The diversity of landscapes in Slovenia makes walking here truly unique. From the coast to the mountains, this country-sized trekking playground offers everything from unique day hikes to thrilling multi-day expeditions.
Whether walking in the Julian Alps in the nation’s northern reaches, conquering the eastern hills of Pannonia, summiting the Dinaric Alps in the south, or strolling the karst regions in the southwest, you'll find a different adventure waiting around every corner.
Perhaps because of the sheer variety of hiking possibilities, trekking is deeply ingrained in Slovenian culture. Walking in the mountains, through the woods, across the hills, and alongside rivers is not just a way to relax, it's a key part of life.
Whatever your skill and fitness level, recalibrating with a stroll through the Slovenian countryside is a great way to see this bantam-sized country with a heavyweight heart. It's also a great way to experience rural Slovenian life. To start you off, here are our five favorite Slovenian hikes.
Best River Hike
28.4km (17.5 miles), 8.5 hours, moderate
When people think about walking in Slovenia, some version of this trek — from the source of the Soča River to the heart of Triglav National Park — is likely what they have in mind. The moderately challenging Soča Trail (also known as the Isonzo path) may not be the hardest route you’ll undertake in Slovenia (no equipment is needed beyond solid boots, water, sunscreen and a good pack), but it's a monster all the same, and ticks all the boxes you’ll need for bragging rights back home.
Starting from the source of the Soča, just north of the town of Trenta, you'll head downstream with 2864m (9396ft) Mount Triglav, the country’s highest peak, to your left. You’ll cross occasional suspension bridges, teetering over deep gorges with emerald green waters below. At Trenta, the route overlaps with Stage 24 of the Alpe-Adria Trail, following the Soča river – loaded with WWI history and popular with kayakers – to Bovec with the mighty Kanin massif rising in the background.
Slovenia Green Solčava Panoramic Road
Best for multiple options
37km (23 miles), time and difficulty varies depending on the route
It's easy to be awed by Slovenia's beauty when you are standing in the middle of the busy Julian Alps, but this country is pressed between multiple mountain ranges, and what really impresses is finding quieter spaces that become all your own. One such spot is the Solčava Region, nestled in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps about 65km (40 miles) north of Ljubljana.
A great way to discover this scenic region — which has a strong focus on responsible tourism — is by following the 37km (23 mile) Slovenia Green Solčava Panoramic Road, which takes walkers and cyclists through the green Logar, Robanov Kot and Matkov Kot valleys. This is one of the country’s official Slovenia Green routes that visit only environmentally-certified destinations.
Accessed off the Panoramic Road are some 15 easy hikes that will have you in a quandary about which direction to snap photos, which perched village to visit, which alpine farm to dream about, and which way to walk. For experienced trekkers, the Kamnik Saddle (Kamniško sedlo) hike at the southern end of the Logar Valley provides show-stopping views of the Brana and Planjava peaks as well as a sweeping panorama of the entire range.
From the 90m (295ft) Rinka Waterfall in Logarska Dolina Country Park, the challenging, sometimes-scree-covered route takes you to the Kamnik Saddle mountain hut at 1864m (6115ft). A more moderate approach is possible from the Kamniska Bistrica mountain hut, climbing more than 1200m (4000ft) to the saddle. For either route, helmets, gloves, and previous mountaineering experience are needed.
Rog Hiking Trail
Best route for nature lovers
64km (40 miles), three days, difficult
Considered the nature capital of Slovenia, the Kočevsko Region is more than 90 percent covered in trees, with pristine lakes, rivers and caves surrounded by wildlife-filled virgin forests of fir and beech. The Rog Hiking Trail, which wanders through the Kočevski Rog forest in the Dinaric Alps, takes in big swaths of this wild region, which has been inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List as an “outstanding example of relatively undisturbed, complex temperate forests.”
The looping trekking route begins on the banks of the Kočevsko Lake (also called Lake Rudnik) near the only city in the area, Kočevje. Look for the bear-paw-print trail markings on trees and visit the ancient Željne Caves, then follow a trail that climbs to heights of more than 1100m (3600ft).
Expansive vistas look out over an area that shelters bears, foxes, deer, and even wolves, lynx, and eagles. On the final stage, you’ll pass the Rajhenav Virgin Forest and the Queen of Rog, a mammoth fir tree that's more than 500 years old.
Before you set out on the path, make reservations for overnight stays at one of the tourism information points around Kočevje. Consider staying the first night at the Luža Hut, about a third of the way along the route, and at the Rajhenav Farm about two-thirds of the way along the trail. While on the loop, take care to stay on the track to protect this fragile landscape and help ensure your safety in this remote wilderness.
Nanos Plateau Trail
Best for thru-hikers
15km (9.3 miles), 5 hours, moderate
When you hike this trail in southwest Slovenia, which starts in the town of Razdrto and ends at Predjama Castle, you are really getting several hikes for the price of one. The trail across the Nanos Plateau is a particular treat and one of the more popular paths in the region.
From this vantage point, you can look out over the country's karst region, the gorgeous Vipava Valley with its rolling vineyards, and the surrounding Dinaric Alps. But, this stretch also doubles as the first stage of the Via Dinarica Trail, an epic long-distance route running from Slovenia to Croatia and east into the Western Balkans. And it's the fourth stage of the Via Alpina Trail that travels west and links the eight countries crossed by the Alps.
Around 10km (6 miles) after descending from the plateau, the end of the hike brings a special treat for history buffs – Predjama Castle, lodged in a sheer cliff wall. Arrive early enough to take a tour of this well-preserved 12th-century fortress; if you buy a combined ticket, you can also visit stalactite-filled Postojna Cave, around 10km (6 miles) southeast of the castle.
Piramida-Kalvarija Nature Trail
Best hike for families
5km (3.1 miles), 2.5 hours, easy
Tucked into the far eastern corner of the country, the city of Maribor is often overlooked — especially for hiking. Don’t think the adventure is over after you’ve clambered over the country’s western mountains; in the shadow of the Pohorje Mountain Range and straddling the Drava River, Slovenia’s second-largest city is a great hub for day hikes, including the Piramida-Kalvarija Nature Trail.
Part educational nature route and part history lesson, this easy trail starts in the City Park and heads to the hill known as Piramida, topped by the remains of a 12th-century castle. After enjoying magnificent views of the city, river and vineyards, walk on to forests and ponds to learn about bats, butterflies, frogs, and mushrooms. Circle around to end in the Kalvarija Hills for more panoramas of the surrounding mountains and the Drava River.