Lago di Sauris naar Bled
Published: 05/06/2020
View from Mangart (rp 17)
This is the fifth stage of a tour through Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The routes were plotted and driven in 2015 by Marc Telkamp. Today's ride is inspired by one of Marc's routes: the route has been made shorter, so you have time for sightseeing along the way and an alternative route has been chosen over a road with less traffic.
Today we drive through a beautiful piece of Italy to Slovenia. In Slovenia we visit the area of the Soča river and valley, the Triglav National Park and finish at Lake Bled.

This route has two faces. One is clearly visible, let you fully enjoy and continuously look around you with admiration. The other face is heavy and loaded, less visible but always present. The nature reserves that you visit today are truly beautiful. You fall from one beautiful place to the next, even more beautiful place.
But as Wikipedia describes it so well: "No matter how emerald the river is, the area along it is also colored red in a metaphorical sense". The area around the Soča valley and the Triglav mountains is filled with a loaded history. During World War I, heavy battles were fought between the Italian army and soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire along the route you drive today. Traces of this can be found here and there.
Today both faces are discussed. The route runs from Lago di Sauris to the East along the Tagliamento river to cross the border at Lago di Predil to Slovenia. In this border area you can see the first traces of the war. After a “trip” to the Mangart pass, you continue your route along the emerald Soča river and over the Vrsic pass. Here you will also find several monuments, which recall a difficult period in the history of Europe and at the same time show that this river is one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Eventually you drive via a beautiful and easily accessible road to Lake Bled, where you can take a lovely walk at the end of the day. Or of course just enjoy a local Slovenian beer on a terrace overlooking the lake.

The day starts peacefully, on the mountain at Rifugio Tita Piaz. If you have spent the night here, you can enjoy the rising sun in peace and the last part of the Passo del Pura. You drive down the mountain and keep your eye on it: turn left at the main road (T-junction) to continue your route. Garmin gives an incorrect instruction (RP 2) here.
After refueling in Ampezzo, follow the route eastwards along the Tagliamento. This river originates near the Passo della Mauria (at 1195m) and flows from the Alps into the Adriatic sea. The special thing about this river is that it is the last river, the current of which is not adapted by man. This gives the river an enormous diversity of flora and fauna. Scientists like to do research on and along the river. As part of this route, the river is especially scenic and offers plenty of moments for nice holiday photos with the river in the background or foreground. Eventually the Tagliamento swings to the South near the city of Amaro to disappear into the Adriatic Sea at the Gulf of Venice.

The route continues eastwards, confidently towards the border with Slovenia. Along the way you will encounter the first traces of the “Great War”: Forte di Col Badin (RP 10). The fortress was built just before World War I in an attempt to defend Italy against Austria-Hungary. There was never a serious battle here too far from the front. The fort was only activated after the defeat and withdrawal of the Italian troops at the 12th battle of Isonzo. These 12 strokes around the Isonzo shape the “red color” of the area you will be driving through later today. Isonzo is the Italian name for the aforementioned Soča river and valley. Forte di Col Badin now houses a museum of mountain warfare during WWI For now, leave the fortress on the left and drive underneath it, as you will come across several places later today that commemorate WWI and are easier to reach and can be visited with your motorcycle gear on.

On the SP76, after about 1.5 hours of driving, you can take a break at the foot of the Sella Nevea (RP 12) at Trattoria al Fontanon (RP 11). This restaurant is about 10 minutes walk from Fontanone di Goriuda. The special thing about this waterfall is that you can walk behind it. Once you are behind the waterfall, you have a magnificent view from the cave of the waterfall falling down and the mountains (don't forget to take a picture here!). Of course, before you start your hike, you can ask the innkeeper to leave your motorbike gear in the trattoria until you return for a well-deserved large glass of drink and a tasty bite to eat.

After this break, you can loosen your hips on the hairpin bends of the Sella Nevea and continue towards Lago del Predil. This area is the first clear example of the two faces of this region. At RP 14 you have a good stop for beautiful photos of the Predil Lake. It is certainly nice to walk to the small island in the lake at low tide. At the same time you clearly see the other face this time. On both the west and east sides of the lake you will find three fortresses (RP 12, RP 14 and RP 15) that played an important role in the success of the Austro-Hungarian army. The first fort (RP 12) was located directly on the shores of the lake and served as a guard for the route to the West (where you just came from). The second fort, or Batteria del Predil (RP 14), is a little further away from the lake and came from WWI almost undamaged. This fortress was used as a weapon storage for a short period by the Austro-Hungarian army. In 1915, all artillery was moved to a storage facility in the mountain. Because the Batteria came out intact WWI, it is now also open for visitors. The third fort (Predel; RP 15) also served as a weapon store, but largely collapsed due to neglect after WWI. Further along the route you will also pass Fort Kluže (RP 18).
If you are interested in visiting a fortress and learning more about the mountain wars in this area, it is interesting to stop at Fort Kluže (RP 18) or Batteria del Predil (RP 14) and have a look around. Especially considering the length of the route, it is difficult to visit all fortresses.

But before you pass Fort Kluže, you first make an impressive climb to the highest point of the Mangart pass. This dead end mountain pass is the highest asphalted mountain pass in the Julian Alps and Slovenia. There is a toll booth at the foot of the pass. Sometimes it is manned, sometimes it is not. In the latter case, you can continue driving, in the former you pay a small amount that absolutely pays for itself.
The road winds along steep mountain sides and a number of tunnels to an altitude of 2060 meters. At the top of the mountain you can drive a lap and follow the same road down again. Before you go down, you can stop at Viewpoint Mangartsko Sedlo (photo stop RP 17). Here you have an exciting photo opportunity. From the parking lot it is a short walk to the Lahnscharte. From this part of the mountain you have a spectacular view of the Italian mountains and valleys, including Lago di Fusine Inferiore (lake). The spectacular thing about this view is the 600m steep drop in the mountain wall under your feet. So it is good to be careful where you walk!

After the Mangart pass you enter the area of the valley of the Soča river. Here you will find the aforementioned Fort Kluže, but also a military cemetery (RP 19) to commemorate the more than 200,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers who fell on the Isonzo front.

Fortunately, the area also has a lot to offer. Due to the emerald green color and the wild current of the water, many tourists come to this area for hiking, touring and rafting. For example, the Soča Grand Canyon (rp 20) and Soča Gorge (rp 21) are two special points in the river. Here you can see how the river has cut its way through the landscape. At the gorge there are also opportunities to take a break at a local restaurant. You can swim in large parts of the river to cool off. Especially at the Grand Canyon this can be worthwhile, because of the beautiful green natural baths in the river.
The route continues along the Soča River to the North over the Vršič pass. If you have time and interest, you can deviate from the route at rp 22 to visit the origin of the Vršič river. At low tide you can get to the source of the Soča.

With a total of 50 hairpin bends, the Vršič pass is a phenomenal pass in the Eastern Julian Alps. Driving here is a great pleasure. The views are majestic and the curves delightful. Enjoy the good road quality, especially on the South side. The descent on the South side offers a nice challenge as well as insight into the First World War. The pass was built by Russian prisoners of war during WWI as a military road through the Isonzo Valley. More than 400 soldiers died in a severe avalanche in 1916. A beautiful wooden chapel has been built along the route in memory of these soldiers (rp 27). From the parking lot it is a short walk to the chapel.

The pass eventually leads you to Kransjka Gora, the largest ski area in Slovenia. From here it is a respite from the hard work on the pass. A well-deserved break can therefore be taken at Restaurant Rožca (rp 27). You can also discuss here with your motorcycle friends how you want to drive the last part to Bled. This route turns south at rp 28 and continues through the Radovna valley to Bled. This road is (under normal circumstances) very good to drive despite the unpaved nature. It is a well rammed wide gravel road and pleasant to drive. The road is quiet and winds through the woods, past some hills and meadows towards Bled. The main road (201 and 452) to Bled, on the other hand, is busy, straightforward and uninspiring. If it is already late and you want to arrive at the hotel quickly, this is the best alternative. If you still have time, energy and an unpaved gravel road does not deter you, just choose to continue the route.

After a few last unpaved kilometers, the bustle of the city of Bled comes to you. On the way you can refuel and then park your motorbikes at the hotel. Don't forget to stretch your legs and take a walk to Lake Bled.

This route gets 5 stars. Unfortunately, this is the maximum number of stars that can be assigned to a route. It secretly deserves more. The part of the route in Italy is already very beautiful, but as soon as the lake of Predil (Lago del Predil) comes into view, you realize that today is really going to be a very nice day. The nature reserves are impressively beautiful, intact and overwhelming. This area is also so rich in history that it actually deserves more attention than just visits as part of a motorcycle ride.
Soča river
Wooden memorial chapel for Russian POW (rp 27)
Useful links:
Forte di Col Badin
Fontanone di Gariuda
Battles of the Isonzo Front
Soča valley and gorge
Penzion Kaps

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Waypoint, used to construct the route
Sight, here you can see something
Viewpoint, a short stop for taking a picture
Stopping point, for hotel, lunch, etc
Attention, see the text in the waypoint for more information

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The images and text displayed here originate from the Wikipedia article "Gorenjska", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.
About this region
Upper Carniola (Slovene: Gorenjska; Italian: Alta Carniola; German: Oberkrain) is a traditional region of Slovenia, the northern mountainous part of the larger Carniola region. The centre of the region is Kranj, while other urban centers include Jesenice, Tržič, Škofja Loka, Kamnik, and Domžale. It has around 300,000 inhabitants or 14% of the population of Slovenia.
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