If you are looking for a unique place to visit this summer why not check out Slovenia. This beautiful Balkan country was named one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2022 by Lonely Planet and it’s easy to see why. From the fairytale setting of Lake Bled to the spectacular nature of the Soca Valley – Slovenia truly is a hiking paradise just waiting to be explored.
There are many national parks and mountains to explore by foot, as well as crystal-clear rivers where you can enjoy a refreshing dip along the way. Best of all, its compact size and fantastic infrastructure makes it an ideal place to go road tripping – whether you prefer to rent a car, jump in a camper van or live the wanderlust-filled Vanlife for a couple of weeks.
You can admire the green landscape and charming countryside as you drive around and plan a few hiking adventures as you go. And what’s better: the mountain huts that you can book makes planning your treks that much easier, as you won’t have to worry about camping. Just ensure you book your huts of choice well in advance and you will be fine.
Why Hiking in Slovenia is Great
Slovenia is one of the world’s best hiking destinations for several reasons. Firstly, it’s easy to plan your hikes. There are only a few regions where you can go hiking – such as the Julian Alps, the Karawanks, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the Subalpine Hills and a few other areas – so it’s easy to plan treks. 10,000 kilometers of marked trails can be found in this tiny country and yet there is something to suit everyone: from families to avid mountaineers.
Other hiking hotspots like France, Italy, Switzerland, Patagonia, Canada, the United States, Nepal or Pakistan can have so many options that it can be hard to know where to start. With Slovenia, less is definitely more when it comes to hiking. It’s a wonderful hiking destination for beginners who want to have an active and outdoor vacation with a touch of culture thrown in.
Secondly, the diversity on offer for such a small space is quite remarkable. Hikers can climb to the top of jagged peaks, trek along green pastures to turquoise rivers, swim at pristine lakes along the trail and walk alongside vineyards in the wine region of the country. Sometimes the best hiking moments in Slovenia are when you stumble upon a charming little town or picturesque church, like the Church of St. Primoz and Felicijan in Jamnik.
These unplanned moments are what makes traveling to a new country so rewarding. Hiking gives you the opportunity to explore the hidden gems of a country and Slovenia has these in abundance. More than half of Slovenia is covered in forest after all, so it’s no wonder why Slovenia is such a hiking paradise and why it gained the nickname “The Green Pearl of Europe”.
Best Places to Go Hiking in Slovenia
Beginner Hikes & Family-Friendly Options
- Soca Valley: This amazing river has precious blue waters, gorgeous waterfalls and stunning mountains. The hikes here can be done on day trips and they are perfect for beginner/casual hikers and those traveling with young children. Not only can you go hiking in Soca Valley but you can also enjoy a spot of climbing, kayaking and swimming in summer.
- Lake Bled: The most popular place in Slovenia which is like something directly out of a fairytale or postcard. On your trip to Lake Bled you will want to hike the surrounding trails and find the best viewpoints. For starters, you can do the sunrise hike up Mala Osojnica which offers breathtaking views early in the morning when no one else is around.
- Seven Lakes Valley: The seven lakes of Triglav Lakes Valley can be approached on a day hike or on a multiple day hike, as there are seven lakes to explore. Located in Triglav National Park, the valley gets its name from Mt. Triglav which is Slovenia’s tallest peak. The day hike is best for beginners and can be done from Koca pri Savici (Lake Bohinj).
- Vrsic Pass: This is the highest mountain pass in Slovenia and the 24km winding road here is one of the most photogenic in the country. While driving the pass is fun, there are a number of short hikes in the area as well such as Vrsic Pass to Sleme and Slemenova Spica – a 5.7km round trip hike which takes two to three hours with 500m of elevation gain.
Advanced Hikes for Serious Adventurers
- Mt. Triglav: Located in the Julian Alps, Slovenia’s highest mountain is a national symbol in every sense and it makes for a bucket-list summit for experienced hikers. The summit trek is not suitable for everyone, so only mountaineers/trekkers with ample skill should attempt it. Via ferrata is required on certain sections and the steep terrain is quite challenging.
- Mt. Golica: If you plan on visiting Slovenia in May/June and love seeing fields of daffodils then hiking Mt. Golica is for you! Situated in the Karawanks, this mountain produces beautiful white carpets of daffodil flowers which when seen on a sunny day create quite the setting. Mt. Golica is rated as moderate to difficult as it’s 10km over five hours.
- Alpe Adria Trail (3-Days): Arguably the most beautiful multi-day hike in Slovenia, the Alpe Adria Trail spans a total length of 750km connecting the countries of Austria, Italy and Slovenia. But don’t worry, on this trek you won’t be hiking 750km! This 3-day taste offered by the team at Slotrips will just show you the highlights. *The trip also includes biking.
- Kamnik-Savinja Alps (4-Days): Experienced alpine hikers will love this 4 day journey traversing the jaw-dropping Kamnik-Savinja Alps. Starting in Kamniska Bistrica and finishing in Zgornje Jezersko, this is just one of many incredible adventures you can have in this mountain chain. Gear required will include a helmet, polarized glasses and a via ferrata kit.
Guided vs Self-Guided Hiking in Slovenia
Many travelers will be confident coming to Slovenia and doing everything themselves, including the hiking portions of their trip. However for those who would like some help there is the option of guided or self-guided trips. A guided tour means you start and finish the tour in the company of a guide who will manage everything for you, while self-guided has no guide.
A self-guided tour in Slovenia would see all of the organization and bookings done by a tour company. Your only job is to show up and guide yourself! Travelers also have the option of doing sections of their trip in a guided or self-guided way, with other parts organized fully by themselves. That is a great option since you can leverage local knowledge for specific experiences like hiking adventures and yet still enjoy spontaneity overall.
How to Prepare for your Hikes
The first consideration before you plan your Slovenia hiking holiday is around fitness/experience. Are you an experienced hiker or do you enjoy easy day hikes? If you are planning on taking on some of those advanced hikes mentioned above you might want to get into hiking shape before you go. This can be done with regular exercise and practicing on similar trails or mountains back home. You want to be fit and ready to go upon arrival.
Next, you should think about what type of experience you enjoy. Are you all about unplanned adventures or do you require a bit of structure? You can always book a couple of guided or self-guided hikes and then organize the rest of your trip independently. There are no right or wrong answers – everything depends on your own preferences and travel style.
The rule of thumb for the mountain huts of Slovenia is book early, especially now that Slovenia is becoming more popular. You can book the lodges through their website or email addresses. Just keep in mind too that the lodges are only available to book between June to October. If camping is your cup of tea please note that it’s only permitted in the designated spots.
Make sure you pack decent hiking boots, breathable clothing, rain jackets (just in case) and any mountaineering equipment like via ferrata gear. July is the hottest month of the year and temperatures can soar into the high 20’s and early 30’s. For most of summer though, the temperatures hover around the early 20’s for highs. The weather in Slovenia is actually quite moderate and comfortable for taking on long distance hikes.
Final Tips for Slovenia Travel
- Most of the trails in Slovenia are well-marked but there is always the temptation to head off the trails when you go hiking. Just ensure you have notified someone of your whereabouts so you don’t get lost (like your hotel provider or tour coordinator if you are on a self-guided tour).
- Check the weather conditions before you go. Summer is normally pretty good in Slovenia but depending on where you are the conditions can change suddenly. If it looks dodgy just wait until the next day.
- Learn a few greetings such as “good day” and try the local cuisine wherever you go. The food here is fantastic – delicious dumplings, salads and desserts. You will have to sample some of the local wine too!
- To learn more about hiking in Slovenia check out: slovenia-trips.com.