Thinking about hiking in the Julian Alps this summer but know next to nothing about it. How is traveling in Slovenia if you don't know the language? How do the Julian Alps compare to the Swiss Alps or the Dolomites? And most importantly, how's the food?
Travelling in Slovenia is not a problem if you don't speak Slovenian, everyone in the hospitality business and most other people speak English, the only exception are older people, which mostly speak either German or Italian, depending on the region. The food has had lots of influences from nearby countries. The traditional regional cuisines are very similar to the regional cuisine in the neighbouring country that the local population had the most contact with, so for example the local food in Western Slovenia will be very similar to food in Northeastern Italy, Central Slovenia has more Austrian dishes, etc. Nowadays the selection in restaurants is, however, a mix of all these influences, so the dishes you're likely to encounter will be Italian, Austrian or Balkan, for example pasta, pizza, grilled meats, schnitzel, potatoes, sauerkraut, goulash, etc.
The Julian Alps are not as tall as the Swiss Alps or the Dolomites, the highest peak is Triglav at around 10,000 ft, but the scenery and topography is comparable to the Dolomites, as they are similar in geological composition. The trails are all clearly marked and maintained and there are plenty of mountain huts, all of which will be open during the summer, but it's still advisable to book a few days ahead, as hiking in the Julian Alps is very popular and huts can get crowded during the peak season. Also, you should be aware that wild camping and open fires are not allowed in the Triglav National Park.
What town would be a good place to use as a base for hiking in the Julian Alps? We would not have a car and would use public transportation to get to trail heads. Thanks for your help!
Dejan gives great advice there.
A great first time base would be Lake Bohinj. Most people start hikes into the Julian Alps from here and there are many trails to choose from. You can get a map from the tourist office in Ribcev Laz which is the main town.
There are a few larger hotels here and many smaller apartments in enchanting little towns like Stara Fuzina.
You can also start hikes from the other side in the Soca Valley. Bovec\Kobarid and Tolmin are great spots.
Thanks for your help. We would be traveling in the end of August. How is the weather at that time of year? Cool? Sunny? Rainy?
No-one can predict the weather but August being high summer it is usually very hot and dry. In Ljubljana and towards the coast it can be in the high 30's. In the mountains it may be a little cooler and more chance of rain. Into September the weather in general should be 20-25 degrees and quite nice but of course it may stay warmer later or it might get colder quicker, who knows? September is usually a great month for hiking.