For anyone thinking of exploring the beautiful countryside of Slovenia with us, one of the most common questions we get asked is: when is the best time to visit? That might depend not only on when you can escape, but whether your idea of beauty is a spring meadow full of wildflowers, or the rich colours of autumn.
The seasons are certainly greatly varied here in Slovenia. Each has its own charms and challenges, but this blog should give you some useful pointers when deciding on the dates for your own walking holiday.
Slovenia - or 'Europe in miniature' as it is often called - has several climatic zones; for the sake of convenience we'll call these Adriatic, Continental and Alpine. We are in the Alpine zone, but we'll briefly cover the other areas first.
The Adriatic zone in southwest Slovenia has an almost Mediterranean climate - balmy springs, hot, dry summers, mild autumns and winters with little snow. It does get very windy, however - the Burja (bora) is a north/north-east katabatic wind, which blows strongly (sometimes over 200km/hour) and affects this region, especially frequently in the winter months. Summer in the south can be very hot, reaching 40 degrees centigrade, so this is not really the best time to choose a walking holiday in this region.
The continental climate of eastern Slovenia has more extremes of hot and cold in the summers and winters, due to the lack of proximity to the sea. It tends to be quite a dry region and topographically is much flatter, so it is also ideal for cycling.
At Pri Lenart, we are based in the foothills of the Julian Alps, at the southern and easternmost end of the Alpine range - the sunny side! The hills where we walk are some of the sunniest places in Slovenia. Prevailing winds are westerly, so most rain falls further west over the main Alpine range, leaving this area in the rain shadow with a microclimate perfect for long season walking. Winters are very cold, however, which is why we only run walking holidays from the end of April to mid October.
Which season suits me?
Every season has its advantages for walking: the spring boasts a vivid profusion of unusual woodland and alpine flowers, including many rare orchids, gentians and pasque flowers. Meadow flowers are also excellent and abundant on the chalky limestone soil. The peak flower weeks are the 2nd and 3rd week in May for orchids and other meadow flowers. By the end of May the lower valley fields are cut for hay so the majority of flowers get cut too. If you are more interested in Alpine flowers, these are good also in June, when the weather is also often warmer. In general most of our 'flowery' guests come in mid May! This is a typical meadow just next to Pri Lenart hotel:
As in many countries, it's difficult to say what the weather will be like in spring - in times of high pressure it's already lovely walking weather in early May with perfect temperatures of around 20c. We are in a relatively dry area but of course it does sometimes rain; if it does, temperatures will normally be around 10-12 centigrade at the beginning of the season, increasing to around 15c later in May if there is low pressure.
Moving towards summer, the long, warm days are simply delightful walking conditions. Summer evenings also encourage alfresco aperitifs and barbeques and we are generally free of biting insects and mosquitoes at this altitude.
Summer brings shady walks to upland meadows, and stable high-pressure systems bring long hours of sunshine tempered by soft, cooling breezes in the hills. Due to the altitude (Pri Lenart is at 900 metres above sea level) and the hill breezes, temperatures on sunny days are generally in the high 20s centigrade, so still lovely for walking, although in the valleys the temperatures can be higher. Pick your own wild raspberries to enjoy as you walk!
Autumn is possibly the most beautiful time of year in Slovenia, with the cooler days ideal for walking (similar to May temperatures but generally drier) and amazing colours as the beech forests turn red and gold from mid September onwards, usually reaching their best colours in early October. October is generally one of the driest months, and from early September there is also the bonus of abundant wild mushrooms to feast on.
We hope this has made your choice of your time to choose a walking holiday in Slovenia a bit easier, but if you have any questions about planning your trip do feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do also look out for our next blog, which will cover suggested equipment to pack for your walking holiday. Until then, we leave you with enjoy our photo of the beautiful Skofja Loka hills from the air on a hot summer's day, with Pri Lenart hotel at the centre of the photo - but the top of Triglav, (the highest mountain in Slovenia) on the same day looks a bit chillier!