Slovenia Walking

Category: Information for walkers

Information for walkers and hikers in the Julian Alps and Slovenia in general.

Free WiFi hotspots in Slovenia

More and more of us are using the Internet when on holiday or travelling abroad these days but finding a good signal is not always easy. Roaming charges might also be an issue for UK visitors to Slovenia and other EU countries post Brexit. Let’s hope not.

An app, always an app, comes to the rescue here helping you to find Free WiFi Hotspot Locations in Slovenia.  Check it out.

MKL of “My Kafkaesque life” has kindly allowed us to use his Slovene/English translations which will help you understand  hotspot information.

  • WiFi točka – WiFi point
  • WiFi je prosto dostopen – WiFi is freely accessible
  • Javna dostopna točka – Public access point
  • Prostodostopen WiFi – Freely accessible WiFi
  • Na voljo računalnik – Available computer
  • Prost dostop do interneta – Free Internet access
  • Brezplačni WiFi – WiFi free of charge
  • Brezplačen – Free of charge
  • Odprt, odprta – Open
  • Dostop – Access
  • Prost dostop – Free access
  • Ni zaklenjen – Not locked
  • Odklenjen – Unlocked
  • Geslo – Password
  • Restavracija – Restaurant
  • Pivo – Beer
  • Kava z mlekom – Coffee with milk

On some Slovenian campsites you can also enjoy free internet access. The ones we know of are Camping Bled, Camp Danica in Bohinjska Bistrica, Camp Triglav in Trenta, Kamp Koren near Kobarid and Pivka jama Campsite near Postojna. Please add to the list if you know of any more, there are bound to be others!

Mountain huts in Slovenia

Vodnikov Dom
Vodnikov Dom

There are over 170 mountain huts in Slovenia, including huts (dom or koča), shelters and bivouacs , operated by 94 mountain clubs, under the umbrella organisation of the Planinske zveze Slovenije (PZS) or Alpine Association of Slovenia. Whilst the shelters and bivouacs have no provisions, the mountain huts cater for all needs of the walker and mountaineer, a roof over their heads, a bed, drink and food (a dom is usually larger than a koča with more beds). Some of the huts are found in the valleys at road-heads and on the slower slopes but there are many at higher altitudes in the mountains. Rarely are huts more than five hours apart which means some fantastic high-level routes are possible. It is worth pointing out here that wild camping is not permitted in Slovenia. We spent 12 days in the Julian Alps in September of 2009 – there is an account of our hut-to-hut walk in Slovenia here.

Zasavska Koča na Prehodavcih
Zasavska Koča na Prehodavcih

Some huts are open all year but the higher ones generally open in early June and close near the end of September.  In July and August the huts will be busy and we advise booking ahead.  In June and September it is quieter but we still recommend booking your Saturday night beds.  It may sound obvious but check that your chosen hut is open before you set off!  Although closed in winter some huts have “winter rooms” where you will find a bed and blankets.  Here is a list of all the huts in Slovenia.  Each listing has an email address, website and telephone number.

Huts are graded into three categories. The actual classification is a bit complicated but generally Grade 1 are at high altitude, Grade 2 huts are lower and more easily accessible and Grade 3 are lowland valley huts.

Dormitory in Dom Planika
Dormitory in Dom Planika

Accommodation at the huts can be in simple rooms or, more cheaply, in a dormitory. The beds were always comfortable with clean sheets and enough blankets. We found that the extra expense of a room was rewarded by having some personal space and a good nights sleep! Take some earplugs if you think you might be sleeping in a dormitory – its guaranteed that at least one person will be snoring!

Prices for overnight accommodation are set by the PZS and are based on the hut grade.  The 2019 prices were as follows –

  • Grade 1, room with 2 beds – 27€
  • Grade 1, room with 3-6 beds – 25.50€
  • Grade 1, dormitory with 7-12 beds – 23€
  • Grade 1, dormitory with 12+ beds – 21€
  • Grade 2, room with 2 beds – 22€
  • Grade 2, room with 3-6 beds – 20€
  • Grade 2, dormitory with 7-12 beds – 18€
  • Grade 2, dormitory with 12+ beds – 16€

Money saving tip. We managed to save a lot by joining the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) – 30-50% discounts are available. Full details can be found here.

Recommended kit on a hut-to-hut walk. In addition to the usual necessary walking equipment only a little extra is needed in order to stay in the huts. Just the basics are needed in the washing department as explained below.  A spare set of clothes to wear in the evening and a torch is advisable for use in the dormitories at night, but you will have one in your pack anyway.

Dom Valentina Staniča pod Triglavom
Dom Valentina Staniča pod Triglavom

Hut food is basic but wholesome, mostly thick soups, eggs, ham and sausage and delicious home made bread. Our favourite evening meal was ričet a delicious, spicy barley porridge, available with or without meat (brez mesa), and bread. For dessert it was a difficult choice between apple strudel and pancakes with jam! In the busier times the menu is more varied, the choice becoming more limited nearer the end of the season. There is always plenty of beer, spirits and bottled water to be purchased but we found that the most refreshing beverage is čaj, (aka “a nice cup of tea”). We had noticed that the flavour is slightly different at every hut and we were told it was because it is made from the petals of the wild flowers gathered at each location. Chocolate and biscuits are usually available too.

As many of the huts can only be serviced by helicopter, food is relatively expensive but prices for stews, tea and water are set by the PZS. For other beverages and meals the huts are free to set their own prices. To help you budget here are some example 2019 prices from Grade 1 huts –

  • Stew with meat – 6.5€
  • 0.25 litre of tea – 1.80€
  • 1.5 litre bottled water – 4.4€

Food in Grade 2 huts is approximately 20% less. It may not be cheap but when you consider how the huts have to be supplied we think the prices are very reasonable.

Eating your own food in the huts is allowed (sometimes a 1€/person fee if sitting at a table) but you cannot cook.

Triglavski Dom at Kredarica
Triglavski Dom at Kredarica

We found the huts to be warm and comfortable.  There will be somewhere to dry your clothes and a pair of slippers is provided.  Washing facilities vary!  Do not expect a shower (although we are told that some do exist, we have yet to find one), at best you may have a communal sink with cold water for hand/face washing and teeth cleaning.  Toilet facilities are sometimes basic but usually clean.

The above information is based on our experiences and the PZS website (link above), much of which is in English.

Many of the walks in our book could easily be extended by using the huts for an overnight stay.  For instance, with Walk 21 to the Triglav Lakes Valley, spending the night at Koča pri Triglavskih Jezerih means that you could explore further up the valley or perhaps climb a nearby peak.  As another example, Walk 19 could be made a lot easier with an overnight stay at Dom Zorka Jelinčica on Črna prst.  Get out your maps, the possibilities are endless really!

Dom Zorka Jelincica hut on the summit of Črna prst
Dom Zorka Jelincica hut on the summit of Črna prst

Weather, climate and the best time to go to Slovenia

Storm clearing over the Soča Valley
Summer storm clearing over the Soča Valley

For such a small country, Slovenia has a widely varying climate that can be neatly divided into three types or zones.

  • A Continental climate in eastern Slovenia, characterised by hot summers and very cold winters.
  • A Mediterranean climate on the coast and in much of Primorska, characterised by warm, mild winters and sunny weather during the rest of the year.
  • An Alpine climate in the north-west, characterised by warm summers, cold winters and plenty of rain or snow.

So that’s the climate, but what does that tell us about the weather and when is the best time to go walking and hiking in Slovenia?  Well, it can rain at any time of the year and you should be prepared for it, but early spring (March/April) and late autumn receive the most precipitation. Our favourite times are May, June and September, October and there are several reasons for this, not all weather related.

The Church of the Annunciation, Crngrob,

May and June are wonderful months for the wild flowers and walking in the valleys and lower hills of the Julian Alps, as well as the rest of the country. The countryside is fresh with new spring growth and nowhere is too hot, except perhaps on the coast in June. These are not good months for high-level walking though. Mountain routes can easily be covered with snow well into June and the summits unreachable to all but experienced and well-equipped mountaineers. In early June 2009 we easily made the summit of Vogel (1922m and Walk 24) above Bohinj, encountering little snow, but found the ascent of Stol (2236m and the mountain backdrop to Lake Bled), in the Karavanke, quite tricky approaching from the east due to steep snowfields. The mountain huts open sometime in early to mid-June, but check before setting out at the nearest tourist office or the PZS website (unfortunately only in Slovenian). These months are also reasonably quiet and, falling outside the main tourist season, are a great time to be in Slovenia if you can get away.

Vršič in autumn
Vršič in autumn

September and October are favourites months too, but the weather can be a bit wetter. With fine weather though, the scenery is simply stunning, the beech and larch woods cloaked in the golden hues of autumn. The mountains will be free of snow and all summits will be accessible, however, be warned that snow can fall in the mountains at any time of the year and lie for several days. The mountain huts stay open until near the end of September (booking recommended for Friday/Saturday nights, again check before you set off) and the summer tourists have gone home. One glorious autumn we climbed a snow-free Prisank (2547m, near Vršič) on November 1st and had lunch on the summit, sitting in our shirt sleeves. The very next day, the weather broke and it was time to head home.

Lake Bohinj in summer
Lake Bohinj in summer

Not everyone can travel out of season and July and August are fine months too, but perhaps a little too hot for some. Lying snow should not be a problem, the huts will be open and public transport is better with more regular services in remote areas. It will be busy though and we do recommend booking your accommodation. Mountain huts will be crowded and booking becomes essential there too.

Mountain weather is extremely hard to predict, so be prepared for any eventuality. Lightning strike is real hazard and at the first sight of an approaching thunderstorm try to descend from summits and exposed ridges. Storms can occur at anytime, but more especially in July and August, developing very quickly and leaving little time to reach safer ground. As storms usually build in the afternoon and evening it is perhaps wise to start early and be descending before or soon after lunch.

Heavy rain can occur at any time of the year and often results in floods, rockfall and landslides which can destroy paths and bridges. Paths sometimes need to be re-routed or are closed until repairs can be made (please send us any updates, thanks!).

We all love the sun and hope that it will shine for our holidays but it has its dangers too. In the mountains you will need sunglasses – the glare off the white limestone rock is incredibly strong. And don’t forget your lip-salve, suncream and sunhat!

Weather forcasts

Weather forecasts are usually available from Tourist Information Offices, campsite and hotel receptions.  On the Internet a good site for a detailed, reliable forecast is meteo.arso.gov.si (it has an English translation).  If in doubt about the weather, especially if thunderstorms are forecast, exercise caution and choose a low-level walk.

View across Vrata in the Julian Alps, Slovenia.  Early September snow.
View across Vrata in the Julian Alps, Slovenia. Early September snow.

Mountain safety and rescue in Slovenia

Mountain Safety

Snow in early September, Julian Alps
Snow in early September, Julian Alps

The mountain environment is a place of grandeur, wonder and excitement.  It is also a place of danger and a bit of bad luck such as a simple stumble can easily turn into a life-threatening situation.  If you are prepared, have the right equipment and know how to use it, you can minimise the risks and stay safe.

Be ready, don’t become a statistic!

    • wear suitable clothing that is appropriate for the weather, the season and the altitude at which you are walking, plus take an extra layer for emergencies.
    • make sure that you you have sufficient time to complete your route and all members of your party are fit enough.
    • check the weather forecast before you go.
    • whenever possible leave details of your route and estimated time of return (complete an entry in the hut and summit visitor books giving details of where you came from and where you are going – Mountain Rescue teams can use this information).
    • carry a map and compass and know how to use them!
    • carry a torch (plus spare batteries) and a whistle.  Learn the Alpine Distress Signal – give six signals (whistle blasts, flashes) within a minute, then pause for a minute, repeating this until rescue arrives or you receive a response.  The recognised response to a distress call is three signals per minute.
Take care!
Take care!
  • carry a bivy bag.
  • carry First-Aid.
  • know the Emergency Telephone Number – it is 112.  Mobile reception in the Julian Alps is surprisingly good, but do not rely on it.  Fully charge your phone’s battery before you go and keep your phone switched off until you need it to preserve the charge.
  • take a pencil and paper for writing emergency messages.
  • if the weather turns bad be prepared to turn back.  In case of thunderstorms and lightning head for the nearest hut, or at least descend from summits and exposed ridges.
  • use sun-cream, lip salve and sunglasses to protect yourself from strong UV rays.
  • take plenty of water (do not rely on finding any) and food.
  • consider wearing a climbing helmet on some routes.  Rock fall is common and walkers/climbers above you may dislodge stones.

Our clothing and walking equipment page lists some necessary items and suggests some useful bits of kit suitable for walking in the mountains of Slovenia.

Mountain summit visitors book box
Mountain summit visitors book box
Signing the summit book
Signing the summit book

Mountain Rescue in Slovenia

Mountain rescue in Slovenia is organised by the voluntary Mountain Rescue Association of Slovenia (GRZS), with 17 sub-divisions or bases spread throughout Slovenia.

The GRZS “will try to rescue anybody free of charge, with or without insurance”. The GRZS also state: “Anybody with the basic health insurance is entitled to receive helicopter rescue service in case of an injury or sickness for free”. (Both quoted from this 2019 GRZS publication).  Thankfully, we have not had to put that to the test!

What to do in case of injury or medical emergency

  • Do Not Panic! Keep calm and reassure the casualty.
  • Call 112 and provide as much information as possible.  Give an accurate description of your location and, if possible, your GPS co-ordinates.
  • Try to make yourself visible with bright clothing/bivy bag.
  • Insulate the casualty from the ground and keep as warm as possible.  Make sure other members of your partly are keeping warm too.

Helicopter Mountain Rescue

  • The recognised ground signal to helicopter crews is to stand with your back to the wind and hold your arms out in a Y-shape.
  • If you do not require the help of the helicopter, stand with one arm pointing up and the other pointing down.
  • Do not wave your arms about and do not shine a torch at the helicopter at night (the pilot wears night-glasses and will be dazzled).
  • Do not approach the helicopter until instructed to do so by the crew.
Self-belaying on Triglav, Slovenia
Self-belaying on Triglav, Slovenia

Please leave a comment below if you have some up to date information that you think might be useful or any suggestions to improve Slovenia-walking.

Clothing and walking equipment

walking sticks

All walkers will have their personal preferences for items of clothing and equipment, some carrying bulging rucksacks packed with everything needed for for all eventualities, some taking a more minimalist approach. Our recommendations are no more than that, but you should wear comfortable clothing that is appropriate for the weather, the season and the altitude at which you are walking, plus take an extra layer for emergencies.

Clothing

  • a comfortable pair of walking boots with good grip and ankle support. On our easy walks in the valleys a pair of sturdy walking shoes will suffice.
  • waterproof and windproof  jacket and leggings.
  • enough layers to keep warm when you stop for a break and in the worst weather that you might expect.  Look for items that wick.  Do not wear jeans!
  • socks that you know are comfortable.
  • a warm hat.  Also consider a sunhat.
  • gloves.  If you are walking high-level routes with cable protection, consider a pair of gloves with some kind of grip across the palms.

Equipment

  • a comfortable rucksack.
  • map and compass and know how to use them!  GPS systems are becoming increasingly popular, but a map and compass should still be carried.  See our Slovenia maps page for more information.
  • walking sticks (walking poles, trekking poles) – do your knees a favour, buy a pair and use them!
  • water bottle – water sources are scarce in the limestone mountains.
  • suncream/lip salve.
  • sunglasses – in the mountains the glare off the limestone rock is considerable.
  • a torch and spare batteries.  Handy on one or two of our walks, but essential emergency kit in the mountains.
  • whistle.
  • First-aid kit
  • mobile phone – emergency number is 112.  Fully charge your phone’s battery before you go and keep your phone switched off until you need it to preserve the charge.
  • a pencil and paper (for writing emergency messages).
  • penknife

Some extra equipment for high level and hut to hut walks

  • self-belaying equipment for use on protected routes.
  • ice-axe – consider taking one as snow can lie until late spring/early summer.
  • bivy bag or emergency shelter.
  • passport for ID in the huts.
  • a set of spare clothing for the evenings in the huts.

Maps for Walking in Slovenia

Slovenia map for walking

Slovenia has excellent maps for walking, with the Julian Alps/Triglav National Park and all other mountain areas being particularly well covered at the 1:50 000 scale,  published by PZS. There are some 1:30 000 and 1:25 000 sheets available too for the Bohinj, Bled, Triglav, Kranjska Gora and Bovec areas.  Although our book has maps for each walk, we really do recommend that you carry a map as well, most especially in the mountains.

GPS tracks are available for all our walks and we have enjoyed using the digital mapping provided by Viewranger for use on smartphones.  Viewranger offer the whole of Slovenia at 1:25 000  and 1:50 000 scales.  Having said that we much prefer using maps and compass but do carry have the Viewranger maps on our phone.

Maps are easily purchased in Slovenia from tourist shops, some campsites and the local tourist board offices.

But if you would like to plan ahead then you can easily buy them in the UK from the outlets, listed below.

Note: these links are provided purely for our users convenience and we receive no financial benefit from any purchases made.

Please leave a comment below, or contact us, if you have some up to date information that you think might be useful or any suggestions to improve Slovenia-walking.