Hiking in Slovenia
Slovenia is a country which can offer a great hiking experience and caters for experienced hikers who want demanding hikes such as those on offer in the Julian Alps, to those who are complete beginners and want to take things a little easier. With its diverse landscape which includes soaring mountain peaks, dense alpine forests, rolling hills and lush green valleys Slovenia has a lot to offer anyone wanting to take a hiking holiday or spend a day walking in around one of Europe’s prettiest and most diverse countries.
With around 8,500 km of marked trails, the hills and mountains of Slovenia offer hikes for walkers of all levels of experience and fitness. The mountainous areas of the Julian Alps, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and Karavanke mountains are most popular between the months of April and October. These three areas are popular with local hikers as well as visitors from overseas. There is also a number of other hill areas which are popular with walkers and hikers and they include the areas of:
Idrijsko Hribovje, Pohorje, Cerkljansko Hribovje, Škofjeloško Hribovje, Polhograjsko Hribovje, Posavsko.
While you can hike on your own in the hills and mountains of Slovenia, on some of the more demanding mountain trails it’s best to hire a guide, especially in the winter months. The snow can make some areas dangerous in terms of avalanches and other hazards, but if you have a local, experienced guide who knows the area, you will be in good hands and can enjoy the scenic beauty in complete safety.
Themed Hiking Trails
The Slovenian Ramblers’ Association, in association with the Slovenian Tourist Board, has come together to devise a number of thematic hiking trails. There is a wide range of trails on offer and they are designed to give hikers a deeper understanding of the culture and history of Slovenia as well as helping walkers discover more about Slovenia’s natural wildlife. The thematic trails on offer include:
Cultural trails, heritage trails, historical trails and even food and wine trails to give an insight into the history of Slovenia, its culture and customs. There are also trails which focus purely on nature and these include trails through valleys and over mountains, trails along the coast and some through forests.
Many of the trails are in protected areas and many cover areas which are not so well known to tourists. If you check with the Slovenian Tourist Board and Ramblers Association, you can get more details on the hikes and walks on offer. They will give you all the following information so you can see if the trail is suitable for you:
Details of the approximate time to complete the trail.
The length of the trail from start to finish.
You will also receive maps and instructional leaflets on the trail and the area you are visiting with a background to the area and other useful facts.
They also provide recommendations for the most experienced guides, who can help you discover the local area and show you sites and places of interest along the way.
Many of the thematic hiking trails are day hikes but others are longer lasting for several days, and there are recommendations for the most suitable accommodation along the trail route.
Nordic walking is very popular with Slovenians and also with the many of the tourists that visit Slovenia. The sport originated in Finland and became popular in the 1990s, continuing to grow in popularity.
Not only is it a great way to get fit, it’s suitable for all ages and for those with no experience. Nordic walking, which involves walking with poles, is one of the most effective, safe, complete body workouts so it’s a great way to get fit and take in the beauty of the scenery at the same time.
Nordic walking can be done on the majority of hiking trails in Slovenia but the best way to enjoy Nordic walking is in Slovenia’s two Nordic walking parks. These are located in Šmarješke Toplice and in Pomurje. The parks have specific trails you can follow through the parks and you can also take advantage of the parks’ experienced guides.
You can get lessons in the proper Nordic walking techniques. You will learn how to choose the right poles as well as what the benefits of Nordic walking are, and there are many which include:
It’s a complete body workout and exercises around 90% of the body’s total muscle mass.
It helps to strengthen both the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Improves overall stamina and endurance.
Strengthens the upper body particularly the arms and shoulders, increases the flexibility of the body, particularly in the back and spine.
Helps to strengthen the neck, shoulders and lower back.
Strengthens the leg muscles, the buttocks, and abdominal muscles
Increases the heart rate by 20 beats per minute more than ordinary walking
Burns around 30-40% more calories than ordinary walking
Uses around 25% more oxygen than ordinary walking.
The above are just some of the benefits of Nordic walking but there are lots more. Slovenia is a great place to discover this popular and healthy outdoor activity.
The Slovenia Hiking Experience
All trails are all marked with route markings which consist of a red circle with a white centre. At the starting point of the trail, the grade of each trail is designated by a red triangle for harder or more strenuous trails, and a red triangle with an exclamation mark for the most demanding trails. Easy trails, which are suitable for anyone, have no grading.
Many trails start and end at designated hotels which specialise in providing accommodation, equipment and information for hikers. In the mountains, there are a number of dedicated lodges on routes which are open throughout the summer months.
When in the high mountains, hikers can often spend summer nights at mountain huts which are spread out at various intervals along the trail. Apart from in certain areas of the mountains, hiking is a year-round activity.
In addition, the walking trails go all over the country and connect with one another which means you can hike from one end of the country to the other along marked trails. Slovenia is also in the middle of the European E6 and E7 Walking Routes which covers the whole of Europe.
If you like hiking, you will love Slovenia and what it has to offer, and if you are visiting, you will find a warm welcome and a great hiking experience to enjoy. Useful information about hiking tours can be found at the “Hiking in Slovenia” website and in their guidebook.