Alpe-Adria Trail Slovenia

Self-Guided: Backpack Slovenia via the Alpe-Adria Trail

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The portion of the Alpe-Adria Trail that passes through the Soča River Valley is not only one of the best hikes in Slovenia, but it’s also one of my favorite hikes that I’ve done in Europe. It can be for you too, since it’s incredibly adaptable to your priorities. You can choose to tackle just a few hours of it on a day hike, or you can thru-hike it over multiple days. You can either camp the Alpe-Adria Trail or stay in B&Bs or hotels. You can complete only the four-day Slovenian Alpe-Adria section, or you can choose your own adventure to extend the distance.

THE ALPE-ADRIA TRAIL (SLOVENIAN STAGE)

Distance: Official – 53 miles // According to my Mileage Tracker – 65 miles
Days: 4, though there are choose-your-own adventure options to extend at the end
Daily Route: Kranjska Gora to Trenta, Trenta to Bovec, Bovec to Kobarid, Kobarid to Tolmin
Highest Point: Vršič Pass, 5,285 feet (1,611 meters)

If you prefer a guided trip, check out these guided multi-day treks in Triglav National Park, or these day trips from Ljubljana or Bled.

Why Hike the Alpe-Adria Trail in Slovenia?

Why choose Slovenia for your next self-guided trek? In the not-so-distant past, many people could barely point to Slovenia (once part of Yugoslavia) on a map. In recent years you may have noticed this changing. In fact, Slovenian tourism has greatly surpassed the average growth in Europe. The country’s tourism board has won numerous awards for its innovative marketing and promotion of green values. Meanwhile, Instagram has helped mythologize Slovenia’s famed Lake Bled, which draws tourists from all over the world onto its Pletna boats to visit the picturesque church in the center of Bled Island.

The country is also being recognized as an emerging cuisine destination, with farmers’ markets and stylish restaurants in the capital of Ljubljana exposing visitors to traditional foods like štruklji (a savory or sweet dumpling), jota (turnip soup), and Kranjska sausage. Local gourmet chefs are garnering gastronomic attention. Ana Roš of restaurant Hiša Franko was featured on her very own episode of Chef’s Table and voted top female chef in the world by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants guide.

Mostly, it’s Slovenia’s fairytale castles and church architecture alongside towering alpine peaks and the otherworldly, turquoise Soča River that make the country a FOMO-inducing bucket list destination for lovers of unique scenery and outdoor adventure – especially hiking (or “walking holidays” if you’re British), biking, rock climbing, kayaking, and rafting.

If, like me, your poison of choice is backpacking, there are numerous long hiking trails in Slovenia to pick from. Adventurous thru-hikers can find multi-day or multi-week treks through the stunning countryside. For instance, the Slovenian Mountain Trail begins in Maribor in the east and traverses 617km westward across 49 mountain huts, 23 peaks, and 5 towns, ending in Debeli Rtič on the Adriatic Coast. The newly opened Julian Alps Trail, or Juliana Trail, is a two week walk that completes a circuit of all the towns around the outer edge of Triglav National Park. I had a little less time, so I chose the Slovenian portion of the Alpe-Adria Trail.

The Alpe-Adria Trail is a month-long 750km thru-hike that begins in Austria and ends in Italy (or vice versa), but by all accounts the most stunning stage is the week it traverses Slovenia’s northwestern corner. This stage is renowned for following alongside the Soča River Trail (the movie Narnia was actually filmed at locations along the Soča River), weaving in and out of Triglav National Park, and rewarding hikers with some of the most expansive views over the Julian Alps and Slovenia’s highest peak, Mount Triglav (without requiring any mountaineering). Below I’ve outlined what to expect while hiking this part of the Alpe-Adria Trail in a general sense, and also what to expect in terms of a detailed day-by-day breakdown.

PREPARATION

Best Time To Go | Weather and Terrain | Gear | Currency | Resources | Language | Emergencies | Wildlife | To Camp or Not to Camp? | Popularity | Physical Fitness

Best Time to Hike Alpe-Adria Trail in Slovenia

The Alpe-Adria Trail in autumn
The Alpe-Adria Trail in autumn

I did my self-guided Alpe-Adria section hike in early/mid-October and found autumn colors in Slovenia to be captivating. The air was crisp but not cold yet, and I still had plenty of sun. Note that this is towards the end of the season, so more cafes and stores were closed than usual, but not enough to prevent me from finding amenities. The only real issue I had was that one town, Trenta, had already closed all its campgrounds, forcing me to pay more (€30 vs. €8) for regular accommodation that night.

Summertime is a good option because the water will be warmer, typically hanging around 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take. This provides more opportunities to swim in the waterfall pools and riverbanks, and all services should be open and active in each town along the trail. 

Weather and Terrain in Slovenia

I felt so blessed on the Alpe-Adria Trail because I had just finished hiking in Ireland and Scotland where it rained more than half of the time and my entire lower half was caked in mud most days. By comparison, Slovenia was downright idyllic. It was generally sunny and mild. It did rain steadily one day, which misted up the views and made the air windier and colder than expected, but it was still a light rain rather than a downpour. I didn’t have to slop through mud at all.

I did trip over a ton of tree roots alongside the Soča River section of the trail, and there are a couple long stretches of backroad walking that are incredibly gravely. You know when you kick one rock and it hits your other foot, which accidentally kicks it again, and suddenly you’re tripping for about ten straight feet over the same rock? That happened a lot.

Again, I was there in October. In the summertime be aware to expect afternoon thunderstorms. It’s a good idea to read up about the climate in Slovenia throughout the year.

Hiking and Camping Gear for Slovenia

I published a full list and review of the gear I brought for solo hiking and camping in Slovenia. A lot of what’s listed was picked with Ireland, Scotland, and France in mind (ie, extra water-proof), but it all held up wonderfully in Slovenia as well and I can’t think of anything I’d change. There was nothing that stood out to me as being particularly necessary for this trip that wouldn’t be for other backpacking trips; for instance, I didn’t need special snow, ice, or mountaineering equipment. I also didn’t feel the need to hang my food to protect it from animals, as the campsites were quite developed. Just be prepared for potential rain and bring all your typical emergency equipment.

Currency in Slovenia

Slovenia uses the Euro. Most people fly or take the bus into Ljubljana when entering the country, and both the airport and bus station have ATMs. There are also ATMs along the hiking route in Trenta (at the one grocery store), Bovec, Kobarid, and Tolmin.

Helpful Resources for Planning an Alpe-Adria Hike

Alpe-Adria trail markers
Turns out this red waymark is NOT an arrow. In this picture it’s obvious that the symbol is communicating a right-angle hairpin turn because you can see the trail turns sharply to the right. But in places where the trail was unclear, I got very confused by this marking the first few times as I thought it was pointing me straight!

The Alpe-Adria Trail official website is pretty awesome; it includes an interactive map detailing each stage and all the accommodation options along the way.

There are various Alpe-Adria Trail guidebooks on the market, but I’m not aware of any for only the Slovenian section – you would probably have to buy the whole trail book and just skip the Austrian and Italian pages. I didn’t bother since it’s just four days.

The most useful thing for me was to download the Alpe-Adria Trail GPX files to my GAIA trail app on my phone (I did it straight from the app, but you can also get GPX files from the Alpe-Adria website if you click on individual stages. There is also an official Alpe-Adria Trail App that I wasn’t aware of at the time, so I can’t speak to its usefulness). This became 110% necessary for my ability to navigate, as I found some of the waymarking confusing on the first day; the signs were more intuitive from Days 2-4. I am thankful to have known in advance to expect confusion based on this incredibly helpful blog post from Doing Miles.

A note about the waymarking – they use multiple different colors and symbols. Usually it’s red and white paint in a circle shape, but it might be a right-angle shape like in the picture (left). The posted signs are sometimes yellow arrows with black text signifying the name of the town you’re headed towards, and sometimes they’re white with obvious “Alpe Adria Trail —>” text. There are other trails that cross the AAT, so you do need to compare signs sometimes to make sure you’re staying on your trail and not going off on someone else’s, and because the colors are not always uniform you can’t just do a quick glance and think “red, yes that must mean me”.

A lot of what I read in advance of my trip highlighted that there’s not too much information online, and most of what you’ll find is in Slovenian and difficult to decipher, therefore I’m best off just asking advice from locals when I arrive. I found this to be true. Trying to interpret maps at home without really understanding what I was looking at made it so that I wasn’t comfortable creating a route from afar, but when I arrived and got my bearings it all became more clear, and locals (especially the owner of the hostel I stayed at in Bled, called Hosteller) were very helpful in providing relevant maps and advising about what routes could be possible. My main question was whether it’s possible to hike from Tolmin (the final town on the Slovenian stage of the Alpe-Adria before you cross into Italy) eastward to Lake Bohinj. I couldn’t quite figure this out online, but it turns out you can.

Because the Alpe-Adria coincides with the Soča River Trail for a couple days, I also found this article helpful.

Language

Citizens of Slovenia mostly speak Slovene (or Slovenian, either term is accepted), and in some areas may also speak Hungarian, Italian, Croatian, or Serbian. Many people I met were fluent in English, so I did not have an issue with communication. I only remember one time in particular where I was trying to ask a man in the small village of Drežnica where a bathroom was and we clearly didn’t understand each other at all.

Street signs will be written in Slovene, although I didn’t find that to be an issue either since I wasn’t driving. As far as trail signs written in Slovene, it usually only said the name of the town I was headed to, so I knew what word to look for – i.e., “Kobarid ->”. As with any kind of travel, it’s still advisable to learn a few phrases in the local language to be polite and to help ease communication. The phrase I heard most often was “Dober dan!”, which is a simple hello.

A couple notes on the pronunciation of towns you’ll be visiting on this trail:

  • At first I wanted to pronounce Bovec like “Beau-vek”, but it’s actually more like “Buh-vets”.
  • The J sound is often like a Y in English, or sometimes it’s silent. Lake Bohinj is not “Beau-hinge”, but “Beau-heen.” It seemed like locals pronounced Kranjska Gora as “Crane-skuh Gore-uh”.

Emergencies

It’s important to buy travel insurance in advance of a trip like this. Aside from the typical concerns about flight cancellations and lost luggage, on an adventure where you’re being physically active in a foreign country you run additional risks to your health. I went with World Nomads for my Slovenia trip. Luckily when I hiked this trail I didn’t have any medical issue, but I was glad I bought the insurance anyway because two days before my trip, Slovenia’s airline Adria Airways went bankrupt! I had to rebook all my travel into and out of the country out-of-pocket, including a 10-hour bus to Ljubljana from Zurich (other airlines hadn’t picked up Adria’s slack yet, so there weren’t many other flight options) and a weird multiple-layover route back out again via easyJet and Norwegian Air. World Nomads reimbursed me for the money I lost in this whole saga.

If you’re not sure which provider to go with, you can input your own trip criteria into Travel Insurance Master and it will help you compare multiple providers and plans.

On a self-guided Alpe-Adria hike in Slovenia you will never be too incredibly far from civilization, although it may feel like it. I often didn’t see another soul for hours, even though I knew in the back of my mind that a town sat nestled behind some treeline. The emergency number for mountain rescue in the Julian Alps area is 112. Keep you phone charged as fully as possible, and be especially aware of your battery level if you like to take pictures on your phone or are using GAIA or another navigation app. I always bring a GoalZero power bank with me. Keep in mind you may not always have good cell reception, so you may think about investing in a Satellite Communication Device.

Garmin InReach Mini emergency SPOT tracker communication device
Garmin InReach Mini

The palm-size Garmin inReach Mini satellite communicator provides off-the-grid contact even when size and weight matter. At only 3.5 oz, it has 2-way messaging, tracking and SOS capabilities.

Obviously in order to have cell service in the first place, you will need a local SIM card for your phone. The most convenient and affordable solution is an Airalo eSIM. I have used eSIMS in many countries around the world and swear by them.

Wildlife in Slovenia

I was most concerned about predators when researching local wildlife, obviously. There are brown bears in Slovenia, but everyone who advised me said they are not in the Triglav National Park area and I shouldn’t be concerned; instead they are usually much further south. But according to CultureTrip, “When it comes to animals, the most common among the park species are the chamois, the ibex, the red deer, the brown bear, and the lynx. There are also are 84 bird species, with the golden eagle being the most majestic.” The Triglav National Park website itself also mentions bears among many other mammals, saying “The brown bear population in Slovenia stands at 400 to 500 with most of the animals residing in the Kočevje forests. In the territory of the Triglav National Park, individual brown bears are occasionally spotted on the Pokljuka plateau, in the Lower Bohinj Mountains, the Trenta Valley and the area of Tolmin.” I believe this is an incredibly rare “occasionally”, as most people scoffed at the idea of letting fear of bears influence me on this hike. In practice, I never saw anything bigger than a squirrel. 

Keep an eye out for the rare marble trout. It used to be native to a handful of countries on the Adriatic Coast, but neared extinction due to habitat loss and the introduction of other trout species that started to breed them out. Recently and surprisingly, populations of genetically pure marble trout were found in the Soča River and a reintroduction program has been successful in growing the population again. It is a point of pride for the Soča Valley.

To Camp or Not to Camp?

There is no wildcamping allowed along the Slovenian section of the Alpe-Adria Trail, but there are designated campsites available at each town for a small fee (usually €8 – €11 per night). Many of these campsites are in glorious locations directly alongside the Soča River, so I can’t imagine what a regular hotel at a higher price could possibly do to beat that!

Every campsite I stayed at was well kept, had extra amenities like a snack bar and washing facilities, and the weather conditions never prevented me from feeling comfortable in my tent. Note, however, that because I went late in the season, there was one town that had closed all its campsites already – Trenta. Instead I stayed at Dom Trenta, which in addition to being an accommodation, is also the Tourist Office. All the other campsites were staying open at least through October, some even year-around. If camping isn’t your style, bed and breakfast and hotel accommodations are also available at the end of each day’s walk. 

Find hotel options in Trenta, Bovec, Kobarid, and Tolmin. There are also budget hostels in Bovec and Kobarid.

In addition the accommodation section of the official Alpe-Adria Trail website, I found this article on Slocally helpful for learning about camping options. It mentions that it is possible to rent a tent at many of the Soča Valley campsites, so if you’re interested in camping but don’t want to haul a lot of equipment in a heavy pack, that might be an option to explore. 

On most popular hiking trails around the world, you’ll often see hikers carrying small day packs while sending their bigger luggage on ahead of them to each accommodation so it’s waiting there for them when they arrive. When contacting your accommodations to reserve, inquire with them as to who they trust and recommend for your luggage transfer. They may be able to just handle it for you themselves.

I met one family that was overnighting a section of the trail and saw day hikers exploring the Soča River on Days 2 and 3; most of them seemed to have pulled over in their cars during a road trip to walk across the suspension bridges. I shared road sections with bicyclists and saw a van pulled over near the river somewhere in-between Bovec and Kobarid with kayaks strapped on top. Otherwise I had the trail to myself, besides when I crossed paths with locals in the villages.

It was incredibly peaceful to be away from crowds, and I suspect it might be a privilege that won’t last forever as Slovenia becomes more and more popular for outdoorspeople. The Alpe-Adria as a whole is not super well know, I’ve realized; a handful of people have told me they hadn’t heard of it until they saw my posts. I hadn’t heard of it either, until I was specifically searching for a hike in this region of Slovenia. 

I usually shared the campsites with only a few other parties, except for Kamp Kobarid. It wasn’t loud or overrun or anything, but it was obviously a very popular spot for adventurers of all types, and I understand why. More on that in the Kobarid section below.

Physical Fitness: How Hard is the Alpe-Adria Trail?

I did not find the Slovenian section of the Alpe-Adria Trail to be particularly strenuous, exposed, or technical. It does not require any climbing or have any scary cliff drops. It never reaches an elevation high enough to cause altitude sickness, and the uphill climbs, while challenging, were doable. I say this as someone who carried a ton of gear on my back, so if I could do it, you can definitely do it! The most pain I remember being in was during a long downhill that was incredibly rocky the entire way, the perfect storm for jelly knees. I hate jelly knees.

As with any long-distance walk, you’ll want to train in advance for endurance and to make sure you’ve got your trail legs. If you’ll be carrying a heavy pack, train with weight on your back.

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation To/From the Start of the Trail

The trail begins in Kranjska Gora, which you can get to from the major tourist towns of Ljubljana or Bled via bus.

From Ljubljana Bus Station (Avtobusna postaja Ljubljana) the bus typically departs every hour on the half hour (5:30AM, 6:30AM, 7:30AM, etc) from 5:30AM until about 7:30PM, arriving in Kranjska Gora in about two hours’ time. This may not be true on Sundays and Holidays, so be sure to double check the schedule.

The Ljubljana Bus Station ticket office has the following hours:
5.00 – 22.30 (Monday to Friday)
5.00 – 22.00 (Saturdays)
5.30 – 22.30 (Sundays and holidays)

If you’re departing from the Bled bus stop, there will be a transfer. First you’ll take a ten minute bus ride to Lesce ŽP, where you’ll be dropped off on the right hand side of the street (they drive the same side as Americans) at the train station. You simply cross to the left hand side of the street for the bus stop. Then you’ll hop on a fifty minute bus ride from Lesce to Kranjska Gora.

The first bus from Bled usually leaves about every 20 minutes, beginning at 5AM until 11PM, but be sure to check on the latest schedules.

On-Trail Transportation

Each Slovenian town along the Alpe-Adria Trail has its own taxi service. Check here for Kobarid and Bovec taxi company options and here for Tolmin. If you feel you need to skip a section for some reason, there are now daily direct busses between Kranjska Gora, Vršič Pass, Trenta, and Bovec between June 1st and September 30th. Other bus routes run direct between Bovec and Kobarid, Kobarid and Tolmin, and then from Tolmin to practically anywhere.

The bus station and train station in Tolmin are both called Most Na Soči, but they’re about a mile from each other, so be sure to show up at the correct Most Na Soči if you’re looking to hop a ride back to Ljubljana or perhaps Lake Bohinj. I went to the bus station on accident and then had to walk another mile over the highway to get to the train.

Uber and Lyft do not operate in Slovenia, but there are alternatives on the rise.

DAILY SELF-GUIDED ROUTE

Below l’ve listed my day-by-day itinerary for hiking the Slovenian section of the Alpe-Adria Trail, but also presented some possible variations for your self-guided hike. I also noted exactly where I stayed each night, but remember you can find other campsites and their contact information here and here. Standard accommodation options can be found here. To jump ahead to a certain day, click the links below:

Day 1: Kranjska Gora to Trenta
Day 2: Trenta to Bovec
Day 3: Bovec to Kobarid (or Drežnica)
Day 4: Kobarid to Tolmin
Day 5: Choose Your Own Adventure

Day 1: Kranjska Gora to Trenta

Official Mileage: 12.74 miles // My Tracker: 16.1 miles
Accommodation:
Dom Trenta (if you’re there during peak season, you could camp at Camping Trenta or Camp Triglav Trenta)

I didn’t know what to expect when the bus dropped me off, so I was surprised to see plenty of cute shops and restaurants and a busy park where families had picnics at Jasna Lake. It’s not one of the main attractions we often hear about back in the States, but it turns out Kranjska Gora is a well-touristed town. It’s a popular location for skiing in the winter.

Very soon, though, you leave the land of civilization behind and cross into the boundary of Triglav National Park (Triglavski Narodni Park)! Almost immediately you spot some of the mountains that will continue to accompany you as you make your way towards Trenta. You should even be able to see Mount Triglav itself, but the day I hiked it was quite foggy and I didn’t get a good look.

Next you’ll pass by the Russian Chapel which was built to honor the fallen Russian WWI prisoners who died in an avalanche while building Vršič Pass in 1916. It’s sobering to paying homage to those who worked to create the pass you are about to cross, but at the same time I found the location rather peaceful. They picked a beautiful hill for the memorial; it’s shrouded in trees that, especially in autumn, compliment the colors of the chapel.

After the chapel you begin your ascent up Vršič Pass. It’s not the highest pass in the world (just the highest in Slovenia) at 5,285 feet or 1,611 meters, so altitude sickness should not come into play, but I found this part difficult because it seemed to never end. The switchbacks are maddening and the waymarking appeared to point in all directions. This is the day I was really happy to have my GAIA navigation app on-hand. Just know that if you’re still going upwards, you’re probably going the right direction.

As I reached the top, the rainclouds that had been threatening me all day finally delivered on their promise. It was pretty bad timing (or maybe it had been raining at elevation the whole time, just not below). I should have had incredible views over the Julian Alps from up there, but this is what I got instead:

Foggy forest in Slovenia

It still looked cool and gave off a mystical quality, but I would love to return and see the same view in the sunshine.

The rain was light but it was constant, and it got cold up there in the wind, so I was grateful for my Smartwool warmth layer and Mountain Warehouse rain jacket that I mentioned in my gear roundup.

The descent brought me through forest, another area where I got confused about the route a couple times. As it started to get dark, I couldn’t help but think of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

I thought I was nearly done when the forest spit me out onto the road and I started to see signs for Trenta, but it was actually another few miles away. This is where you join the Soča River Trail. Dom Trenta, which is also the tourist center in Trenta in addition to being a small hotel, had warned me that they close at 6:00pm and I needed to check in prior to that, so I busted my ass to rush along the final stretch.

I booked Dom Trenta because it was the only accommodation still open in mid-October. Both the campsites I would have normally considered were closed, but after a much longer and harder day than I had anticipated, I was so grateful to arrive at an actual room. This place was massive for only €30 – two floors in a suite all to myself! My own kitchen! There was a market right across the street where I bought instant noodles so I could come back and cook something warm for once. It was glorious.

 

Day 2: Trenta to Bovec

Official Mileage: 13 miles // My Tracker: 12.6 miles
Accommodation:
Camp Liza // TripAdvisor

Waking up in Trenta was idyllic. It rained all night but stopped right as I got ready to leave, so a swirling mist curled around the mountain peaks as livestock grazed and jingled their bells.

This entire day follows along the famed turquoise Soča River. This means the terrain is mostly flat, though there are a lot of tree roots and brambles to trip over. At various points I saw a few tourists pull their cars over on the side of the road so they could get out and walk the suspension bridges, so today will not have the most solitude.

This day also includes some impressive, pearly-white gorges that have been carved out of the earth by the river. If you enjoy these and have extra time to explore Slovenia after your AAT hike is finished, you might think about visiting the gorges in Bled (Vintgar Gorge) or Bohinj (Mostnica Gorge). I didn’t get a chance to check out Mostnica, but Vintgar is massive and worth it; just note that it is busy to the point of being anxiety-inducing. Go as early as possible when they open. Pro-tip: most people are not aware that you can just hike from Bled to Vintgar Gorge, you don’t have to pay for a tourist bus to take you there and back.

As you approach Camp Liza the river widens out and a handful of fisherman dot the banks. Perhaps they are fishing for the rare and re-introduced marble trout?

The camp sits at an amazing location along the Soča River. There is one section where you are allowed to pitch your tent right on the riverbanks! The woman on duty advised me that it would get very cold there at night, being that it was October, so I opted to pitch my tent elsewhere and I’m glad for it as it did get chilly. The camp has plenty of amenities, includes showers, toilets, a snack bar, and even a laundry room. In peak season they also have a restaurant.

Day 3: Bovec to Kobarid (or Drežnica)

Official Mileage: 13.7 miles // My Tracker: 17.2 miles
Accommodation:
Kamp Koren Kobarid // TripAdvisor

This is one of the days I was most looking forward to because it includes THREE different waterfalls! From my research I knew that if I wanted to see the third one, I would need to detour to Kobarid at the end of the day instead of staying the course towards Drežnica. I was happy to do this because I found the most campsite options in Kobarid anyway, and I also wanted to eat at Hiša Franko. I wasn’t able to tell if the other two falls are right alongside the trail; the maps appear to show the trail passing nearby but not directly over them. It turns out the trail does pass almost exactly next to them. You only have to hike off on short and very well-marked side-trails for about five minutes to get to the first and second falls.

First thing in the morning, I departed Camp Liza and headed into the town of Bovec, which has plenty of amenities including cafes and a big grocery store. Slap Virje (aka Virje Waterfall) is up next after leaving Bovec. This is actually a “double waterfall” that comes down in two streams, making a horseshoe shape.

From Virje you continue to Slovenia’s highest and most powerful waterfall, Slap Boka, which arises from a karst spring. Like many waterfalls, it runs at its heaviest in springtime as winter’s snow begins to melt, so it wasn’t particularly strong the day I visited.

Rocky hiking trail in Slovenia
Make it stop.

Everything between Boka and the final waterfall Slap Kozjak was tedious. I hiked along a rocky never-ending ankle-twisting flat road with no view for hours. This is when I hit a wall and started to lose energy and morale fast. I also wasn’t sure if it would be obvious where I should get off-trail to head down to Kobarid, so I was becoming anxious.

When the forest released me into a small neighborhood, I clicked out of GAIA and looked at my Apple Map to see if I should continue straight or get off onto any of the village backroads. It showed me that the quickest route was to take one of them off to the right, and as I made the turn I saw this heaven-sent sign:

Sweet Jesus.

Outside one of the local homes, residents had left a cooler full of ice and refreshments. I had an orange Fanta and it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. The family’s happy dog ran out to greet me too, and suddenly I was completely reinvigorated and ready to finish the day. Funny how simple life is.

The village street turns into a trail that brings you down, down, down into Kobarid. Before you reach town you first pass by the turnoff for Slap Kozjak. To get to this waterfall you briefly traverse an open cave-like gorge and balance on some slippery riverbed rocks, but they’ve installed handrails to help. Inside the gorge is dark, and trees grow at an angle to reach upwards and out towards the sun. At the end of the gorge you come to its Creator: Kozjak waterfall. It pours down into the cave pool from above your head. It was a beautiful payoff after a difficult few hours and the whole environment felt very spiritual to me.

From Kozjak you follow the handrails back the way you came to rejoin the trail into Kobarid. When you reach the river, you have the option to turn left, or to cross the suspension bridge and turn left afterwards. When you get to the river, don’t cross the bridge! Just turn left and follow the river all the way to Kamp Koren.

Kamp Koren is the coolest campsite I stayed at. It’s a total adventure hub. The tent sites lie right along the river so that you can hear it rushing at night, and they have all amenities including showers, toilets, PIZZA, beer, and snacks. What makes this site unique, though, is that they have their own obstacle course, American Ninja Warrior style! They also have a climbing wall, ping pong table, and volleyball net. You can even rent mountain bikes, a kayaking permit, or a fishing permit on-site. As a result this place is busier than other campsites, but I didn’t mind the tradeoff for all the benefits.

My Day 4 was actually a rest day, which I worked into my schedule because I wanted to eat at Hiša Franko and knew I wouldn’t make it in time if I tried to go after hiking from Bovec. Note that if you want to eat at Hiša Franko or stay in their quirky Bed & Breakfast, you absolutely need to make reservations in advance.

There are plenty of other reasons to hang out and spend some extra time in Kobarid. The Kobarid War Museum is an informative stop if you’re interested in WWI history, photos, and artifacts. The Church of the Assumption displays the bell tower mentioned in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. If you feel up to it after all the hiking you’ve already done, you can do a short day hike on the Kobarid Historical Trail. The town is a very short walk from Kamp Koren. Hiša Franko is farther, maybe two miles, but it was beautiful walk!

Day 4: Kobarid to Tolmin

Official Mileage: 13.6 miles // My Tracker: 18.6 miles
Accommodation:
Kamp Siber // TripAdvisor

On the final day, the first objective is to rejoin the Alpe-Adria Trail up in Drežnica. I thought about retracing my steps the same way I had come, back past Slap Kozjak and the neighborhood with the trail magic, but then a big chunk of my day would be spent going backwards. Once I arrived back in that village, I’d still have to hike forward awhile before I ever even got to the technical “starting point” of the day in Drežnica.

I decided instead to follow the driving road to Drežnica, which winds up, up, up, around a mountain. A couple of bicyclists rode past me and I felt for them (in turn, they probably felt empathy for me and my pack). I’m glad I went this direction, though, because when you finally reach the top there is a long, gorgeous reveal as Drežnica appears in the valley before you. I loved approaching it at a slower pace, seeing the picturesque Sacred Heart Church from multiple angles, surrounded by mountains and morning light. I was so captured by it that I took a picture with every step, and now you have to look at them all:

Drežnica fountain

Drežnica is a tiny village, and perhaps because it was Sunday and everyone was in church, I hardly saw anyone roaming the cobbled streets. I also couldn’t find a bathroom anywhere – don’t rely on Drežnica for amenities! It is absolutely the most charming town I saw on the entire trip, though.

As you leave Drežnica, you start climbing again towards Krn and Planica. This is another long-haul ascent with a big payoff in the form of views over the mountain range. All the while you watch Drežnica become smaller and smaller below you, though the sound of the bell tolling the time will still reach your ears in the distance.

At the very top sits the Italian Military Chapel Bes, which valiantly keeps watch over the valley. Unfortunately I hit the summit on another misty day. Just like on Day 1, the entire view was fogged up and I came away wishing I truly understood the scene.

From here the trail is quite simple. You cross through a pretty forest to arrive on the other side of the hill, ultimately ending up in a vast valley surrounded by mountains. The mist made this section look haunting. I could hear cow bells and people’s voices in the distance as they picked blueberries, hiked, or wrangled cattle, but I couldn’t see them. We were all like ghosts to each other, each existing on the other side of some strange Upside Down. I loved it.

Walk Drežnica to Tolmin
Drežnica to Tolmin

Out of the shrouded mist suddenly appeared a wooden building. Other hikers were perched and picnicking on the tables outside – a cafe! I could barely communicate with anyone there, but I surmised it to be a kind of basecamp for people attempting to climb Krn, and also for families who drove there with children to pick berries nearby. I ordered a warm jota soup and rested up awhile, wondering what the view from the cafe was supposed to look like.

Next I enjoyed passing through tiny towns as I entered the second half of the day towards Tolmin. The buildings felt frozen in time, which piqued my imagination and had me envisioning what life might have been like hundreds of years ago. Perhaps not all that different.

Winding forest trails bring you through a maze until you finally arrive back at the river, a welcome sight. I was annoyed in the forested section because some kids on dirt bikes rode past me a couple times and made a lot of noise, but they finally zipped off towards town and main roads again.

Once you reach the river there are a few campsites, so you could end your day here if you choose. But it’s another few miles to the actual city of Tolmin, which is the biggest city on the trail. Luckily those miles are flat and just lead through some nice pastureland, where I gazed adoringly at baby lambs and calves.

As a bigger city, Tolmin is a jarring juxtaposition to everything else you’ll see on the trail through the countryside, but there are a ton of accommodations to choose from here if you’d like a more luxurious endcap to the route! I walked on to Kamp Siber, another riverside campsite. You can pitch a tent or park a campervan at most of the campsites throughout the Slovenian section of the Alpe-Adria, but this one also has wigwams for rent. The covered seating area and bar is kind of fun, and there are TVs on the wall where a few people were watching the game. There’s a vending machine for coffee (hallelujah) too, and I made a new kitten friend.

Despite the fun amenities and very nice clerk who checked me in, I felt a little jittery on this night. I was the only tent camper out there and I was hyper-aware of the men getting drunk at the bar area. The noise didn’t bother me; in fact, the more people who arrived the more relaxed I felt, and they didn’t stay up too late or anything. But you know when paranoia sets in out of nowhere for some reason, and you just can’t shake it no matter how irrational it seems? The campsite was great, but maybe my mind was playing tricks because the urban vibe in Tolmin was so different from everywhere else in general.

Day 5: Choose Your Own Adventure

From Tolmin it’s another 11 days of westward hiking to reach the end of the Alpe-Adria Trail. If you were to continue along the AAT, you would cross into Italy at Tribil di Sopra on Day 5, then ultimately route your way to the endpoint of Muggia. From the city of Muggia you can take a bus to Trieste and then a FlixBux back to Ljubljana, or you could just leave the trail via Italy. There is an airport in Trieste.

View of Ljubljana from Castle Slovenia

“Dober Dan!”: One Day in Ljubljana, Slovenia

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Before beginning my backpack of the Slovenian portion of the Alpe-Adria Trail, I stopped in the capital city Ljubljana to get an introductory feel for the culture, food, architecture, and…

Another option is to route from Tolmin back east into Triglav National Park again, perhaps all the way to Lake Bohinj. There are hut-to-hut routes that would require some research in terms of permits or reservations to book. That’s a whole other ballgame for me to write about at this time, but if interested I recommend you start here. Or, if you’re getting tired of backpacking, you could check out some day hikes in Triglav.

Because there is a train station and a bus station in Tolmin, it is easy to get back to major destinations from this point if you’re done hiking. You could head back to Ljubljana if you need to catch a flight out of the country.

I chose to take a train to Bohinjska Bistrica because I wanted to see Lake Bohinj. I thought I might do the Seven Lakes Hike, check out Savica Waterfall, visit Mostnica Gorge, hike to the summit of Vogel, or ride the Vogel Cable Car (in winter, Vogel is a ski destination).

Once I got there, I was so exhausted after two months of hiking (before this trail I had just finished the West Highland Way, Hadrian’s Wall, The Kerry Way, and a section of Tour Du Mont Blanc back-to-back) that I decided I didn’t feel the need to do anything more. I just booked into a cool hostel called Hostel Pod Voglom and vegged out. If I had been up for more adventuring this hostel would have been rad – they rent outdoor equipment. Regardless, I was still able to admire the beauty of Lake Bohinj, which was the point of the detour anyway! From Bohinj I took a bus back to Ljubljana when it was time for my flight.


If you decide to hike the Slovenian section of the Alpe-Adria Trail I’d love to hear about it! I had a hard time finding detailed information when I was preparing for my own self-guided hike, as the Alpe-Adria Trail is still relatively underrated despite being one of the best hikes in Slovenia. I hope this can be a resource to help others plan their walk with a little less guesswork!

If you have any other long-distance Slovenian hiking trails to recommend, I’d love to hear about those too. I absolutely want to return and see more of the country, and there’s no better way to immerse yourself than through a long walk.


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10 Comments

  1. Love love loooove this post Claire! I am not sure when we’ll fit this in, but I do really want to visit Slovenia to hike! This post is sooo useful, so I’ll come back and read it again when I’m ready to book.

    I was wondering, although you didn’t find this strenuous, do you think it would have felt hard had you not done so many epic long distance hikes before this? I mean, you must have been in fab shape by the time you reached Slovenia!

    It is such a shame that you missed the views from the high points like Vršič Pass…but I guess that just means you’ll have to pop back to hike more in this beautiful country!

    p.s. love the kitty!!

    1. Haha that kitty was such a welcoming sight after finishing the hike!
      That’s a good point and something I’ve thought about a bit too – I think it absolutely had something to do with having already completed all the other hikes. I remember thinking during this one that I was JUST NOW starting to feel like I really had my trail legs, and of course that’s when the trip is over and I can’t utilize that new superpower. When I’ve read posts by thru-hikers who have done the PCT etc, they always say it takes them about 2 months to get fully in the groove, and that’s what happened to me here. I wonder what it would have been like if I kept going longer, probably not as tough as the first half had been!
      I hope you guys do get a chance to get out there! You just finished a lot of epic one though, probably some rest is in order!

  2. Very good report! By far the most detailed I ever saw.

  3. Jen Ambrose says:

    I’d love to do a hike like this – and everything I see about Slovenia makes me want to go there even more!

  4. This looks like an amazing hike, Claire! I also love how comprehensive this entire guide is. You’ve covered absolutely everything I’d want to know if I were heading there myself. Emergency numbers, official mileage vs. your actual miles… I don’t have any current plans for Slovenia but I would definitely like to go – and hike the Alpe Adria too. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Looks so beautiful, great guide can’t wait to visit!!

  6. Slovenia looks so gorgeous! Thanks for such a detailed guide here.

  7. Francesca says:

    I want to go to Slovenia so bad! Drežnica looks like an awesome village to stop in too. Also, this was quite a trek! I do not think I could have survived it all!

  8. Excellent post. So much attention to detail. I love the outdoors and nature and this is right up my alley. I hope to visit Europe someday soon!

  9. Slovenia is very high on my list, I do hope to get there next year hopefully! These hiking trails look fantastic!

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