How Many Rivers Are There in Slovenia?

Slovenia is a mountainous country. Usually, where there are mountains, there are a lot of fast, cold, and narrow rivers. Actually, this is also true regarding Slovenia. The country builds a big recreational as well as some natural and even transport infrastructures around them.

In the territory of Slovenia, there are 59 major rivers. They can be divided into two categories: the rivers that drain into the Mediterranean Sea, and those ones that drain into the Black Sea.

General Briefing

Those 59 mentioned above rivers have altogether 2,500 kilometers (1,600 mi) of the waterway. On the other hand, if we take into consideration all the possible rivers of Slovenia, this number raises up to 26,989 kilometers (16,770 mi). This is a river density of 1,33 km/km2.

Most of them, to be precise 81%, belong to the Black Sea basin. It is 16,423 square kilometers or 6,341 square miles of the Slovenian territory. The smaller part, the other 19% that counts 3,851 square kilometers or 1,487 square miles of the area, belongs to the Adriatic Sea basin accordingly. Those big units can be divided into smaller ones, e.g., the Drava River basin, the Mura River basin, the Sava River basin, Kolpa River basin, and some others.

Here we will consider the most significant ones of them:

Rivers Draining into the Black Sea

The Sava River

The Sava is the tributary of Danube, the second biggest river in Europe. On the other hand, the Sava River is big as well, because it flows through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina as a natural border, and Serbia at the end, where it feeds the Danube in its capital, Belgrade.

The river is 990 kilometers (615 mi) long. Moreover, 2/3 of it is suitable for big vessels. Its basin is estimated as 97,713.2 km2, with 8,176,000 of the population living on it, connecting three capital cities: Ljubljana, Zagreb, and Belgrade.

In Slovenia, you can find picturesque Zelenci and the adorable Savica Waterfall while traveling on the river. In France Prešeren’s classic Slovene epic called The Baptism of the Savica, the author dedicated a lot of warm words. This work, as well as others, inspired the creation of the coat of arms of Slovenia in 1991.

The Drava River

In Slovenia, the river starts in Dravograd and ends in Ormož. Moreover, this is the natural border with Austria as well as Croatia. With 710 kilometers (440 mi) in its long, Drava river is one of the most exploited rivers in the world. Scientists estimated that all 100% of its potential water power is already being used. Altogether, there are 22 hydroelectric power plants built on the Drava River. Therefore, Slovenia plays a direct role in implementing and providing green power to its own citizens and the world.

In the country, you can find the river near the second biggest city Maribor as well as near the oldest Slovenian town, Ptuj. However, the most worth visited place is the picturesque Drava Valley with real Alpine landscapes.

The Kolpa River

It is the warmest river in Slovenia. Undoubtedly, this is already the motivation worth visiting. Moreover, the territory is full of camping places, where you can spend a gorgeous holiday weekend in wild nature. Furthermore, the river was awarded the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN).

The Kolpa river (in Croatian, the river is called Kupa) is 297 kilometers (185 mi) long, where 118 km of it is the border part between north-west Croatia and southeast Slovenia. The interesting fact that its Latin name Colapis has the indirect meaning “water with meanders”.

The river has a low level of pollution. There is the section, a part of Slovenian Krajinski park Kolpa nature reserve, where it is monitored strictly. Therefore, the river became a popular place for summer bathing.

The Mura River

This one can be described as a lazy one. Most probably, nature created this one for artists in order to sit and think near. Moreover, it has the Island of Love on its water that brings even romantic notes to the river story. The Mura is included in the UNESCO biosphere reserves, thereby its significant feature is great biodiversity.

Furthermore, in spite of the fact that the river flow is slow, in the old days, there were a lot of mills here. Nowadays, there is a preserved mill in Ižakovci left open for a visit. Also, in some of the sections, you can find even some fast water activities.

The river has 464 kilometers (288 mi) in length, however, inside Slovenia, there is only 28 km of it. It was named Maura, Muora, Mura, Mvr, Mver, and Muer at different times. Its Slavic origin means “the dark water”. The river starts in Austria, in the Central Eastern Alps, where its source is 1,898 m (6,227 ft) above sea level.

Rivers Draining into the Mediterranean Sea

The Soča River

In fact, it is one of the most beautiful natural tourist attractions of Slovenia. The river turns emerald green in its color. Moreover, it is very rare for such a long river to have this unique color throughout its length. In general, it is 138-kilometer (86 mi) long, whereas 96 kilometers (60 mi) flows in western Slovenia and 43 kilometers (27 mi) through northeastern Italy, where it is named as Isonzo in the Italian language.

On the other hand, it was named as Aesontius, Isontius, Sontius in antiquity. There were variations like Sontium, flumine Isontio, Lisonçum, die Ysnicz, and an der Snicz.

The river starts at the height of 876 meters and crosses such Slovenian cities and villages as Bovec, Kobarid, Tolmin, Kanal ob Soči, Nova Gorica, and after that, falls into the Adriatic Sea. It is well-known for the variety of unique trout species Salmo marmoratus, the best known are the marble trout.

Furthermore, it is the place of Simon Gregorčič to dedicate his famous poem Soči (To the Soča). Afterward, the river became the place of Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian filming. It is Disney’s movie of 2008 on the famous novel.

The Dragonja River

This is one with an interesting name. At first glance, it seems like the river of dragons. Some people say that it comes from Italian drago, because of the river’s shape. However, scientists proved that the name has in its root Argaone, the Proto-Indo-European root of the word “shining”.

Another story is connected to the last territorial dispute between Slovenia and Croatia. In general, the dispute was created because Croatian territories considered the rivers as the border territory, however Slovenian ones considered south of the river as theirs. The decision of the dispute is still on the arbitration consideration.

In general, the river has 30 km (19 mi) of length, its basin covers 95.6 km2 (36.9 sq mi), and it features a high diversity of animal and plant species. Dragonja also often dries up in summer.

The Reka River

One more with an interesting name, because in Slovene, as well as in most of the Slavic languages, the word reka means “the river”. It has 54 kilometers (34 mi) of length, 51 km of which is located in Slovenia.

There is an interesting point about this river. Near the village of Škocjan, it disappears from the ground into Škocjan Caves, a place of UNESCO World Heritage Site, flowing 38 km (24 mi) underground the Slovenian Karst.

The Idrijca River

The river originates in Idrija Hills and Cerkno Hills. It is 60 kilometers (37 mi) long. The river’s basin size is 598 square kilometers (231 sq mi). Its major tributaries are the Belca, Zala, Cerknica, Bača, Nikomlja, Kanošica,Trebušica. One more of them, the Jezernica River, that flows from the Wild Lake. And as it is only 55 m long, the Jezernica is the shortest river in the country.

The Idrijca River has numerous karst features and diverse plant species.

Let’s Swim Together

Of course, that was not the full list of the rivers of Slovenia. On the other hand, it was mentioned the most significant ones worth visiting and seeing. Slovenia lies in a peculiar location, where mountains and the sea created perfect weather for tourism. Here, the Slovenian Alps cover cold wind masses from the North and keep hot masses from the Adriatic Sea inside the country.

Therefore, it is full of thermal baths, mountain resorts, and the most picturesque lakes and rivers in the world. Moreover, some of them, like the Drava River, are entirely used as the green power plant, and some like the Sava River is the travel path between three capitals of the neighboring countries.

On the other side, there are Soca or Kolpa, where you can “recharge your soul” with adoration from their beauty. The last one is one of the least polluted rivers, so you can freely enjoy swimming in its warm waters in spite of the fact that it is a mountain river.

Thus, we highly recommend visiting at least one of the mentioned above, according to the aim you pursue in the travel to Slovenia. 

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