If there is one place you should visit in Slovenia it should be Velika Planina. It is by far one of the most beautiful and unique locations I’ve ever been to.
Velika Planina is part of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. It is a karstified mountain plateau with an average height of 1500 meters above sea level. It is known as one of the last few remaining traditional herdsmen settlements in Europe.
Note: It can be slightly confusing as the entire collection of settlements is referred to Velika Planina but the largest settlement is also called Velika Planina.
Between June and September herdsmen bring their cattle to graze the plateau. During this time they live in single-room dwellings with conical roofs. Velika Planina has been continuously used for pasturing since the beginning of the 16th century.
Traditionally the herdsmen would bring the cows up to the settlements on June 9th (St Primus and Felicianus Day) carrying with him some food, clothes, and blessed Palm Sunday branches. They would spend the summer there returning on September 8th (Nativity of Our Lady Day) around the first frost.
Velika Planina has it all; unique biodiversity, unspoiled Alpine views, ethnological and architectural value, and a decent bowl of ričet. Where else can you stand as tall as mountains surrounded by the sounds of cowbells and wildflowers?
Traveling in Slovenia? Read these posts to help plan your trip
- The Complete Travel Guide to Slovenia
- 20 Beautiful Day Trips from Ljubljana
- How to Spend One Day in Ljubljana
- An Introduction to Slovenian Cuisine
Things to do in Velika Planina
Take a guided tour
There are guided tours every Saturday from mid-June to August starting at 10:30 am. The tour will take you around the settlement, to the Preskar Museum, Veternica cave, and the chapel.
Visit the Preskar’s Hut Museum
Preskar’s Hut (Preskarjeva bajta), named after its owner who reconstructed the cottage after WWII, is now a museum about herdsman life in Velika Planina. It is the only cottage that has the original shape from pre-WWII. It is open in the summer from 10 am to 3 pm. Here it is sometimes possible to try a traditional dish made from sour milk and žganci.
Try Trnič cheese
Trnič cheese is traditionally made by herdsmen. It is made of dry cheese with cream and salt. The cheese is shaped into a pointed ball and then a pisave (wooden stamps) was used to decorate them. Traditionally they were made in pairs, decorated each the same, as the herdsman kept one and gave the other to their girlfriend. The tradition is no longer as widely practiced but you can try some Trnič in Velika Planina.
Visit Snow Mary chapel (Marija Snežna)
Originally designed by Jože Plečnik inspired by the local traditional huts. It was built in 1939 by shepherds and dairymaids using Plečnik’s plans. Many of the dwellings and the church were burned in WWII during an attack. The chapel was rebuilt in 1988. It is known for its intimate Christmas Eve midnight mass.
Eat traditional Alpine Slovenian food
Next to the highest point at Gradišce is a restaurant called Zeleni Rob. Here they serve traditional foods such as štruklji, ričet, and Kranjska klobasa. They are open Monday to Tuesday 8:00-18:00 and Friday to Sunday 8:00-20:00.
Explore karst caves
Velika Planina is a karst landscape which often means caves are nearby. You can visit Veternica or Dovja Griča caves. Veternica is the result of two caves coming together and it is popular for having patches of snow all year round. Dovja Griča is in Tiha Dolina and is known for legends of wild men who lived in them. Evidence of prehistoric human settlements has been found near Tiha Dolina and medieval ceramic remains were found in Dovja Griča.
How to get to Velika Planina
Getting to Velika Planina involves a few decisions. You can drive or take a bus most of the way. Then you can take the cable car and ski lift to the top or you can opt to hike or bike up. Use this map that shows all of these routes so you know which town to begin.
Driving from Ljubljana takes approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. There is parking at the cable car (Kamniška Bistrica 2a, 1242 Stahovica). If you are looking to hike up, refer to the map. There is parking available for each route.
Buses run from Ljubljana to Stahovica every day. The bus stop “Žičnica Velika planina” is right next to the cable car.
Velika Planina Cable Car and Ski Lift
The cable car (nihalka) is located across the street from the parking next to the Kamp Alpe campsite.
Prices vary depending on the time of the year. A povratna ticket includes return, an enosmerna is a one-way ticket. It takes about 5 minutes to reach the ski lift. Check ticket prices here.
The cable car does not take you all the way up. It stops at Šimonovec near the Skodla guest house. From here you will take a ski lift (sedežnica) the remainder of the way to Gradišce (1668m). You can walk from here but it is quite steep and can take about 45 minutes.
There are three hiking paths to the top of Velika Planina. They all start at different points so check the map (here) before arriving.
This path will have a viewpoint about one hour at Cerkev Sv Primoz.
(3) Kamniška Bistrica- Kraljev Hrib (near the cable car)
There are also 6 possible bike routes to the top of Velika Planina (as shown in the map linked above). You can pick up your own map from the tourist office in Kamnik (Glavni trg 2).
Where to stay in Velika Planina
There are a few options for accommodation in or around Velika Planina depending on your travel style.
Luxury in the Alps
Stay in a herdsmen cottage in Velika Planina with once in a lifetime views. The cottage is equipped with a fully functioning kitchen, fireplace, Finnish sauna, heated floors, and even WiFi for a unique experience on top of the world.
Camping next to an Alpine river
Looking to stay somewhere a bit more connected? Next to the bottom of the cable car that takes you to Velika Planina is a campground. Kamp Alpe offers wooden huts with electricity (no water) or spaces for your RV or tent. From here you can access a range of beautiful hikes.
Leave No Trace
Do not pick alpine flowers, disturb the animals, stay on the path, and don’t litter.
As the snow begins to melt Velika Planina is covered in beautiful purple flowers called Spring Crocus. They look remarkably similar to saffron flowers but this variation is native to this region.
If you are visiting when the Crocus are in bloom you might also notice a deep pink flower that grows in a shrub called Spring Heath (both shown in the left photo).
The Kamnik wildflower appears in June and is a rare plant species in Slovenia (photo on the right).
There are countless more Alpine wildflowers that you might spot but please remember that most are delicate growing in a very specific and unique environment and damaging them hurts the whole system.
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