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!

Crocuses bloom every spring on Martinj Vrh

Exploring Slovenia’s best spring hikes:
Flower hike on Golica
Velika Planina and crocuses
Goli Vrh above Jezersko

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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. 

Discover Soča Valley:
Secret gems of the Soča Valley
A glimpse of WWI on a stunning traverse from Bohinj to the Soča
Where to hike around the Soča Valley in amazing western Slovenia
Krn Lakes above Soča Valley

 As the sun sparkles over the emerald green Soča River, which winds from its source at 990 meters above Trenta all the way to the Adriatic Sea at Italy’s Trieste, the surrounding hills and mountains call for an adventure. There are endless options in the Soča Valley and it would be wrong to think that one would only visit it for the river. While the Soča is truly spectacular and deserves our attention, the Soča Valley is just so much more; it is interwoven with various hiking trails that bring us either high up into the Alpine world, or to hidden waterfalls, gorgeous lakes, mysterious remains of WWI, and even the highest-lying ski resort in Slovenia.
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Visoki Mavrinc, a gorgeous and safe peak above Kranjska Gora

Way up high – above the lively Alpine town of Kranjska Gora, a glacial valley with a mountain stream, the evergreen fir forests and an escarpment that ends with some of the highest mountains in Slovenia – is a comfortable 1,562-meter peak. The trail to get there narrows from a broad valley to a forest which ends quite unexpectedly on an open flat top. We gasped at the sight. Perhaps even more than the tall peaks, this rather low peak opens to sublime views and lets you soak up the intense history of the place and magic of the Alps without risking too much on the way.

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Climbing Mt. Begunjščica in harsh winter conditions

{A disclaimer for the wise: conditions in the mountains can change very quickly, therefore plan your climb accordingly; read about the planned route, check the avalanche reports, the amount of snow in the mountains, and reports about the temperature and wind changes, consult with mountain guides and local climbers,…}

A few weeks ago, back in March, I joined a guided mountaineering course to learn about climbing steeper terrain in the snow safely. It was great with the hands-on approach, so we learned the skills while actually climbing a mountain, the 2,332-m high Mala Mojstrovka above Kranjska Gora. As it turned out, the climb was unforgettable, and, me being me, I had to return to the mountains the very next day and try the easiest winter approach to Mt. Begunjščica, the 2K mountain you usually see in the background of the Lake Bled photos. Today, comfortable in my office, I’m reliving the crazy but wonderful moments of climbing that thing in a swirl of a snow blizzard, fierce wind and temperatures way below zero, and, yet, my heart melts with the fond memories. Here’s the story.

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The beautiful Vršič Pass in winter

Beginner winter climb in the Slovenian Alps: Mala Mojstrovka

{A disclaimer for the wise: conditions in the mountains can change very quickly, therefore plan your climb accordingly; read about the planned route, check the avalanche reports, the amount of snow in the mountains, and reports about the temperature and wind changes, consult with mountain guides and local climbers,…}

As crocuses, primroses and spring snowflakes awake from the hard soil and the nature in the valleys begins to pick up more vibrant hues of blue and green, the mountains continue to stand firmly their winter ground in the face of the awakening spring. You drive to them in perfect sunshine, but end up climbing in temperatures way below freezing with occasional snow blizzards and fierce wind chills. Yet, the freezing temperatures make the snow stable and awesome for some serious winter ascents, and that’s what counts when you’re slowly battling your way up on the steep snow glazed slopes.

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Hiking the gorgeous Karawanks: Veliki Vrh and Kofce

IN Adventure , Alps , Hiking , Hiking blog , Karavanke , Karawanks , mountaineering , mountains , Slovenia , Winter

As much as I tout the Julian Alps as being amazing and unique in their beauty, there’s still that corner of my heart that jumps for joy for their south-facing neighboring mountain range, the Karawanks. Stretching 120 kilometers from east to west and serving as an actual border between Slovenia and Austria, the Karawanks offer mostly sunny hiking, remarkable wild flowers in late spring and huts with traditional mountain food. To be honest, the alluring setting couldn’t be more ideal, especially on a beautiful winter day.

And we’ve seen many of those over the past few weeks!

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Climbing Mt. Stol, the iconic postcard mountain behind Bled

IN Adventure , Alps , Bled , Hiking , Hiking blog , Karavanke , Karawanks , mountains , News , Winter

As tourists snap selfies in front of the deep green Alpine lake Bled and take a boat to the little island with a 12th century church, the dramatic backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of the Karavanke Mountains lure the other kind – the adventurers at heart. The highest in the 120-km-long mountain range, which stretches all the way from the border with Italy and Austria, to Croatia, is the outstanding Mount Stol.

The Karavanke Mountain range rise above Lake Bled with Mt. Stol on the far left

Hiking it will serve you idyllic vistas quite different from the sheer walls and rugged landscapes typical of the Triglav National Park. Here you’ll be given incredible views across the valley floor, the Sava River, and Lake Bled, while the top will literally blow your mind away as the landscape suddenly transforms into an Alpine fairy tale with seemingly never-ending white peaks all around.

The turquoise Sava Dolinka River snaking its way towards Ljubljana at the foothills of Mt. Stol
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Hiking in a winter fairy tale above Kranjska Gora: Mt. Cipernik

Serene and tranquil, rising high above Kranjska Gora, this mountain hides under a thick layer of virgin fluffy snow, its top unveiling unspoiled Alpine vistas, never-ending rolling hills, and “the mother of all ski jumping hills” Planica. Yet this lonely 1,745-meter peak is not only a forest hike with only stunning views at the top. Cipernik is adorned with a mysterious “Black cave”, numerous viewpoints, a meadow with a mountain hut, a rock arch formation with a naturally occurring window, and a perfect 6-7-hour round route. Want to hear the crazy part? You can *literally* hike it from the cute little alpine town of Kranjska Gora.

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Beautiful mountain above Mojstrana: Vrtaški Vrh

IN Alps , Hiking , Hiking blog , Triglav National Park , Winter

At first glance, Mojstrana seems like a classic small town of a little over a thousand people. Yet this little town is anything but ordinary. Apart from hosting the Slovenian Alpine Museum, namely the only mountaineering museum in Slovenia, Mojstrana is also closely connected to the Julian Alps, the Triglav National Park and the Karawanks. That’s why I’m always beyond psyched when visiting that part of Slovenia and exploring the beautiful mountains and waterfalls surrounding it. This time I headed towards a most scenic 1,900-meter high mountain called Vrtaški Vrh with not only astonishing views of the tall and grand, but also green valleys and countless spring flowers blooming along the trail.

Hiking in the Julian Alps, Vrtaški vrh, Slovenia, Triglav National Park

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Hiking with dogs on Velika Planina, Visit Ljubljana, Slovenia

Unplugging on Velika Planina

Fairytale on Velika Planina is everything I love about mountain resorts: it’s remote and isolated, yet still nicely connected to the valley by a cable car or a road that ends only 45 minutes away. It has personality and all the little benefits of any other nice resort in the valley, plus you stay in pristine nature with spectacular views of sunlit mountaintops of the Alps. That’s why I was beyond psyched when the kind folks at Fairytale on Velika Planina invited me up for a few days of snowy trails and jaw-dropping sunrises and sunsets.

And did I mention dogs are allowed? Lisa and her furry buddy Hari were welcome too!

Sunset on Velika Planina, Visit Ljubljana, Slovenia
A true spectacle of nature… Most of the photos are by: Lorenzo Acciai

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