Surrounded by the high mountains and lush meadows of the Soča Valley, Kobarid makes the ideal base for exploring one of Slovenia’s most beautiful regions.
As one of the Soča Valley’s largest towns, Kobarid offers a variety of activities to suite curious travellers. It’s long been a popular destination for nature lovers, particularly hikers and cyclists, who come here to explore the trails that run through the stunning countryside and along the region’s emerald green Soča river. The most famous is the Juliana Trail, a 270km long hike which passes through forests, valleys, and towns around the Julian Alps mountain range. If that sounds a little long, though, don’t worry, there are treks to suit every level. If you’re heading here in winter, meanwhile, the valley’s mountains and slopes also make Kobarid a great destination for skiers
More recently, Kobarid has established itself as the home of some of the region’s best restaurants. Chef Ana Roš put the town and the Soča Valley on the map when she appeared in an episode of Chef’s Table back in 2016 and ever since gastronomes have flocked to her two Michelin star restaurant Hiša Franko, which puts local produce such as fish from the Soča river and aged Tolminc cheese at the forefront of its creative tasting menus. Other chefs have followed suit in celebrating the region’s rich bounty of produce and local dishes, which can often be found served up alongside a selection of Slovenia’s excellent natural wines.
THINGS TO DO
To learn more about the town and the region start at the Kobarid Museum (Gregorčičeva ulica 10) which tells the history of Kobarid with a particular focus on WWI when Italian soldiers advanced into the Soča Valley. The museum also organises guided tours through the nearby areas that were used as battlefields or, using the museum as your starting point, you can independently follow the 5km Kobarid Historical Trail, a three-to-five-hour walk which will take you to the area’s most significant historical points of interest.
Kobarid’s other main activities revolve around heading outdoors to make the most of the valley’s beautiful countryside. Take a walk to see Slap Kozjak, the Soča Valley’s most famous waterfall, rent a bike or book a guided cycling tour with sports agency Positive Sport (Trg svobode 13), or go kayaking on the Soča River. Adrenaline junkies can get their fix by booking one of the valley’s high octane activities such a paragliding or white water rafting, and if you’re not content with simply admiring Slap Kozjak then sign up for a few hours of canyoning to take a daring jump in.
Starting from Kobarid, take the winding road lined with the Stations of the Cross to reach the Italian Charnel House (Pot na gradič), the final resting place of 7,014 known and unknown Italian soldiers who fought and fell in the Soča Valley during World War I. Inaugurated in 1938 by Benito Mussolini, the shrine is the work of the sculptor Giannino Castiglioni and the architect Giovanni Greppi, who designed a striking octagonal monument with three concentric circles, atop of which sits the 17th century Church of St. Anthony.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Hvala (Trg svobode 1) is the main hotel in town and handily located right in the centre. The hotel has been family-owned since 1997 and offers bright and contemporary rooms, free parking, and is cyclist- and hiker-friendly. The hotel’s restaurant, Topli Val, was the first fish restaurant in the Soča Valley when it opened and is still the town’s most popular address for seafood. It’s also noted for its carefully curated wine list after co-owner Žiga Hvala channeled his passion for wine into becoming the restaurant’s first sommelier in 2017.
In addition to serving up some of the best food in the centre of Kobarid, more on this later, Hiša Polonka (Gregorčičeva ulica 1) makes for a fine place to stay, with guest rooms located just next door to the restaurant that can sleep up to four if you’re travelling with family or friends.
Located a 15-minute drive outside of Kobarid is Nebesa (Livek 39), a collection of four private chalets which sit high up in the mountains surrounding the Soča Valley. The minimalist interiors feature floor-to-ceiling windows to put the spectacular mountain views centre stage and each cabin comes with its own private terrace for al fresco dining on summer days. Next door, the main building houses a large wellness area, which can be privatised for maximum relaxation, as well as a kitchen and underground cellar where you can help yourself at no extra charge to homemade charcuterie, bread, and cakes, local cheese, and carafes of Slovenian wine.
EAT & DRINK
Ana Roš’ two Michelin star restaurant Hiša Franko (Staro selo 1) might be a splurge but it’s worth it to experience the self-taught chef’s highly creative and personal tasting menu. Ingredients are sourced from local farmers and foragers within a 10km radius of the restaurant to give a truly authentic taste of the valley and the fantastic wine tasting menu will take you on a journey through the country’s excellent natural wines. The restaurant also offers a selection of rooms, and staying overnight is almost a must, for it allows you experience Chef Roš’ take on a traditional Slovenian breakfast the next morning.
If you’re eating in town then the hotspot for evening drinks is Cinca Marinca (Trg svobode 10) whose outdoor terrace enjoys a prime location looking out onto the St Mary of the Assumption church. It draws a crowd of both locals and tourists, particularly hikers who have worked up a thirst for a cold beer after a day on the trails.
After the sun sets, head to Hiša Polonka (Gregorčičeva ulica 1) headed up by Hiša Franko co-owner Valter Kramer. Here you can enjoy a taste of popular local dishes, including the roast beef dish that originally made Hiša Franko famous when it was still owned by Valter’s father, Franko. Don’t miss classics such as frika, a potato and cheese dish traditionally eaten by shepherds, or the comforting dessert Kobariški štruklji, or Kobarid Walnut Dumpling, which comes flavoured with butter and cinnamon and topped with crunchy brown sugar. Valter is extremely passionate about natural wines so don’t hesitate to ask him for his recommendations, or try one of the craft beers from his very own brewery, FEO.
For an afternoon snack, particularly if you’re travelling with kids, head to Janko in Metna (Trg svobode 10), where you can serve yourself generous portions of creamy soft scoop ice-cream and dig into a range of toppings. Each flavour is made using fresh milk gathered from the cows grazing high up in the mountains surrounding Kobarid, which are famous for producing the region’s delicious dairy products.