Bela Idrija River
The Bela Idrija is our favourite river for swimming in the whole of Green Slovenia and that is saying something! On a sunny day there is no better place to have a dip than here in the fresh, crystal clear, green tinted water under the tree lined mountains..
Bela sounds more like it would mean beautiful, but it actually means White in Slovenian and this is not the colour we would use to describe this river.. we would say tourquoise green.. maybe it is called white cos of the white beaches, stones and boulders in the riverbed?
You could easily spend just an hour here, a half day or all day and many of our guests stop off for a swim or a paddle en route or on the way back from visiting the amazing Idrija Mercury mine, or the secret WW2 Partisans hospital near Cerkno, or the beautiful Most na Soci Soca lake with the paddle steamer the uberbeautiful Tolmin Gorge or maybe the secret Partisans WW2 Printing Press hidden on the side of another tree covered mountain above Idrija!
There is one main family place to park and swim at the top of the river road, but also a few secret places to tell you about along this beautiful river that is directly 55 mins from the Lodge along picture perfect country roads.
There are multiple motorway routes to whisk our guests off in all directions, but this is one of the other many country road routes that lead off to so many secret places and just 15 mins into the journey guests must face the additional dilemma of whether to stop off in pretty Planina to see Rapunzel tower, the Planina Baby Dragon cave and the Planina disappearing lake. (Better saved for another day and another direction if guests have the time)!
30 mins further down the Green country road and just before the town of Idrija there is a little sign to go left for "Bela Idrija" and the riverside road quickly narrows as you progress up.
In just a couple of minutes there is a very small car park on the right next to a stone bridge and we strongly suggest you stop off here first cos there are THREE extra goodies to know about and you could easily just drive past here if you didnt know!
1> The Shortest River in Slovenia..
Yep, the bridge allows a tiddly 50m long river, which springs up from the "Wild Lake", flow into the main Idrija river. Just go across the road bridge to find a stunning little forest path alongside the little river which takes you to the lake..
There are not so many places of extreme natural beauty like this that are such a short, relatively even walk away from a car, so this is a great one to see if one of your party is not so good at walking.
2> The most Dangerous Lake in Slovenia..
At the end of that lovely little green path is a setting for the "Wild Lake" which could not be more beautiful with steep curved cliff walls framing a perfect little, round turquoise lake and trees everywhere like an audience.
The lake doesn't look in the least bit dangerous, but actually it is a very deep (over 500m) spring with tight narrow underwater caves down that have claimed the lives of top Slovenian divers, so this is NOT a place to swim.. but you will certainly want to get a photo!
3> The Wooden Swing Bridge..
Back at the car park and a another very short walk up the road is a pretty wooden swing bridge hidden from the driver's sight, but you might hear the local kids screaming as they leap off the bridge and splash around in what can only be described as a little river oasis!
There is no way these kids can know yet how lucky they are and there is plenty of space for you to also get your swimming stuff on and jump off a wonky Slovenian bridge too.. (BUT always check the depth of the water first as river levels can change)!
But there is more.. if you can resist not chucking yourself in the drink and cross the bridge, there is a fantastic forest path that leads you through the woods, next to the river all the way and back into Idrija..
So if you have a driver in your team to pick you up, you could either walk here from the town or walk back to the town..
But now you know about this secret path, maybe make an extra couple of hours in your day to park next to the sports arena in idrija and walk all the way here from the town for a fantastic hiking swimming day!
Idrija is a pretty little Unesco protected town surrounded by green mountains like a bowl, so there are other museums, a castle and nice old town there to explore too!
We haven't even got to the main swimming bit of the river yet and already there is so much to enjoy just here at the start!
So if you can drag yourselves away from the first part of the river, we suggest you continue up the road where you will go through a very small village with a few houses and continue to follow the road up.
It only takes a few minutes, so make sure that as you drive up you keep one eye on the river to the right to maybe spot some little beaches, bridges or other places to relax at on the way back down..
You will need to keep your other eye firmly on the curvy narrow road ahead and don't be put off by the locals who drive down here like an episode of the Streets of San Francisco, as they think they know the road so well.. don't be afraid to just stop if you meet another local car and let them deal with the angles.
You change onto the other side of the river at that little village and it is not long before a small school camp will appear in the trees on the left hand river side with a few wooden buildings and then a big stone car park will pop up on the right.. park here!
The river opens up beautifully and this is a really great place to swim. It feels like a large forest oasis here.. the water is cold, but once you get swimming, we would take this over an artificial swimming pool any day.
So maybe this will be your place to swim and hang out or maybe you will head back down the road again and find your own little private riverside paradise!
Just before you do, it is also worth knowing the road continues up into the forest and turns to stone track, but you could STILL continue driving, biking or hiking up next to the river for even more adventures!
There is a huge antique dam at the top off the river that looks like something Isambard Kingdom Brunel could have built.. it is so impressive! This dam was used to control the power of the water flow down the river in the days of the Idrija Mercury mine..
You see Idrija had the second largest Mercury mine the world has ever known deep under the ground and the mine was supplied with trees from the massive local forests above Idrija which were cut to size and floated down the river directly to the mine. The timbers were used to build the massive wooden tunnel infrastructure that you can see if you also make time to visit the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Mercury Mine!
We had driven up and down this beautiful river several times before we realised that there are so many little secret places to stop off and explore alongside, on the other side and in the river.. actually we were shocked by all the fantastic stuff we had been missing!
There are small parking spaces all along the river side, but maybe look out for the little picture perfect bridges to make your stop. The river has bits where the waterflow slows on a bed of white boulders and rocks that you can also hop around on and we also found one place where it would be possible to sit on a big rock in the middle of the river with the water running past and have a picnic.
The Bela Idrija river is just amazing, so we urge you to make enough time to find, explore, respect and enjoy this Green wonder of nature and find the perfect spot for you!
There are so many natural water places around Green Slovenia in every direction where you can swim or paddle in rivers, lakes and the Mediterranean sea.. You just need to plan or get local help with your logisitics a bit and add them into your day trip adventures!