Also known as Istrski Triglav, ‘The Istrian Triglav,’ Slavnik is the highest mountain in Slovenia’s Primorska region. Though it is significantly lower than Triglav (Slovenia’s highest mountain, 2863m), it affords stunning views over the Istrian coast, and to Triglav itself on a clear day. It is a suitable objective for a family hike as it poses no technical difficulty. Do be warned, however, that even on a fine and sunny day it can be extremely cold and windy on the summit.
Located above the town of Podgorje (which literally means ‘below the heights’), Slavnik is a karst mountain whose lower slopes are clothed in birch forest which boasts many endemic animal and plant species. It is home to a native wolf population, and the eagle-eyed may even be able to spot wolf tracks, though you are unlikely to see the creatures themselves during the daytime. Whilst walking, look out for native flower species such as the odorus hellebore and the pulsatilla pratenisis or small pasque flower.
There is a car park in the centre of Podgorje next to the sports field. From here the route is signposted. There is a lahka pot ‘easy route’ which is longer and takes around 1 hr 40 min to ascend, or a strma pot, ‘steep route’ which takes around 1 hour. We took the strma pot in ascent and the lahka pot in descent. There was no technical difficulty in either route, and even our three-year-old managed the ascent, though it took a little over an hour! The only exposure is on the mountain shoulder where the route emerges from the shelter of the woods. Here the burja (north wind) can be very strong and cold, even if the temperature in the valley is balmy. Bring a windproof jacket and hat!
The final ascent will take you over the exposed shoulder to the Tumova koča mountain hut which is open for refreshments (herbal teas and apple strudel!) most weekends and public holidays. It is currently closed due to covid restrictions, but there is ample shelter in which to picnic, and even a playground for the children to enjoy in warmer weather. On a clear day, the views are extensive in all directions. There is a large TV antenna at the summit, above the mountain hut.
In descent, enjoy views over the Adriatic towards Croatia and the Italian alps. Allowing for a picnic stop at the summit, this excursion takes around 3-3.5 hours.
And here’s some famous Slovenian Alpine music to accompany your walk: