I’ve walked in the fairytale mountains above Bohinj and between my first and second attempt to climb the 1,761-m peak Mt. Pršivec I realized something; to hike in that area you have to understand the background. Its remoteness nestled among towering mountains has shaped the locals over the centuries, giving them the skills to not only master the surrounding peaks but even conquer Mt. Triglav as the first. Tackling any trail in their playground might thus bring unexpected hiccups like a section of expert terrain on a trail marked as easy. Yet, dreamy views and the adventure will leave you craving for more.
The peak on the brink of the accessible
Through the window of a car, I remember being awestruck as a child by the serrated outline of a rugged mass of rock and snow, usually shrouded in a swirl of clouds, towering over Gozd Martuljek’s green and vibrant landscape. Later I learned that the Martuljek Mountain Group is the remotest and wildest part of the Julian Alps with only two mountains accessible on marked and secured trails. Other peaks, all over 2K, quietly watching the world from their solitary abode, remain a place for experienced mountaineers, comfortable with climbing and manoeuvring through the labyrinth of faint tracks.
Many years later I am still awestruck; so much that entering that mystical world seems like a far-fetched unattainable adventure that only exists in dreams. Particularly so in winter. Coming close to it to catch a glimpse of the elusive beauty and absorb the grandeur is another matter. And there is no peak closer than Vrtaško Sleme, which at its 2,077 meters brings you so close to the Martuljek Group it seems like you can almost touch its first peak Kukova Špica.
Exploring Slovenia’s Guided Tour to Špik – another peak in the Martuljek Group
Climbing Mt. Stol, the iconic postcard mountain behind Bled
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.
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.
A glimpse of WWI on a stunning traverse from Bohinj to the Soča
On stunningly beautiful trails above Bohinj, where wild flowers grow in abundance and marmots peek from behind large rocks peppered on Alpine meadows, one may be also taken back to the bloody years of WWI. Numerous deteriorating buildings of the war, remains of walls, an old border line with bunkers, and bombs are dotted all along the rugged mountainous stretch between Bohinj and the Soča Valley.
There we were, on a warm and bright day in late September, wearing our hiking clothes and a backpack with the basics for two days in the mountains, starting out our three-day adventure in the Julian Alps. In the first two days we would hike over 24 kilometers and make 2,050 meters of ascent to reach Mt. Krn, 2,244 m, then descend 1,253 meters down to the Soča Valley and spend the third day hiking and relaxing along the Soča River before driving back to Bled, where we had met earlier that day.
Climbing Triglav in the summer on the favored route
I’ve made it no secret that the Julian Alps are one of my favorite corners of Slovenia. Remote and rugged mountainous landscapes full of pinnacles, huge rocks scattered along open trails, vertical walls and dense forests. I love them. That’s why I was thrilled beyond words to return there in September after a busy summer only to experience the most unforgettable adventures. The three-day traverse from Bohinj to the Soča Valley was simply gorgeous, but the two Triglav climbs definitely packed more adrenaline. Exciting times!
Hiking to the dreamy Kriški Podi in the heart of the Triglav National Park
Approximately a half-an-hour drive from Bled, in the very heart of the Triglav National Park, which is at its 838 square kilometers the largest protected area in Slovenia, a plethora of dreamy hiking trails connect valleys with the rugged mountainous world. One of them is a picturesque trail from the Vrata Valley to a high-Alpine plateau set underneath prominent 2.5K peaks. Named after the 2,410-m-tall mountain Križ, the Kriški Podi plateau is home to countless marmots, chamois and Alpine ibexes. Yet that’s not all. The fairytale hike lets you soak up breathtaking views of the highest mountain of Slovenia, Mt. Triglav, and its 3-km wide and 1-km tall Triglav North Face. With sheer rock walls towering all around you and the land so bountiful with wild animals, it feels like being in the middle of remote and dangerous mountains, while in reality it’s the very opposite. The steel cable secures only a couple of more exposed sections on the otherwise technically easy trail, and is as such appropriate for anyone normally fit and with a hearty sense of adventure.
The most scenic tour to Triglav
It’s been 124 years since Jakob Aljaž, a great patriot and a priest, paid one Austro-Hungarian gulden for the top of Slovenia’s highest mountain. The amount of money one could have bought 50 eggs or 10 liters of milk for. His idea was to oppose the prevalent Germanization of the Slovenian people and the mountains in the Austro-Hungarian Empire back then.
Once the top of Slovenia was again Slovenian, he had a 2×1.25 m symbolic tower erected at the top of Triglav on 7 August 1895. In the following years he also mined an almost impassable 30-cm ridge between the peaks of Triglav and Mali Triglav into the nicely wide ridge we know today; besides, he also built the mountain hut Kredarica at 2,515 m and the Aljaž Hut in the Vrata Valley below Triglav. His far-reaching idea was to stimulate more Slovenians to visit the mountains, conquer the very top of Slovenia – the symbol of the Slovenian nation, make new legendary routes, and thus make the mountains Slovenian again.
Our favoured one-day round tour to the Triglav Lakes
I’ve already written about what an amazing country this is, but despite all of its unique qualities, hands down my favorite part of Slovenia is the spectacular mountainous area of the Triglav National Park, the largest protected area in Slovenia covering 838 square kilometers, which encompasses Mt. Triglav and most of the 400 2K+ peaks found in the country. To be honest, the setting with pristine lakes, small streams and towering mountains couldn’t be more beautiful, inspiring or just plain divine. Why would you not hike there?
Check our next tour to the Triglav Lakes
Beautiful mountain above Mojstrana: Vrtaški Vrh
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.
Encircled by high mountains, this picturesque village offers a plethora of hiking trails: Bohinjska Bistrica
Approximately 75 kilometers from Ljubljana, the country’s capital, on the outer edge of the Triglav National Park, the largest protected area in Slovenia covering 838 square kilometers that encompasses Mt. Triglav and most of the 400 2K+ peaks found in the country, there is a sense of contented isolation. It seems that wherever you turn there are dusty trails that wind through tall forests and eventually end up in the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Bohinjska Bistrica, a settlement of less than 1,800 people, lies cradled among 2,000-meter high towering mountains, making it a perfect holiday destination for everyone in love with hiking; mountaineers, families and complete beginners included.