Triglav National Park / Best of: Slovenian Mountain Trail
Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Start: 1A Adventure Hostel, Leske
End: Hostel pod Voglom, Lake Bohinj
Time: 5+ Days
Surface: Mountain Paths
Situated in the northwest corner of tiny Slovenia, a nation on the Adriatic sea between eastern Italy, Austria, and Croatia, you’ll find Triglav—the second-oldest national park in Europe. Preserved in some form for nearly a century, it’s more than just a popular nature spot. Along with the surrounding Julian Alps, Triglav is the location of the country’s most iconic landscapes, starting with the fabled fairy-tale town of Bled and its beautiful namesake lake.
I have had many requests to detail a condensed version, or a ‘BEST OF” the Slovenian National Trail (aka Slovenian Mountain Trail) that would take about one week to finish. This wasn’t a difficult question to answer as the year after I completed the full Slovenian Mountain Trail, I returned to Slovenia to do my favorite portion of the trek through Triglav National Park. While all of the Slovenian Mountain Trail is stunningly beautiful, this section of the trail has the most mountains, the best views, and the widest variety of landscapes.
This is my complete itinerary that I booked for myself for this abbreviated SMT with plenty of options for you to pick and choose from in order to create your own, personalized trek through the Lake Bled area and Triglav National Park.
Check out the full details of the complete Slovenian Mountain Trail that I have put together as there is a lot of information that you will be able to use for this small excerpt of the trail as well. Most importantly, join the Alpine Association of Slovenia. Even though you will only be on the trail for about one week, you will be walking the route with the most expensive mountain huts. By joining this association, you will be saving 50% of your mountain hut fee for each night, and you will end up saving quite a bit of money.
Lake Bled, will be your home base for this adventure. There are many things to do around Lake Bled, so consider sticking around here for a day or two before / after your hike up into Triglav National Park.
One train stop away from Lake Bled is the town of Lesce and I’m suggesting that the hostel there be used as your home base for this journey. Book your stay at 1A Adventure Hostel. This hostel is about 20 minutes walking from Lake Bled and though there are places to stay closer to Lake Bled, this hostel has always been my favorite. 1A Adventure Hostel has a variety of room options including private rooms, small dorms, and large dorms, and if you let them know you are coming by train or bus, they will arrange to meet you and bring you to the hostel.
The owner of 1A Adventure Hostel (Luka) is AMAZING and he will strike up a conversation with absolutely everyone that walks through the door. By the time he is done with one lighthearted conversation, he is on to the next, introducing all the guests to each other as he goes, and in no time at all, it feels like everyone knows everyone, and before long the whole atmosphere is friendly and everyone feels at home. 1A Adventure Hostel is actually one of my favorite places to stay, anywhere, and though I have pretty much already seen everything in the Lake Bled area, I return to that area just to stay at this hostel.
Once you are done exploring Lake Bled, it is time to set off on your featured adventure. The ‘Best of’ the Slovenian Mountain Trail all takes place inside Triglav National Park.
Triglav National Park is the only Slovenian national park. The park embraces nearly all of the territory of the Julian Alps in Slovenia. The first form of protection in the area dates back to 1924. The highest point in the TNP is also Slovenia’s tallest mountain, Triglav (2864 m), after which the park was named. The park’s image consists of high-altitude mountains with he mightiest summits in Slovenia, deeply-cut glacial valleys, lakes, rivers and gorges, high-altitude pastures and forests, rich cultural heritage and picturesque villages with tended cultural landscape.
In addition to its primary purpose of nature protection and conservation of the cultural landscape, the Triglav National Park is a place of exploration, education, as well as a place to connect with nature.
When you enter the park, you enter a highly sensitive world of natural ecosystems. It is an exceptional experience to get to know the nature, cultural history and the people who live within the park, but in doing so you should always observe the primary objectives of nature protection.
Visiting the Triglav National Park will be one of the highlights of any time you visit Slovenia, but in doing so, you should always observe the park’s primary objective of preserving nature. You can have a rich, hands-on experience, but remember that you are a guest in this stunningly beautiful, yet highly sensitive natural environment and that by visiting this national park you take on the responsibility to help maintain its pristine state.
PhD Botanist / Plant Physiologist and Geneticist
Supporter and Promoter of the Triglav National Park
Fran Jensco was born into a traditional locksmithing family in Skofja Loka on 14 March 1875. Having completed grammar school in Ljubljana in 1890, he enrolled at the Vienna University to study natural science and obtained a PhD degree in 1900. In 1902 he passed a certification exam to teach natural science and chemistry. Between 1902 and 1904 he was prefect of the Vienna Thereslanum and professor of natural science.
After a few years stay in Egypt, in 1907 he began to work at the Botanical Institute of the Vienna University and as demonstrator also at the Department of Plant Sciences of the Vienna University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences. He studied the resting and budding of plants, particularly the genetics of the hybrids of the wheat and rye and in 1913 qualified as private assistant professor of plant breeding and horticulture.
In 1920 he became full professor of botany at the Zegreb University but gave up this position when he was appointed as full professor of botany at the University of Ljubljana. There, he founded the Botanical Institute and continued to teach until his death on 14 July 1932 as a result from a fall at the Komarča slope two days earlier while he was visiting students in the Triglav Lakes Valley.
By 1924 he had drawn the boundaries of the nature protection area in this valley with some of his students. In an article published in the newspaper on 30 May 1926, Jesenko named this area as Triglav national Park and stressed the importance of its preservation. Jesenko also devoted his efforts to a greater concern for the Tivoli Park of Ljubljana and together with architect Plechnik, considered the idea of turning Rožnik and Šišensko crib hills into a botanical park.
Fran Jesenko was indeed one of the earliest Slovenian nature protectionists as well as the first president of the Yugoslav Winter Sports Association, which in 1932 honored him with a cross and plaque on the Komarča slope.
Thus begins the Best of: Slovenian Mountain Trail excerpt that everyone has been asking me for.
Day 1 is a LONG DAY! Not only are you walking between all of these points, but you will also be exploring Vintgar Gorge for a couple of hours. So it can easily be a 12-hour day even if you don’t take a lot of breaks.
|1||1A Adventure Hostel||Vintgar Gorge||7.2 miles||3 hours|
|2||Vintgar Gorge||The Galleries||4.5 miles||2 hours|
|3||The Galleries||Turning Point (head North)||1 mile||1 hour|
|4||Turning Point||Blejska koča na Lipanci (Mountain Hut)||6.5 miles||3 hours|
One of the many cultural things to note as you are walking are the vertical walls where farmers stack their hay to keep it dry.
GPS: 46.398032, 14.092105
Your first stop today will be the jaw-dropping Vintgar Gorge, a few kilometres from the Bled and Leske. This impressive wonder was carved by the crystal-clear river Radovna deep amidst the vertical walls of Hom and Boršt hills. When you are ready to start hiking, you can just start walking from the 1A Adventure Hostel, or you can get a ride from the hostel to the first stop for a small fee.
The Vintgar Gorge was discovered by photographer Benedikt Lergetporer and Gorje mayor and cartographer Jakob Žumer in 1891. At first impassable and inaccessible in its natural form, the gorge was regulated and opened for the public in 1893 after constructing a secure trail of wooden bridges and galleries, enabling tourists to visit this wonder of nature.
The jaw-dropping Vintgar Gorge is found a few kilometres from the town of Bled and its beautiful lake. This impressive wonder was carved by the crystal-clear river Radovna deep amidst the vertical walls of Hom and Boršt hills. Considered to be among the most beautiful gorges in Europe, the Vintgar Gorge is 1600 metres long and runs up to 250 metres deep. It features wooden galleries and bridges that run along the river’s waterfalls, pools and rapids, enabling visitors to explore the site in about one hour.
During the walk, about 33.5 meters above the path, you can admire the stone arch bridge of the Bohinj railway, built in 1905. If lucky enough, you can see the train driving across the bridge while visiting the gorge.
The pathway ends at the stunning point – the picturesque 13 meters high Šum river waterfall, one of only three river waterfalls in Slovenia. From here you can either retrace your steps on your way back or take a separate hiking trail that starts at the end of the gorge and takes you to Church of St. Catherine and back to the upper parking lot. This circular route is approximately 12 kilometers long.
Vintgar Gorge Visiting Hours
April/May/June: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
July/August: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
September: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
October: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Vintgar Gorge Tickets & Parking
Adults (15+ yrs): 10 Euro
Children (6-15 yrs): 2 Euro
Children (up to 6 yrs): 1 Euro
Pets: 3 Euro
Parking: 5 Euro
After a couple of hours exploring Vintgar Gorge, it is time to leave the paved streets behind and head deep into into Triglav National Park.
Along the way you will pass through the town of Gorje, where beekeeping is an important agricultural activity in this area with a long and rich tradition. In fact, Slovenians are such enthusiasts that more than 10,000 inhabitants, i.e. one in 200, are engaged in this activity.
Therefore, it’s not surprising at all that Slovenia boasts its very own Apiculture Museum in Radovljica, and that Slovenian beekeepers are well organized under the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association.
Beekeeping has gained international recognition due to its particular features, such as the unique painted beehive decorative panels. They originated from folk awareness and imagination during the mid-18th century, and depict the central themes and motifs of various narratives, legends and everyday rural life.
Slovenia also prides itself with the Carniolan honey bee, an autochthonous Slovenian bee subspecies renowned for its docility, hard work, humility and excellent sense of orientation. This bee variety is regarded as the second most widespread in the world and is protected as an indigenous subspecies in Slovenia.
The Pokljuka Gorge in the Triglav National Park is a natural attraction that extends from the area of the gorge right up to the Pokljuka plateau. In 1993, the Polka Gorge was proclaimed a national monument.
The nearly 2-km-long dry valley, only a few meters wide in some places, is remarkable in many respects. The gorge was formed by the erosion effects of a glacier river flowing from under the receding Pokljuka glacier approximately 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age. The creation of the gorge happened rather quickly and the erosion only lasted as long as there were streams coming down the mountain from the melting ice. Since the time that the waters have stopped, the Pokljuka gorge has become one of the most beautiful dry, sub-glacial fossil gorges in Slovenia, and in particular the Slovenian Alps. The remains of the glacial fan and a glacial-fluvial terrace resulting from the retreat of the Radon glacier are still visible at the mouth of the valley.
The Pokljuka Gorge is will-known for its vertical and overhanging walls, rising up to 50m high. In places the gorge narrows down to barely passible sections, sometimes giving this trail a very haunting and claustrophobic feeling. The wider sections in between are called ‘little gardens.’ The gorge features several interesting geomorphological attractions, such as natural bridges, overhanging walls, and a multitude of shallow caves many of which have natural windows. The most famous is the ‘Pokljuka Hole‘ which you will reach by climbing up to an elevated walking and passing through.
GPS: 46.37552, 14.030814
The Pokljuka Hole allows you to pass easily to the rim of the gorge and to more the level (though much less traveled) terrain of Stara Pokljuka. In 1930 bridges that led up and along the walls of the gorge (the ‘galleries’) were constructed across the narrowest part of the gorge to enable passage through the Pokljuka Hole. The galleries have gone through several states of repair, the last repair and restoration was completed in 2009. In the winter of 2006-7 the gorge experienced a massive amount of snow and heavy wind. Those weather elements, along with the resulting fallen trees, completely destroyed the galleries and paths in the most interesting part of the gorge. The restoration of the hiking paths and removal of the trees was led by the Triglav National Park’s Forest Management Unit and with the cooperation of the local land-owners. Local residents helped to rebuild the paths and new information boards were supplied by TNP. The elevated Galleries were repaired by their long-time benefactors, the Gorge Tourist Association.
As you make your way into the Julian Alps, this is an interesting way I decided to go. Definitely not a popular choice, but I found it pretty spectacular. The Galleries are a series of extremely deep canyons you walk through, and eventually there is an elevated staircase that will take you up the side of one of the canyon walls, and then through a cave. The canyons walls have eroded to include many shallow caves with holes in the walls for windows, and it really is unspoiled and very different from the rest of your trip this week. This walk does have a bit of a SPOOKY vibe, because you will not see anyone else for many hours, and the canyons and vegetation could give you a bit of a claustrophobic feeling.. BUT.. I did this on my own, and I loved the crazy Indiana Jones / Adventure feeing.
After making it through the cave, you enter a valley overgrown with vegetation, and it feels almost like a ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’-type atmosphere.
Path turn point / turn north:
GPS: 46.366785, 14.017822
It will be several more hours of hiking your way through this valley before you enter a more well-traveled area.
Mountain Hut: Blejska koča na Lipanci
GPS: 46.375299, 13.927581
I had an amazing experience at this mountain hut. Like so many Slovenians, the generosity I experienced from the owners of this mountain hut was a very beautiful moment.
Once you get to the Blejska koča na Lipanci mountain hut, you will have made it to the well-traveled Triglav National Park network of hiking trails. From here, you can really choose your own adventure as there are endless combinations of trails leading throughout the park, all connected by full-service mountain huts. So feel free to stay in the park as long as you would like and hike every trail, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll continue with my tried and true route that takes about 5 to 7 days.
After the intense milage from Day 1, today is a relatively short walk. From here on, throughout the Triglav National Park, the day’s hikes will be short so that you can reach your next mountain hut, drop your backpack, and continue exploring the areas where you have stopped. There is always plenty to see!
Vidnikov dom na Velem polju
GPS: 46.35588, 13.861352
This mountain hut just has the most fantastic view to see in the morning.
A short but intense rain storm combined with a sunset created the most beautiful sky.
The cook from the mountain hut took a break so that she could go outside and take in the scene.
Proof that even if you live in a place so stunningly beautiful, you never stop appreciating it.
Mountain Hut: Triglavski dom na Kredarici
GPS: 46.378921, 13.848799
This is the base-camp mountain hut for climbing Mt. Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia.
Along the Slovenian Mountain Trail, one of the checkpoints is actually on top of the mountain.
Not that hard and considered a MUST for each Slovenian in their lifetime.
The importance of Mount Triglav, cannot be understated. Although just 9,400 feet (2,865 m) in elevation, it is both the visual and figurative king of the Julian Alps—which are the southeastern, and mostly Slovenian, section of the famed European mountain range. In fact, Triglav’s prominence, run-off, and far-reaching geological impact are so important to the nation that Slovenia included the “three-headed” peak on its official emblem and flag.
Mountain Hut: Koča na Doliču
GPS: 46.364879, 13,819489
As you make your way down from Triglav and start to cross the rocky area, heading West, will also have the chance to spot the Alpine Ibex, a wild mountain goat also going by the names Golden Horn. Though there is never a guarantee to spot them, I feel lucky in that every time I have hiked in this part of the park, I have seen them.
Here is the full text of the legend of Zlatorog. This is a story that warns of human greed, and also has a very strong message focusing on environmental conservation. The entirety of this legend takes place in the area you will be walking in today.
The Valley of Triglav lakes and Komna plateau were once a green heaven. It was inhabited by ‘White Ladies’ (good fairies) who kept the mountain pastures green. They also visited the lower valleys and helped humans whenever they found them in need. They also helped women at childbirth. A child who was delivered into the world by them, was protected by the White Ladies for the rest of his life. They never asked for thanks or payment. But they didn’t allow anyone to enter their Lake Valley. If anyone accidentally or because of arrogance got close to their homes, they would hurl down rocks and stones and avalanches, or cause terrible storms of snow and hail and would force people to return to the valley. The Lake Valley was also home to a heard of white goats whose leader was Zlatorog (Goldhorn). He was indestructible. If it got hurt, from his blood a miraculous flower, called Triglav rose would spring.
If Goldhorn ate a single leaf or petal from this flower, he would instantly recover. His golden horns were the key to unlocking a big treasure, which was hidden on Bogatin (Rich) mountain. The treasure was guarded by a multi-headed snake, dragon. The only mortal, who was allowed to climb on the highest summits of the Lake Valley, was the son of a beautiful widow – the Trenta Hunter. He was delivered by the White women, so he was under their special protection.
The Trenta Hunter had a girlfriend, a daughter of an inn keeper who owned a tavern on the confluence of Koritnica and Soča river. One day innkeeper’s daughter caught an eye of a rich Venetian merchant. He gave her lots of expensive jewelry and promised her life in great luxury if she married him. When Trenta Hunter came next time to the tavern to see his girlfriend, the girl’s mother demanded from him to produce a treasure that will match the wealth of the Venetian merchant, or he will never be allowed to see her daughter again. Alternatively he could bring back a bunch of Triglav roses in mid-winter to prove his fidelity – an impossible task.
The young hunter, desperate and hurt left the tavern.On his way out, he was joined by the Green Hunter, who was known in the valley to bring into troubles many decent young guys. It was the Green hunter, who proposed to the Trenta Hunter to kill Goldhorn, take his golden horns and with their help take all the treasures of Bogatin (Rich) mountain. Once he brings Bogatin treasure to his girlfriend’s mother, she was surely going to let him have his sweetheart back.
They started climbing the mountain the very same night, and in the morning as the sun rose they spotted the Goldhorn. Trenta Hunter took aim and pulled the trigger. The bullet hit Goldhorn. The blood gushing from Zlatorog’s wound melted the snow and up sprang a magical Triglav rose. The dying Goldhorn nibbled on a few petals and was instantly healed. It jumped up and leaped away. Wherever he touched the ground, snow melted and Triglav roses sprang up from under his hooves, luring the Trienta hunter onto higher and higher ground. But as they climbed, the sun caught Zlatorog’s shiny horns. The hunter was blinded, lost his footing and plunged into a gorge.
The once kind and trusting Goldhorn was enraged that he was treated in such a manner. In his fury he gored his way through the Triglav Lakes Valley, leaving it much as it looks today. He left the area with the White Ladies, never to return.
The innkeeper’s daughter waited in vain for her lover to return home. As spring approached, the snow began to melt, swelling the Soca River. One day it brought her a sad gift: the body of Trienta hunter, his lifeless hand still clutching a Triglav rose.
As you make your way to a lower altitude in this part of the par, where the rocky high-altitude area begins to transition back into green, you will have the chance to see (and hear) the multitude of groundhogs that live in this area.
Just a word of warning: These small little critters will emit a scream that sounds like a baby that has just been run over with a car. They do this to warn their neighbors that a stranger is in the area. The jolt of this high-frequency sound-blast while you are walking through this generally peaceful area, can be quite a shock to say the least.
Fun Fact: these animals have a different scream for each type of animal so the neighbors can be appropriately prepared.
Koča na Planini pri Jezeru
GPS: 43.309678, 13.82777
It’s not just the trees that are green in this part of Triglav National Park. Due to high amounts of limestone, nearly all of the lakes and rivers here seem to glow with a remarkable shade of electric teal. Seven Lakes, this area that you are walking through today, is considered one of the most beautiful sections of hiking in the entire park.
Mountain Hut: Koča pro Triglavskih jezerih
GPS: 46.318732, 13.779058
Mountain Hut: Dom na Komni
GPS: 46.284382, 13.773398
When you finish exploring the vast network of trails in the mountains of Triglav National Park, there is still more adventure in store for you around Lake Bohinj! First you will descend from the mountains down an old mule path with an insane number of switchbacks (I think there was over 50!). Once you reach the bottom of that trail, you will find a waterfall that is a Slovenian national treasure, and then a short walk after that you will come to Lake Bohinj, which is a great place to either relax and decompress, or head out on even more adventures that this area has to offer.
According to the number of visitors, the Savica Waterfall is one of the most popular attractions in Slovenia. The most renowned Slovenian poet, France Prešeren, greatly contributed to its recognition with his poem ‘Baptism at Savica.’
The water flows from a cave passage through the Komarča rock wall, and as the water shoots out of the rock at an altitude of 836m, it is called a ‘karst spring.’ After a few rapids, the water starts flowing diagonally and then plummets almost vertically.
There is actually a 40m long lake in the underground karst tunnel behind the area where the water shoots out of the rock, and there are also three smaller lakes within the mountain. It has been discovered that a vast amount of water from one of those lakes escapes through the rocket a lower level, creating a second, smaller (25m) waterfall on the left of the larger waterfall. Eventually, some time in the distant future, when the second waterfall further expands this crevice where it makes its escape, only the second part of this majestic two-part waterfall will remain. This already happens during very dry periods.
Archduke John of Austria visited the Savica Waterfall on 15 August 1807, and a memorial plaque was placed on this location to commemorate that event within that same year. The plaque was commissioned by Baron Ziga Zois and crafted by the stonemason Leonard Kelbl.
Lake Bled is the beautiful lake where tourists go for tourism and parties.
Lake Bohinj is the lake that where Slovenians go to relax. Camp. Swim. Etc.
Lake Bohinj facts:
Hostel pod Voglom
GPS: 46.277283, 13.862748
Hostel pod Voglom is quite an amazing place to be and every time I visit I am tempted to stay longer and longer.
The building and the vibe feels like a blast back to a 1970’s youth camp (but with a bar!)
SO relaxing. So charming. Great breakfast buffet!
The hostel also offers an extensive list of adventurous day trips, including canyoning, caving, and kayaking on the beautiful River Soca. The kitchen serves amazing home-cooked meals. The included breakfast buffet is amazing. If you want to go for a swim in Lake Bohinj or if you want to rent a paddle board from the hostel, the lake access if right in front of the building.
On the eastern shore of Bohinj lake, in a particularly picturesque setting is one of the most significant architectural and sacral monuments in this part of Slovenia. The church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist, a patron saint to whom old churches beside lakes or on the banks of rivers were often dedicated.
Four Brave Men from Bohinj – a statue dedicated to the first men on Triglav
The inhabitants of Bohinj have always been very closely connected with the mountains, it is therefore little wonder that the natives of Bohinj were the first to stand on top of Triglav on August 26th, 1778. This statue of four men, pointing to and looking at Triglav in the distance, is dedicated to this event.
The Triglav ascent of these four brave men was encouraged and financially supported by the count Žiga Zois, who hoped the climbers would discover new iron ore sites to supply the booming iron foundries of Bohinj. The first ascent took three days.
GPS: 46.296104, 13.887528
About an hour’s walk from the hostel, but absolutely worth the effort, is a visit to Mostnica Gorge.
The Mostnica Gorge (or Korita Mostnice as it is called in Slovene) is a 2 km (1.2 mi) gorge carved by the Mostnica stream. The gorge is located in the Voje Valley near the Stara Fuzina village, about two kilometers northeast of Lake Bohinj.
Mostnica Gorge is one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the Lake Bohinj area. A great place to start exploring this extraordinary gorge is the village of Stara Fuzina, where you pass the Zois mansion right up to Devil’s Bridge. There’s a trail not far from the bridge that leads through a forest, where you can see the gorge. Along the gorge you can observe interesting and very beautiful creations of nature like pools and waterfalls.
The most photographed spot in the Mostnica gorge is a hollow rock called the Little Elephant. The gorge is two kilometres long and was carved by the Mostnica stream. The hike in both directions takes about an hour and a half and is quite easy. Unlike the much more touristy Vintgar Gorge, it’s a natural walk without the wood walkways and the crowds of tourists walking on them.
Hostel pod Voglom also has a full list of adventure activities including kayaking trips to River Soca, which is supposed to be ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!
Rafting, swimming, and cliff jumping into the inviting Soca River are popular pursuits for locals and visitors alike. Although short on rapids, the river is technically challenging—it’s filled with giant boulders that must be negotiated (or leaped from) at every other turn. While on the river, you’ll also see century-old remnants and battle lines from World War I.
When you are done exploring Lake Bohinj, directly in front of Hostel pod Voglom is a bus stop where you can catch the bus all the way back to Lesle, and it will drop you off one block away from 1A Adventure Hostel, where this whole adventure began.
From Lesle, you can catch your train or bus to your next destination.