It’s time for our first post about our beautiful home country, which has it all: high mountains, crystal clear lakes, lush forests, all of which are just a short drive away from the seaside. The capital Ljubljana is situated in a perfect spot to explore the rest of the country – right in the middle of it! So here we go, it’s time to explore!
If you are looking for a more active day trip in Slovenia, than consider visiting Velika planina. It’s situated a little to the north of Ljubljana, 30km out of the city, which means that you can reach it in good 30 minutes.
Velika planina is a large plateau grazing that serves as a summer pasture for cattle. Each summer farmers from vicinity bring their cattle up here for grazing and take them down at the end. This offers you a large, a bit smelly, but still lovely company for your summer trips 🙂
Velika planina is a true mountain, around 1.600 meters high. If you are a passionate mountain hiker, this is a good chance for a reasonable, around 3 hours long hike up there. Non mountain hikers, don’t be put off. Velika planina also has a large ski lift, which operates throughout the year. So you can get up there quite comfortably. Still this big ski lift doesn’t take you all the way. You can walk for a last part of the way (around 15 minutes). Track is not heavy, so do not be worried. You can do it even if you at least sometimes walk to your work. If even this is too much exercise for you, you have another ski lift that will take you to the top. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it takes you to the doorstep.
Once you get to the top, a magnificent view open ahead. If you were maybe wondering, you didn’t enter the Smurf or Asterix & Obelix cartoons. You are looking at the herdsmen settlement. Many years ago, herdsmen used to live here. Houses were divided into two parts. Center part was where shepherds live, around was a barn for the animals (once these were sheep). This way shepherd had a warm living place thanks to the animals, which warmed up the central part of the house with their body heat. Nowadays there are a lot of houses and are mainly occupied by »tourists« and weekenders from Ljubljana and other places. In 2002, Velika planina had only 4 permanent inhabitants.
Nature of Velika planina is also beautiful. Due to heights, winters are quite rough, with a lot of snow. Although ski lifts are a bit old and rusty, you can still ski on a few remaining ski slopes. In the summer it’s worth walking around on the green grass, scattered with organic remains, that animals leave behind. The most spectacular view is on the far south edge of the plateau. There is a steep overhang at the end and in nice weather you can see the whole Ljubljana basin with our main city at the end. On the other side is a firm wall of Kamiško-Savninja Alps.
If you are visiting Velika planina, off-season, you will find only the local restaurants open. They offer something to eat and drink, so you will survive J But Velika planina offers best selection in the main season. Some of the typical dishes are:
- Typical herdsmen lunch: sour milk and hard-boiled corn mush (žganci)
- Different soups and stews (jota, ričet…)
- Cheese dumplings (štruklji)
Local herdsmen huts still offer selection of local cheeses or other dairy products, which are worth trying.
Summer would probably be the best time to visit Velika planina, if you want to get the best of it. If you manage to catch any of local events, even better. You can get more info on their web page.
If you’re visiting Velika planina in winter time, there are less people around, which gives you a whole mountain for yourself – the cows are gone too 🙂
Although Velika planina is accessible on a day trip from Ljubljana, it’s also possible to spend a night there. It offers a chance of renting a hut for a few days. These can be a great experience to get away from city hustle and bustle. But there is one accommodation that we tried and would really recommend. Although it is not situated on top, but at the base of ski lift in Kamniška Bistrica, it is still worth staying there.
Kraljev hrib (in translation King of the hill)
What was sometimes an Inn in the middle of forest is now extended with accommodation for groups and couples. It is situated some 300 meter up the hill from the ski lift. Owner of the Inn is very nice and friendly and will prepare you a great lunch or dinner. They also offer a lot of exercise with paintball, volleyball on grass, bowling and much more. You can choose from different types of accommodation: tent-camp, hostel for larger groups (opened quite recently) and our recommendation: log cabin.
This log cabin is a small cabin that can accommodate up to six people. It has only one room (with a bathroom) with small dining room and kitchenette. In the same level it has a double bed for two. In the attic there are two more double beds on each side. There is also a small sauna for cool days. Outside it has a small, private terrace with a splendid view directly onto Kamniško sedlo. You could just sit there and stare for the whole day. The price for a night is 25 EUR/person. Definitely worth every cent!