable natural richness, you can practice canoeing or go swimming in the water, while still being able to see the perpetual snow that covers the surrounding peaks.
Tandem in Bohinj Lake
Further south, the River Kolpa acts as a natural border with Croatia. Along its 110 kilometers offers one of the most picturesque routes that you will be able to canoe through. The waters are quiet and not too demanding but this route that you will sail down, with tree-covered shores and crystal-clear waters, is almost unknown.
From Osilnica, the river is navigable, but to get to know the real sight of this river, you must go to Kocevje and to Dol. From there the whole Slovenian side is a Regional Park.
If you like to go way back into history, the Drava River was the old communication route from Central Europe and the Balkan Peninsula, and now offers one of the most remarkable activities in all of Slovenia. Thanks to the Maribor Tourist Association, the traditional rafting on wooden rafts has been brought back, not to transport goods but for tourists, to enjoy Maribor and its landscapes and get to know the true soul of Slovenia.
Amazing landscape on the Drava River shore
3. If Vertigo is Not a Problem
The Julian Alps are the water park of Slovenia, but it’s more authentic, because a slide is not comparable to a waterfall. Canyoning is one of the most thrilling activities you can do in this destination, and there are wide variety of choices.
There are well equipped canyons to ease your adventure up to little hidden canyons, only suitable for the truly brave. If you are based in Bovec, there are at least 25 different descents all within a 30 kilometer radius, although there are a few things you’ll need to note.
The first thing to bear in mind is that there are few restricted areas and some canyons that you are not allowed to go down. The second thing to bear in mind is that, in order to practice canyoning in Slovenia, it is obligatory to do so with a guide. It’s better be aware of this now, since the fines for this are very high.
Vertiginous descents in Slovenia
The most famous canyon in all of Slovenia is the one in the Sušec River. To get there from Bovec, you must drive towards Kobarid and leave your car in Spernica. From there, a path takes you to the end of the canyon, where you must cross a bridge and walk a little to reach the first waterfall. The descent is short and easy, made of waterfalls and slides. This is a good choice for beginners.
If you want to get some away from all the hustle and bustle, the Kozjak Canyon is a good option. From Bovec, you must go towards Kobarid and once there, take the road to Drežnica. Once you cross the bridge outside the village, take the path on your left, where you’ll be able park at the end of it.
The rest of the route can be done walking and crossing the Soča River and leaving the waterfall on your right, until you reach the water. The descent through this canyon is dark but spectacular because of the limestone rocky formations.
Descending the Kozjak Canyon
The Bohinj Valley is another busy area for those lovers of canyoning. The Jerečica Canyon has numerous slides and descents that are ideal for beginners. If you are an experienced adventurer, then take on the challenge of Grmečica Canyon (meaning thunder in Slovenian). There you will need to descend down, with the help of ropes, on an 8 meter high waterfall.
4. An Adrenaline Rush
Kayaking and hydrospeeding are the most requested water sports in Slovenia. If you are looking for fun, risk and thrill, this country offers endless stretches of fast waters to satisfy your needs. Most of them are located northwest of the country. The Julian Alps are ideal for the practice of such sports.
Please note that some routes mentioned here are listed for expert levels of kayaking in other countries, but in Slovenia, this is just considered child’s play. The mountain rivers await you. You set your own limits.
If you are not an expert, you’d be better of choosing sections according to your skills. The Soča River, when passing through Trenta towards Tolmin, is a scenery of emerald waters and has sections for every skill set. Local companies can help you take care of the required permits.
A calm kayak journey
Some other good sections for beginners are Sava and Savinja, located in the central area of the country. In cities like Radovljica and Kranj, in the shores of the Sava River, their water has the ideal conditions for unexperienced kayakers. In Luče and Ljubno there is a wide variety of kayaking and hydrospeeding, if you choose to explore the Savinja waters.
The most demanding parts are near the capital city of the country. The Sava waters near Ljubljana are extremely difficult, and are only for experts. Some other difficult areas can be found in the southern part of the country, on the Krka River, where you must follow the advice of the experts to go over the waterfalls.
For those hydrospeed lovers, the Soča waters are the best choice. These wild and crystal-clear waters guarantee you unforgettable emotions. From the amazing Boka Waterfall, near Zaga, going down towards Trnovo and the Kobarid brigde. The local companies will provide the routes and you just need the courage to go for it.
Kayak versus hydrospeed on the Soča River
5. Not Suitable for Claustrophobic
The Mežica miners, in the Austrian border, dug during 3 centuries in an area over 1,000 kilometers full of tunnels and wells in the nearest mountain range of Peca. In 1994, the mine closed and water flooded the deepest tunnels, transforming them into underground lakes. Now you have the choice to explore this magic world, combining kayaking and speleology in an activity managed by the mining museum of Mežica.
First, you will go by train through a 3.5 kilometer long gallery. After, you will descend by foot 95 meters, until you reach the water, where kayaks await you. The views are not like the ones in the Soča River, but the route through the Mežica galleries will make you feel like you’re in an adventure written by Jules Verne.
Kayak in the deep waters of Mežica © Mining Museum of Mežica
On your journey towards the center of the earth, you will descend by an underground river, until you are 700 meters deep, where a maze of tunnels and little lakes await to be discovered with the help of the headlight on your helmet. The route finishes with some rapids that will add some more thrill to this adventure.
Slovenian fresh waters are full of character. They’ll suit you perfectly but when it comes to rowing, if you prefer rapids rather than the ocean, then when choosing Slovenia, you are choosing yourself.