Escape to Bohinj

A Family Hike up Triglav in Slovenia

Family Hike up Triglav

Mount Triglav is the highest mountain in Slovenia at 2,864m. Triglav is more than just a mountain – it has cultural significance for Slovenes. It features on their coat of arms, flag, 50 cent coin, and was the symbol of the Slovene partisans during World War II. It’s also said that every Slovene should climb Triglav at least once in their life!

Triglav and Vodnikov Dom, Slovenia

Climbing Triglav as a Family

We climbed Triglav as a family of five in summer 2019. My daughter Izzy (then 17) and husband Danny had already climbed Triglav three years previously and were desperate to climb again with the whole family. Our sons, George (then 15) and Charlie (then 12) are both strong hikers, although somewhat less enthusiastic than Izzy!

Triglav is usually climbed in two days, utilising one of the many huts (Doms or Kocas) to stay overnight. The Alpine Association have a list of huts and their opening times. During the summer months it is important to book in advance. The huts around Triglav especially book up, as many tourists and local Slovenes alike are keen to climb. We reserved accommodation at Dom Planika, located just south of Triglav, and visible from Stara Fužina if your eyesight is good enough!

Triglav from Stara Fuzina

The Tourist Board in Bohinj is keen to encourage use of public transport rather than cars in the mountains to limit pollution. In the summer months, they provide free buses which run to various trailheads. As well as saving you the stress of finding a parking space, this means that you can start and finish your hike at different locations, without having to worry about where your car is. We utilised the Hop-on-Hop-off Pokljuka Bus, which passes through Stara Fužina (547m) and ends at Rudno Polje (1,367m). This year (2021) this service is running three times daily from 19th June to 14th September. 

An Ascent of Triglav via Viševnik

Starting at Rudno Polje saves 800m of climb from Lake Bohinj. From the starting point, our route took us over the summit of Viševnik (2,004m) after about two hours. Whilst steep in some places, it is a relatively easy route and well marked. After hiking up a ski slope, you head through a forested gully and up to a col. A zig-zagging path then climbs up the southern side until the final walk along a ridge to the summit. On a clear day the views from the top are extensive and spectacular. However, the summit was in swirling cloud when we arrived, so after a quick snack we moved on.

Family hike up Triglav Slovenia

We headed down the path on the other side to Srenjski preval (Middle Saddle), from where the path contours underneath Mali Draški Vrh. Some parts of this have cables fitted for extra security, but this was mostly easy hiking, giving plenty of time to admire the view. 

Hiking trail Triglav Slovenia

After a while, the path reaches an unexpected grassy opening, offering amazing views deep into the Krma Valley. We choose to have our lunch here, making sure we stayed away from the edge!

Krma Valley, Julian Alps, Slovenia

The path then contoured around Veliki Draški Vrh and Tosc, which are two mountains visible from Lake Bohinj. Veliki Draški Vrh has a distinct pyramidal shape, Tosc a large dome. The views over the Lower Bohinj mountains from this path were stunning, as were the wild flowers.

Wild Flowers Triglav Ascent
Wild Flowers Triglav Slovenia

Unfortunately, at this point Charlie took a bit of a tumble and fell onto the rocky path. With some patching up from the first aid kit (always carry one when you travel in the mountains) and some chocolate he was able to keep going. 

Family hike Julian Alps Slovenia

After rounding Tosc, we headed north towards Triglav. This marked the end of the relatively flat section, and the start of the climb up! As we emerged from a forested section, we could see the summit through the mist, still more than 1,000m above us and looking a long way off. We had a quick drink at Vodnikov Dom (and used the last flushing toilets!) before continuing our journey up to Dom Planika.

Vodnikov Dom Julian Alps Slovenia

Dom Planika

The last ascent up to Dom Planika is a series of steep zig zags, so we all arrived tired, hungry and ready for a rest. The staff who work at the mountain huts are all really friendly and accommodating. Dom Planika has a number of smaller rooms in addition to dorms, and we were able to have a private room for the five of us. 

Dom Planika Slovenia

Dinner was hearty Slovenian mountain food: we all opted goulash, bread and polenta. George and I are Coeliac and therefore must eat a gluten-free diet. Although our options were rather limited, the hut was able provide gluten-free food for us, and were eager to accommodate our dietary needs. With our stomachs full, we headed to bed early, tired from a long day of walking and wanting to rest in anticipation of the day ahead. 

Sunrise Ascent of Mount Triglav

We opted for an early ascent to make the summit at sunrise. This meant waking up at 4am and heading off in the darkness. We were able to leave some of our equipment behind at Dom Planika, so could travel lighter with only the essentials we needed. It was amazing how quickly our eyes became adjusted to the darkness: we could turn off our headtorches fairly quickly.

 

The path from Dom Planika heads north towards the main ridgeline, which we reached after around an hour. Once on the ridge, the views were breath-taking, with the sun just starting to come up. 

Sunrise ascent of Triglav Slovenia

The path follows the ridge to the west, first over Mali Triglav (little Triglav) and then on to the main summit. This section requires a good head for heights as the north wall of Triglav drops a mighty 2,000m down to the Vrata Valley. The route is well protected with cables, so it is possible to clip on using via ferrata equipment. It certainly feels like an adventure! 

Triglav ascent for sunrise

Arriving at the Top of Triglav

We arrived on the top at 6:45 am in brilliant early morning sunshine. The clear skies meant we could see far into the distance, taking in the rugged beauty of the Julian Alps.

Views from Triglav Slovenia

Lots of photos followed, and we were briefly the only people on top, and therefore the highest 5 people in the whole of Slovenia!

Triglav summit in Slovenia

The small shelter on the top is called Aljažev Stolp (Aljaz Tower). It was erected in 1895 by Jakob Aljaz, a Slovenian Priest, who at the time owned the land which makes up the summit. There is a replica of the tower located in Stara Fužina, just outside the Mercartor shop – easier to get to if you’re curious to see what the tower is like!

Aljazev Stolp Triglav Slovenia

Descending Triglav

We opted to take a different path down, completing the horseshoe. This was a similar technical difficulty to the way up: a few exposed sections, but well protected. This meant we avoided having to cross over with people climbing up the ridge that we had ascended earlier. 

Hike down Triglav Slovenia

Back  at Dom Planika, breakfast had never tasted so good! With our stomachs full of eggs, bread and strong coffee, we picked up the rest of our stuff and started our descent. We followed the signposts for Triglav Lakes Valley. The landscape was barren, and we had to gain height as well as lose it.

Triglav descent in Slovenia

A final steep ascent over a scree slope brought us to Cez Hribarice pass, which sits at the very top of the Triglav Lakes Valley. Instead of going down past the lakes, we took the valley to the East, Za Kopico. By this point, we had descended into the clouds, and partway down, the heavens finally opened, drenching us with rain. A reminder of how quickly the weather can change in the mountains – we were all grateful of our waterproofs!

The bad weather did nothing to take away from the stunning scenery, and picking a quieter route gave us a few hours without seeing any other hikers.

Our end destination was Blato, an alpine pasture where some locals have weekend houses. It is accessible by a (very twisty) toll road up from Stara Fužina, and another of the Hop-on-Hop-off buses. The bus saves you the toll, and the stress of a twisty drive and finding a parking space. We arrived at Blato at 4.30pm, giving us plenty of time to wait for the 5pm bus. We were all tired by this point: it had been a long day of hiking.

Slovene pasture in the Julian Alps Slovenia

A Sting in the Tail

5pm came and went. There was no sign of a bus. After waiting an additional 15 minutes, we decided it would be best to start walking down the road back home to Stara Fužina. Ten minutes into our walk, we got to a junction in the road and saw a bus stop: we had been waiting for the bus in the wrong place! A lesson learnt for next time, and a mistake we won’t repeat…

Missing the bus meant an extra 7km and 600m of descent back down to the valley, a prospect which made Charlie’s face drop dramatically. However, once we got going again after a snack and some water, he powered along, and we all arrived back in the valley at 7pm. By this point, the weather had cleared again, and as we walked over the bridge outside Escape to Bohinj House we could see all the way up to the summit of Triglav. We all felt elated to think we had been all the way up there just that morning, and the energy and excitement made up for the tiredness of our legs.

Finally

Now that we were all safely back, the only things left to do were unpack our rucksacks, shower and drive to Pr Košnik for the obligatory post-hike pizza. Our hike up Triglav was certainly an adventure, and a great two days to share together as a family.

Have you climbed Triglav? Are you planning to climb it? Get in touch if you have any questions!

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5 Top Spots for Sunrise & Sunset near Lake Bohinj

5 Top Spots for Sunrise & Sunset near Lake Bohinj Slovenia

Sunrises and sunsets in the mountains are notoriously beautiful, and those in Bohinj are no exception. Lake Bohinj lies in the Triglav National Park in Slovenia, one of the oldest national parks in Europe. The area is renowned for its crystal-clear lake, stunning views over the Julian Alps and pristine nature. It makes a dramatic backdrop to experience a magical sunset or sunrise.

Sunrise from Viševnik in the Julian Alps Slovenia

At a time when life is dominated by Coronavirus, getting outside and connecting with the natural world is a real antidote. Waking up early to catch the dawn of a new day is life-affirming and invigorating. Similarly, taking time out to watch the sun disappear, bathing the skies in a glow of oranges and reds, is a great way to escape the stresses of everyday life and focus on the present. You can’t come away from witnessing a beautiful sunrise or sunset and not feel better about life.

Favourite Spots for Sunrise & Sunset

We’ve put together a list of our five favourite spots for a sunrise or sunset, all accessible from Lake Bohinj. Some are easy walks suitable for all the family whilst others, like climbing Triglav for sunrise, are much more demanding. Whichever spot temps your fancy, the view won’t disappoint.

Sunset in the Julian Alps in Slovenia

Things to Consider for your Sunrise or Sunset Hike

Winter can be an excellent time of the year to watch the sunrise. With longer nights, the sun rises later, giving you more time to hike to your viewpoint (or extra time in bed!). It is much colder though, so requires experience if you plan to hike to a viewpoint high up in the mountains.

It can be hard to predict a good sunrise, so check the weather forecast – the clearer the better. Clear skies are also great for sunsets, but a scattering of clouds make it even more impressive as they reflect the vibrant colours.

Also remember to check the time of the sunset or sunrise and allow enough time to hike to and from the viewpoint. Without sunlight, the mountains are cold and dark, even in summer. Make sure you wear appropriate clothing and have a torch with you.

1) Lake Bohinj

Watching the sunrise over Lake Bohinj may require the least effort, but it is by no means the least impressive. Sunrise is best viewed from the village of Ukanc at the west end of the lake, looking east back towards Stara Fužina. Here you can watch the sun peek up behind the U-shaped upper Bohinj valley, with the mist rising off the lake. 

There is something incredibly uplifting about being present at the start of a new day, particularly in such a picturesque spot, before anyone else has surfaced. Feeling energised, why not take a dip in the lake to set you up for the day? You’ll definitely leave with your own special glow!

In contrast, sunset is best viewed from Stara Fužina looking west towards Ukanc. Watch as Lake Bohinj’s blue waters slowly turn into vibrant pinks as the sun disappears behind the Julian Alps. A perfect way to end a summer’s day.

Sunset over Lake Bohinj, Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Alternatively, head to café Kramar which has tables just above the shore of Lake Bohinj. Treat yourself to dessert or a drink as you gaze out at the incredible view. We’d recommend the pancakes – they are delicious!

2) Sunset at the Peč Viewpoint

Peč is a popular viewpoint just above Lake Bohinj and a great destination for sunset. You get fabulous and extensive views down the entire length of Lake Bohinj, with the church and bridge acting as gatekeepers to the lake. The viewpoint is a 30-minute walk from Stara Fužina, making it a lovely after-dinner stroll to make the most of the evening light. There is a bench where you can sit down and soak up the picture-postcard view.

Sunset over Lake Bohinj from Pec viewpoint

It’s a lovely spot to rest a while, watching the white clouds reflect the shimmering light. One thing you begin to notice is that each sunset is unique. The water is fantastic for reflecting the colours of the sky – it looks like Lake Bohinj is on fire!

Dramatic Sunset from Pec viewpoint over Lake Bohinj in Slovenia

3) Vogar – Ideal for both Sunrise or Sunset over Lake Bohinj

Vogar is a wonderful viewpoint high above the north-eastern end of Lake Bohinj. It is one of the take-off points for the paragliders you see soaring in the sky. Here you get superb views of the Lower Bohinj mountains, Lake Bohinj itself and the village of Stara Fužina, making it an ideal spot for both a sunrise or sunset.

Reaching Vogar from Stara Fužina is about an hour’s walk. Don’t let the short distance (3km each way) deceive you though – the viewpoint is over 400m vertically above the village, which makes for a steep (but rewarding) hike! As you approach the top, take the little path to the left signposted to the paragliding launch site. Here, a grassy opening and bench provide an inviting spot to take in the evening rays or morning pastel hues.

In the morning, the sunlight kisses the tops of the lower Bohinj mountains, making them glow. There is often a layer of cloud in the valley, creating a mysterious and dynamic spectacle.

Sunrise from Vogar in the Julian Alps, Slovenia

Sunset is equally radiant.

Sunset from Vogar in the Julian Alps, Slovenia

4) Viševnik

To experience a sunrise or sunset in the high Julian Alps, we recommend climbing Viševnik. Compared to other peaks over 2,000m, Viševnik is a shorter hike, and is therefore a more accessible location to reach in the dark.

Starting at Rudno Polje (around 45 minutes’ drive from Bohinj up onto the Pokljuka Plateau) allow around 2 hours each way to the summit. Read how we got on hiking up Viševnik for sunrise in our Blog.

Sunrise on Triglav, Slovenia

From here, you get impressive panoramic views over Triglav, Slovenia’s highest peak, as the new day dawns or fades.

Sunrise from Visevnik in the Julian Alps, Slovenia

The summit of Viševnik is a terrific place to be to watch the sun slowly rise up behind the mountains, creating a radiant glow over the Julian Alps.

5) Climbing Triglav for Sunrise

There’s no better place to watch the sun rise than the highest point in the country! Triglav (2,864m) is the majestic peak in the centre of the Triglav National Park and makes a challenging, but amazing climb. There are many welcoming mountain huts (Dom or Koča in Slovene) in the Julian Alps, providing an opportunity to stay high up in the mountains. This means you can summit high peaks for sunrise without having to hike for hours through the night. Much safer!

When we’ve climbed Triglav for sunrise, we have stayed overnight at Dom Planika, which is located just to the South of the summit at 2,401m. If you look carefully and have good eyesight, you can see the hut from the bridge outside our holiday home at Escape to Bohinj in Stara Fužina.

From Dom Planika, it is a 2-hour hike to the summit of Triglav. The first half gets you up to the ridgeline and the second follows an exposed ridge along to the summit: definitely not a hike for the faint hearted!

Sunrise over the Julian Alps, Triglav National Park, Slovenia

The views are absolutely breath-taking, with the whole of the Julian Alps becoming lit up by the morning sun. As you summit Triglav, you feel on top of the world gazing out across Slovenia. The mornings are often the clearest time of day in the mountains, so by getting up early you maximise your chances of uninterrupted views, which can go as far as the Adriatic Sea. After admiring the panorama, descend back down to Dom Planika and enjoy a hearty mountain breakfast before continuing your hike.

Sunrise from Triglav, Slovenia

We hope you feel inspired to get out of bed and catch a stunning sunrise near Lake Bohinj. An early morning hike and a magical sunrise really do set you up for the day ahead. Watching the sun illuminate Triglav and the Julian Alps as you hike high into the mountains is a memorable adventure.

At the other end of the day, sunsets often require less effort, and are more about being in the right place at the right time. Certainly, the glassy water of Lake Bohinj provides a superb reflection for the vivid colours as the day comes to an end. Maybe try to experience both!

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Climbing Škrlatica – The Queen of the Julian Alps

climbing-skrlatica

Climbing Šrklatica was a hike I’d had my eye on for some time. At an altitude of 2,740m and towering 1,700m above the Vrata Valley, Škrlatica is Slovenia’s second highest mountain. Its ascent offers a challenging and exhilarating day for experienced hikers, with rewards of far-reaching views across the Julian Alps.

Škrlatica was first climbed in 1880, over 100 years after its neighbour Triglav (Slovenia’s highest mountain) was first summited. Whilst Triglav has a number of huts in close proximity, allowing multi-day ascents, there are no huts near the summit of Škrlatica. This means that to reach the top requires endurance, high levels of fitness and strong legs to cover almost 2km of vertical ascent and descent in just one day.

hike-škrlatica

Vrata Valley Ascent of Škrlatica

Škrlatica can be climbed from the Krnici, Trenta and Vrata Vallies. We chose to make our ascent from the head of the Vrata Valley, reached from Bohinj by driving through Bled, continuing in the direction of Kranjska Gora and then turning off the main road at Mojstrana.

Big days in the mountains require early starts, so we set off from Stara Fužina at 6am, enjoying views of the Julian Alps turned golden by the early morning light. At weekends during the summer months there is a free shuttle bus from Mojstrana up the Vrata valley to Aljazev Dom v Vratih, a mountain hut which lies at the end of the Valley where the road ends. This has the benefit of reducing pollution in the mountains and also saves you paying for parking at the Dom. Having caught the first bus of the day, we were at the trailhead and ready to begin climbing by 7.30am.

The Hike Begins

Signposts outside the Dom show the path to Škrlatica, marked as being an intimidating six hours away and with a warning sign to demonstrate that the route involves exposed and potentially dangerous sections. From the valley bottom, the top isn’t visible, just a forest merging into steep rock walls which seemed to go on for ever…

hiking-julian-alps-slovenia

The initial ascent was on a forest path and we quickly gained height as we zig-zagged up. As the trees became sparser, the views opened up of surrounding mountains which still looked high above us, despite all being substantially lower than our target. Further walking along a rocky path brought us to Bivak IV Na Rusje at just below 2,000m. The Bivak is a minimalistic shelter designed for the emergency use of mountaineers and is open all year round.

bivak-skrlatica

From here, the path turned to the north as we contoured underneath Dolkova Spica with views now opening up of Triglav’s north face and back down into the valley. The sky was cloudless and the blue and green colours were absolutely stunning. The path cut across scree slopes, making it fairly difficult underfoot, but this was made up for by the gentle incline, giving our legs a rest before the steep stuff to come!

hiking-škrlatica

Scramble to the top of Škrlatica

After the traverse and a turn to the west, we made it to the bottom of the “scramble” section.  At this point, we had approximately 400m of vertical height left to climb. Although exposed at times, the route was well protected with metal wire and pegs, allowing us to clip on with our via ferrata equipment for extra safety.

The higher we got, the better the views, giving us a taste of what was waiting for us at the top. Eventually, we reached the ridge, which we followed up to the summit.

via-ferrata-škrlatica

Although there were other climbers on top when we arrived, they quickly started their descent, leaving us completely alone to soak up the vista. The views from the top were spectacular, and the clear weather gave us visibility far into the distance. 

We sat down for our much needed lunch, making sure to keep a good distance from the perilous edges. As is often the case, we couldn’t linger on top for too long: by this point it was gone 14:00, and we still had a long way down.

Descending Škrlatica

Via ferrata and scrambling are just as challenging, if not more so, on the way down. Once again, we were grateful to have our equipment, giving us some security over the more technical sections.

climbing-down-škrlatica
škrlatica-descent

We had initially planned to do a slightly different route down, going round the other side of Dolkova Spica, but we decided against. Time was running out and we needed to descend in time to catch the last bus back to Mojstrana. We therefore descended the same path we had come up, enjoying the same beautiful views in afternoon and evening light.

ibex-škrlatica

Time is Running Out

Unfortunately, we arrived back to the bottom of the Valley just before 19:30, and just missed the last bus. With little choice, we started walking down the Valley towards our car, which was 10km away. At least it was flat! Luckily for us, after a mere 10 minutes’ walking, a car slowed down and two ladies offered us a lift down the valley. We gratefully accepted!

After arriving back at our car, we drove back to Bohinj, this time enjoying the sun setting on the mountains. We arrived back into Stara Fužina at 21:00, tired but thrilled from an exhilarating day… and the thought of dinner!

škrlatica

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The Soča Valley – Where Natural Beauty Interweaves with Wartime History

military-defences-batognica

Most tourists associate the Soča Valley with exciting outdoor activities, and rightly so. Skiing at Kanin; climbing peaks everywhere; zip-lining; white water rafting and canyoning – there are numerous pursuits to keep even the most adventurous occupied. However, the Soča Valley also hosts an abundance of history, forming the Isonzo (Italian name for Soča) Front.

 

During World War One (WW1), Italians fought Austro-Hungarians in one of the bloodiest battles in European history. The past remains strikingly visible in the surrounding landscape. 100 years on and artillery, barbed wire and trenches lie surprisingly intact in extreme mountain locations.

Overview of History in the Soča Valley

Prior to the WW1, what is now Slovenia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When fighting commenced, Slovenia fought alongside Germany against the Allied forces of Britain, France and Russia. In May 1915, Italy, which had previously remained neutral, entered the war with the Allies, declaring war on Austria-Hungary.

 

In exchange for support, the Allies promised the Italians land to the north of Italy from Austria-Hungary. The border between Italy and Austria-Hungary was extremely mountainous, and the Soča Valley was identified as the most feasible place to launch an offensive. This beautiful area was therefore turned into a 90km battle front. It was to see almost continuous combat and a huge death toll, particularly for the Italian side.  

soca-valley-river

Continuous Fighting

Over the next two years, eleven inconclusive battles raged between the two armies in a trench warfare stalemate. The mountainous geography created huge challenges, especially for the Italians, who were attacking. Much of the fighting took place on and around the summit of Mount Krn. In some places, the opposing trenches were merely metres apart from one another. This, combined with altitudes above 2,000m, meant that the fighting men struggled in dreadful conditions and with limited supplies.

Austro-Hungarian Victory on the Isonzo Front

The Twelfth Battle of Isonzo in late 1917 (also known as the Battle of Kobarid) was the final battle on the Isonzo front and a decisive Austro-Hungarian victory. Supported by German soldiers and using infiltration tactics and newly designed machine guns, they broke the Italian line, pushing it back to well inside the Italian border. Regarded by many as “the greatest Italian military defeat in history”, it resulted in huge loss of life and shifted the fighting away from the Soča region.

WW1-gun-soca-valley

Eventually, Austria-Hungary was defeated at the Battle of Vittorio Venetto. This defeat marked the end of the war on the Italian front and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With the signing of the Treaty of Rapello in 1920, Italy claimed the Soča area, and other parts of Slovenia. That is until the Second World War once again redrew borders…

Echoes of the Past

Slovenia’s WW1 history can be re-visited in the landscape of the Soča Valley. We recommend visiting a number of cultural sites, which provide a stark reminder about the devastating effects of war. 

Kobarid Museum

This small museum, located in Kobarid, contains engaging exhibitions which highlight the harsh realities of the Izonso Front. A visit starts with a short film in several languages. This provides an overview of the history, allowing you to make the most of the other exhibitions. The large topographical map in the “Krn Room” was a personal favourite. This shows the location of battles and the front line, which cut through mountains above 2,000m. 

kobarid-museum

Walk of Peace

The Walk of Peace (Pot Miru) preserves and honours the WW1 remains in the region. The 320km trail through Italy and Slovenia passes all of the major battle sites and many museums in the region. Taking around fifteen days to complete in full, the walk offers a way to discover history whilst appreciating the landscape and testing yourself physically. You can also choose individual sections of the walk to complete, depending on your interest. Some sections focus more on war remains on the mountains, others on museums and war memorials. 

Charnel House - Italian War Memorial

Italy suffered half of their total WW1 death toll in the Soča valley – around 300,000 of their troops died here. 7,000 of the dead are interred at the Italian Military Ossuary (Charnel House) in Kobarid. Opened in 1938 by Benito Mussolini, the memorial is reached via a winding road up from the village. You can drive, or walk up from the town square in about 10 minutes.

 

The centre of the memorial is a small chapel, surrounded by walls and staircases bearing the names of the identifiable soldiers buried there. Architecturally interesting and extremely poignant, the site offers views down to Kobarid and of the surrounding area, allowing reflection on the past and providing tribute to the men who fought there. 

Krn & Batognica

If you prefer mountains to museums, there are still plenty of opportunities to experience this history. We highly recommend climbing Krn and Batognica in a circular walk. There are multiple routes, but the easiest day walk starts at Krn Village (880m). From there, you zig-zag up the more gentle southern slopes of Krn. Enjoy fabulous views over the Soča and as far as the Adriatic Sea on a clear day. There is a mountain hut just below Krn summit where you can buy food and drinks in the summer months. From the summit (2,244m) you can take in expansive views of the Julian Alps and its dramatic geography. 

krn-hut

Heading east brings you to the Batognica saddle, strewn with the remains of WW1 Howitzer guns. The ascent to the summit of Batognica is up a precipitous staircase carved into the rock. The remains of the war are still very visible, with barbed wire, pieces of artillery and tunnels easy to spot. Close to the summit is a crater formed by the explosion of an artillery store.

batognica-staircase

It is hard to believe that the mountain summits were essentially the front line. Austro-Hungarian troops were on the eastern part of the mountain (the Bohinj side) and Italian troops on the western part.

 

From Batognica, either descend the way you came or make a round trip descending through a valley to the south.

batognica-cross

Visiting from Lake Bohinj

From Lake Bohinj, you can access the Soča Valley either from the North via Kranjska Gora and Vršič Pass, or from the South, taking the car train to Most Na Soči.

 

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also hike there. This takes at least two days there-and-back, and requires good fitness and overnighting in huts. The route starts from Ukanc at the west end of Lake Bohinj. Walk up and over the Komna Plateau, down to Krn Lake, and up to the summit of Krn. You can stay at the hut on the summit, before returning via different paths. This route was actually part of the Austro-Hungarian supply chain during the war. Old buildings, most of which are now deserted, are visible along the way. This includes Koča pod Bogatinom, now a lovely mountain hut, which was a military hospital during the First World War.

 

We hope you have enjoyed discovering more about the history of the Soča Valley. The sites are a very poignant reminder of the human cost of warfare, and the importance of preserving peace.

 

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Viševnik Hike – A Sunrise Adventure

viševnik-hike

Despite its height of 2,050m, Viševnik is an accessible peak to hike which offers majestic views of the Julian Alps in Slovenia, including the highest mountain, Triglav. Whilst ascents of many peaks require a full day of walking, Viševnik takes around 2 hours to summit from the car park at Rudno Polje. Having climbed Visevnik in summer and in snow on Christmas Day, we decided to hike up for sunrise.

 

Winter Hike of Viševnik

Viševnik sunrise

One advantage of the shorter days in winter is that the sun rises later, giving more time to reach the top. And, of course, a slightly more bearable wake up time! We left Stara Fužina with our neighbour Scott (check out his Blog) at 4.45am and rapidly gained height as we took the twisting road up to Rudno Polje.

 

After parking, we put on our crampons, fixed our head-torches and headed through the woods, with the mountains looming eerily above us and the sky a carpet of stars. 10 minutes of brisk walking took us to the bottom of the ski slopes to begin the ascent. The low temperature meant the snow was firm and easy for our crampons to grip in to. 45 minutes of climbing up a second ski slope and a narrow-forested section got us to a col. From here, the vista started to open up as we continued to climb to the summit, still in almost complete darkness. 

Reaching the Summit of Viševnik

We reached the summit at 7am, 30 minutes before sunrise and our anticipated arrival time, which meant a very cold wait! The temperature was around -15°C, which combined with gusty winds left us feeling rather chilled. This was a moment where we felt so grateful to have brought tea to drink in our flasks. A number of other climbers joined us at the top, including a group of skiers who took sips from hip flasks before disappearing on an exhilarating decent. 

Sunrise from Viševnik in the Julian Alps Slovenia

The weather was perfect: clear skies stretched as far as we could see and the crisp winter air gave amazing visibility. As the sun rose the snowy south faces glowed a range of pinks and oranges, with Triglav looking particularly magnificent. 

Sunrise over Triglav from Viševnik, Julian Alps, Slovenia

The Hike down Viševnik

With the sun risen and offering some warmth to our frozen bodies, we started to head down, with a new spring in our step. Once again, we made good progress and before we knew it we were back to the ski slopes. We had brought some plastic sledges with us and this was the ideal spot to whizz down.  We passed many other hikers who were also taking on the peak that day. When we got back to the car park we found it packed with skiers ready to enjoy the sun. This was a stark contrast to the dark and deserted place we had left 3 and a half hours earlier.

 

All that remained was to drive back down to the valley and enjoy a well deserved breakfast. It’s not every day you climb a 2050m mountain by 9am! 

A Fantastic Start to the Day

We had a great morning, blessed with clear skies in spite of the cold. There is something so magical and uplifting about watching the sunrise, particularly in winter when the snowy peaks provide a perfect canvas for nature’s colours. 

5 Tips for Sunrise Hikes in Winter

  • Make sure you have done the route before in daylight; makes navigation a lot easier

 

  • Ensure you have adequate equipment. A head-torch is essential, as are warm layers due to cooler temperatures. If you’re going to be in snowy conditions crampons, poles and an ice axe are also necessary.  

 

  • Check what time sunrise is and plan to arrive 10 minutes before that time: any longer and you’ll get cold waiting like we did.

 

  • Bring food and a flask with a hot drink.

 

  • Bring a camera. Although smartphones can take incredible photos, they require you to take your gloves off to take pictures: not ideal if it’s -15°C like it was when we climbed. Most cameras can be operated with gloves on, meaning you can get all your shots without sacrificing hand warmth. 

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Winter Hiking in Bohinj – Pršivec

Hiking up Pršivec, Julian Alps, Slovenia

From the north shore of Lake Bohinj, rocky cliffs rise dramatically to the 1,761m summit of Pršivec. The views from the top across the Julian Alps and down to the lake are spectacular. Having hiked up Pršivec in summer and autumn, we wanted to try a winter visit. This year’s winter has been unusually mild. Heavy snow has fallen on the high peaks, but only short-lived flurries have made it lower down into the valley. This meant much of the approach would be clear, with only the higher, north-facing slopes likely to be under snow.

 

There are three main routes up Pršivec and we linked two of them to perform a traverse. Our ascent would be from the Slap Savica hut (653m) at the western end of Lake Bohinj. This offers the quickest ascent, a key consideration with the short winter days. The descent would be along the ridge to the east, via Vogar and home to Stara Fužina.

The Climb

From the car park at Slap Savica, the hike climbs up the Komarča wall, signposted to Črno jezero (Black Lake). As you gaze up at the imposing rock, it is hard to imagine a path could cut a way up. However, it is a well-marked route, with red-white dots showing the way. You quickly gain height… and tired thighs! Teasing views of the lake and the hamlet of Ukanc through the trees give a
taste of what will follow.

 

The Komarča path has recently been repaired and there are steel ropes and pegs to help you in exposed areas. It is not advisable to climb this route in snow – it is steep and exposed, and accidents do happen. The warmth of this winter had melted the snow and ice, so our ascent was completely clear.

hiking-lake-bohinj

Črno Jezero

After 1.5 hours, we reached the top of the climb. From here, the path headed through a snowy forest to the lowest of the Triglav Lakes, Črno jezero (1,294m).

 

The Triglav Lakes Valley, protected since 1924, is considered one of the most beautiful parts of the Julian Alps. Although there are ten lakes, it is generally called the Seven Lakes Valley as three dry up during the year.

 

Črno jezero is the warmest of the Seven Lakes, being shallow and at a lower altitude. It is 150m long, 80m wide and its depth varies considerably with rainfall. Despite its name, the water is not black, but it reflects the dark pine forest which encircles it. The Alpine Newt, endemic to the Alps, lives here – they clearly don’t mind the cold water! Water from the lake drains through underground passages, feeding Slap Savica (waterfall), from where it flows into Lake Bohinj.

 

Because no river flows out of Črno jezero, there is no river bed to set the height of the water. We have visited at different times of year and it is noticeable how much the water level changes. On this visit, the winter conditions strikingly highlighted the fluctuation. Collapsed slabs of ice, formed on a full lake, surrounded the now lower, shrunken, surface of ice in the middle.

winter-crno-jezero

In the solitude of the mountains, it looked and felt otherworldly. Leaving Črno jezero, the next stop was Planina Viševnic (1,615m), a beautiful alpine pasture that in summer feels like a scene from Heidi. Log cabins are dotted among lush meadows, with high mountains all around, making it a popular hike in summer. There is a charming alpine hut here, open in summer for refreshments and lunch.

 

In winter, it is a different story. The red-white blazes, often painted on low rocks, were blanketed by thick snow, slowing our progress. Our prior knowledge of the area, having hiked the trail before, was invaluable in helping us establish the route. The ground turned from earth to snow and then to ice, so we put on our crampons.

winter-hiking-bohinj

On Top of Pršivec

From Viševnik, a path winds up through the forest, opening quite suddenly onto to the summit of Pršivec (1,761m). Here you get panoramic views of the Bohinj Valley and Mount Triglav, Slovenia’s highest peak at 2,864m, seen on the right in the photo below.

winter julian alps

It is a challenging climb to the top of Pršivec, but the reward is fabulous, with views up to Triglav and down to Lake Bohinj, glistening in the sunshine 1,250m below. 

prsivec lake bohinj

As with most Slovenian mountains, there is a visitors’ box here with a rubber stamp. Bring your own inkpad and paper to make a souvenir of the occasion!

 

We could have spent more time admiring the amazing views, spotting other peaks and breathing in the crisp mountain air. However, in February, the daylight hours are limited, so we had to start the descent. The path down the eastern side is quite steep in places, but our crampons dug in securely, keeping us safe. Here again, it was hard to find the path, so knowing the route was very helpful.

The Descent to Stara Fužina

45 minutes after leaving the summit, the snow thinned and the path became clearer as we headed towards Vogar.

Vogar  (1,054m) provides another super viewpoint over Lake Bohinj. It is a popular hiking point, detailed in our Blog post here. On clear days, it is also a paragliding take-off point. There is a mountain hut where you can get a coffee or beer, depending on your need! In winter it is usually open only at weekends, so best to check in advance if you are relying on it for food. From here, we watched the sun set over the mountains before heading down to Stara Fužina on the clear path.

Sunset from Vogar, Julian Alps, Slovenia

We had a wonderful hike up Pršivec, grateful that the warm spell provided an opportunity to hike up high. There is something completely wonderful about the solitude and stillness of hiking in winter. You can feel the warmth of the sun on your back, yet snow covers the peaks all around. We did not meet a single other person between leaving the Savica hut and returning to our home, Pr Méžnarjo. It was just us, and the mountains.

Need to Know

Start:                   Slap Savica car park, Ukanc

Distance:          14km

Ascent:              1,070m

Highest Alt:    1,761m

Need to Know

Finish:                 Stara Fužina

Time:                   9hrs in snow (7hrs in summer)

Descent:           1,190m

Name:                 Pršivec (pur-shee-vetz)

map prsivec

Route map from Komoot

Hiking in Winter

Mountain hiking at any time of year can be dangerous, and winter brings additional risks. Always make sure that you are prepared and do not exceed your own abilities and experience. Remember:

  • always check the mountain weather forecast and keep an eye on the conditions throughout the day. Conditions can change very quickly high up
  • plan the hike in advance. Trails can be covered in snow even if it all looks clear from below, so make sure you know the route. Consider escape routes just in case the weather closes in
  • days are shorter in winter and distances take more time to cover in snow, so set off early and don’t be too ambitious
  • always carry the right equipment. As a minimum, you will need: multiple spare clothing layers; waterproof, gloves & hat; strong walking boots; crampons & trekking poles or ice-axes if there is a risk of snow; mobile phone; map & compass (technology is more likely to fail when it’s cold); torch (it gets dark quickly, especially under trees); bivouac or survival bag; sunglasses & sun screen; first-aid kit; lots of food and drink

This is not a definitive list – you are responsible for your own safety in the mountains.

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Juliana Trail – Hiking in the Julian Alps, Slovenia

Hiking trails are often focused on summiting mountains, standing on the very top. Search for #hiking on Instagram and you’ll be flooded with photos of the ultimate sunrise from some amazing climb or other. And whilst there is something deeply satisfying about reaching the high points of a mountain range, it can be at the expense of missing what lies a little lower down the slopes.

family walk hike slovenia

Juliana Trail

To address this, a new trail has just been launched through the Julian Alps. The Juliana Trail delves right into the Slovene alpine world. Hike through valleys, forests, lush meadows and along emerald rivers, learning about the rich natural and cultural heritage of Slovenia as you go.

 

Owen Clarke, writer for Outside Magazine and one of the first hikers to complete the trail, commented “The Juliana Trail won’t be the most challenging hike you’ve ever done, but you won’t find an experience quite like it anywhere else.” This is because the Juliana Trail has been purposely designed to give you a real taste of Slovenia.

 

“The Juliana Trail seeks different heroes – those that aspire advancement in their spirit as well as altitude.”

The Route

Officially opened in Autumn 2019, the 270km circular trail has been split into 16 stages, each about 17km in length.

juliana trail map

source: www.bohinj.si

The route passes through some of the best natural and cultural sites in Slovenia. You can pass through the alpine hub of Kranjska Gora for some outdoor adventures and experience iconic Lake Bled, rowing or swimming out to the church on the island.

Lake Bled - day trips from Lake Bohinj

Head to the Pokljuka Plateau and Lake Bohinj for pristine nature and tranquillity. Visit the stunning Tolmin Gorge, historic Kobarid, and be mesmerised by the turquoise waters of the Soča river.

Amenities

Each stage of the Juliana Trail starts and finishes in a town where you can spend the night and refuel. Interestingly, over half of the overnight stops are in small, remote villages rather than the traditional tourist haunts. Here, you can really immerse yourself in your surroundings whilst experiencing the warm hospitality of the Slovenian people. Slovenia is a very environmentally conscious country, and each stop is accessible by public transport. This means that it is possible to select just a small section of the hike rather than completing the whole trail; perfect for those who are only in Slovenia for a short stay, or for family hiking.

hiking julian alps

Need to Know

Time of Year:  Best time between March and October

Length:               267.4km

Altitude:            7163m ascent and 7150m descent

No. Stages:       16

Av. Stage:           17.5km (4—5 hours walking)

Stage Details:  Click here (external site)

Trail app:            Click here (external site)

It’s easy to find your way… The J-A blazes mark the route in between signposts.

julian alps route

Hike the new Juliana Trail to get off the beaten track & immerse yourself in the natural world. 

 

Have you hiked part of the Juiliana Trail? Do let us know about your experience in the comment box below. 

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Top 3 Hikes to Lake Bohinj Viewpoints

top 3 hikes to lake bohinj viewpoints

There are lots of hikes that give wonderful viewpoints over Lake Bohinj. So many that sometimes it can be hard to choose between them! Some are major, full-day expeditions, serious outings that climb to over 2,000m. But the hikes described below are our top 3 for fantastic views with relatively little climbing.

 

They’re nice at any time of day, but there is something special about an amazing sunrise or sunset.

 

The first walk, to Peč, is the quickest and easiest. If you have time, why not try all three?!

Lake Bohinj Viewpoint #1 - Peč

  • Altitude 640m
  • 2km
  • 40-minute round trip from Stara Fužina
pec sunset lake bohinj

This picture-perfect view of Lake Bohinj (see above) is taken from Peč, a promontory on the lower slopes of Rudnica. It is about a 40-minute round trip from the village of Stara Fužina, an hour if you take it slowly. You never get much more than 100m higher than the water, but the views over Lake Bohinj, and the meadows along the way, are superb. The final view is beautiful, with the church and bridge acting as gatekeeper to the lake. 

Directions

From the centre of Stara Fužina, cross the bridge over the river, heading east. Turn right down the small road after the wooden barn, following the flow of the river. After a while, you’ll cross the smaller Ribnica river and join a cycle path. After about 500m, the path rises gently to a road crossing the river from the right. Turn left here and follow the signs to Peč. You won’t be disappointed! Once you have seen the view it is easy to see why this is one of the most popular Lake Bohinj viewpoints.

You can extend the walk by following the marked trail to the summit of Rudnica (946m, 3hr round trip). This hill splits the Bohinj valley into its upper and lower halves and forms the southern side of the U-shaped valley. The ascent up Rudnica from Stara Fužina is lovely, gentler than Vogar or Studor (see below), and passes through forest, pastures and flower meadows.

Close to the summit, a large clearing provides beautiful views to the lake below and high mountain summits further afield. 

rudnica hike bohinj slovenia

There are few more lovely spots for a picnic, and because so few people venture up here (there are no facilities & nowhere to buy refreshments) you and the resident deer will probably have the hill to yourselves. The far side of the hill is steeper, the paths more challenging, so it’s best to descend the same way.

Lake Bohinj Viewpoint #2 - Vogar

  • Altitude 950m
  • 6km
  • 2-3 hours round trip

Vogar provides a wonderful viewpoint high above the north-eastern end of the lake. It is the spot from which many paragliders take off in summer. 

vogar viewpoint lake bohinj

Directions

From the bridge in the middle of Stara Fužina, follow the road uphill to the west. Beyond the children’s play area is a car-park, from which Vogar is signposted as 1 hour 15 minutes.

It’s a steep climb up through the forest, marked by the typical red circles surrounding a white spot, and signposts. The path was previously roughly paved by large boulder slabs. Although some of these are still in place, it is quite bumpy where they have become dislodged.

vogar julian alps hike

As you get close to the top, you will see a sign post to the paragliding launch site on the left. The view appears quite suddenly, with a panorama over Lake Bohinj and Stara Fužina below. You may even get to watch some brave souls launch themselves off the mountain under their parachutes. If you have ever want to fly like a bird, this must be one of the best places to try. What an amazing view!

If you’re still feeling energetic, head a little further up the path to the Kosijev dom na Vogarju. This mountain hut offers refreshments, and you can sit down, relax and enjoy the wonderful views all around. Walk through the grassy area by the hut to head to discover another fabulous Lake Bohinj Viewpoint.

vogar-bench-lake-bohinj

Lake Bohinj Viewpoint #3 - Studor

  • Altitude 980m
  • 5km
  • 2-3 hours round trip

The hill of Studor forms the northern side of the U-shaped valley. The walk to the top is steep enough to get your heart beating, but the views are worth it. You can see along the entire length of Lake Bohinj from the top – a worthy reward.  

studor viewpoint lake bohinj

Directions

Start in Stara Fužina and follow the path towards the Mostnica Gorge. Just before the Devil’s Bridge (Hudičev most), turn right to follow the path to Uskovnica, through a beech forest. When the path splits, keep right and follow the trail up, contouring across the southern face.  

studor hike bohinj slovenia

There is a small clearing near the summit which gives fantastic views along the lake. This clearing is a much less-used paraglider take-off point – it’s quite a climb from the nearest road.

We have never had to share the summit of Studor with anyone else – it’s beautifully quiet.

Which Lake Bohinj Viewpoint Will It Be?

So, will it be viewpoint number 1, a quick scamper up Peč for the picture-perfect view over church and lake? Or will you choose viewpoint number 2, a steep climb up Vogar, joining the paragliders as they soar into the sky? Or maybe it’ll be viewpoint number 3, secluded Studor, the quieter option that will take your breath away?

 

The decision is yours… 

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Autumn Break in Bohinj

studor viewpoint lake bohinj autumn

We’re just back from a super visit to Lake Bohinj. We enjoyed some family hiking and relaxation and the chance to catch up on progress on the house. Stara Fužina sits in the middle of a glaciated U-shaped valley formed by two mountains, Rudnica and Studor. We’ve been up Rudnica before, so this time we walked up Studor. We were rewarded with amazing views of the village and lake bathed in the beautiful autumn colours.


Canoeing on the Lake Bohinj, swimming in the (cold!) water, and hiking up Prševic offered enough activity that we slept soundly at night, after the obligatory pizza at Pr Košnik of course.

Hiring a kayak is a fun thing to do on Lake Bohinj Slovenia
jump into lake bohinj

It was great to see such progress on our holiday house, Pr Méžnarjo. The underfloor heating pipes are fully installed on all three floors and the roof is now ready for tiling. The wood burning stove has been ordered to keep us cosy in the winter months and appliances chosen for the new kitchen. We really want to make Pr Méžnarjo a home from home, a place to rest and recharge. We hope our guests will feel like that too.