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5 Sites on Slovenia's New Long-Distance Trail You Have to See

August 5, 2020 | Guest post by Owen Clarke

The highlights of the Juliana Trail, a brand new 270-kilometre walking route winding its way through the Julian Alps of western Slovenia.

A cottage on the Juliana, near the village Log pod Mangartom

Last fall, I travelled to western Slovenia for Outside magazine, to test-run the Juliana Trail (I was the first to complete the trail alone). The Juliana is a new long-distance hiking route that wraps around Triglav National Park in Slovenia’s mountainous west, alongside meandering rivers and through dense forests for 270 kilometres. Triglav is home to some of the most beautiful and remote locales in the whole country, indeed in all of Central Europe, with stunning gorge and towering peaks. It’s also chock full of historical sites, from ruined castles and fortresses to WWI bunkers and ancient bridges.

The Juliana Trail was designed to shed light on some of the lesser-travelled regions of Slovenia. It passes through tourist hubs like Bled, but also remote mountain villages with no tourist presence to speak of, like Log pod Mangartom. Everyone knows about Bled and Bohinj, but below are five incredible, lesser-known sites I visited on my journey.

 

Tolmin Gorges

Tons of tourists visit the famed Vintgar Gorges near Bled, but the Tolmin Gorges, on the other side of Triglav National Park near (you guessed it) the town of Tolmin, receive much less traffic and are equally as impressive. The rocky, narrow gorges are gouged out by the emerald waters of the Tolminka and Zadlascica Rivers, strung with suspension bridges and walkways clinging to the sides of the moss-covered cliffs. The gorges are a kilometre long, and visitors can walk a full circuit in just under two hours.

The Tolmin Gorges are just northeast of Tolmin. It costs five to eight euro to enter, depending on the season. If you’re looking for a stellar Instagram pic, you’ll find dozens of opportunities here.

 

Kozjak Slap, north of Kobarid

Via Ferrata Jermn

Triglav National Park is chock full of outdoor opportunities, including a number of via ferrata routes, but the Via  Ferrata Jermn in Gozd Martuljek is one of the best and easiest to access. For those that don’t know, via ferrata refers to a fixed anchor climbing route. Bolts, steel cables, and ladders are drilled into a rock face for hikers to use as protection when climbing and traversing. These routes typically don’t require much physical strength, if you can climb a ladder, you can do most via ferrata, so they aren’t like traditional rock climbing. That said, you will need a good head for heights.

It’s free to access the Jermn via ferrata, simply head to the asphalt road leading from Gozd Martuljek to Srednji Vrh, and you’ll find it just before the bridge over the water running from the Jermn Waterfall (hence the name). This ferrata leads hikers around the walls of the waterfall and across suspension bridges to a lofty perch above a gorge overlooking the falls. While you need a climbing harness to clip into the ferrata lines for safety, you can rent some in Martuljek. Via Ferrata Hvadnik is another great via ferrata nearby.

 

St. Peter's Church, above Begunje village

Mt. Triglav (9,396 feet)

Triglav is Slovenia’s tallest mountain and the crown jewel of Triglav National Park. Its stunning northern face rises nearly 4,000 feet, making it one of the tallest continuous rock faces in all of Europe. Triglav, also, is relatively easy to summit in a day, even for those who are inexperienced climbers. All it takes is a sturdy pair of legs and some commitment. There are no technical sections. A via ferrata is installed near the top for those uncomfortable with the exposure, but many eschew this entirely. If the long trudge up to the top doesn’t take your breath away, the views from the summit will, guaranteed.

Triglav is easy to access. Most hikers choose to approach via the north, from the small village of Mojstrana. Venice, Italy, is a relatively short train ride to the west, and you can reach the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, in only a couple of hours to the east.

 

Castle Predil, a few hours north of Kobarid, on the Italian border

Kobarid

This isn’t a specific site, but a small town, just north of Tolmin. It’s perhaps my favourite village along the trail, simply because there’s so much to do.  From the Kozjak Slap (waterfall) northeast of town to Napoleon’s Bridge above the sparkling waters of the Soča to the award-winning history museum, there’s no shortage of attractions in Kobarid. Situated between the larger towns of Bovec and Tolmin, Kobarid is often overlooked but offers a quiet, mellow charm, excellent local cuisine, and some of the most beautiful riverside hiking and camping I’ve done in my life. (Side note: if you’re looking for camping gear and gadgets to take on your trip, check out some awesome deals here!)

 

One of the cliff faces at Vrh Bace, honeycombed with bunkers. If you look closely, you can see a viewport

Vrh Bače Bunkers

This was far and away the coolest site I visited on the trail, and perhaps one of the eeriest places I’ve been in a lifetime of travelling the world. The abandoned bunker system at Vrh Bače saddle, above the tiny town of Podbrdo, dates to pre-WWII and was built by the Italians as part of the Vallo Alpino, a string of defensive fortifications stretching nearly 2,000 kilometres across Italy’s northern border.

These bunkers are quite isolated, situated high in the hills, and wind deep into the mountainside. Once inside, explorers find themselves amidst a maze of passageways and tunnels, with ladders, staircases and shafts angling all directions. It’s quite easy to get lost down there in the pitch black, and most likely no one will be able to hear any cries for help, so if you do go to the bunkers at Vrh Bače, bring a headlamp and spare batteries.

 

If you’re interested in hiking the Juliana or visiting these sites, check out trail information here.

 

Author Bio:

Owen Clarke is an outdoor journalist and climber. He has written for Rock and Ice, The Outdoor Journal, Outside, and Travel + Leisure among other magazines and has climbed mountains and trekked around the world. You can follow his adventures on his personal account on
Instagram: @Opops13

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We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest. 

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