Approximately 75 kilometers from Ljubljana, the country’s capital, on the outer edge of the Triglav National Park, the largest protected area in Slovenia covering 838 square kilometers that encompasses Mt. Triglav and most of the 400 2K+ peaks found in the country, there is a sense of contented isolation. It seems that wherever you turn there are dusty trails that wind through tall forests and eventually end up in the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Bohinjska Bistrica, a settlement of less than 1,800 people, lies cradled among 2,000-meter high towering mountains, making it a perfect holiday destination for everyone in love with hiking; mountaineers, families and complete beginners included.
Fairytale on Velika Planina is everything I love about mountain resorts: it’s remote and isolated, yet still nicely connected to the valley by a cable car or a road that ends only 45 minutes away. It has personality and all the little benefits of any other nice resort in the valley, plus you stay in pristine nature with spectacular views of sunlit mountaintops of the Alps. That’s why I was beyond psyched when the kind folks at Fairytale on Velika Planina invited me up for a few days of snowy trails and jaw-dropping sunrises and sunsets.
And did I mention dogs are allowed? Lisa and her furry buddy Hari were welcome too!
Slovenia, with its stunning mountain peaks, glacial lakes, and clear blue rivers, remains to be an ideal destination for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. When a country is filled with such enchanting scenery, there is bound to be a trove of fairy tales surrounding it.
For those familiar with Slovenia’s mountains, perhaps your next hike will be a different experience once you learn of the legends behind these peaks. Not only will you enjoy the country’s natural beauty, but also appreciate its rich culture and folklore.
Rolling hills, endless vineyards, pristine nature, generous and welcoming people, and good food. Now that I’ve really experienced the Krško region, spending there a weekend, I couldn’t agree more. That place makes a surprisingly invigorating holiday spot.
In just two relaxing days, I walked through a virgin forest of tall oaks and fallen mossy trees. I walked along long vineyards, stretched across the hilly landscape of the Lower Sava region. I explored Medieval castles to learn about Trappist monks. I drank chocolate wine, and ate locally produced food that simply melts in the mouth. I was treated to local wine Cviček and home-made salami by friendly locals. I spent the night in a remote B&B in the midst of vineyards. And I drank a cup of tea in a hostel run by the ex-gold-medal Olympic athlete Primož Kozmus. Kind of awesome, right?
Hurtling over cliffs, narrow gorges, and mysterious mists lingering in the thick tall forest now dressed in spectacular autumn hues, the waterfalls around Kranjska Gora tend to be most spectacular particularly during the rainy months in the fall. The most fascinating falls in the area, the Peričnik Fall and Martuljek Falls, make a perfect daily trip either in moody weather or sunshine.
For more hiking ideas around Kranjska Gora, you are welcome to read Colors of the fall around Kranjska Gora: Trupejevo Poldne and Sleme
With the early snowfall coloring the peaks of our highest mountains white, my thoughts go back to a special two-day climb in late August to three beautiful mountains in the Julian Alps I was honored to climb with my Dutch-Austrian friend Georg. Originally, we had been planning to climb Triglav over its 1-km high vertical North Face taking the Prag Route on the first day and explore the Triglav Lakes Valley on the second day, but as fate would have it, Slovenia experienced a sudden extreme drop in temperature just a few days before our trip and the mountains above 1,800 m dressed in an unexpected 30-cm snow cover. That called for a quick last-minute change of plan, and instead of climbing the Triglav North Face, we rather opted for the southern slopes of the spectacular mountains on the opposite side of Vrata Valley, also home to the beautiful Alpine ibex.
As much as I boast about Slovenia’s autumns being amazing for mountaineering, there’s still a tiny corner of my soul that’s always a little disappointed when October starts to roll around. The cold sets in, the fog sits low in the valleys until late morning or even early afternoon, the daylight dwindles, it’s too early to ski and can be too late to get up into high mountains after unexpected early snowfall. Yet the colors autumn brings make my heart sing (remember last year’s Kranjska Gora and Kobarid?). Last week, that autumn heart singing got me wandering around Lake Bohinj, searching for the entrance to its best kept secret to the heavenly views and hell of a climb – a via ferrata called Ožarjeni Kamen (Eng. Sunlit Stone).
When making my way across the highest peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps at the beginning of August, I looked 1,500 meters down from the top of Mt. Planjava, and played with the idea of returning to the same Alps, only instead of going up from the south I would set my base in the north, in Logar Valley. Interwoven with breathtaking green trails that usually end somewhere way up in the high mountains, beautiful tranquil trails along the Savinja River and countless little wild streams in the broader Solčava Valley, the 7-kilometer long Logar Valley is by far one of the most picture-perfect glacial valleys in Europe. As it turned out, it was indeed perfect for yet another hiking, via-ferrata and flyfishing adventure.
Looking at the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, a beautiful mountain range closest to Ljubljana, lit in vibrant early morning colors with veils of fog lingering below rugged peaks, I got an ingenious idea I just couldn’t shake off. In a weekend excursion, I would traverse a good part of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps across the peaks I hadn’t climbed yet! With five out of eleven favored peaks already checked, I was looking forward to climbing another set of five peaks in one go; Ojstrica, Planjava, Turska Gora, Koroška Rinka and Skuta – all mountains above 2 K meters, steep, and on my planned route from east to west.
One day in February I got the most exhilarating call. It was Alenka from the Ljubljana Guides asking me if I could join her on an organized group hike in the Julian Alps in July. The plan was to start the hike from Savica above Lake Bohinj, go to the Krn Lake Hut on the first day, then off to the Triglav Lakes on the second and third day, and finally head back down to Lake Bohinj across the Blato Plateau on the fourth day. It sounded like a blast and so I was in!
On the hidden slopes of the Julian Alps lies a remarkable kingdom of the legendary Goldhorn, an Alpine ibex with golden horns that had supposedly chased away everyone intruding upon his territory. Today, the rare Alpine ibex continues the Goldhorn’s famed charisma. With only about 300 left in the Slovenian Alps, their awe-inspiring image with horns as long as over a meter earned them the title of the king of the Alpine world. While there’s a big chance meeting a chamois in the Slovenian Alps, finding an ibex generally means knowing its territory well, seeing a large group of ibexes, on the other hand, only means sheer luck.
I’m at that point in summer where I’m itching for mountains every single moment of the day. Sure, there’s the ever so convenient Šmarna Gora, which I’m happy to live within its walking distance, but sometimes I need more. That said, the past month passed venturing out to the Slovenian Alps as many as six times: Tosc, Triglav Lakes (blog), Bogatin and Triglav Lakes (blog), Mala Ojstrica and Lučki Dedec, Stol, and Goli Vrh. While each hike was special, I’m giving you two of my most memorable adventures in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps of the past month which should be on the bucket list for adventurers like yourself as well (with families and dogs included).
The past weekend was not about setting speed records. On the contrary, it was about three friends having great fun, sharing intimate stories, laughing to tears about things others might find stupid, and making new memories to laugh about in the years to come. We immersed ourselves in our first hiking adventure together, heading towards places that offer a real feast for the eyes – forests, lakes, wild flowers and fauna.
To be fair, May was not the best month for hiking in terms of good weather. I had so many plans yet realized so few (come check my Facebook for more adventures). Thankfully, sunny and warm June is here, which started off with the bonus that May had left behind – plenty of water and lush vegetation. So, if there’s ever the right time to do the Triglav Lakes trail, then it is definitely now. Hear my story.
Spring too often seems to take its time arriving in the Slovenian Alps. But when it does turn up, it creates otherworldly scenery spreading wildflower colors everywhere. While in May you can find glorious spring practically everywhere at different elevation, there are a few spots particularly famous for their blooming flowers. Yes, I’ve written about Velika Planina and Golica already, but here is yet another beautiful flower hike, which against all odds isn’t crowded at all.
On the southern rim of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, some thirty kilometers north of Slovenia’s boutique capital Ljubljana, lies a large Alpine plateau called Velika Planina. The place is known not only for its unique shepherds’ settlement, arguably the oldest in Europe that remains active to date, but also for organic milk goodies produced every summer. Locals and tourists alike visit it for its long hiking and biking trails, skiing and sledding in winter, good food and friendly people. Every spring, though, something extraordinary happens: as the snow finally melts sometime in April, little crowns of crocuses flood the whole plateau turning a good part of the landscape purple.
The king of the Julian Alps, the highest mountain of Slovenia and an iconic climb for most of the nation, Triglav rules its kingdom of jagged peaks, stunning lakes and deep valleys. Strategically positioned in the heart of Triglav National Park, actually the only national park of Slovenia, its somewhat pointed summit lures the crowds in summer, but the question today is who’s up for the challenge in the snow? Because the reward is simply finger-licking sweet!
I always wanted to see the ice kingdom which the winter Mount Snežnik is famous for and possibly ski among the frozen silhouettes. You see, since the mountain is close to the sea (only 28 km), it receives more precipitation, which in combination with strong winds can build incredible ice structures on anything that sticks up the ground. Thus the lodge at the top puts on an otherworldly ice cover, while dwarf pines, which sporadically cover the highest parts of the plateau, turn completely white and resemble an exhibition of art work rather than trees. Really spectacular!
What a weird weekend. It started with big plans but ended up with nothing tangible worth bragging about. In contrast to what you must be thinking right now, no, it was still a great weekend, just very different from expected. We walked up an icy trail and we’d have been ok with that if it hadn’t been for the rain which gradually intensified into a heavy downpour. The next day, I fought with incredible amounts of soft wet snow with each step sinking into knee-or- butt deep snow. In the rain again. While I’m usually not a quitter, I quit both hikes. The only things I didn’t quit last weekend were a sunrise hike up to Šmarna gora with my doggy pal Lisa and sauna pampering with my girlfriends.
From the sunrise on Šmarna gora, Jezersko in fall colors, to climbing the Triglav North face, here are the photos you liked the most on @exploringslovenia Instagram.