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Kamnik and Velika Planina

We're arriving from Boston in Ljubljana in the early afternoon of Sunday, May 31, 2020, which I believe is a public holiday. Our Rick Steves Best of the Adriatic tour starts late afternoon on Tuesday, June 2. That means we have Monday, June 1 to do a day trip. Based on my research and where our tour is going, I'd love to see Kamnik and the alpine meadow Velika Planina.

I have a couple of concerns. The cable car is currently closed because it failed inspection in early December. I'm not sure when it will reopen but I presume before we arrive. I'm also afraid of heights and I've read this ride is the longest cable car in Europe without support beams so can swing quite a bit and is quite high. I know an alternative is a 2+ hour not-easy hike which isn't an option for us or I've read there is a road up the backside that gets you much closer to the plateau with a not too bad walk up gravel roads.

So do we
1) take a tour like the Roundabout Travel one - https://www.travelroundabout.com/en/tour/64769/kamnik---velika-planina
2) rent a car for the day and drive ourselves possibility finding the long route up so I don't have to take the cable car
3) take a train to Kamnik and then take a taxi to the cable car (not sure what we do when we're ready to go back to Kamnik)
4) take a train to Kamnik and meet a private guide - elsewhere in this forum http://www.irenagrmek.com/home2/turizem/ was recommended (if I knew the approx. price this option might be the most appealing)

If not this day trip, then which one? We're going to Lake Bled on the tour.

Posted by
4684 posts

Hi Carol. I haven't made it up to Velika Planina yet, but I did briefly visit Kamnik. It is a charming but sleepy little town.

An alternate suggestion might be to visit the town of Skofja Loka and from there drive up the mountains for the scenic drive via Jamnik and Kropa. There are some neat little spots to stop and walk around (e.g. a war monument). It's a pretty drive, and it's not the same as the "Julian Alps Loop" which you might(?) do on the tour. You could also head over to Lake Bohinj, a much larger (and less developed) lake from Lake Bled, which is charming but is also a highly developed tourist resort.

Posted by
467 posts

The Roundabout tour uses the cable car, you’ll probably have to hire a private guide to go to Velika Planina by the access road or you could hire a car and do it on your own. Note that the road is gravel once you turn off the 924, which is quite narrow too. There are several parking areas along the road and from there it’s about an hour on foot to reach the huts. The road does continue past the parking areas but only authorized vehicles are allowed all the way to the top.

Posted by
568 posts

I second Andrew's suggestion to rent a car, stop in Skofja Loka, and then drive through gorgeous countryside up the mountains through Jamnik and Kropa. I learned about this spectacular scenic route from Andrew, so we followed his suggestion this past September. It is one of the most spectacular drives that I have taken. We made a short stop in Kropa, known for its ornamental iron works.

Posted by
1840 posts

Hi, Carol. I really enjoyed Velika Planina and Kamnik. I don't know how much longer the herdsmen's community on VP is going to survive; if it's something that appeals to you, I would say see it now before it's gone.

On heights... I did not feel like there was an inordinate amount of swinging on the cable car. There is a second leg of the trip once the terminus of the cable car is reached. You then hop onto a ski lift to go up to the herdsmen's settlement.

I found Kamnik charming. The Plečnik finds there were pretty cool, including a gorgeous chapel in the Church of St James at the Franciscan Monastery. I'm generally not a guy who who finds churches that interesting, but the lighting in the chapel has a particular symbolism that I find moving.

I dug out an e-mail that has Irena's 2019 rates:

up to 2 hours: 60€

up to 4 hours : 80€

up to 6 hours: 120€

up to 8hours: 150€

up to 10 hours: 200€

I liked Irena a ton. She was exactly what I want in a guide... a native who proudly and enthusiastically shows off what is great about where she lives.

Skofja Loka certainly is a cute little town in its own right, but Velika Planina is one of the most unique things I have seen.

Posted by
134 posts

@Dave Thanks so much for the information. Irena's prices seem quite reasonable and being shown around by a local is usually very interesting. I do wonder what happens if we hire her and the weather doesn't cooperate but being a local she probably knows of something unique to Slovenia we can experience.

@Everyone else. I read about Skofja Loka, Lake Bohinj and the drive-thru the mountains and those all sound lovely but I think that they are more likely to duplicate what we're going to see on the tour. If Velika Planina doesn't work out for whatever reason, I may call the Rick Steves office to check how we get to Lake Bled to see how much duplication there is.

Posted by
4684 posts

Carol, I wasn't recommending the Skofja Loka + scenic drive via Jamnik option instead of Velika Planina - I was just offering you an alternative itinerary in case you couldn't work that out for some reason. ("If I can't do Velika Planina, what else can I do instead?") I've never heard that the Rick Steves tour takes the route I suggest. I'm guessing they do the Julian Alps loop drive, which I have done too. It's not the same. And if they aren't taking you to Lake Bohinj, then that's definitely different than Lake Bled - they are very different experiences.

Posted by
1840 posts

Carol,

The weather was a little iffy the day I spent with Irena, but we soldiered through a cloudy mid-day with a few sprinkles. The morning and afternoon were sunny. I don't know what happens on a day full of rain.

Posted by
4684 posts

A "day full of rain" is certainly something to consider - it's the reason I skipped Velika Planina the last time I was in Slovenia. It seemed like a lot of effort, which would have been worth it in good weather...but on a rainy day? Probably not. (I'm a photographer.) I plan to go back and see it someday, though, in better weather.

I've been to Slovenia four times, and I've had a little rain on every trip.

It would be nice to have a little flexibility in the itinerary if you have any way to do that - so if you have two or three possible days to visit Velika Planina, try to pick your date "on the fly" based on the weather. It would be a shame to be locked into the one day that happens to have the worst weather.