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Slovenia, a small country at the very heart of Europe, is a true gem for outdoor lovers. Often overlooked when traveling around the old continent, it’s slowly emerging as one of the world’s greenest destinations. With more than half of its territory covered in forests and meadows, and boasting imposing mountain ranges like the beautiful Julian Alps, Slovenia is the perfect place for an active holiday in unspoilt nature.
One of the most singular and intrepid ways of exploring the mountains of Slovenia is climbing a via ferrata. In case you’ve never heard about them, via ferratas are protected climbing routes secured with steel cables (quite popular in the Alps), which allow climbers to reach high altitudes using minimum equipment.
To learn more about via ferratas in this European paradise, we talked to Mitja, a IFMGA mountain guide and local expert with a strong passion for showing Slovenia’s wonders to the world. Mitja was in charge of installing two of the most recent via ferrata routes in the country: Hvadnik route in Gozd Martuljek, and Aljazeva route in Mojstrana.
About the type of via ferrata routes you can find in Slovenia, he says it’s more accurate to describe them as ‘equipped secured paths’. ‘There are steel cables fixed to the rock, but only on the hard sections. Sometimes, there are other exposed sections with no protection in between’, he says.
Thanks to his valuable insights, we came up with a list of the best 6 via ferrata routes in the country. Depending on their difficulty level, some routes are suitable for families with kids, while others are reserved only for the most bold climbers. Keep reading to find out more about this exciting mountain activity!
Rising at 2864 m, Mount Triglav is the highest peak in the Julian Alps and a symbol of Slovenia. Climbing this mountain is one of the top outdoor activities in the area and a huge favorite for those seeking a first mountain experience.
There are several routes to climb Triglav. If you choose to climb it from Vrata Valley, you’ll need to take one of the three via ferrata routes to continue your ascent: Prag route, Tominsek or Bamberg. Prag route is the most popular route and takes you all the way up to Kredarica Hut (Triglavski dom na Kredarici) at 2,515 m. From there, you still have one more hour of climbing to the summit of Triglav.
At the beginning of this route you’ll enjoy some impressive views of the iconic North Face of Triglav. The route itself has three different sections protected with steel wire and pegs. Some passages are steep and exposed, and there are some tough rocky steps, so you need to be in very good shape and have no fear of heights. On the downside, the route may get a bit crowded, increasing the risk of rockfall (wearing a helmet is part of the essential gear).
Prisojnik (or Prisank) is another iconic mountain in the Julian Alps, with an imposing north wall lying above Vršič pass and overlooking the town of Kranjska Gora.
There are two marked via ferrata routes to climb this peak. Kopišcar route takes a path that leads to the most beautiful natural window in the Julian Alps, on the western side of the wall. This is a very demanding via ferrata, featuring steep (almost vertical) sections with pegs that you can use to climb, and some very narrow passages. According to Mitja, the route can be hard to follow sometimes and has a considerably amount of unprotected exposed terrain. From Prisank’s window to the top, the path is much more easier. The summit, as you can imagine, provides some incredible views of the Julian Alps range.
This is a wonderful route in a high alpine terrain. A must for experienced climbers!
Lying right above the Vršič pass, Mala Mojstrovka is an elegant and easy accessible peak in the central Julian Alps. This peak is also home to one of the most attractive via ferrata trails in the country: the Hanza route.
The route is steep but well-equipped, with steel wires and different safety devices to help you go up. There are highly exposed sections and you need to be careful because rockfall is quite usual. As you get higher, you may find some snow (even in spring). From the summit, the panoramic views are breathtaking! The descent is on a gravel path and it’s quite tough as well.
Mitja says this is ‘a nice route, good for families with a bit of mountaineering experience’. So, what are you waiting to join him?
Lying on the western side of the Slovenian Julian Alps, right on the border with Italy, the majestic Mount Mangart is the third highest peak in Slovenia. Like Mt Triglav, Mangart boasts an impressive north wall.
Due to its easy access, this peak is very popular among climbers. The Mangart road ―the highest mountain road in Slovenia, reaching a height of 2,055 m― provides a very scenic drive towards the base of the mountain. The Mangart Saddle, at the top of the mountain pass, marks the end of the road and is the usual starting point for most climbing trips.
Starting from the Mangart Saddle, there’s a 30 m approach to the beginning of two via ferrata routes: the Italian Route (or via Italiana) to the left and the Slovenian route to the right. Both routes merge several times along the way, so it’s a good idea to combine them.
The Slovenian route goes through the west wall of Mangart and is more demanding: some sections are protected with steel cables and there are very exposed passages. The terrain is of loose rock and requires all your attention.
The Italian route, on the contrary, is quite easier, well-secured and therefore, recommended for the less experienced.
Mitja recommends to descend from the saddle to the Italian side of the mountain, climb on the Italian route, then follow by the Slovenian route and descend on the Italian route.
This imposing peak of the Julian Alps stands right on the border between Italy and Slovenia. It has one of the steepest and hardest to climb north faces in this mountain range. However, the most famous way of reaching its summit is through Via della Vita route, which is regarded as the most difficult and challenging via ferrata in Slovenia.
The route is well marked and equipped with steel cables and a metal ladder, which are essential for the climb, specially on some exposed sections which rise up almost vertically. The views along the way are simply outstanding!
According to Mitja, ‘this is a quite extreme via ferrata, just for really good physically prepared guests with some previous via ferrata experience; the descent is complicated as well’. Are you up to the challenge?
At the gateway of Triglav National Park, Mojstrana is a quiet mountain village and a great starting point for outdoor adventures in the valley and the Julian Alps. Recently, Mitja was in charge of installing this via ferrata route in the valley, providing a great half-day activity for beginners and families with children!
Aljaževa route is located in Grančišče hill and it’s a fairly easy via ferrata route, excellent for those who want to get started on this fascinating sport! This 250 m long route allows amazing views of the Julian Alps and the Karavanke mountains from the top.
Spring, Summer and Autumn provide the best conditions for a via ferrata trip in Slovenia. Most trips are offered between June-October.
Spring (March / May) is a quiet season with pleasant temperatures and a great time to enjoy wildflowers, astonishing green valleys and snowy peaks. There may be some rainy days as well. The Summer months (June / September) are peak season in Slovenia. Travelers flock to explore the country, specially the mountains, where the temperatures are moderate, providing the best conditions for hiking and climbing. With the Autumn months (September / November) come the amazing seasonal colors and the opportunity of enjoying Slovenia without crowds.
Distances from the capital city (Ljubljana) and the mountain areas are quite short in Slovenia and the country is well-connected to travel by bus and train. These are the best places to stay if you are planning to climb a via ferrata route:
At only 75 min from Ljubljana lies this beautiful Slovenian city, the favorite of most travelers visiting the country. Home to the picturesque Lake Bled, the city provides easy access to the Julian Alps and the Karavanke Mountains. Wondering where to stay in Bled? Here are some of Mitja’s recommended options:
Close to the Italian and Austrian borders, this city’s strategical location makes it one of the best starting points for trips in the Julian Alps. Renowned as one of the top ski areas in the country, it also allows gorgeous adventures on the warmer months. The villages of Mojstrana and Gozd Martuljek are part of the Kranjska Gora municipality and also great places to stay.
Here are some suggestions from Mitja to stay in Kranjska Gora:
At the heart of the stunning Soča Valley and very close to the Italian border, Bovec is another great choice to stay for an active summer holiday in the Julian Alps.
Slovenia awaits with endless opportunities to enjoy the mountains! Check out all the via ferrata trips in Slovenia available at Explore-Share and venture on an exhilarating adventure!
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