One of the reasons why Slovenia is such an amazing travel destination is its incredible hiking trails. In the northern part of the country, the mountain ranges of the Triglav National Park offer no shortage of excellent options. Here, near the famously beautiful lakes Bled and Bohinj, there are hikes for both beginners and experienced backpackers. And to prove it, here are my seven favorite hikes in the Julian Alps.
- Why Hike in the Julian Alps?
- The Best Hikes in the Julian Alps
- Tips for Hiking in the Julian Alps
- When Can You Hike in the Julian Alps
- Where to Stay in the Julian Alps
Why Hike in the Julian Alps?
Triglav National Park occupies the entire north-western part of Slovenia. Here, the far reaches of the Alps called the Julian Alps form a gorgeous landscape full of imposing mountains, charming lakes, and dreamy valleys.
The entire area is lovely, so it’s hardly a coincidence that it’s been growing in popularity recently, attracting more and more outdoor enthusiasts from across the continent.
At the outset, it may seem that the Julian Alps pale in comparison with the towering peaks of France, Italy, or Switzerland. But what they lack in grandeur, they more than make up for in variety.
Because the Julian Alps aren’t particularly tall, you don’t have to be an alpinist to climb even its most prominent summits. The highest point is Triglav itself, at only 2864 meters. Meanwhile, most of the park can be easily explored on foot, without needing any special gear or training.
This makes Triglav National Park extremely lucrative for hikers. Indeed, there are plenty of routes here, ranging from quick couple-hour endeavors to multi-day adventures. Whether you prefer a leisurely walk or a strenuous climb, you surely won’t feel out of place.
Another great thing about Triglav National Park and Slovenia, in general, is that it’s still a rather undiscovered travel destination. This means it’s not overly crowded, even in the heat of the holiday season. You can enjoy its incredible nature in peace and relative solitude.
And nature is indeed breathtaking. Emerald water streams, rolling hills, glacial lakes, and panoramic mountain landscapes are just a fraction of what you’ll experience in the Julian Alps. So without further ado, let’s dive right into the area’s most remarkable hikes.
The Best Hikes in the Julian Alps
I’ve arranged the hikes in this article by difficulty, starting with more relaxed ones and moving up to true tests of endurance later on. Each one is prefixed with a quick summary, so feel free to jump around to whatever interests you the most.
Mostnica Gorge Hike
- Distance: 4 km (2.5 miles)
- Time required: 1-2 hours
- Difficulty: easy, with minor uphill sections
- Highlights: natural pools and fascinating rock formations
- Cost: €3 (+€3 parking)
- Trailhead: Stara Fužina
Just north of Lake Bohinj, Mostnica Gorge is an undemanding and fun walk through the forest along the alpine river. You’ll get a chance to see a bunch of whirlpools, small cascades, weirdly shaped rocks, and a couple of cool bridges.
You won’t discover epic vistas along this route, but otherwise, the scenery is charming and relaxing. Plus, in summer, Mostnica Gorge offers a welcome escape from the afternoon heat. All in all, it’s a short and pleasant hike that you won’t regret doing.
The entry costs €3, payable in cash only. Those coming with a car will also have to spend the same amount for parking. The trail begins at the upper right corner of the parking lot. From there, head uphill, past the Devil’s Bridge, and into the ravine.
The most common variation continues up until the Češenjski Most, some half an hour in. The hike goes on even further, to Slap Voje waterfall. However, that extends the distance to almost 13 km and in my opinion, doesn’t add much value. So instead, cross the bridge and follow the path on its opposite side back to where you started.
Mostnica Gorge is open all year round and is free in winter. That said, I believe it looks much more impressive in summer, with all the lush vegetation around. Besides, the pathway can be icy and treacherous in the cold season, so tread carefully.
Vintgar Gorge Hike
- Distance: 4.5 to 6 km (2.8 to 3.7 miles)
- Time required: 2-3 hours
- Difficulty: easy, with minor uphill sections
- Highlights: stunning emerald water, Slovenian countryside
- Cost: €10 (+€5 parking)
- Trailhead: Soteska Vintgar
Vintgar Gorge is a short yet beautiful hike just north of Lake Bled. It’s a very popular trail and deservedly so – the gorge is stunning. Personally, I much prefer it to Mostnica, even though in many aspects the two are very similar.
Created by the Radovna River that for centuries carved its way through the soft limestone, Vintgar is a bedazzling collection of pools, rapids, and bends enclosed by vertical walls nearly 100 meters high. And to top it off, there’s a majestic waterfall awaiting at the very end.
The canyon is only 1.6 km long, although you have to take into count the return path as well. Depending on the option you choose, that will add 2.8 to 4.2 kilometers. Luckily, all of it is quite easy, with only occasional uphill sections that aren’t too demanding.
From Bled, you can reach the trailhead by car, bus, train, bicycle, or on foot. I wholeheartedly recommend this hike to everyone staying nearby. It’s a great way to change the scenery for a bit and spend a couple of hours contemplating dramatic views.
Vintgar Gorge is only open in summer, and the entry costs €10. That’s quite expensive for Slovenia but in my opinion, worth paying nonetheless.
I wrote a separate detailed article about this hike, so have a read if you’re interested. In it, I go over everything you need to know about the Vintgar Gorge and share some tips on how to best photograph it.
Savica Waterfall Hike
- Distance: 2 km (1.25 miles)
- Time required: 1.5 hours
- Difficulty: a short but relatively steep ascent
- Highlights: one of Slovenia’s highest waterfalls
- Cost: €3 (+€4 parking)
- Trailhead: Koča pri Savici
Savica waterfall is situated just west of Lake Bohinj and is an undisputed landmark of the area. Slovenia tourism website even goes so far as to rank it as number one in their list of the country’s most spectacular waterfalls.
Honestly, I don’t quite share the sentiment, but it’s a nice waterfall and not that difficult to get to. So if you are staying somewhere nearby and have a free slot in your itinerary, be sure to check it out.
The path is short but steep and will lead you to the viewpoint right in front of the waterfall. Take your time to relish the scenery and snap a few pictures before heading back. The entire trip shouldn’t last more than 90 minutes.
As one of the more famous sights around Bohinj, Savica sure gets a lot of attention. So I suggest coming here early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the worst crowds. The entry will set you back 3 euros.
For more detailed information about the hike, check out this blog post.
Ojstrica and Osojnica Viewpoints Hike
- Distance: 3.5 km (2.2 miles)
- Time required: 1.5-2 hours
- Difficulty: medium, a short but steep ascent
- Highlights: insane panoramas of Lake Bled
- Cost: free
- Trailhead: Lake Bled
Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica are the two most famous viewpoints for Lake Bled. Both offer fantastic bird-eye views of the lake and its surroundings and are quite frankly a must-do in the area. Especially so for photographers.
The vantage points are located west of Lake Bled and close to each other, offering slightly different perspectives. The angles are very similar, however, so pick whichever you prefer or visit them both if you have a chance.
Plan about 20-30 minutes for the ascent depending on your fitness level. The path up isn’t overly long but quite steep, so you’ll soon be out of breath. It’s the first proper hike on this list, albeit a short one, so good shoes are highly recommended.
From both Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica you can continue even higher, to Velika Osojnica viewpoint. It’s the highest of all and well worth the additional effort.
For the best colors and some amazing photos, try coming at sunrise. Watching the sky light up as the sun rises over the distant mountains is a truly wonderful experience. But if you aren’t keen on working your way up in the pre-dawn darkness, sunsets are often equally breathtaking.
For more information about this hike including its map, have a look at this article.
Mount Vogel Hike
- Distance: 10-11 km (6-7 miles)
- Time required: 4-6 hours
- Difficulty: moderate – packs an exercise, but not technical
- Highlights: panoramas of the Julian Alps, two summits
- Cost: €24
- Trailhead: Vogel Ski Center
The hike to the summit of Mount Vogel is one of my favorites in the Julian Alps. It’s tough, but not overly complex, just the right amount long, and the overall balance between the complexity and rewards is near perfect.
You start at the Vogel Ski Center reachable by a gondola from Bohinj. Right off the bat, the scenery is spectacular. From the stunning panorama of Lake Bohinj during the cable car ride to the 360-degree vistas of Triglav National Park at the top, the landscapes are astonishing.
For the next several hours you’ll be negotiating an arduous 700 vertical meters ascent that will surely test your endurance and determination. Luckily, the climb is mostly only moderately steep. With enough rest stops you’ll have little trouble reaching first the summit of Šija and then Vogel itself.
Once there, take a moment to relax, soak in the beauty of Alpine scenery around and feel the solitude. I’ve only met a handful of other hikers on Vogel in September, which makes it an ideal place to switch gears for a bit and let your mind rest.
All in all, I highly recommend this route to anyone who wants to get a feel of what the Julian Alps are all about. Check out this article of mine for a full breakdown and useful tips on how to approach it.
The Seven Lake Valley Hike
- Distance: 28 km (17.5 miles)
- Time required: 8-12 hours
- Difficulty: high – the trail isn’t technical, but long and demanding
- Highlights: mountains, azure lakes, alpine vistas
- Cost: €12 road fee when coming with a car
- Trailhead: Planina Blato, Stara Fužina
One of the tougher options on this list, the Seven Lakes Valley hike takes you right into the heart of the Julian Alps. It requires determination and physical fitness but those who persevere will be handsomely rewarded.
The glacial valley is located in what many consider the most picturesque part of the Triglav National Park. The landscape here is a colorful mixture of striking peaks, bright azure lakes, lush meadows, and dreamy forestry hills that is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Yet to see it, you’ll have to cover nearly 30 kilometers of rocky alpine terrain. For less experienced hikers that might prove a bit too much. That’s why I only recommend this hike to those who are confident in their abilities.
Otherwise, it might be wise to consider a two-day variation and spend the night in one of the valley huts. This makes the effort much more manageable and allows you to explore at your own pace.
On the surface, the Seven Lake Valley is not as jam-packed with highlights as the Mount Vogel hike. Yet it grows into you, and as fatigue wears off, only the pleasant memories remain. So if you love nature and the great outdoors, this hike is certainly worth doing.
To get a full sense of what the Seven Lake Valley has to offer, check out this article of mine.
Mount Triglav Hike
- Distance: 19-26 km (12-16 miles)
- Time required: 1-3 days
- Difficulty: high – a long and steep climb with a via ferrata section at the end
- Highlights: Slovenia’s highest peak
- Cost: €50+
- Trailheads: various
While I haven’t personally done this one, I want to include it for completeness. Climbing Mount Triglav is one of the most sought-after hikes in Slovenia and for a good reason. While not overly complex (at least when compared to other alpine summits), it’s hugely exciting and extremely rewarding.
There are several variations of the route. The most common is a 2-day option with an overnight stay in one of the mountain huts. Doing it in one day is also possible, but requires a continuous 12+ hour push which isn’t ideal for most people.
Length aside, most of the hike isn’t too difficult and can be done without any special equipment. There’s only one section towards the end where a helmet and harness are advised. These can be rented in the huts if needed though some people choose to go without protection altogether.
As a prize for your efforts, you will be treated to a sense of great accomplishment and an outstanding 360-degree view of the Alps and across most of Slovenia. On a clear day, you can even see the Adriatic Sea and the Dolomites from the Triglav summit!
This article does an excellent job of outlining all the possible options for climbing Mount Triglav and has tons of useful info to help you prepare.
Tips for Hiking in the Julian Alps
Hiking in the Julian Alps isn’t much different from that anywhere else in the world. If you’re an avid hiker, feel free to skip this section, as you’ll probably know most of this stuff already. But for those who are only beginning to discover the lure of the mountains, here are a few important things to remember:
- Respect the environment. Always stick to the golden rule: take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, and keep nothing but memories.
- Wild camping is prohibited in Triglav National Park. You can only sleep in the huts or the specially designated areas.
- Swimming in the mountain lakes is not allowed. To be clear, this doesn’t apply to Bled and Bohinj but to water pools found along the hiking trails.
- While running water is generally drinkable in Triglav National Park, it’s often hard to come by, so pack a sufficient amount.
- Do your research and come prepared. Although the hikes in the Julian Alps are mostly easy, you are still in an alpine environment that can be dangerous.
- Have maps that you can rely on. For smartphones, I always recommend the Maps.me app, as their maps are super informative and work offline.
- Proper shoes and layered clothes are a must.
- If you go alone, let someone know where you’re heading.
- Know your limits and don’t overestimate your abilities. You are solely responsible for your well-being. Injuring yourself will only ruin your vacation.
- For photographers, drones are not permitted in Triglav National Park.
When Can You Hike in the Julian Alps
There is no official season for hiking in the Julian Alps with some of the routes open all year long. In particular, Mostnica Gorge, Savica waterfall, and Ojstrica viewpoint are perfectly doable even in winter if you are careful enough.
With longer routes, your mileage may vary. Even if there is no snow, I wouldn’t attempt them in winter unless you know exactly what you’re doing. The huts are closed, the days are short, and the experience won’t be optimal, let alone safe.
The ideal period for hiking in the Julian Alps is between June and October. It’s warm and dry, and the routes are in perfect condition. Plus, you get more daylight and can fully enjoy the pleasant weather. If you come in June, you can even catch some alpine bloom.
Where to Stay in the Julian Alps
This largely depends on what you intend to do and whether you have a car. Both Bohinj and Bled make for an excellent base of operations. With a car, it’s mostly a question of preference. Bohinj is closer to the best hikes in Triglav National Park, while Bled is more relaxed and idyllic.
If you rely on public transport, look for accommodation wherever is closer to the routes you plan on trying. One thing I advise against is staying in Ljubljana and resorting to day trips. It may seem reasonably close, but traffic often gets congested, and you’ll be losing precious time.
Personally, I much prefer Lake Bled as a home base. It’s somewhat on the outskirts of the Julian Alps but a beautiful place that is a pleasure to return to after a fulfilling trip into the mountains.
The Julian Alps are undoubtedly an amazing region of Slovenia that every nature lover and outdoor enthusiast would do good to visit. With its stunning views and plenty of wilderness to explore it’ll keep even the seasoned travelers happy and energized.
There are many exciting hikes in the Julian Alps. What we covered in this post is merely scratching the surface of what it has to offer. Still, if you’re only spending a few short nights in Triglav National Park, this is more than enough to get started.
But of course, I urge you to do your own research and discover other paths, perhaps even the less traveled ones. The Julian Alps are lovely and gorgeous, and I can guarantee you won’t leave disappointed.
I hope you enjoyed this quick guide to some of the best hikes in the Julian Alps and got something useful out of it. If so, please share it with your friends and on social media to help spread the word. And if you have any questions, please reach out to me in the comments.
I also have other articles about Slovenia and beyond. Have a look around the blog and I’m sure you’ll find something interesting. But just in case, here are some of my favorites:
- A Land of Wonders: 10 Great Reasons to Travel to Slovenia
- Seven Lakes Valley: a Gorgeous Full Day Hike in the Julian Alps
- How to Photograph Lake Bled: Best Locations and Useful Tips
- Into the Glorious Abyss: Why You Must Visit the Škocjan Caves
- A Perfect Holiday: Top Things to Do and See in the Mosel Valley
- Charmingly Authentic: Reasons Why Passau Is Worth Visiting
If you enjoyed this content, feel free to support me by treating me to a glass of ice-cold beer. Cheers, you’re a legend!
Or consider subscribing to my recently-launched newsletter. Each month I share my thoughts on travel, photography, and creativity in a way that doesn’t fit into a regular blog post. No spam, guaranteed. Unsubscribe anytime.
Not sure? Have a look through the latest issues of the newsletter over here and decide for yourself.
With that, happy travels and let’s see each other soon!