When people think of European travel, they commonly will list off some of the more popular and well documented mountain ranges: the Swiss Alps, Mont Blanc, maybe even the Italian Dolomites. But tucked away just a stone’s throw away from Venice is the beautiful country of Slovenia, which boasts the equally beautiful, albeit still remotely unheard of Julian Alps and Triglav National Park.
When I think of the ideal place to backpack on holiday, I will consistently list out a few criteria: 1) epic mountain peaks, 2) many different routes to choose from/the ability to make your own, 3) easily accessible by car, 4) not run down by a ton of tourists, 5) and challenging, yet rewarding.
The Julian Alps fulfill every single one of my backpacking dreams, and are worth spending far more than a day in. Although for those of us who have jobs Monday to Friday and can’t spend weeks on end in the mountains (boo-hoo!), day hikes here are very possible and equally rewarding.
All Access Slovenia
Everything in Slovenia is extremely accessible from some of the more common urban tourist attractions. We started our holiday in Venice and in the Friuli region – wine country. Lovely. After we got our fill of food and wine, we desperately needed an escape to the mountains (and a respite from the tourists).
Within a couple of hours drive, we found ourselves twisting back and forth on the winding roads of the Slovenian Alps. Along the way, we saw dozens of milky blue waterways and hidden glacial waterfalls. Photo opps galore. By noon, we were summiting Slemenova Spica, a wonderful grassy and jagged mountainous viewpoint close to Vršič, Slovenia’s highest road mountain pass.
To hike Slemenova Spica, we parked our car at Erjavčeva Koča hut. There was local beer and Slovenian cuisine nearby – duly noted for post-hike. We ogled over a herd of local sheep and their newborns before quickly heading up the mountain. A slight miscalculation in the trailhead location started us off with a scramble up a rocky traverse. Despite dripping sweat as a result of our foolishness (we later found the painfully obvious trailhead location), the views made every bit of the scramble worth it. It also justified local sausage consumption at the hut post-hike.
You don’t always get spoiled with views like these on a short three-hour hike, but this one was a teaser worth biting into. It only made us want to come back and explore the Slovenian Alps over and over again.
More far-flung escapades from the Lisowski archives: