A Guide to Driving the Vrsic Pass, Slovenia

Last Updated on

by Maggie Turansky

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we may make a small commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see our privacy policy.

Do you want to enjoy some of the most incredible scenery of the Julian Alps in Slovenia? Then you must go on the Vrsic Pass drive.

This winding mountain road will take you to some of the highest points in the country and provide you with some of the most awe-inspiring views of the spectacular nature that Slovenia has to offer.

A country that has so much more to offer than compact Ljubljana or picturesque Lake Bled, driving the Vrsic Pass is something that should be on every Slovenia itinerary. While many visitors equate alpine scenery with countries like Austria, Switzerland or Northern Italy, Slovenia’s Julian Alps are a strong contender for some of the most dramatic mountain views in all of Europe.

There are several things to take into consideration when planning this drive so read on to find out everything you need to know about this amazing mountain drive in Slovenia.

What is the Vrsic Pass?

The Vrsic Pass is a mountain pass in the Julian Alps of Slovenia. It was originally constructed by Russian POWs during the First World War, however, it has been kept up and modernised since. At its peak, the elevation rises to 1,611 metres (5,285 feet) and is the highest road in Slovenia and the Julian Alps as a whole.

The Vrsic Pass drive is one of the top things to do in this area of Slovenia and can also make for an incredible jumping-off point for several hikes and other outdoor activities in the Julian Alps.

If you need to rent a car for your road trip in Slovenia, check out Rentalcars.com which aggregates offers from many of the major suppliers.

Beginning the Vrsic Pass drive!
Scenery near the start of the Vrsic Pass drive

Where is the Vrsic Pass?

The Vrsic Pass is a road that spans from the town of Kranjska Gora to the Soca Valley in northwestern Slovenia. It is notable for the 50 hairpin turns that wind up either side of the mountain pass.

There are numbers and signposts on each hairpin turn that mark the altitude. On the Kranjska Gora side, you will traverse 24 hairpins and on the other side, there are 26. You can keep track of these while driving.

It’s worth noting that the Vrsic Pass isn’t open year-round and drivers will likely only be able to access it for about seven months out of the year due to snowfall.

There are no specific dates where the road is opened and closed, so if you happen to be visiting in late autumn or early spring and are keen to do this drive, make sure to check road closures to ensure that you are able to enjoy this unforgettable road.

Driving through dense forest on the Vrsic Pass
Driving through dense forest on the Vrsic Pass

How Long Does it Take to Drive the Vrsic Pass?

The Vrsic Pass itself is not very long and, if you don’t pull over at all (there are countless viewpoints where you can park along the way!) or plan to go hiking at all, it will take roughly an hour to drive the Vrsic Pass.

However, it is unlikely that you won’t want to get out of the car at all and take some photos or enjoy the scenery. If you’re not planning a hike on this mountain path, plan to spend about one and a half to two hours driving the whole route.

It’s also worth noting that the road can get quite busy, especially in the summer months and on weekends. It’s recommended that you get as early a start as possible to avoid traffic and ensure you can find a place to park at some of the most popular viewpoints (especially near the top of the Vrsic Pass!).

Spectacular views on the Vrsic Pass
Spectacular views on the Vrsic Pass

Which Direction to Drive the Vrsic Pass?

The most common way to drive is from north to south, beginning in the village of Kranjska Gora and ending near the town of Trenta or further onto Bovec.

This is the most logical way to go if you’re based in Kranjska Gora or if you’re staying further afield — somewhere close to Lake Bled or Lake Bohinj even.

Another reason you may want to drive the north-to-south route is simply because that is how the hairpin bends are numbered. So if you want to begin at hairpin number 1 rather than 50, then make sure to start from the north end of the road.

Hairpin 50 on the Vrsic Pass
Hairpin 50 on the Vrsic Pass

The north-to-south route is also the most popular so it can be a good idea to go this way if you want to avoid any oncoming traffic.

The road is well-maintained and definitely wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other, however, it can be a bit harrowing when there is another car going around a hairpin. You’re likely going to meet fewer cars going the opposite way (you will definitely encounter some, though!) if you go from north to south.

One last thing to consider in planning your route is how you want to get back to where you’re staying. If you are going to the common north-to-south route, you can opt to turn around and drive south to north to get back. This can actually work out to be the shortest overall travel time if you’re keen to drive through the pass one more time.

If you want to make it a circular route, however, then the quickest way to get back to Kranjska Gora or further afield would be to detour slightly through Italy once you’re past the Soca Valley.

Because both Italy and Slovenia are part of the Schengen Zone, there are no border stops between the two countries and travelling between them is quick and seamless. This is what we did when we drove the Vrsic Pass and we even had a fantastic lunch in the town of Tarvisio!

Entering Italy!
Entering Italy!

Vrsic Pass Itinerary

Now that we’ve discussed everything you need to know before driving on the Vrsic Pass, let’s talk about all of the things to see on this amazing drive!

Jezero Jasna

The first stop on Vrsic Pass is not actually on the road itself quite yet, but it is worth stopping at nonetheless. Jezero Jasna, or Lake Jasna, is an artificial lake located just in the foothills of the Julian Alps. Situated just a bit outside of Kranjska Gora, this lake is the byproduct of a hydroelectric power plant.

Though the lake itself is small and really nothing compared to the likes of Lake Bohinj or even Lake Bled, the views of the mountains from Jezero Jasna make it worth the stop nonetheless.

Jezero Jasna
Jezero Jasna

Russian Chapel

Once you’ve got onto the Vrsic Pass road proper, you’ll start going up the hairpin turns and noticing how they are all numbered. Just after hairpin turn number 8 is the lovely Russian Chapel, a place where you definitely must stop on the Vrsic Pass drive.

The original mountain pass was constructed by Russian Prisoners of War during World War One and this chapel was constructed by the prisoners to help them commemorate their fallen comrades in arms. The chapel itself has the look of a traditional Orthodox church, except that it is completely wooden.

It’s very much worth stopping at the church, looking around and learning a bit about the history of the road.

The Russian Chapel
The Russian Chapel

1,611-Metre Point

After taking in the beauty of the Russian, carefully drive through the remainder of the 16 ascending hairpin turns before you make it to the highest point of the Vrsic Pass. At 1,611 metres (5,285 feet), this is the highest road in Slovenia and the view is something spectacular.

There are several viewpoints and places where you can, hypothetically, pull over but be warned that it can get very busy.

We drove on a Sunday and believe that, though we got an early start, many people had camped or stayed in a lodge the night before and we couldn’t find a place to park near the top. Therefore, I would recommend looking for a place to pull over as soon as you pass hairpin 24.

At the top, there are several hiking trails that lead to different parts of the mountains and if you’re feeling like getting active, you can go for any length of trek you desire. Or, you can simply take a few steps out of your car, take in the view a minute, before continuing on this amazing drive.

Viewpoint from the top of the Vrsic Pass
Viewpoint from the top of the Vrsic Pass

Viewpoint Supca

Once you’ve braved the 24 initial hairpins on the way up the Vrsic Pass and made a stop at the highest point, make sure to make a stop at the beautiful Viewpoint Supca before driving down the descending 26 hairpins.

This viewpoint is tucked away from the main road just a bit (there is a small car park) but provides incredible views of the Alps and the Soca Valley below.

There are placards on the viewing platform with maps and even some explaining the local flora and fauna that you may see around here, as well. Very much worth the stop.

Viewpoint Supca
Viewpoint Supca

Soca Valley

If you’ve decided not to turn around and reverse the Vrsic Pass drive, then your next stop will be the incredible Soca Valley.

This is one of the most beautiful areas of Slovenia and Triglav National Park and there are lots of places and areas that are worth exploring here. In fact, you could easily spend a few days here, rather than simply a short stop on this little drive.

If you do make one stop in the valley, however, do make it at the Great Soca Gorge. If you haven’t caught on just yet, this area of Slovenia is filled with amazing river gorges (like the Vintgar Gorge and the Mostnica Gorge!), however, this one is likely the least well-known.

There is a small car park where and a short trail to get you right to the edge of the gorge and it is absolutely worth the stop.

Soca Valley
Soca Valley

Tarvisio, Italy

And finally, if you’ve decided that you should take the route through Italy to make a circular route through the Vrsic Pass, then make sure to stop in the mountain town of Tarvisio.

This Alpine town acts as a ski resort in the winter months but it is just as bustling with outdoor lovers in the summer, as well.

We chose to stop for lunch in this lovely town at a great restaurant called Pizzeria Al Mangart. There is something that is definitely novel about going to Italy for lunch before driving back into Slovenia on the way home.

Lunch at Pizzeria Al Mangart
Lunch at Pizzeria Al Mangart

Where to Stay for the Vrsic Pass Drive

If you want to find a great place to base yourself for the Vrsic Pass drive, then the town of Kranjska Gora is probably your best bet. Here you will be able to hit the road as early as possible and beat the crowds. There are also a lot of restaurants and shops in the town.

Hotel Vandot – Located in the centre of Kranjska Gora, this hotel is an excellent jumping-off point to explore the Vrsic Pass. The rooms are furnished in an Alpine style and are clean and very comfortable, there is a bar on site and there is an option to include breakfast each morning.

Apartmaji štAla – If you’d rather have your own place than stay in a hotel, then these apartments are an excellent option. There are fully furnished kitchens, comfortable living areas and they all include a double bed and a sofa bed.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Kranjska Gora accommodation!

Driving through Italy back to Slovenia
Driving through Italy back to Slovenia

Driving the Vrsic Pass is one of the best things to do in Slovenia. The incredible mountain scenery around every hairpin turn make this drive one of the most unforgettable in the entire world.

Are you planning a Vrsic Pass drive? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

Like It? Pin It!
Avatar photo

Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie


Leave a Comment