Just on the other side of Triglav National Park from Bled, Bovec is an outdoor paradise that not many know about yet.
While Bovec does serve tourism, it has yet to be inundated with the tourist bus form of tourism seen in so many places around the world.
To, From & Around
Bovec is a fairly remote little town and most people arrive via their personal vehicle. Not much to explain there if thats an option for you. Plug it into google maps and go. Though I would recommend if you can find a way to drive over the Vršic Pass, you should do it. Its supposed to be an incredible drive.
Since I was traveling solo, and am admittedly not good at driving stick (which most cars in Europe are) this wasn't really a choice for me so I elected to take transit to town. Regular bus service is available between Bovec and Ljubljana throughout the year. If you elect to travel from Bled to Bovec like I did, then this can get a little more complicated, truly changes with the seasons. During high season (July & August), one bus from Ljubljana (leaving at 15:00) picks up in Bled at 16:10 and continues to Bovec arriving at 17:15. This should be the link to confirm the time table for this bus.
The alternative options is to take the Train from Bled - Jezero (not Jesce-Bled Station) to Most na Soči and then catch the local bus to Bovec. Check train schedules here: http://www.slo-zeleznice.si/en/. Mondy - Friday the bus to Bovec runs at the following times: 12:59, 13:50, 14:55, 15:25, 20:25. Weekend services are more limited, only running at 15:20 and 20:25.
Wondering where to crash, look no further
Hostel Soca Rocks is a must stay while in Bovec. The hostel has a large indoor and outdoor common area great for socializing and meeting your fellow travelers. The bar is open till 23:00 daily and serves coffee, local beers and hard alcohol of your choosing. The kitchen facility was large, clean and well stocked for those who want to cook their own meals. Outdoor hammocks provide a great place to unwind in the sun after a full day on the Soca River.
Sold on the idea of staying here, well it gets better, especially for budget travelers. First, and this is important, if you read my Bled post and stayed at Castle Hostel 1004, Hostel Soca Rocks is a sister hostel and offers a 10% discount to people who recently stayed at 1004. Now for the important part, DO NOT BOOK THOUGHT A THIRD PARTY BOOKING SITE! Contact them directly ahead of time to book, they are unable to give the discount to bookings done though hostelworld or other website. The discounts don't stop there, you also get a 10% discount on activities booked through the hostel and at their restaurant which is about a 5 minute walk away.
Ok, you made it, now what?
There is so much to do here that I easily could have spent another week in the area without having to double up on daily activities. I will first cover the stuff I did, and then leave you with some of the stuff I have on my list for next time.
As I discussed in my Slovenia Travel inspiration, kayaking on the Soca River was one of my initial attractions to the country, so first thing I did upon arrival was arrange a trip through Aktivni Planet, the hostels partner water sports company. The Soca River is a great place for river kayaking as it has something for ever skill level, from very basic beginner rapids to Class V and VI rapids. Since it was my first time ever kayaking rapids, I elected to take the 3.5 hour guided course for beginners. The company picked us up at the hostel and took us to their office, where we met our guide and payed (cash only) for the tour. After that, we went to the gear shack to get outfitted, where I have to admit, I was nervous I wasn't actually going to get to kayak. When the guide saw me walk up, I could see the wheels turning trying to figure if they had gear that could fit somebody as tall as me (2 meters for those who weren't aware), but in the end they had everything I needed! Skipping over all the fun stuff like the safety briefings and gear review, we finally got on the water! The beginner section is just that, a slow introduction to the sport with around 4 sets of rapids but nothing to crazy. Two people did roll their kayaks though so do expect some fun as you ride downstream.
Not that river kayaking is for the feint of heart, but my next activity in Bovec was a little bit more of an adrenaline rush, sorry mom. There are multiple canyons you can book, but Fratarica is one of the more popular routes for its large repels and jumps. So the following day I was up early to go canyoneering in Fratarica Canyon, again booked through the hostel. After a brisk 30 minute hike up the hill, made more difficult by the rather heavy wetsuits and climbing ropes we were carrying, we arrived at the start of the canyon. Once you start into the canyon, there is only really only one way out and its forward. Through a combination of abseiling, jumping and sliding you make your way over a series of waterfalls and rock ledges. The highlight of the trip is the parabola fall which involves a 48 meter slide and abseil combo to reach the pool at the bottom.
Have more time then I did in Bovec, here are a few more things to consider doing:
Via Ferrata (Google this, gear can be rented at local shops but not done though hostel)
Mountain Biking (Arranged at hostel)
Ziplining (Arranged at hostel)
Whitewater rafting (Arranged at hostel)
Summit Triglav Mountain (Multi-day hiking trip, just grab your gear and go)
Foraging for dinner. Bovec is known for its trout, wild mushrooms, walnuts and apples. Don't miss the opportunity to catch or forage an entire meal, just always ask a local about the mushrooms before you try it.