Road tripping Vršič Pass – Slovenia’s highest mountain road
We had a few exhausting days in Slovenia after we hiked Kriška gora and some of the Lake Bled viewpoints. We also cycled Lake Bohinj and the Radovna Cycle route. We wanted to have a more relaxing day, so we decided to go on a road trip to Slovenia’s highest mountain road: the Vršič Pass. This was a great way to see more of the country without too much effort. Seeing the Julian Alps in Triglav National Park did not disappoint. We had to stop many times to take photos of the scenic alpine views throughout the drive.
The first stop – just before the road begins to wind up the Vršič Pass – was the magical Lake Jasna. This man-made lake has crystal clear water, where you can see the reflections of the nearby mountains. We spent about an hour here, as we had a picnic and then chilled by the lake. There were some people having a swim in the water. There was even a jumping platform, which looked like a lot of fun. Don’t miss the chance to take some photos with the statue of Zlatorog (the golden-horned Ibex).
The Vršič pass is the highest road pass in Slovenia. It connects the Gorenjska region with Primorska region. The road was built by Russian war prisoners during the 1st world war. You will get fantastic views along the way to the Julian Alps. There are many stop possibilities to stretch your leg, take photos or enjoy a meal at a mountain hut. This road is an adventure in itself. There is no room for overtaking on this road. Don’t rush, just enjoy the alpine views. The mountain road is 24 kilometres with 50 hairpin bends: 24 on the Kraniska Gora side and 26 on the Trenta side of the pass. The hairpins are numbered, so you can track your progress. The road is normally closed in the winter months and early spring.
The Russian Chapel
Our first stop on the Vršič Pass was at hairpin 8 – the Russian Chapel. There is a small parking lot near the chapel. In March 1916 over 300 Russian prisoners died at an avalanche while building the road. The prisoners who survived built this chapel in traditional Russian design as a memory of those who died.
There are a few parking places available at the Prisank Window Viewpoint. You can spot a window on the upper edge of the Prisank northern wall. This is one of the largest natural orifices in Slovenia. It is around 80 m high and around 40 m wide. There are two secured climbing routes (via ferratas) leading through the window for skilled mountaineers.
Our next stop was at the Erjavec mountain cabin. There are some parking places available. Here you can find The “Pagan Girl” – a face in the cliffs. This is another natural attraction beside the Prisank Window. The woman’s face looks like a beautiful artwork, but often nature creates the best works of art. (The face is also visible from the viewpoint at ‘Poštarski dom’ mountain cabin at Vršič.)
Top of the Vršič Pass
You will know when you reach the top from the giant parking lot and there are several signs marking the highest point of the road (1611 m). The Vršič Pass is very popular among motorcyclists, and you can see big groups of them at the top. This is the starting point for many hikes in Triglav National Park. There is a small cafe and a souvenir shop. There is also a restaurant a bit higher from the parking with a great view. We didn’t spend too long on the top. We stretched our legs, enjoyed the beauty, posed on some rocks and then continued our way down towards Bovec. I would love to return one day to do a hike in the area, as it looks really incredible.
On the way down there is another possibility for a stop called Supca Viewpoint. There are some historical artefacts here like the remains of the telpher. There were many information boards about the history of the place, but I was more interested in the views of the glacial valley. On the other side, you can spot a restaurant, which is the top of the Vršič Pass.
If you drive further you can see the source of the Soca river and after a while, you will reach the Bovec region.
Cycling the Vršič Pass
It is on many cyclists bucket list to cycle to the top of the pass. No wonder, as it is a huge accomplishment and the alpine views are scenic along the way. It is also a great way to exercise. The elevation gain is 993 m with an average 8.4 % percentage. If you drive up the pass be patient with the cyclists, as it is hard work cycling up to the top. If you have a chance to pass them safely consider cheering them on from the window. We got many smiles when we did that!
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