Though a bit cooler, early autumn can be a great time to go cycling in the Gorenjska area, as the majority of tourists have gone home, hence the roads are quieter, and the landscape is still lush and green, with just a hint of the beginnings of autumn.
There are cycle routes in the Tržič area to suit all levels and desires, from gentle family-friendly rides along country lanes to more demanding road bike tours, and from mountain bike tours along mountain pastures to more adrenaline-fueled descents.
The cycle routes are generally well marked, though there is the odd crossroads where one (well I!) might dither over which way to go, so it’s a good idea to pick up a copy of the map of all the major cycle routes in the area at the tourist information centre, and GPX tracks of all the routes are also available to download.
A good route to start with to get a feel for the area is the Udin Boršt trail, which skirts around, and also in a short section through, the Udin Boršt woods. The 26 kilometre circular and relatively flat route starts and ends at the Tržič Tourist Information Centre, from where, after just a short ride, you are soon off the main road and cycling along tracks and country lanes.
This ride through the countryside beneath Kriška gora and Storžič leads through villages, past churches, shrines and farms…
…and to hidden places you – well certainly I – didn’t even know existed!
If your water bottle is empty, then you can stop at the spring in Strahinj to refill it, before continuing your ride. The tarmac road soon becomes a track, which you follow towards Tenetiše, before joining the main road.
Fortunately, its only a short ride on the main road until you turn off to the left again, this time towards Letenice, and back to more pleasant country lanes.
You soon reach the second of the three bells that makes up the Three Bells Trail, which I wrote about in a previous blog here.
So, now’s the time to get active and discover more of Tržič – this time on 2 wheels!
I believe that every visitor to Slovenia who wants to get a real sense of the country, rather than just visiting the usual tourist attractions, should visit at least one of the numerous mountain pastures, where you can enjoy some simple, hearty, homemade food, enjoy the peace and views, and soak up the atmosphere of pasture life.
And there’s no better place to do so than on the mountain pastures beneath Košuta – Slovenia’s longest mountain – above Tržič, particularly as they are easily accessible even for those who don’t enjoy, or are unable to take part in, long hikes. The options are almost limitless; you can opt to go on a full day walk from the valley, or drive part of the way for easier access, you can just walk from pasture to pasture, or you can tackle one of the peaks along the length of Košuta, or even stay the night so you can see and do even more!
Having previously blogged about our overnight stay at the Scouts’ Hut on the Šija mountain pasture and hike to Kladivo, this time we picked up the walk where we left off – at the Pungrat mountain pasture – from where we walked to the Dolga njiva alpine dairy farm.
Since we wanted to do a partly circular walk, we started at the Zali potok hidroelectric station and took the unmarked path. However, it is a little difficult to find the trail in a few places, so for first timers and those wanting a longer walk, I would recommend instead starting your walk from Medvodje, which is reached by driving through Tržič then past the Dovžan gorge (it’s well worth stopping for a walk through the gorge) to Jelendol and onwards on the forest road.
Alternatively, you can drive, or even cycle, further up the mountain road and park just 20 minutes from the Dolga njiva alpine dairy farm, which is a particularly favourable option for families with young children, and/or those wanting to hike further and higher.
It was one of those summer days that was forecast to be sunny, but the clouds were very persistent and didn’t lift until well into late afternoon, but the scenery, and the four-legged friends, made up for the lack of sun.
On reaching Dolga njiva, you can try some really typical mountain food, such as masovnik – a hearty mixture of flour and sour cream. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to try it (coeliac disease and wheat flour = a big NO!), so I asked one of the hikers if I could take a photo of her food before she tucked in!
Buckwheat topped with pork crackling is another popular dish, often served with sour milk.
Kids will love the mini farm with its curious cows, snoring pigs, donkeys, turkeys and geese.
You can then set off for a circular walk on the Eagle Trail (Orlov pot), where you can see golden eagle nesting sites, the source of the Košutnik stream, and the flora and fauna of the area, while opposite the dairy farm you can see a chest used by allies to drop supplies to the pasture in World War II in the occupied area of the German Reich.
Dolga njiva is also an excellent starting point for hikes onwards to other mountain pastures or upwards to reach the highest point of the municipality of Tržič – Košutnikov turn.
If you want to stay longer you can stay over and sleep in a hay loft then next morning, after a hearty breakfast, head off to explore more of the pastures beneath Slovenia’s longest mountain – all 10 kilometres of it!
Due to an ongoing vestibular problem (more on that later), for the past five months I haven’t been able to do the kind of adventurous hikes that I’m accustomed too. Fortunately, there are plenty of hikes of all levels in the hills and mountains in the area where I live. So, this time, I decided that, since I can’t scale the dizzy heights of Mt. Storžič itself, I can at least walk to the Dom pod Storžičem mountain hut (1,123m) beneath it and gaze up longingly at it, hoping that one day I might again be able to make it to the top of this, and other, mountains.
The walk from Grahovše to the Dom pod Storžičem mountain hut makes an ideal family walk. It only takes around an hour and isn’t strenuous.
To reach the starting point in the village of Grahovše, drive through Tržič in the direction of the Dovžan gorge (Dovžanova soteska) until you reach a road on the right that leads up to the hamlet of Slap. Note: if you don’t have a car, you can start the walk here, and you should allow an extra hour or so to reach the mountain hut.
Follow the road up to the idyllic village of Lom pod Storžičem, with its imposing church.
Drive onwards to reach the village of Grahovše, where you will see a large gravel parking area on the left-hand side. Although it is possible to continue further by car, the tarmac road turns into a track, and there is also a notice opposite the aforementioned parking area, requesting that visitors kindly park in the allocated parking area, thus respecting life for the villagers and helping to preserve nature.
After just a few hundred metres you reach a junction and a signpost to the left marked Dom pod Storžičem. Follow the dirt road and you will soon get your first glance of majestic Mt. Storžič (2,132m) – the highest mountain in the western part of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.
Continue on the road adjacent to the stream for around 10-15 minutes, passing a source of fresh water (on the left) and a somewhat hidden shrine (on the right).
On reaching a junction, you can either continue on the road (the longer, less scenic route) or take the right fork uphill (the more direct, scenic route). The latter soon leads up over a pasture with a few scattered wooden huts.
A short, steep incline awaits then, before you know it, you’ve reached the mountain hut.
From the hut, those wanting a longer, full-day hike, have several options. You can hike to the top of Storžič (cca. 3 hours from the hut), but note that part of the route is considered demanding, so only experienced and well equipped hikers should tackle it, or up to Tolsti vrh (cca. 2 hours from the hut), among other options.
If, however, the hut itself is your destination, then sit back and enjoy a drink and/or snack before heading back to the valley. The strudel looked delicious, though, of course, not gluten free so I could only look on. Note: in order to be able to sit indoors the hut, you must have proof of being double vaccinated, or have a negative COVID-19 test, or proof that you have recovered from the virus in the past 6 months. There are no restrictions on sitting outside the hut.
Click here for more information about this and other walks in the Tržič area.
Finally, as I mentioned above, without wishing to whinge in public, I feel I owe it to regular readers and followers of my blog, particularly those that use it as a source of reference/inspiration for hiking in Slovenia, to write a short word about my current ‘problem’ (since I’m not even sure what to call it). At the end of February this year my world changed, when I thought there had been an earthquake, but it turns out it was something going on in my head, i.e. my inner ear. Since then I have felt as if I’m on a boat on rough seas 24/7, with the world swaying and rocking around me, and the accompanying feeling of sea sickness. I’ve seen 7 doctors/specialists, had scans and various tests, and even tried several types of alternative medicine, but all to no avail. To the outside world I look fine, but, believe me, inside my head it’s a living nightmare, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and it’s something no one can possibly understand unless they have had vestibular-type issues. Therefore, with little to no balance, my adventurous outdoor pursuits are currently resigned to those of someone twice my age, but I’m trying (though not always succeeding) to remain optimistic, and keep as active as I can. And on that note, until next time…
While I can’t be certain whether the claim of the Rosary Bead Trail that it is “the largest natural rosary bead in the world” holds true, it certainly is a lovely walk that connects four churches and leads through remote villages and countryside. Be sure to add it to your list of things to see and do while exploring the Gorenjska area!
Though originally designed as a pilgrimage trail, this 12km circular trail is also a great way to escape the crowds and appreciate the beauty of the unspoilt countryside between Tržič and Radovljica.
The trail begins in Brezje at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians – Slovenia’s national pilgrimage sanctuary – from where in five stages it follows a route through the forest, across streams, through villages and along country lanes, and all in the shape (when viewed from above) of a rosary bead.
Below is an overview of, and a few insights into, the trail.
The first part leads from the basilica to the junction for Peračica. The first trail marker is at the rear of the basilica, from where you should set off in an easterly direction for 100 metres towards the yellow roads sign for Peračica and Dobro polje. Follow the road towards Peračica steeply downhill, passing a sign for the Path of Peace (Pot miru), until you reach a junction and the next trail marker with a map of the trail.
The trail is well marked throughout with green markers on trees as well as cement posts with plaques showing where you are on the trail.
Turn right and follow the country lane, passing another trail marker (on the right) and a colourful, traditional Slovenian apiary (on the left). The road leads down to cross a stream and then later, at a sign for Kovor, the trail branches off from the road into the forest.
Unless otherwise marked, keep straight ahead ignoring any paths that branch off to the left or right. You will reach a small wooden bridge over a stream with a bench, which is an ideal place to take a break.
The trail now leads slightly uphill to reach another fork where you take the path uphill to the left, which eventually emerges in the village of Kovor.
From Kovor the path continues towards Brezje pri Tržiču, not to be confused with the village of Brezje where the walk begins! This part of the route is on quiet country lanes with beautiful views of the countryside and hamlets beneath Mt. Dobrča.
On reaching Brezje pri Tržiču, there is a shrine and an information point with a visitors book.
I thought I knew the area pretty well, but from here I was in unknown territory and discovered a few villages in the municipality of Tržič, such as Vadiče, that I didn’t even know existed!
The final part of the trail leads to the village of Leše, from where it leads back to the start at the basilica in Brezje.
Click here to read more about this and other footpaths, hiking trails and other natural and cultural attractions in the Tržič area. The Tržič area, as well as the rest of the country, is now slowly reopening to tourists. There are various requirements for entry, depending on whether the country you are coming from is on Slovenia’s green, orange, red or dark red list. Click here for the latest information, but note that it can literally change overnight – as it did yesterday.
As our thoughts are slowly beginning to turn to planning holidays, this year – more than ever – it makes sense to choose a destination for your holiday that is ‘far from the madding crowd’.
Slovenia, fortunately, has plenty such destinations (my tip is to be sure to avoid the overcrowded places during the height of summer – Bled, in particular, as well as to some extent Piran, the Postojna caves, Ljubljana…). Radol’ca, where I live and about which I wrote last week, is one such uncrowded place, while Tržič, which is just a stone’s throw away, is another.
So, this time I’ve put together plenty of reasons why you should consider visiting Tržič, whether for a few hours, a day or two, or even as somewhere to base yourself for your entire stay in Slovenia.
Tržič is located in the Gorenjska (alpine) region of Slovenia and is separated from Austria by the Karavanke mountains, hence it’s a hiker’s paradise.
…and Šija, which lies beneath the ridge of Slovenia’s longest mountain.
On a side note, the equally relevant, the Slovenian tourist board has also stepped up its activities to promote the country as one with responsible travel standards under the label GREEN & SAFE and Tržič is one of the Slovenia GREEN destinations.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay, why not choose a stay at the Šlibar organic farm or glamping at Glamping Mountain Fairytale – both ideal places for some r&r – though there are numerous other choices of accommodation, too.
The Gorenjska plaža (Gorenjska beach) swimming pool is the ideal place to cool off during the heat of the summer, while the Trziška bistrica stream and the area’s waterfalls are other places to ‘chill’!
With all those mountains, mountain pastures and forests, there’s also plenty of cycling to be done – particularly for fans of mountain biking – while the Dovžan gorge is an adventure as well as a(nother) ideal place to cool off in the heat of summer.
Isn’t is just great when you go somewhere not expecting much, only to find it’s so much more than you imagined? That was exactly the case when I recently visited the Šlibar organic farm in Kovor, near Tržič.
In addition to very much being a working farm, four years ago the family decided to make further use of its vast grounds by adding sevenrustic-style glamping huts, which have proven to be a real hit!
There are two styles of huts, as can be seen above. They differ only on the outside, while the well-appointed interiors are all pretty much the same.
Each of the wooden huts has one main room with a double bed as well as a separate nook with two single mattresses for kids.
Outdoors each hut has its own cooking area with basic equipment, while there is also a shared outdoors covered kitchen area just metres from the huts, and each hut also has its own designated toilet and shower located just a short walk from the huts. An organic breakfast, featuring produce from the farm, is included in the price of a stay.
The farm also has its own small shop that sells home-grown produce and home-produced beer and spirits, jams, pasta and other grains.
I couldn’t try it, since coeliac disease and beer do not mix, however, word has it that the home-produced beer is excellent, and judging by the crate loads that one customer was buying at the time of my visit, it must be true!
Kids will love the animals…
…and the abundance of space to be… kids. Well, you’re never too old, as they say!
The peaceful, rural location, farm and domestic animals, organic food, and great views too – it all adds up to a truly organic experience!
So, whether you are still undecided where to use your tourist vouchers (for Slovenian citizens only – a government measure to stimulate tourism re COVID-19), or you are planning to visit Slovenia and seeking somewhere a bit ‘off the beaten track’, the Šlibar Organic Farm could be just the place for you!
Find out more about what else to see and do in the Tržič area here.
Jelendol is a small village located at the far end of the Dovžan gorge in Tržič. Although it takes a bit of an effort to reach the village, and even more so to reach the Stegovnik waterfall, you will be rewarded by seeing this unique village and impressive waterfall away from the madding crowd! It is also the start point for numerous hikes in the Karavanke mountains – with so much choice, it’s hard to know which way to turn!
It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for residents of the villages following the devastating floods of autumn 2018, which destroyed much of the gorge, the road, and caused significant damage to many of the houses closest to the river. At that time, the only way into or out of the gorge for the residents of Dolina and Jelendol was on foot to the start of the gorge from where they were picked up by minibus and taken to school, work, etc.
Jelendol is inextricably linked with Baron Karel Born (1876-1957), a politician and entrepreneur, who owned as much as a third of all the forest in Jelendol and the surroundings of Tržič.
Born set up an electric saw in Jelendol that used electricity from a domestic small hydroelectric plant. He built a plant to make staves for barrels, then in 1903 he built a 5.5km long railway line, and a main loading station in Medvodje. Horses were used to transport wood from Košuta and Stegovnik, and the wood was then transported by rail to the sawmill in the then Puterhof (renamed Jelendol in 1955). The line crossed the Tržiška Bistrica river several times, which required the construction of ten small wooden bridges. During the war, the sawmill and other buildings were razed to the ground twice by partisans, and the locomotive was even mined.
Nowadays there are still plenty of reminders of Born’s influence on the village; at the crossroads of the road towards Medvodje (to the right) and the road to the left (towards the fire station and onward on the forest road) there are information boards featuring information about Born and his contribution to the economic development of Jelendol (alas, only in Slovene)…
…while just a short walk leads to the Born family tomb, to where, in August 2008, Karel Born’s remains were transferred from the Vienna cemetery.
Having visited the tomb and had a wander round the village, you can continue your way by taking the right fork in the road towards Medvodje. Follow the dirt road for quite some time (I suggest by car or by bike – on foot would be a long slog!) until you reach a parking area near the ruins of a former barracks, where there is a sign to the waterfall. This is also the start point for hikes towards the mountain pastures beneathKošuta.
From here set off on foot for cca. 15 mins to reach the Stegovnik waterfall, which is formed from the Stegovnik brook.
Though the waterfall only drops around 15 metres, it is still quite impressive, and lovely and cool in the heat of the summer too!
The growth in the popularity of glamping was already rising exponentially, and this year, due to a certain virus, it has become even more popular than ever, as holidaymakers seek less crowded spots to spend their holidays.
Following devastating floods in autumn 2018, when the Tržiška Bistrica river flooded its banks following a heavy storm lasting several hours, during which much of the Dovžan gorge (Dovžanova soteska) was destroyed and the residents of its hamlets were left cut-off, extensive renovation work has now been completed and the gorge is now looking better than ever.
You can begin your visit at the new visitor centre, where you can park and pick up some information about the gorge and surrounding areas. The centre is open at weekends in fine weather from 10am to 6pm; outside of these hours information leaflets are available at the entrance.
From the parking area you can walk back along the road for a couple of hundred metres to reach the start of the trail beside the Tržiška Bistrica river. Follow this easy trail until you reach the start of the most fun, but at the same time also the most challenging, walk through the gorge – Bencetova pot (The Bence Trail).
Below I’ve described Bencetova pot, however, those that want a gentler experience can set off along the road, through the tunnel, then cross the wooden bridge a little further along the road to join the path, thus avoiding the ladders and rungs.
There’s no actual climbing involved, so provided you have good footwear it shouldn’t present too much of a problem for the majority of people, but you do need a head for heights!
First go up…
…and then down the wooden steps.
Next you reach a wooden bridge with an iron handrail…
…and then descend the iron rungs down to the river bed – this is the most hairy part but it’s only short!
Time for a few more iron rungs…
…then the ‘tough’ stuff is over and you can take a breather and chill out by the river!
The path continues through a natural arch…
…then leads towards the hamlet of Na Jamah (translation: At the Caves), known for its quartz conglomerate. It only amounts to a handful of houses, but is about as idyllic as its gets, well in summer anyway!
A little further along the road you reach the hamlet of Dolina, which is home to the Dovžan gorge gallery and the RIS Dolina Exhibition and Education Centre. The centre is open in fine weather from May to September on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 11am – 6pm (11am – 5pm in October).
Return on the road back through Na Jamah then, in order to avoid retracing your steps up and down the iron ladders and rungs, on reaching a wooden bridge cross the bridge to emerge by a small parking area, where there are information boards about the Dovžan gorge in the late Paleozoic era.
Now just just need to continue on the pavement back to the tunnel.
After walking through the tunnel you can cross the swing bridge over the river and return back along the path to the start, or you could instead continue along the road back to the information centre, which is a shorter option, however, there is no pavement on this section.
So, as you can see, a visit to Tržič and the Dovžan gorge should definitely be on your list of places to go – whether you already live in Slovenia and have never been, or for those planning a trip to Slovenia in the near future!
Tržičis one of those places that, on first glance, may not appear to have that many sights of interest. However, there is far more than initially meets the eye, both in terms of natural and cultural attractions. I’ve already blogged about many of them, and here’s another one to add to the list!
Gutenberg Castle (sometimes referred to as AltGutenberg or Gutenberk), or rather the remains of, is one such example. It was first mentioned in 1156, thus making it among the oldest (known) castles inSlovenia. Following an earthquake in 1511, the castle was no longer renovated and it fell into ruin.
The castle is located 663 metres above sea-level above the Tržiška Bistrica area of the town. Though only a couple of walls remain, it is clear to see that it was once a fairly mighty castle.
There are two paths to reach the castle ruins – from an easterly direction (unmarked path, cca. 25mins), or from a westerly direction (marked path, cca. 15 mins) – I chose the latter!
From Tržiška Bistrica follow the road steeply uphill and shortly after passing the last houses and turning a bend, you will see a road that branches off to the right, where there is space for a couple of cars to park.
Set off along the gravel road. After just a few metres you will spot a beehive on the left-hand side; continue along the road until you reach a shrine.
Take the path that leads uphill behind the shrine.
After just a few metres you will see a sign for Mt. Dobrča and the Bistriška planina mountainpasture.
Continue up the steep path for another few minutes until you reach a wooden handrail and steps that lead up to the castle ruins.
The first Ljubljana bishop, Count Žiga Lamberg, was born at the castle in around 1420. Interestingly, it was also Lamberg that in 1465 consecrated the renovated church on the island on Lake Bled.
The views from the castle alone make the trip worthwhile. To the west there is a view of Mt. Dobrča and onwards towards the Julian Alps…
…while to the east there is a view of Kriška gora, which is particularly attractive at this time of year when nature is at its greenest.
On returning back to the shrine, I suggest continuing up the road opposite (see below to the right of the red car). On reaching a large villa, take the path to the right which, after just a few metres, leads up to St. George’s (sv. Jurij) church, which in the past belonged to the castle.
You could visit both these attractions as part of a hike to Mt. Dobrča, as a standalone visit, or as part of a trip to see more of Tržič’s attractions. Whenever or however you choose to visit, I hope you enjoy your visit!