The Vršič Pass is the highest mountain pass in Slovenia and will take you up to 1611 meters above sea level and back down again in an incredible 50 hairpin turns. A ride over this spectacular alpine pass is a must on any Slovenia road trip, whether you’re traveling by motorcycle, car or campervan. If you are traveling between the Slovenia highlights Lake Bled and Soca Valley, then you definitely drive over this pass and can discover the beautiful nature at the Vršič Pass. We will now tell you what you can expect here and where you can find the most beautiful viewpoint on the Vršič Pass.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
The Vršič Pass in Slovenia
The Vršič Pass was built in 1915/16 by Russian prisoners of war to ensure supply routes from Austria-Hungary to the Izonzo Valley (Italian for Soca Valley). Today’s road still follows the course of that time in large parts, but was mostly rebuilt. A relic of the old days, however, is certainly the cobblestones that adorn the narrow switchbacks, at least on the northern side of the pass. It can get quite slippery here in the rain, so you should drive carefully.
Serpentines are a good keyword, because there are plenty of them on the drive over the Vrsic Pass. There are a total of 50 hairpin bends to negotiate, and that’s not even counting the numerous normal bends. So you see, the Vrsic Pass is quite exciting to drive. Especially with big vehicles it can get very tight in the curves. But every bend is also a scenic highlight.
The nature to the left and right of the track is really beautiful and the view of the wide mountains is worth the strenuous drive to the top.
Lake Jasna at the foot of Vrsic Pass
If you are coming from the north (from Lake Bled) then you will inevitably pass a scenic highlight in the region, Lake Jasna. Jasna Lake consists of 2 man-made lakes at the foot of the Vršič Pass. But even if these lakes were created by man, you do not notice this, because they blend beautifully into the surrounding natural scenery.
Lake Jasna is very well developed for tourism, which means that there is a restaurant, a beach bar and you can even rent SUPs (Stand Up Paddle) here. You can take a nice hike around the two lakes, which only takes about 30 minutes. There are benches everywhere from where you can admire the lake and the ducks swimming on it. And if it is warm enough you can even go swimming in Jasna Lake.
The lake consists of really crystal clear turquoise water and with the stark mountain panorama around it, it’s a really beautiful setting. There is a large paid parking lot right next to the lake, where you can even stay overnight with your camper (24€/24 hours, otherwise 1.5€ first hour, 2.5€ each additional hour). In our opinion, you can spend a few hours here before continuing to the Vrsic Pass and Lake Bled.
Hike to Jasna Lake Viewpoint
Directly at Jasna Lake starts a small but nice hike to a beautiful viewpoint. The path runs mostly through the forest, so you will be well protected from the sun even in high summer.
The trail starts just before the official parking lot at the bridge over the Pisnica, you can find the starting point here on Google Maps. You will first cross a rather wobbly suspension bridge and then turn directly into the forest. It is relatively steep uphill, but the path is well built, so it is easy to walk. After about 20 minutes you will come to a nice viewpoint with a 180° view of a neighboring valley and you will also see a part of Jasna Lake. You can find the viewpoint here on Google Maps.
The Top of the Vrsic Pass Slovenia
When you reach the top, you should definitely take a break. For now you have done half of the serpentines: congratulations! And secondly, the panoramic view from up here is unique and there is also a spectacular hike to a viewpoint on the Vrsic Pass waiting for you, which we will describe in detail in the next chapter.
Up here on the summit there are 2 relatively small parking lots or parking bays. In high season, these are filled very quickly and then it may be that you have to squeeze somewhere in between or wait until something becomes free.
Furthermore, there are 2 large restaurants and a small kiosk with souvenir store. Once you have completed the hike to the viewpoint Slemenova Spica described below (which is highly recommended), you can descend the remaining 25 serpentines down the pass.
From the Vrsic Pass to the Soca Valley
The route is again beautiful, but also very exhausting for your car. The brakes of our campervan stunk quite a bit when we were down there, because you are almost constantly on the brakes. So you should definitely also use the engine brake here and if necessary also take a little break.
Shortly before the last serpentine (No. 49) you should park your car at the restaurant Koča pri izviru Soče, because from there you can hike a spectacular trail to the source of the river Soca. We have described more about it in the next chapter.
Once you have left the Vrsic Pass in a southerly direction, you will come directly to the next Slovenian highlight: the beautiful Soca Valley. What sights await you there & what there is to experience, we have written down here:
Hiking at the Vršič Pass
There are many beautiful hikes at the Vršič Pass, which let you experience the indescribably beautiful nature of the Julian Alps up close. Two beautiful Vršič Pass hikes we would like to introduce to you now.
Hike to the Source of the Soca
Unfortunately, we found out about this hike only after our Slovenia road trip, so we can only recommend you to do it yourself. At the 49th serpentine of the Vršič pass, just before you start into the Soča valley, you can hike to the source of the Soča river. The hike starts at the parking lot of the restaurant Koča pri izviru Soče (Google Maps).
At first, you will walk very comfortably along a forest path, but then you will come to a real via ferrata. For about 10 minutes you walk along a very narrow path where you have to hold on to a steel rope to avoid falling into the depths. That would have been too much for our dog Aaro.
When you have finished this adventurous part you will come after a few minutes to the spring where the water bubbles from the depth and then falls over a waterfall into the depth. You go back the same way and after one hour you are back at the parking lot.
Hike to the Viewpoint Slemenova Spica
The Slemenova Spica hike was really one of the most beautiful hikes in Slovenia for us. The panorama is unique and really spectacular. You can start the hike at the parking lot at the top of the Vršič pass. The hike starts at the small parking lot (coming from the north), which you can find here on Google Maps.
From there it goes about 30 minutes steeply uphill over a loose scree field. This part is really hard to walk, you constantly slip away and have to really watch where you step. A trekking pole can be very helpful here. When you reach the top, the trail continues flat and almost downhill.
To the left of you the peaks of the mountain Vrsic tower up and the rugged rock faces remind a little of the Tre Cime South Tyrol. Since we were there in October, the forest through which we are now running is already wonderfully autumnal yellow colored.
We also found it very unusual to find such a dense deciduous forest so far up. After passing through the beautiful forest, you will come to the first beautiful viewpoint with a view of the surrounding mountains of the Julian Alps. Here you should make a photo stop. From here it’s another 30 minutes walk to the actual viewpoint of the Slemenova Spica hike. From here you have almost a 360° view of a spectacular mountain scenery.
This hike was just insane and you have to hike to this viewpoint if you drive over the Vrsicpass. You can find the exact route description with GPX track e.g. here.
Tips for the Vršič Pass
How long will it take me to drive over the Vršič Pass?
The total distance of the Vrsic pass from Kranjska Gora to Trenta is 27 km. So if you just want to drive over the pass, you can do it in just under an hour. But if you make a few stops and also take a hike or two and also visit Lake Jasna, then you should plan half a day to a whole day to cross the pass.
Staying Overnight on the Vršič Pass
Wild camping is unfortunately not allowed on the Vršič Pass (like everywhere else in Slovenia). There are also no campsites directly on the pass. You can stay overnight with your campervan just before the pass at Jasna Lake (see description above) or spend the night on the southern side in the Soca Valley at one of the numerous campsites.
If you are looking for a hotel nearby, we have the following recommendation for you: Hotel PLANINSKA KOČA NA GOZDU
This beautiful rustic accommodation is located near the Russian chapel directly at the Vrsic pass and is super rustic furnished. The perfect place if you want to spend several days at the pass and have enough time for hiking.
- Located directly in the forest on the mountain
- super hiking possibilities nearby
- delicious breakfast and super dinner
- simple and rustic rooms
Opening Hours of the Vršič Pass & Best Time to Travel
Since the Vrsic Pass is an alpine pass and is located at an altitude above 1600, it is not accessible by car in winter. Typically, the pass is not passable between late October to early May. Otherwise, the pass is passable all year round and is still worth a trip even in the off-season. We were at the Vrsic Pass in early October, had great weather and could therefore enjoy the beauty of the landscape to the fullest.
Other Sights in the Vicinity
If you check out the Vršič Pass on your Slovenia road trip, there are many more beautiful highlights nearby. We can especially recommend Lake Bled north of the pass, which for us is clearly the most beautiful lake in Slovenia. It’s a lot more touristy than the Vršič Pass, but the lake is just too special not to visit. South of the Vršič Pass runs the spectacular Soča Valley, where several natural highlights await you, such as the Tolmin Gorge or the Great Soca Troughs.