In the green heart of Europe people live an active life. This is a story about love of activities in nature, which is almost innate to Slovenes. In every large city you can enjoy the views of green hills or alpine peaks, almost each Slovene likes to put on hiking boots and feel the joy in the middle of mountains. Green colour is what a visitor in Slovenia feels first. More than 5,000 kilometres of walkways and theme trails for Nordic walking and over 10,000 kilometres of alpine roads spread all over the country and call for active experience. “I walk, therefore I am”, is the life motto of Pia Peršič, a passionate Slovenian hiker and ambassador of healthy life.

“In one or two hiking days in Slovenia, you may experience an incredible variety of landscape, covering merely 20,273 square kilometres, extending from green lowlands up to alpine high mountains and seaside. In the meantime, pampering in the alpine huts and hiking hotels is a must”, says Pia. Slovenia changes its appearance rapidly. Pannonia plain on the East gradually spreads into vineyard hills to the South and West. Picturesque hills, covered with lovely villages, forests and waters, rise towards the alpine world, right up to two-thousand-meter-high peaks. Everywhere you go, you are accompanied by the lovely smells of healthy herbs and trees.

Pia left her green footprints on almost every hiking trail in Slovenia. The Slovenian Mountain Trail, the oldest European long-distance trail, is one of her favourite. She always loves visiting fresh and powerful waterfalls and water springs. Everywhere, fresh drinkable water is at the reach of your hand. This inspires hikers with the energy for climbing to the alpine peaks among which Triglav is the highest mountain. With its 2.864m this symbol of the country keeps an eye over Slovenia. “The four brave men from Bohinj first climbed on it and they are still looking back towards the kingdom of the mountains,” tells Pia by their monument in the heart of Slovenia, the land of love.

Ever since her young age, Pia has followed specific marks, made of a red circle with a white dot on rocks and trees. The mark is known as the Knafelc blaze and has been used by mountaineers and hikers since 1922 for orientation on dynamic terrain. “Many people wonder what it means if the mark is of yellow-blue colour. It simply indicates that we are on a theme trail. If there is no guide, then it is very important to follow the compass, maps of the Alpine Association of Slovenia and the trail marks. In fact, it is much more pleasant to just lose yourself only by admiring astonishing views than to actually get lost”, explains the enthusiastic hiker.

And what would Pia Peršič recommend to visitors in addition to guided hiking trips with experienced guides throughout Slovenia? “Visiting hiking festivals! Slovenia walks is an initiative connecting hiking events from Pomurje on the East to Posavje on the Southeast Slovenia, full of lovely hills and castles. On the other side of the country, fragrant and winegrowing Brda hills spread on the halfway between the Alps and Mediterranean. This is where cherries and peaches blossom in the spring. The most beautiful Slovenian valleys also offer a fairy-tale scenery: the valley of the emerald Soča River, for many the most beautiful alpine river in the world, Bohinj with the largest Slovenian natural lake in the heart of the Julian Alps or the pristine Logar Valley, at the foothills of Kamnik-Savinja Alps.”

The tradition of hiking in the green Slovenia is long and deeply rooted in many hearts. We are proud to celebrate 120 years of the Alpine Association of Slovenia, the largest voluntary organization in Slovenia with 283 alpine societies, providing maintenance services of the hiking roads and genuine hospitality in the alpine huts. Slovenian Mountain Trail, the transversal that winds among many hills and mountains from Maribor on the East to Ankaran by the Adriatic Sea on the West, counts 63 years. Gaining on its popularity are the Nordic walks with the walking poles and Via Ferratas, protected climbing routes, where the goal is to hike with spikes and wire ropes, not necessarily reaching the top.

“In the mountains, love is all around and everybody respects and greets each other. Even if you come to the mountain hut by yourself, you soon find company to share a home-made alpine tea, mushroom soup and ajdovi žganci (buckwheat spoonbread) with”, enthusiastically tells Pia. “Hikers sometimes like to compare their Dairies of Slovenian Mountain Trail, which are like passports for 75 stamps and available to everyone for a symbolic price. I have collected almost all of them!” However, if your legs become too heavy, you can get a rest and recharge in one of 178 mountain huts and 45 specialized hiking hotels in Slovenia. They offer comfortable accommodation, ranking from one to five hiking-stars, and above all, they offer hospitality, friendliness and breath-taking green views.

The culture of hiking and the enthusiasm for the natural beauties connect all generations in Slovenia. Parents and grandparents encourage their children to discover the charms of nature and get to know the green story of the Slovenian hiking tradition. Among the registered Slovenian hikers, children and youngsters up to 26 years represent one fourth. During the weekends, Pia takes the opportunity to hop on the nearby hill with her family or joins an organized hike in the company of many other lovers of the green views. You can carelessly wander with your children on plenty hiking and theme trails in Slovenia.

On the East of Slovenia Pohorje opens up an oasis of vast forests, peat moors and lakes, which seem light years away from the city hustle and bustle, however, in reality they are close to the second largest city of Slovenia called Maribor. Picturesque wooden footbridges lead to Črno Jezero Lake, protected as the forest reserve. A popular family destination is Velika Planina in the Central Slovenia. It is only a half an hour drive from the Ljubljana Airport to the lower station of the cable car, which takes you to the world of wooden huts and soft green pastures, from where the Slovenian cheese of love trnič originates. Pia and Žiga like to climb on Sinji Vrh in the Vipava Valley on the West, home to indigenous Slovenian wines, bora-dried prosciutto and hospitable people. When the weather is clear, your view may stretch to the Adriatic Sea.

The green, active and healthy Slovenia is a treasure trove of hiking experiences. Have you ever walked among the plantations of hops? “In Žalec in Savinja Valley you may take a look at the Eco Museum of hop growing and brewer’s trade and toast with a mug of green gold, squeezed out from the best sorts of hops in the world.”

When muscles relax, go on, towards new adventures, since it is the best to get the satisfaction by overcoming yourself, as the hikers say. Once they used to walk with crook hiking sticks and wear a pointed hat on their heads as Kekec does. One of the greatest Slovenian literature heroes is young, brave and kind shepherd, who enjoys discovering meadows and new paths. You may find Kekec Land in Kranjska Gora, popular Slovenian mountain resort. And the Kekec song goes like this: “I will go and sow good mood in people. In one hand I carry the Sun and in the other a golden smile.” This is what you won’t be missing among the cheerful Slovenian hikers.

Share with friends