Slovenia's Outdoor Thrills and Spills
You might have a to squint at a map to spot Slovenia, but for a little country in central Europe it packs an adrenaline-fuelled wallop. There are the Alps running along the north; pristine lakes, karst caves and forests abound in the middle; plus a snipped of Adriatic coastline to the west. Combined, they make the perfect playground for adventure-seekers. Here’s our guide to the biggest thrills.
You haven’t experienced the best of Slovenia adventure until you’ve hurled yourself down into the natural mountain watercourses in the area around Bled, at the foot of the Julian Alps. It’s a thrilling place to climb, abseil concave cliffs, jump from ledges, and swim through underwater holes. Through the activity is relatively new in Slovenia, tourists are increasingly being drawn to this so-called ‘god’s own waterpark’. Grit your teeth and plunge 12ft into a turquoise pool, then lay back and allow the force of a fast-flowing river to carry you on home to dry land.
Paragliding and skydiving
Bled, the backpacking hub, famous for its picture-postcard castle on the lake, is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. Paragliding, skydiving, white-water rafting … you name it, you can do it here. It’s also cheap by European standards, and the surroundings are jaw-dropping beautiful.
There are infinite marked trails to explore in Slovenia, ranging from light strolls in the Shallow foothills to lung-busting climbs up mountain peaks. Triglav, in the Julian Alps, the country’s highest peak at 2864m, is a popular two-or three-day trip, with an idyllic landscape – think glacial lakes, rushing rivers, hidden gorges, snow-capped mountains and lush valleys. Alternatively, trek ‘alpine-style’ around Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, Bovec, Kranjska or Gora. Along most walks, you’ll find mountain huts (called koca or dom) in which to sleep or eat. They’re independent, family-run affairs, and are only an hour or so apart. Most have private rooms and dorms to rent, some have showers, and all have cosy kitchens where you can refuel on traditional mountain dishes.
A Slovenia mountainbiking adventure can take you from soaring mountain passes to subterranean canyons for hairy stalactite-dodging rides. A popular loop starts in the capital Ljubljana and travels past Lake Bohinj and through Triglav National Park. It also encompasses medieval cities such as Bovec, the natural wonders of the Karst Plateau and the stunning beauty of the Adriatic coast.
Crystal-clear waters run off the Julian Alps into the Soca River to make Bled a water-based thrillseeker’s wonderland. Spring is the best time to tackle its white-water delights, as the snow melt swells the river. Alternatively, the hardcore can head to the Sava River in the northwest, for more brutal, but no less stunning conditions.