As we were driving towards the mountains, the soft morning light, caught in the forested slopes of the Karavanke Alps on the right and the craggy peaks of the Julian Alps on the left, added to the vibrancy of a beautiful autumn day. The contrast between the freshly covered snow-capped peaks and the explosion of colors in the forest lower down was mesmerizing. Anything from virgin white to bright green, red, yellow and orange-brown, all set against a clear blue sky with an occasional streak of fog still lingering in the fresh air. The kind of perfection that can only be seen right after a good long downpour.
Best mountain hikes in Slovenia in summer 2023
As an owner of a touring agency and a mountain guide I feel fortunate to be able to do many mountain hikes and climbs and see beautiful hard-to-reach places that many only dream about. Whether it’s a daring ascent of Triglav, the highest mountain of Slovenia, wandering among colorful meadows in the beautifully remote mountains above Jezersko, or a dreamy hike in the hills around Lake Bled. We’ve done all of them together and it’s been pretty damn awesome.
This summer, Tracey, a wonderful gal from Australia, whom I shared two great via Ferratas with, asked me if I ever influence people’s decisions about which tour to select. Put aside professional decision making to suggest an appropriate mountain tour based on people’s skills and experience, I most definitely do. To be honest, I always try to push a bit of my own hiking wishes into the decision process and that is not necessarily a bad thing either. Our clients end up visiting all the best places in any given season.
When flowers bloom in the mountains, we do the most beautiful loops among fragile daffodils, crocuses, wild orchids, gentians, edelweiss and many others. When an abundance of rainfall fills the enchanting Triglav Lakes up to the brim and sometimes even over, we absolutely skip other hikes and go there instead. When it’s time to do a breathtaking via Ferrata in the mountains, we climb Mala Mojstrovka, but when we want a challenging via Ferrata, we go for the bold climb to Gradiška Tura even if the drive takes much longer than the mainstream ones nearby. Given the fact that I’ve been going around Slovenian mountains for a couple of decades, I can confidently say that those who have trusted Exploring Slovenia so far have not been disappointed. Biased or not.
To prove that, here are ten highlights of our best mountain hikes and climbs in the summer season 2023. Enjoy!
Hiking in the Julian Alps among flowers, a lake and stunning views: Jerebica
To be quite honest, I had been eyeing this peak for years. A moderately demanding day hike in the Julian Alps, whose peak opens up to absolutely stunning views of a lake. Mt. Jerebica is a beautiful hike throughout, but its top will literally blow your mind away as it faces the 1,400-m long and 400-m wide glacial Rabeljsko Jezero (Eng. Lake of Predil) from a thousand meters above. Yet, as much as I devote my life to the mountains, Jerebica has always managed to slip by somehow. A couple of years ago I even attempted to hike it but failed badly due to the lack of preparation. Yes, one wrong turn right at the beginning of the trail can eventually lead you into a maze of wide and deep Karst holes and cracks instead of taking you to the comfortable grass-covered peak with a view of a turquoise lake. However, once I did manage to climb Jerebica – I was not disappointed!
Here’s what you need to know about the hike above a beautiful lake.
Seven lush, green and fragrant mountain hikes in Slovenia
As the season turns around and we are suddenly faced with high temperatures and lots of hot sun, it’s nice to look back and daydream about the awesome mountain adventures you’ve done in the past months. Due to a colder start of the spring, the nature remained in its snooze mode for a couple of weeks longer this year, but once it finally did wake up, it was freaking insane! I’d never seen so many daffodils in the mountains before, nor had the mid-elevation peaks looked so lush and verdant in early June.
Let’s go through the most memorable mountain hikes (and one awesome climb!) that Exploring Slovenia did this spring.
Slovenia in spring: from flowers to snow in six hiking trips
There’s that special moment in the year when we get to see two seasons overlap. Lively birds singing, trees blossoming and the first flowers announcing the arrival of warmer spring days down in the valleys. However, higher up in the mountains the strong north winds and freezing temperatures still hold a firm hold over the white mountaintops. The best of spring and winter in the great outdoors is right here, it’s just a matter of us grasping it or not.
To that extent I’ve been fortunate to walk endless greening meadows speckled with wild marsh tulips, hike along rolling hills carpeted with purple crocuses, and see the trees coming into leaf along a vibrant small gorge. Over a thousand meters higher, on the other hand, I enjoyed snowshoeing in half a meter of fresh snow up to incredible mountain peaks, while also climbing safely to a white peak with views of both Slovenia and Austria.
Here are five memorable spring hikes in the Slovenian Alps and the hillside close to Ljubljana that I’ve done; some you can do easily with your family and friends, and some are preferably reserved for the more experienced hikers or in company of a certified guide. Either way, enjoy the pictures and the gorgeous first days of spring and the last of winter!
Best of Soča Valley in winter: from skiing, panoramic hiking to frozen waterfalls
With the winter school break in sight and two kids in tow bursting with energy, it was high time to plan a decent family vacation. We had practically tried all ski resorts in Slovenia already and some across the border in Italy and Austria as well, but nothing really appealed. Not with school-break crowds there anyway. Then it dawned on me. The Soča Valley, the long valley of the emerald green Soča River in northwestern Slovenia with a high-mountain ski resort and countless hiking trails, might be a tiny bit too celebrated in summer, but is highly overlooked in winter! No crowds, just lounging in perfection of the high mountains and expansive panoramas, hiking on empty sunny trails and exploring numerous frozen waterfalls in this spectacular and secluded valley.
Sounds idyllic, right?!
I booked an apartment in Bovec, which would place us strategically for our planned winter fun: 2 minutes away from the cable car to the Kanin Ski Resort, 5 minutes from two beautiful and easy panoramic hikes, 13 minutes from the Great Soča Gorge, and 13 minutes from the Loška Koritnica Valley, a valley of a hundred waterfalls. Sure, Bovec doesn’t offer any spa resorts or any other means for idle pampering to be exact, but, honestly, we weren’t even looking for that. Being surrounded with so much beauty and outdoor options was enough for my family.
Hiking among Alpine pastures of Pokljuka
Hidden in southwestern Pokljuka, a high karst plateau in the Julian Alps with 6,300 ha of mostly fir forests, are numerous Alpine pastures with old wooden huts that seem lost in time. Some of them have been changed into tourist homes, while others are kept simple by the new generations of the old shepherd families. In summer, hikers can make a stop to taste delicious home-made cheeses, sour milk and sometimes local cured meats and štruklji – a welcome relief on their wanderings along the long trails of Pokljuka.
In winter, however, there is a sense of contented isolation. As often as not, from late-autumn until mid-spring the pastures, especially the higher ones, are uninhabited and inaccessible by car, and can only be reached on skis or showshoes. Set against a playground of high peaks of the Julians Alps and yet so snugly hidden in the otherwise thick forest, Pokljuka’s Alpine pastures offer perfect winter hiking goals with breathtaking views of the winter wonderland.
Adventuring in the Julian Alps
After a long summer, spent mostly guiding in the mountains, it’s nice to just sit back and look at how the sun lures hikers out and about while the rain again sends them back into the comfort of home. The fast every day work – life routine changes for a couple of hours or, if we are lucky, days, and we get to rush outside to enjoy ourselves. It feels almost like pressure to maximize a sunny weekend, collecting memories which will undoubtedly fade rather sooner than later in this rushed way of life.
Instead, breathe in and take a step back. Go outdoors to recharge, to soak up the tranquility of mother nature and its wonderful creations, and to return back home feeling positive and energized.
Colors of the fall in the Julian and Karavanke Alps
As fog creeps into the sleepy valleys, hiding its browning trees, the cold whitens the mountain tops in the surrounding Alpine ranges, and the daylight shortens, one thing is certain. The carefree mountaineering summer season is finished. The mountains now demand more planning and more weight on the backs, nonetheless, the best days are only yet to come. The changing colors of the fall have turned the mountains, rich in larch forests, completely golden, and the copious rainfall will soon replenish the Alpine streams and lakes after a long hot summer.
Viewpoints of Lake Bled for a perfect postcard
In the midst of forested hills set against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks lies a small lake with an idyllic island in the middle, and a medieval castle dramatically perched on a cliff above the shore. The lake color changes with seasons and it goes from deep blue-green in winter to sapphire blue in summer. Considered as one of the most beautiful Alpine resorts in Europe, Lake Bled has been a tourist destination for centuries, while it also regularly tops the lists of the most beautiful places in the world.