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Slovenia is a heaven for holiday-makers looking for something else than lazy beach days and the Sôca Valley is the place to locate yourself if you are looking for active outdoor adventures. Here you will find more than 60 agencies offering an overwhelming range of all sorts of more or less neck-breaking activities.
We stayed in the small village of Kobarid. Here you will find everything you could wish for. The small charming village is known for the battle of Caporetto during the first world war and was mentioned in Ernest Hemmingway’s unforgettable novel, A Farewell to Arms.
In the surrounding mountains, you will come across lots of remains of the trenches where horrific battles took place in former days. We don’t think that you should vast to much of your precious holiday on that sad affair. Instead, you should enjoy the amazingly beautiful valley and all its opportunities.
In Kobarid itself, you will find supermarkets, small grocery stores, tour-companies, beer gardens, cafes and a great selection of surprisingly good restaurants. Kobarid is said to be somewhat of a gastronomic stronghold.
Gastronomy in Kobarid
The restaurant Hiša Franko where Ana Roš, who was declared the world’s best female chef in 2017, is chef, is the jewel of the crown. We also had mouthwatering delicious food at Restaurant Topli Val. If you go, do try their Pork belly and you will literally hear the angels sing. For a fun night out you should visit Hiša Polonka. Not only for the great food but also for the tasty beer brewed locally by a couple of brothers.
Hiša Polonka was in 2019 elected in the National top 3 at the Slovenian Restaurant Awards. We loved the atmosphere and a cozy vibe.
The good thing about Kobarid and Sôca Valley is that you don’t have to worry about eating all that yummy food and drinking all that tasty beer and delicate Slovenian wine. Your days will be filled with never-ending calorie-burning activities. At the end of your holiday, you won’t have gained a single extra gram of belly fat.
Exploring Soca Valley
Soča Valley is a natural wonder and you will be taken by the green forests, the impressing mountains of the Julian Alps, the waterfalls and the emerald crystal clear waters of the Soča River. The river is said to be one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe.
The river allows for the wildest water activities such as wild water kayaking, rafting, hydrospeed, riverbug, stand up paddleboarding and canyoning. For the less adventurous there is the opportunity to go canoeing, fishing, and swimming.
The crystal clear water is absolutely inviting and in the heat of summer, it’s refreshing with a cold dip. And cold it is. In summer the water temperature only reaches 15-17 degrees in the Soča. Luckily there are a couple of smaller rivers in the valley where you can swim in more temperate water. The Nadiža River and The Idrijca River will most likely reach temperatures above 20 degrees in summer. Both can easily be reached from Kobarid.
If you ever get tired of splashing around in the gin-clear rivers of the Soča Valley you will literally have dozens and dozens of land-activities to choose from. We had a great time mountain-biking through the green valley. It’s possible to rent bikes at several locations and you can perfectly plan excursions on your own.
Exploring by bike
However, we hired a local guide in the neighboring village which turned out to be a great choice. Our guide Tomi provided us with great bikes and helmets. Due to his extensive knowledge of the area, we got to see locations we never would have found on our own.
He also told exciting facts about the area’s history, culture, flora, and fauna. He even, as a little surprise, took us to visit his friends who had a small farm and dairy. Here they produced the most delicious organic cheeses. We got a tour of the dairy and finally, we were able to taste and buy the delicious local produce.
At the end of the day, Tomi showed us a great “hidden” swimming spot at the Soča River. An amazing spot with welcoming cold and refreshing water. Just what we needed after a long hot day on the bikes.
When biking in the Soča Valley you have a host of different cycling routes to choose from. There are routes in every complexity you can wish for. Routes for the hardcore cyclists and routes to the happy amateurs. At the tourist offices, you can get quite good maps of the area and the various options. Remember to bring lots of water and some snacks. Out in the countryside, there are not many options for supplying liquids and food.
Soca Valley by foot
Another great way to explore the valley is on foot. Like the biking tracks, the hiking trails come in all kinds of shapes. Some are like a walk in the park others will make your heart pump and make you gasp like a racing horse.
When staying in Kobarid we recommend you to hike along the 5 km long historical trail. It will take you 3 to 4 hours according to how long you will stay at the various sights. The trail itself isn’t that strenuous.
On route, you will pass by some amazingly beautiful spots.
The Napoleon Bridge, originally built by Napoleon’s troops in 1750 an after World War I rebuild is settled where the gorge is at its narrowest. It will bring you from one side of the river to the other. Standing 20-30 meters from the bridge on the Kobarid side will give you the most amazing view of the stone bridge and the roaring Soča River below.
The trail will also bring you 412 meters above sea level where you will find the most important antique hilltop settlement in the eastern alps, Tonovcov Grad. From here you have impeccable views towards the Valley and the river.
Up in the air
One of the first things you will notice when visiting the Soča Valley is the great number of paragliders and hang gliders in the air. Due to almost perfect thermal wind conditions, Soča Valley is one of the best spots in Slovenia to try those nerve-wracking activities.
There are several companies to choose from and it will probably be wise to check different companies regarding experience, safety and price.
On the recommendation of Tomi, we chose the guys at the paragliding center at Camp Gabrje, to take us flying. Camp Gabrje is said to be the paragliding HQ in Soča Valley. The company is very trustworthy and the guys have years and years of experience and together hold 17 world records.
When it comes to paragliding they offer different opportunities. Our tandem flights took approximately 90 minutes from take-off at 1000 meters above sea level until a very smooth landing at Camp Gabrje and set us back 120 €.
What an experience, what a day.
The Soča Valley is an amazing playground and offers something to all its visitors. Go now before everybody else finds out about this extraordinary beautiful spot.
If you want to learn more about Slovenia do read our post “Slovenia – A cornucopia of possibilities“