We crossed Slovenia as part of a longer journey: a walk across Europe via 16 countries. Between 2018 and 2020, we walked 10,000 km from Portugal to Turkey for two years. This is the Two Steps to the Other project. Discover the whole project here.
The Alps did not let themselves be crossed without a final bouquet, but it was there.
We were on this windy and snowy border pass and in our head we could only imagine what would happen next. New language, different culture, different landscapes, unknown cuisine...
After four months in the Alps, we were no longer dreaming of mountains, we were satiated. Anyway, with the wet season already well underway and the winter starting to arrive, it would have been hot.
We thus traced a rather low route in altitude and we decided not to go to see the Triglav of too near.
Slovenia is a country of walkers. In most families, going for an outdoor activity at least every weekend is part of the norm. The positive consequence for us is that there are a lot of trails and they are well maintained. Information is easily found on the internet, the trails are well used and well marked.
For the beginning of our journey through Slovenia, we were accompanied by Paul, the 11th guest of Two Steps to the Other. He hadn't done much traveling, let alone hiking, in the last 10 years, after he had a serious car accident. We didn't know exactly how Paul's stay would go, what we might or might not do, or how fast we would go. We had planned a modest program that we had to revise upwards because Paul was so determined to go a little further each day, to walk a little faster. His thirst for discovery and his desire to surpass himself transcended him and impressed us. A waterfall? He bathed in it! A lake? He rowed across it! A mountain? He climbed it in one go!
We heard several testimonies of people telling us that they had had problems while camping in Slovenia. They were woken up and kicked out by locals or fined by the police.
We didn't have any problems on that side, maybe also because we were there out of season. In any case, we always felt very free to camp where we wanted, using common sense of course.
Our only "little" fear was to be woken up by a bear in the middle of the night... But it didn't happen!
It was probably the first time we visited such a small country. To give you an idea, there are as many inhabitants in Slovenia as in Paris intra muros, on a surface comparable to that of Picardy. When you know that 60% of the territory is covered by forest, you understand that the living space is limited. This probably explains why it happened several times that we met someone who knew other people we had met elsewhere in the country.
This small territory is nevertheless a varied playground for nature lovers like us: steep mountains, crystal clear rivers, picturesque lakes and enchanted forests...
Considered one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, its amazing turquoise color is due to the minerals that run through it. From its source in the Triglav National Park, the river is punctuated by gorges, waterfalls and suspension bridges. If the river is widely used by white water tourism in summer, in autumn we were absolutely alone to enjoy it. The storm we had experienced in Italy had also hit the northwest of Slovenia and all the water courts had rarely been so full, in Slovenian memory.
We didn't know it, but Slovenia is home to more than 8000 caves, especially in the Inner Carniola region, in the west of the country. Only 20 of them are open to the public. We had the chance to visit the Krizna cave. An underground wonder, incredibly preserved. We loved the fact that the cave is preserved as naturally as possible. The number of visits is limited and the layout is simple and rough in order to respect the fragile balance of this place.
The lake of Cerknica is known to be the largest intermittent lake in Europe. A real geological curiosity, it goes from a few pools in summer to a surface of 38 square kilometers in winter. The water flows through natural siphons in the limestone subsoil. In the rainy season, the lake can appear suddenly.
Slovenian forests are known to be home to a large bear population. Yes, on a territory 31 times smaller than France live 20 times more bears. And everything is fine... We didn't see any, half relieved, half disappointed, but our road in the Balkans is far from being over!
One of the major surprises of our trip through Slovenia was to realize that the level of ecological awareness in the country is very very high. Much more than in France. The nature, even at the edge of the cities, is incredibly clean. We did not see a paper lying around!
By discussing with Slovenians, we understood that indeed, the education to the respect and the protection of the environment started from the youngest age and this since decades.
In this small country, we met many people. We were regularly invited to sleep in people's homes, we were often offered help in one form or another, overall and despite the wet season which tends to leave people at home, our encounters in Slovenia were numerous and rich.
Anja: after crossing the border, we arrived in the village of Bovec where we quickly became friends with Anja who helped us discover the surroundings of the Soča. It is actually quite rare for us during this crossing of Europe to spend time with people of our age. Anja welcomed us at her home for a whole week!
Beno: a few kilometers before reaching the Croatian border, we had a last encounter. On a rainy day, we were looking for a cheap room to dry and work. We found it on the internet but as soon as we arrived, we realized that we had found much more. An unusual youth hostel, a cultural association, a place to live, an artist, a friend... Beno's is the place where we spent the most time of the whole trip. From a room rented on Booking for 2 nights, we finally stayed 10 days invited by Beno.
We soon realized that in Slovenia, everyone speaks English! We were a bit worried about how we would cope with the Slavic languages, but we got a reprieve. The mastery of English of the Slovenians, at all ages and of all the socio-professional categories that we met, is enough to make the French educational system blush.
Yes, we will go back to Slovenia for sure! If only to see our friends again and to go and see the Triglav a little closer. Ideally, we would come back rather in spring or in summer because we spent a big part of our time in Slovenia under the rain.
We ended up staying in Slovenia much longer than we had planned, because we felt comfortable there and felt that there was a lot to discover here. We found open and welcoming people, an overflowing nature and extraordinarily clean paths!
Do not imagine a swim in the lake of Cerknica, on the map it looks gigantic but in some seasons it is only a puddle.
We must be the only people to have spent so much time in the wild in Slovenia without seeing a bear.
Do you like cream cakes? Slovenia should please you.
All seasons are possible but for us the ideal is spring or summer, although there are many tourists in summer.
We mainly slept in tents or invited to the house of the inhabitant. At the time we were there, no problem to camp anywhere.
For this crossing of Slovenia, we left with mid-season clothes, rain gear, hiking and bivouac equipment and without mountain gear.
Find here the detailed list of our material, item by item.
This is what the law says: "Wilderness camping and backcountry camping are not officially allowed in Slovenia. In addition, it is against the law to stay overnight on private property and bivouacking is not legal. If you are caught, you can be fined up to 500 €"
The route of our hike in Slovenia passes through several protected areas:
This hiking tour of Slovenia can be done with a dog, except for the official cave visits.