The Julian Alps emerge out of Slovenia like a white rabbit out of a magician’s hat. Our Slovenia tours applaud this alchemy, aiming to share its delights with an audience of adventurers. Slovenia walking holidays, for example, take you into the heart of Triglav National Park, where the drama of the Julian Alps rises to a crescendo at Mount Triglav, the highest peak at 2,864m.
From these heights and on both our walking and cycling holidays in Slovenia, you can see the country’s array of lakes and glacial river valleys scattered across the country, with iconic Lake Bled and Bohinj so beautiful, they feel like part of the illusion. There is nothing gimmicky about Slovenia however. Celebrated as one of Europe’s greenest countries, its sorcery is sustainable, spectacular and utterly seductive.
Where to go
Triglav National Park and Julian Alps
Slovenia may only have one national park, but they do it in style, with Triglav National Park protecting the country’s spectacular Julian Alps. Mount Triglav is the highest peak at 2,864m, and lies at the heart of the park like a Julian jewel. You can hike the summits of the Julian Alps guided or self-guided, staying in mountain huts. Or explore other peaks, the mountainous sylvan woods, Soca and Sava river valleys, the magnificent Seven Lakes Valley, Savica and many more waterfalls on our wide array of Slovenia walking holidays.
Probably one of the most photographed lakes in Slovenia, with the Julian Alps serving as its backdrop, it also offers the prettiest of cultural pickings. These include the pilgrimage church on Bled Island, accessible on a traditional wooden boat known as a pletna. Bled Castle is a medieval miracle, still clinging to a rocky cliff, and the town of Bled matches the emerald green waters of its lake by being a very green and sustainable city. Lake Bled also sets the beauty bar high as a starting point on many of our Slovenia cycling holidays and walking ones too. You can even start in Bled and finish in Venice on this idyllic Italianate cycling holiday.
Located within the boundaries of Triglav National Park, it deserves a mention with many of our Slovenia walking holidays including a day’s hike around Lake Bohinj. You can also cycle around the lake to Savica Waterfall, on the western end of the lake, the source of the Sava Bohinjka River, in case you didn’t have enough natural nirvanas for one day. At only 4km long by 1km wide and attracting fewer tourists than Lake Bled, there are also walking trails trickling off from the lake to traditional rural villages, alongside mountain streams and to Mostnica Gorge.
Postojna and Škocjan Caves
Just 32km apart and less than an hour south-west of Ljubljana, these cave systems are subterranean karst limestone phenomena. Postojna Caves have over 20km of passages and a mini train that takes you inside the heart of the limestone hills. Although Škocjan Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting the longest underground canyon in Europe, they get fewer visitors. Both are incredible geological sites and one or both feature on our western Slovenia hiking tour, or our Slovenian wine country holiday where you can combine underground vistas with overground vineyards. Or cycle out from Škocjan to Trieste on the Italian coast, just 25km away.
Before you embark upon your cultural itinerary in Slovenia’s most elegant capital city, with Ljubljanica River running through it and the 11th century iconic castle complex overlooking it from Castle Hill, head to Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen) market. If you are lucky enough to be there on a Friday between March and October when the most colossal local food fair is one of the city’s happening events, and perfect for sampling local wine or food specialities. When you’re full of Slovenian cooking culture, head into the Old Town to explore its history in more depth, enjoying the fact that this award-winning city, for its green credentials, has the highest percentage of pedestrianised streets of any capital in Europe.
Things to do
- Raise a glass of Slovenian wine on your holiday, a country that shares the same mineral-rich terroir with neighbouring Italy, but much less of the international hoo-ha. It still has the ooh-ah factor though, as you will soon discover. The main wine growing areas are the Brda hills of the western Primorska wine-growing district, Podravje in the north-east and Posavje in the south-east. Enjoy a cycling holiday around the vineyards of Brda and Vipava, or raise a glass of wine in the Vipava region to celebrate completing the summits of the Julian Alps walking holiday.
- Meet Slovenia’s wonderful neighbours as it borders Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Italy. So you can take a multi-heritage hiking holiday through Slovenia, Austria and Italy on the Alpe-Adria Trail, or tri-cycle holidays through Croatia, Italy and Slovenia. Or how about cycling from Salzburg to Slovenia’s Lake Bled for a double delight of the Austrian and the Slovenian Alps, with rewards such as Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj en route?
- A Slovenia walking holiday on the Purple Route of the Via Alpina takes you to exquisite elevations but without some of the exertion, as you nearly always start your walks at high levels. Stay at locally-owned guesthouses and 3- & 4-star hotels, with your luggage transferred for you and you too on some of the days, with transits up to trailheads such as the Pokljuka high plateau (1,280m) or Ljubelj on the Austrian border. On this Slovenia walking holiday, enjoy the highs without too many sighs, as you follow a trail connecting three mountain massifs: the Julian Alps, Karavanken and Kamnik Savinja Alps, walking along ridges and down through valleys of Triglav National Park.
Responsible travel tips
- Slovenia, with its glacial geology, has over 300 lakes and swimming is, not surprisingly, very popular. However, it’s important to only swim at designated areas. Here are lists of such areas on Lake Bled and, at Lake Bohinj, the designated bathing areas are at Fužinski Bay and Ukanc. Also, wear eco-friendly sunscreen that won’t have an impact on aquatic ecosystems. Hawaii has led the way in this area by banning sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, harmful to aquatic life. Bathing is prohibited at all high mountain lakes, including the Triglav Lakes and Krnsko Lake.
- Our Slovenia tours run between March and November and so it’s worth considering travelling out of season. Not only to avoid the crowds around the tourism honeypots, but also to bring your much needed tourism spend to rural areas outside of these areas. On our Slovenia cycling holidays, for example, temperatures dip down to a very pleasant 22C in September in and around Ljubljana. And on our Slovenia walking holidays that are available in the autumn months of September and October, you get the added benefit of joyously colourful Julians as the leaves change.
- Buy local gifts such as hand crafted wooden utensils, or delicate lace, with Slovenia’s bobbin lacemaking traditions protected as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Similarly delicate is Slovenia’s Rogaska crystal and it’s worth some careful wrapping to bring home this exquisite memento. And, if you are travelling to Slovenia by train, you can also pack a bottle of the country’s best wine to drink from it. Felt slippers are also very popular in Slovenia, made from the country’s indigenous Jezersko-Solcava sheep breed. Buy some for yourself too on arrival because everyone wears slippers in Slovenia, so you are a responsible tourist to just have them in your bag at all times anyway when you enter a local place to stay.