Slovenia: A Haven for Hikers
Slovenia is a hiking paradise and needs to be the next stop on your hiking vacation travels. In a country the size of Massachusetts, there are over 6,000 miles of hiking trails. The trails range from dirt roads and paths in the highland to well-crafted marked mountain trails in the most rugged mountainous regions. Trails lead from the depths of the valleys, past mountain huts and on to the summits of the Julian Alps.
When the trails cross challenging and rocky terrain, as they often do in Slovenia, the trail is usually protected with steel rungs (stemples) and steel cables. Remote mountain passes which were anciently known only to local farmers and traders, are now familiar to expert mountain guides and hiking enthusiasts.
Types of Trails
Slovenians are in love with hiking, they’re happy when they’re outdoors in the fresh air and open spaces. So it’s no surprise that you find a great variety of trails from high mountain trails down to sea level. Nordic walking trails, thematic trails, high adventure mountain trails, and culinary trails.
Best Time to Hike in Slovenia
With its southerly location and Adriatic coastline, you can hike in Slovenia on a year-round basis. Spring is especially colorful in the highlands, with abundant wildflowers and mountain streams babbling with clear water. In the high mountains, the snow melts in June—a bit earlier than in the more northerly central Alps. June is known for afternoon storms, so get an early start. Autumn is spectacular and still entices hikers with long days and great weather. With colorful forests, yellow larch trees, and golden sunlight, fall hiking is especially memorable.
Mountain trails are well marked with Knafelc blazes—something most hikers outside of Slovenia have never seen. The blaze was created by Slovenian cartographer and mountaineer Alojz Knafelc and first used in 1871. The Knafelc blaze is simply a white dot inside a red ring. On European long-distance paths E6 and E7 it appears with a yellow dot in the center.
You’ll notice these blazes on rocks, tree trunks, or in other suitable locations, always on the right side in the direction you’re walking. Red signposts are set up at trailheads and at major trail junctions. These signs also indicate the various destinations on the trail and the approximate time required. Thematic trails are marked with a yellow blaze, which is a white circle surrounded by a yellow ring.
Trail Safety in Slovenia
Slovenia has good mobile phone coverage which makes it possible to call 112 in an emergency from almost any location in the country. This is the only emergency and first aid phone number available. If a life-threatening accident occurs in the mountains, the Mountain Rescue Service of Slovenia (GRZS) intervenes, and in the most urgent cases, will carry out a helicopter rescue.
Mountain Accommodations for Hikers
A network of 230 hotels, guesthouses, holiday apartments, and mountain huts cater specifically to hikers. These hiker-friendly accommodations are ranked on a scale showing 1 to 5 hikers. Five hikers is the top category. These signs are placed near the entrances
Long Distance Trails
The Slovenian Mountain Trail at 599 km is the longest, and by far the most popular long-distance trail in Slovenia. It begins in Maribor and crosses the plateau of the Pohorje Hills, where you have glimpes to the Alpine peaks in the distance. The trail turns Alpine as you enter the Kamnik and Savinja ranges, then continues into the Karavanke range on the border with Austria. From there it bisects the Julian Alps and crosses its highest peaks before approaching the Adriatic.
Other well-known and treasured distance traills in Slovenia iclude:
- Via Alpina – 220 km
- Alpe Adria Trail – 145 km
- European Long-Distance Path E6 – 350 km
- Walk of Peace – 100km
- European Long-Distance Path E7 – 600 km
- Koroška Alpine Trail – 230 km
- Zasavje Long Distance Trail – 200 km
- Via Bela Krajina – 115 km
Starting in April 2019 a new long-distance trail opens to Slovenia hikers, the Julian Alps Hiking Trail. This trail will be divided into various stages of approximately 20km, and will incorporate cycling trails in the future.
The trail starts and ends in Rateče at the state border between Slovenia and Italy. It mainly runs through villages, and it will be possible to use public transport in some areas along the way. It is expected that each stage will start at a railway station or bus stop, so hikers can spend the night at the beginning or end of the stage and buy food and drink there. Interpretive elements will introduce hikers to local myths and legends, unique craftwork, and culinary treats along the way. The Julian Alps Hiking Trail is fully marked and a digital guide will be available.