Slovene High Level Route
Key information: Slovene High Level Route
- Slovenia's great long-distance trail winds on a 550km Odyssey along the varied and spectacular northern and western spines of this fabulous and relatively undiscovered country, passing through its best scenery, including the outstanding Julian Alps.
- This is tough walking in high, remote mountains, on which you will have to be self-sufficient in places. Come prepared.
- Walkopedia rating84
- Natural interest15
- Human interest6
- Negative points0
- Total rating84
- Length: Your choice
- Maximum Altitude: 2,864m
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
This is Slovenia's great long-distance trail, which winds on a 550km Odyssey along the varied and spectacular northern and western spines of this fabulous and relatively undiscovered country, passing through its best scenery, including the outstanding Julian Alps, where it climbs the country's highest and best known peak, Mount Triglav, at 2,864m not huge but nonetheless immensely striking.
The trail well reflects the country's beauty and variety. Because it spends so much time on the highest ground, you (literally) see a lot of the country and thus get a strong feel for its individuality and topography.
Most of the trail (indeed most of the country) is limestone (the term "karst" is derived from the name of a Slovene region), showing dramatic evidence of its periods of glaciation.
The mountains' extensive and gorgeous forests are a glory, and they shelter wildlife ranging from ibex to eagles, marmots to chamois. High and perfect meadows alight with famously riotous wildflowers provide vivid counterpoint.
You will also see plenty of Slovenia's remarkably unchanged rural heritage, perfect mountain villages and remote farmsteads offering an insight into traditional ways of life. Slovenia has always been a backwater, often invaded and usually part of someone's empire, from the Romans to the Hapsburgs. The River Soca (in the Julian Alps) was a bloody but relatively little-known Austrian/Italian battle front of the First World War. While it became part of Yugoslavia after WW2, Slovenia avoided the genocidal post-communist Balkan conflagration of the late C20, and indeed has always looked more west than east.
It has to be said that to walk the whole trail would subject you to the law of diminishing returns.
- The first stage-and-a-bit is across forested plateau.
- It is stages 3 (in the sheer and rugged Kamnik-Savinja Alps); 5 (the Karavanke range - gentler ridge walking); 6 and 7 (the high Julian Alps) and 10 (which includes the dramatic Gova escarpment) provide the main visual and high-range fireworks.
- Stage 9 is lovely hill-country and stage 12 the final - interesting - approach to the Mediterranean.
The limestone Julian Alps (think Dolomites without the crowds), around 150 mountains over 2000 metres high, fill north-west Solvenia (and extends into north-eastern Italy), offering superb Alpine walking, with outstanding natural beauty and spectacular views. Most people who come walking in Slovenia head here first, with good reason. A traverse of the Jalps on the High Level Route would be a wonderful way to see a lot of the range.
There are high refuges aplenty to stay in, so you can keep up in the highlands for some while, and delightful towns and villages down in the valleys for some R&R. You will eat well and can eat cheaply.
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Books and Maps
Books on this walk
Trekking in Slovenia – The Slovene High Level Route – Justi Carey and Roy Clark, Cicerone
The Julian Alps of Slovenia: Walks Short Treks – Justi Carey and Roy Clark, Cicerone
A Guide to Walks and Scrambles in the Julian Alps based on Kranjska Gora – Mike Newbury
Slovenia – Lonely Planet
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
The hiking season runs from May to October; July and August are the hottest months, whilst May and June provide a profusion of beautiful flowers, many of them found only in Slovenia; September and October are full of autumnal colours.
The climate is predominately alpine, with cooler temperatures even in summer than are found elsewhere in the country. And plentiful rain. The average temperature throughout July and August is 19°c; in the winter there is snow, which often remains in the higher areas into May.
It is generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather, and afternoon thunderstorms (indeed even snow) in summer. Avoid being caught on high ground by a thunderstorm.
There are direct flights to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, from most European countries (from both London and Manchester in the UK); other nearby airports are Klagenfurt (Austria) and Trieste (Italy). It is not far (1-2 hrs) from the airport to the walking areas.
Trains to/from Ljubljana. International trains (on a north-south line) to Bled and Bohinjska Bistrica.
Local buses are reasonably plentiful to/from the main towns and to many walk rodheads. Car hire is pretty easy.
Local taxi services generally exist in the towns, can (eg) take to or pick you up from a roadhead, or transport luggage.
Those on organised expeditions are likely to be transported from Ljubljana or the airport.
No permits are needed to do these walks.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
· Mountain weather: snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year. Come prepared.
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Guided or independent?
This trail can be done independently, and it has to be thus if you want to tackle the whole trail.
Many people form or join organised/supported expeditions to walk part of the trail.
If hiring a guide locally, meet him/her and get comfortable before committing. Make sure all requirements are understood and agreed – including of course, remuneration!
Expedition organisers include:
Explore! – do a trip incorporating walks in the Julian Alps
Wilderness Travel – 11 day hiking in Slovenia non-supported
Inntravel – Several options – based around Julian Alps
Exodus – offer a challenging 5 day Julian Alps traverse rom Bohinj, taking in a Triglav ascent
www.hfholidays.co.uk guided walking at Lake Bled.
www.responsibletravel.com variety of self-guided walks.
www.headwater.com offer a hotel-to-hotel walk from Kranjska Gora round via Bovec to Bohinj.
Check Tripadvisor for some reviews of this walk and walk organisers which may prove helpful.
PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable tour organizers that you know of – local or otherwise.
In general, there is a wide variety of accommodation available, particularly in the main walking centres such as Kranjska Gora and Bohinj. Places to stay range from campsites and youth hostels, through tourist farms and guesthouses to four-star hotels, so there is plenty of choice.
Once on the trail, there are mountain huts aplenty to stay in, so you can keep up in the highlands for some while. See the Cicerone guide for general information as well as specifics for each stage of the trail. And see www.pzs.si for contacts for all relevant huts. Some huts, especially in the Julian Alps, can get very busy in high season, so book early.
There are relevant accommodation websites. Try www.luxurysloveniaholidays.com if you feel that way inclined.
See what the commentary on the dreary Tripadvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”.
A good range of hotels can be found on the unimaginatively but effectively namedHotels.com.
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with information on this walk. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
· www.slovenia.info – including info on huts and how to book them.
Other things to do in the area
Lake Bied – island church, Ljubljana
Endless. See our Julian Alps page in particular.
- Water sports (incl. White water rafting)
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more
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