After 1.5 days in Lake Bled, we have one full day for a counter-clockwise drive through the Julian Alps. I'm hoping that some fellow travelers can help us decide if we have a reasonable itinerary or have packed too much into one day. This is what we'd like to see/do. First, drive up to the Vrsic Pass, stopping at the Russian Chapel and for a short hike at or near the top of the pass. Then continuing on through the Soca River Valley, stopping at the big troughs and the WW1 cemetery in Soca. Then on to Kobarid to visit the WW1 museum and hike to the Kozjak Falls. Currently, we have lodging in Divaca and I'm not sure which route from Kobarid would be best (karst or coast). Any ideas or suggestions will be appreciated.
If I understand correctly, you want to drive from Bled over Vrsic Pass to Kobarid, then onto Divaca, with stops along the way, in one day. That's certainly doable -- it's 215 km -- but you'll be limited on time to enjoy your stops along the way.
In Kobarid you can hike from town via the Kobarid Historic Trail to Kozjac Waterfall, but that's a good three- or four-hour hike (and worth doing). Since you're pressed for time, you could just drive to the trailhead for the waterfall. Allow an hour to visit the WWI museum. After all that, I wouldn't want to get back in the car and drive another 2 hours to get to Divaca.
Another worthwhile stop on this route is Tolmin Gorge, which will take 60-90 minutes. (When I was in Slovenia last year, Vintgar Gorge was closed, but at the TI in Kobarid I was told that Tolmin Gorge is even better.)
I don't know where you're heading next, but maybe stay in Kobarid or Tolmin instead of Divaca?
Whatever you decide, you'll love it!
Thanks for the tip on Tolmin Gorge. Where do we access the trail for it? The reason for staying in Divaca (or near there) is that the next morning we're going to the Lippizaner Stud in Lipica (and then on to Pula). We could stay between Kobarid and Lipica though I thought driving through part of the Karst landscape might be interesting. What are your thoughts?
Bing maps will point you to Tolmin Gorge (interestingly, Google maps seems to be unaware of it). The entrance is about 2 km outside the town of Tolmin. I don't remember having any trouble finding it.
I didn't go see the Lippizaner when I was in Slovenia last May, so I can't comment on that, and I have no idea how long your visit there will take. But the drive to Pula will be speedy, especially once cross the border into Croatia, as the road is very good, so unless you want to get to Pula earlier in the day, or if you have a scheduled time for your Lippizaner tour, you should be able to start the day further north.
How long did it take you to get through customs going into Croatia? Some travelers have posted that it can get very backed up in the summer.
I drove into Croatia from Slovenia on Highway 111 (coming south from Piran, heading to Rovinj) and had a wait of no more than 5 or 10 minutes. Much longer was the previous crossing from Croatia to Slovenia (driving from Zagreb to Ljubljana on the main highway), which took more than 30 minutes.
We will be crossing at Kastel which is a little further east. I did rebook lodging and we are now staying in Tolmin. We will arrive in the evening, so won't have time to hike the gorge that day. Those of our group who want to can get up early and hike before we leave for Lipica. Thank you for all your advice. Much appreciated!