TIPS & TRICKS FOR HIKING THE JULIANA TRAIL IN SLOVENIA

A complete guide for hiking the Juliana Trail and choosing its best sections.

Juliana Trail is a circular long-distance hiking route that takes you around the eastern Julian Alps or the entire Triglav National Park. Since its opening in October 2019, you could have walked circular 270 kilometers (170 miles) in 16 stages, but now it’s already longer. With the newly added extension to Goriska Brda wine hills, you get 4 new stages and a total of 330 wonderful up-and-down kilometers (205 miles). And there is no need to carry your tent. You will have a comfortable sleep in local hotels and guesthouses.

Even though Lonely Planet recommends it as one of the most interesting long-distance hiking routes, the Juliana Trail is not for everyone. You should know who is it meant for, what to expect, and be well prepared to make the most of your hiking holidays in beautiful Slovenia. We have prepared insightful local information about Juliana Trail and our suggestions to love this hiking adventure!

Walking to the best view at Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Views of Lake Bohinj from a side trip on the Juliana Trail.
Kayaking on Soca river in Slovenia
Soca river on the Juliana Trail near Bovec.

Let’s hike the Juliana Trail

Juliana Trail is a hiking experience in the Kingdom of the Goldhorn, the eastern Julian Alps. It is a long-distance hike where you don’t have to climb any peaks but at the same time continuously admire them rising above you. You are walking through a mountain fairy tale and are part of a dramatic performance where the environment and the terrain you walk through are constantly changing like the scenery on stage. Now it is a quiet green valley near a slowly flowing river. In the next hour a typical, traditional Upper Carniola village. And then a walk through the pasture among the lazily chewing cows. A blossoming flash by the bubbling stream. And then wandering through the thousand-year-old forests of Pokljuka – the largest forested karst plateau.

Believe us that in Slovenia we have the know-how about long-distance hiking trails. In the middle of the last century, we designed the Slovene mountain trail (or transversal as we call it), the first such trail in the Alps! And as long-distance stage hiking is becoming increasingly popular, we recently added the currently biggest valley hiking hit in the Eastern Alps, the Juliana Trail.

On the whole length of Juliana Trail, you will ascend and descend around 7,500 altitude meters (25,000 ft). For comparison – the Slovenian mountain trail is only twice as long, but you will accumulate 45,000 meters (150,000 ft) of elevation gain & drop! 

Don’t miss our post about Juliana’s older cousin – the Alpe-Adria-Trail.

Numbers & Facts:

  • Total distance: 270 km (170 miles) in 16 stages.
    Extra 4 stages to the wine hills making it 330 km (205 miles) in 20 stages.
  • Average daily distance: 17,5 km (11 miles)
  • Average daily walking time: 4-5 hours walking
  • Total elevation gain/drop: approx: 7,500 m (25,000 ft)
  • Accommodation: hotels and local guesthouses
  • Best time: May to October
Juliana Trail Logo
View of Lake Bohinj and the Julian Alps, Slovenia
Views of Lake Bohinj and the Upper Bohinj valley from Vodnik viewpoint on the Juliana Trail. Stage 6.

Juliana Trail is designed for hikers who are looking for a spiritual journey, not athletic achievements.

A church on a hill overlooking a village in the Soca Valley in Slovenia
Photos by Slotrips and STO (Ciril Jazbec, Alex Strohl, Iztok Medja)
Lake Jasna on the Alpe-Adria walking trail, Slovenia
Julian Alps views at Lake Jasna near Kranjska Gora. Stage 1.

Who is the Juliana Trail for?

Juliana Trail is a hiking experience for a slow-paced traveler who enjoys the cultural aspect of travel just as much as the natural treasures.

The Juliana Trail is not a long-distance hiking route from American movies, through exclusively wild and uninhabited areas below the Julian Alps. During your hiking journey, you can completely immerse yourself in nature and talk to your inner voices. But the trail’s cultural dimensions are equally important. You will walk through several towns and urban areas, and get the chance to know traditional crafts and folk customs. Visit small local museums and forts to learn about the turbulent history of the places you are walking through. And, of course, chat with the friendly locals over a round of beers in a local bar. Or grab a rake and help them gather the hay on the steep slopes above the Baska Grapa valley.

Sustainability

The Juliana Trail is deliberately designed in a way to enter less-visited parts of the Julian Alps, to take you away from the main trails to the places that haven’t been discovered by tourists. You will be spending several nights in tiny off-the-beaten-path settlements, making your hike sustainable and having a positive impact on the local economy.

The trails

You will be walking on beautiful forest tracks & mountain trails. But let’s be honest: there is a fair share of walking on asphalt roads and dirt roads as well, particularly on Stages 1-4, 15 & 16 (the whole section between Predil Lake and Lake Bled). If this is not your thing, you should check the Slotrips recommendation for the best inn-to-inn hiking experience in Slovenia or check our guided hiking tours.

Hiking

BEST OF ALPE-ADRIA AND JULIANA TRAIL

Self-guided | 8 days

Hiking

TRIGLAV NATIONAL PARK ADVENTURE

Self-guided | 4 days

Walking, Multiactive

MOUNTAINS TO SEA

Self-guided | 9 days

Hiking

BEST OF ALPE-ADRIA AND JULIANA TRAIL

Self-guided | 8 days

Walking, Multiactive

MOUNTAINS TO SEA

Self-guided | 9 days

"Adventures aside, it’s the people you meet that make the Juliana shine. Great climbing and kayaking couldn’t beat the memories of the meal the woman in Log pod Mangartom fed me, or beers by the fire with villagers in Grahovo ob Baci, or the café owner in Begunje who, when I asked for directions, sent his daughter out with a massive sandwich and coffee and shrugged off the money I offered. One night I stayed up past midnight sharing home-brewed schnapps and swapping stories with several local roofers at a village inn. In the morning, they passed me on a dirt road, riding in a flatbed. “American! American!” they yelled as they roared past, oblivious to the dust shower they were giving me.

The Juliana Trail won’t be the most challenging hike you’ve ever done, but you won’t find an experience quite like it anywhere else."
Owen Clarke
Outside Magazine
Hikers in Pokljuka forests on the Juliana Trail, Slovenia
Forests of Pokljuka Plateau, stages 5 and 6 between Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj.
Kayakers on the Soca river near Kobarid
Soca river on the Juliana Trail near Kobarid.
View of the Soca valley near Bovec in Slovenia
View of the Soca Valley near Bovec. The Juliana Trail follows the valley.

The best time to hike

May, June, September, October

As you encircle the eastern Julian Alps, the weather is pretty much the same as the one in the alpine world above the Juliana Trail. It is best to walk it between May and October, but the official recommendation is March to November. However, since many stages go through the valley world, the Juliana Trail could almost be described as an all-year-round transversal. If you tackle it in late May and June, you will enjoy floral rugs in many places around you. These two months, as well as September and October, are more pleasant to walk in terms of temperatures.

In July and August expect hot weather and afternoon storms, but you can live through them in many buildings or other shelters along the way. Many sections run over forest trails, in the shelter of the shade, but still do not forget your sun protection. In summer (July & August), of course, there are more hikers on individual sections, and the tourist towns you pass on your route get quite busy (Kranjska Gora, Bled, Bohinj, Tolmin, Kobarid & Bovec). June, July & August are also the months when you will be able to swim in all those rivers, streams, and lakes you pass on this hiking adventure.

Svinjak and the mountain above Bovec in Slovenia
The mountain views in Bovec, Soca Valley. Juliana Trail stage 13.

The stages, maps, apps and GPS tracks

The Juliana Trail is designed as a daily series of stage hikes over an average of a bit more than 17 kilometers (10 miles). Which means four to five hours of walking a day. The official total scheduled route length is 102 hours.

Stages 1-4 (Kranjska Gora to Lake Bled)

According to the official proposal, you start hiking the Juliana Trail in Kranjska Gora, a popular ski town in Slovenia’s far north-west. You’ll walk clockwise, at first along the pleasant Upper Sava Valley between the Julian Alps and the Karawanke ridge. The path takes you through the steel town of Jesenice and leads you under Karawanke Alps, and past several typical Upper Carniola villages to the famous Lake Bled. Although the mountain views are nice and the cultural aspect of hiking is interesting, this is probably my least favorite part of the trail. There is too much walking on asphalt and if I had to skip a part of the Juliana Trail, this would be it.

Stages 5-7 (Lake Bled to Lake Bohinj)

After passing the picture-perfect Lake Bled, you get away from the crowds and the trail continues through the mysteriously wild Pokljuka gorge to the forested Pokljuka plateau. Expect dense forests and beautiful alpine meadows with traditional alpine architecture and shepherd’s settlements. Then the trail descends into the beautiful Upper Bohinj Valley, and, rightfully so, leaves time to explore the stunning Lake Bohinj with a short stage 7.

Stages 8-10 (Bohinj to Tolmin)

The difficult stage 8 from Bohinjska Bistrica to Podbrdo can be skipped by a short train ride through the longest train tunnel in Slovenia. Then you continue through traditional villages and along centuries-old forest trails above Baska Grapa valley towards the southern-edge of Triglav National Park. Across picturesque hills and valleys, along rivers and streams, you will soon enter the magical valley of the emerald Soca river.

The church in Dreznica below Mt. Krn during a hike on Juliana Trail, Slovenia
Dreznica village and Mt. Krn on Juliana Trail above the Soca Valley
Hiking signposts on the Juliana Trail
Hiking signposts on the Juliana Trail.

Stages 11-14 (Soca Valley: Tolmin to Log pod Mangartom)

This is the flattest part of the Juliana Trail, as you mostly follow the stunningly beautiful Soca river and its tributary, Koritnica river. You will witness many monuments and remains of the famous Soca/Isonzo frontline from WWI and partly also hike along the Walk of Peace. A highlight for the history buffs. The adventure seekers will be able to add several stunning waterfalls and take some time for river rafting, canyoneering, or some world-class fly-fishing.

Stages 15-16 (Log pod Mangartom – Kranjska Gora)

The last part of the circular Juliana Trail passes through Italy and due to longer asphalt sections, this isn’t my favorite part of the trail. Especially the section between the beautiful Predil Lake and the town of Tarvisio. The mountain scenery is nice, but I wish there was a way to avoid walking on the asphalt road.

Stages 17-20 (Extension to the wine hills)

In the town of Tolmin, the extension forks off to the south with the newest four stages along bold paths to the wine-growing area of Goriska Brda. Here you will enjoy the sunlit hills with views of Italy and add a completely different landscape & culture to your hiking tour.

Orientation and mobile apps

The whole trail is exemplary marked with characteristic J-A signposts. You will often find these symbols on the trees, floor, walls etc. Pay attention to them, as most of the route overlaps with other marked hiking trails, marked by typical general red-and-white signs or different local signposts.

You can also download the route via the app to your phone (Android & iPhone) or GPS device (link on the map below). For paper maps, we recommend Sidarta’s Julian Alps 1 : 50 000 hiking map.

Lake Bled from Ojstrica viewpoint, Slovenia
Juliana Trail passes Lake Bled as well.
View of hayrack and Mt. Triglav in the background
Hayrack along the Juliana Trail at Lake Bohinj.

Our recommendation for the best Juliana Trail experience

“I am in for a 7-10 day hiking journey in Slovenia and want the best hiking experience!”

Combine the best sections of the Alpe-Adria Trail & Juliana Trail. If you like, add some cycling stages, do a part of your journey on a river raft and experience the best inn-to-inn walk in the Triglav National Park & the Julian Alps.

“I have loads of time and I am in for a spiritual hiking journey!”

Do the Juliana Trail in its entirety. You’ll definitely have your awesome moments, favorite parts, and some easy-to-be-forgotten sections.

Always hike & behave with respect to flora, fauna, cultural heritage, and local residents. 

Also, check the code of conduct by Triglav National Park

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