Hiking and mountain climbing are two of the biggest attractions in Slovenia. The scenery is gorgeous, and there’s trails for people of all levels of hiking experience. Fiance loves to hike, and I’d consider him an advanced hiker, while I enjoy hiking but would consider myself much more intermediate. Unfortunately for him, this means we had to stick to the easy to moderately difficult trails. If you’re looking for highly difficult trails that doesn’t mean this post isn’t for you – you can find plenty of advanced trails in the same areas we hiked.
We started our hiking early in the morning of the first whole day of our trip on an easy but gorgeous trail called Vintgar Gorge. I actually consider this more of a walk than a hike, as you’re on a path of wooden bridges overlooking a river in the forest, so there’s nothing difficult about it. Regardless, this shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the Bled/Bohinj area, simply because it’s truly gorgeous. Just like at Lake Bled, I wanted to take a picture every five steps. The water is a clear jade green complete with occasional waterfalls and moss covered rocks. We got there early (which I recommend) so we had the trail all to ourselves, and I half expected Hansel and Gretel to walk out of the woods in front of me, that’s how storybook the scenery is.
The trail is complete with bridges that cross from bank to bank above some seriously strong waterfalls in a couple places. When you reach the end of the trail, you can choose whether to leave the bridges and hike through the woods down a couple hills to see one waterfall up close, which of course we did, and it was totally worth it.
The trail takes about one hour each way (it’s not a loop) including time for pictures, but since the bridges are narrow in many places, if you don’t arrive before the crowds you may spend extra time waiting in spots to allow people to pass. There’s also a snack bar at the end of the trail if you find yourself in desperate need of ice cream.
After leaving Vintgar Gorge, we drove immediately to the Lake Bohinj area to Mount Vogel. Mount Vogel is a ski resort in the winter, but it boasts great hiking trails in the off season. Once we arrived at the base, we took the gondola halfway up the mountain to begin our hike. If you’re an intermediate hiker or better and have time to kill, you could forgo the gondola and hike up the first half as well, but note that it takes about 4 hours minimum and, according to the gondola attendant, is very steep in many places. The gondola costs about 14 euros, runs on the half hour, and they pack it as full as a sardine can, so try to get there first if you want a view out the window.
Mount Vogel: View from the gondola station
Mount Vogel: View from the gondola station
When we reached the end of the gondola ride, we started out on the trail we had chosen from the map. Mount Vogel is part of the Julian Alps which run through the western part of Slovenia and into Austria and Italy. They’re tall and very scenic mountains, so the view even just from the gondola station is gorgeous if you’re not interested in hiking the mountain. It’s also significantly colder and windier on the mountain than at the base, so dress accordingly (the instructions I was given when posing for pictures were “look less cold”). First stop on our hike was to pet the cows who wear old fashioned cowbells (adorable).
The thing about our hike is that we seriously miscalculated the length. The map they give you is kind of confusing – make sure to ask someone at the base or gondola stop to give you an accurate time if you’re combining trails. Because of our miscalculation, we brought exactly one apple with us and not nearly enough water, so we didn’t complete the tree trail loop we hoped to. What we thought would be about three hours turned out to be much more, so we ended up taking the same trail up and back down again. Regardless, the view was great and the hiking was entertaining. Some parts of the hike we chose were pretty steep and rocky, so I definitely recommend proper shoes for the hike.
We ended back down at the gondola station with a well deserved late lunch complete with hot chocolate. The station has a nice outdoor seating area and cozy indoor tables plus a large menu of food and drinks including a good beer selection. The pricing is what you’d expect at the only restaurant halfway up a mountain, but after that hike, I would’ve paid just about anything.
After leaving Mount Vogel we continued on to visit a waterfall nearby called Slap Savica. Slap is the Slovenian word for waterfall, and since the country is full of them, you’ll see the word on signs everywhere. This particular waterfall requires you to climb 500 steps, which actually went faster than I thought they would. It was a beautiful waterfall, but I wouldn’t say it stood out compared to the others we saw on our trip. If you have the time to stop by I recommend it, but the walk there isn’t particularly entertaining, and the parking and entrance cost money (as they did for every hiking trail we visited), so if you can’t fit it in, I wouldn’t worry about it.
Slap Savica: Preparing for 500 steps after our first two hikes
The next day we went white water rafting on the Soca River with some friends in Bovec. We used the company Sport Mix, who I highly recommend. They were professional and made it a really fun experience. Word of warning: by September that river water is COLD. We had been planning to raft when we stayed near Bovec a few days later, but since storms were predicted, we decided to move it up. Unfortunately, since Bovec is a bit of a drive from where we were staying in Lake Bled and our rafting started midday, we couldn’t fit in much of a hike that day (this may have actually been fortunate since all of my muscles were rebelling against me). We did manage to take a quick 15 minute trail down to see another waterfall, Slap Virje, on our way back to Bled. If you’re passing by, I really recommend the quick stop. It’s really a beautiful waterfall, and you can even swim there if it’s warm enough (or apparently even if it’s not if you’re either Russian or Canadian).
Finally, on our way to Kobarid the next day, we managed to fit in two short hikes. Our drive to Kobarid passed through Triglav National Park, which is an amazing place for hikers. Fiance’s brother (also an experienced hiker) actually did a two day hike there a couple weeks ago and loved it. So, if you’re serious about hiking I would recommend checking out the various trails in that park.
Triglav National Park
Driving to Kobarid
On the morning we left Bohinj, we first took the trail to Slap Mostnice. Another beautiful and relatively easy hike through the woods, it gives you fabulous views of the Soca River and the canyons it’s carved out. It’s about 2 hours each way, but we crossed a bridge and headed back before reaching the waterfall in order to fit in our other hike and make it to Kobarid on time. If you do have the time, though, I could hear the waterfall as we hiked, and it sounded pretty impressive.
Slap Mostnice Trail
Soca River: Slap Mostnice Trail
Beginning of the Slap Mostnice Trail
We ended that day with another waterfall trail (pretty sure every trail includes at least one waterfall), Slap Kozjak. This trail was really close to where we stayed in Kobarid. The hike included some cool caves and an Indiana Jones rope bridge which is really cool until somebody decides to shake it back and forth. You can also cut over to see some WWI bunkers if that’s something that interests you. The trail is easy up until the end (where it’s still pretty easy) when you need to take a series of bridges, steps and ledges to climb behind a cliff and get to the waterfall. Unfortunately, the waterfall is basically inside a dark cavern so it was hard for me to photograph, but it was really cool. It’s very secluded, and again, you can swim there if you’re a polar bear.
Slap Kozjak Trail
Soca River: Slap Kozjak Trail
Slap Kozjak Trail
Unfortunately for us, the predicted thunderstorms showed up, making this the last hike we got to do. There are a lot of great trails in the Bovec/Kobarid area though, so I would recommend checking out others. In short, the hikes we made it to were Vintgar Gorge, Mount Vogel, Slap Savica, Slap Mostnice, Slap Virje, and Slap Kozjak, and I recommend Triglav National Park. All of these are in the Northwestern region of Slovenia. If you’re visiting Slovenia for hiking, I would recommend this region since its where the Alps are most prominent. However, given the general scenery of Slovenia, I’m sure that there are other beautiful hikes across the country, and the Slovenian government has a very useful website that can help you find trails.
We stayed in Bled and Kobarid on the days we hiked, and Bohinj and Bovec are other areas you could stay near these trails, as well as various campsites located in all the hiking areas. A couple quick tips: parking and entrance for most hikes cost money, but if you’re an early bird and can make it before the attendants arrive, you can save a few euros (not sure if this is frowned upon, but it’s true). Also, the hotels we stayed at provided breakfast, as do most in the area, which includes meat, cheese and bread. We and our friends made some sandwiches to take with us on hikes, which were delicious and easy to take along (and free!). In fact when our friends asked the lady who ran their hotel if they could make some sandwiches to go, she made the sandwiches for them and sent all of the leftover meat cheese and bread from breakfast in case they wanted more!
Overall, hiking was a great part of our trip, and, as it’s the most forested country in Europe, the nature in Slovenia really can’t be beat. Feel free to use the contact page if you have any questions about our hikes or Slovenia in general, and I’m happy to help!