- Set out on the spectacular Alpe-Adria Trail to explore Austria’s sweeping glacial valleys and Alpine meadows, Slovenia’s dense forests, and the rolling hills of Italy.
- Delve into World War I history in Slovenia’s Soča Valley, and learn about clashes between Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces during a museum tour in Kobarid.
- Skirt turquoise lakes and the edge of a glacier as you hike the slopes of the Grossglockner—Austria’s highest peak.
- Hike through Italy's spectacular karst landscapes in the Val Rosandra Nature Reserve, enjoying sweeping views of the Adriatic Sea.
Spanning over 450 miles, Europe’s spectacular Alpe-Adria Trail winds from the foot of Austria’s highest mountain—the Grossglockner—through Slovenia’s Alpine villages and forests, to Italy’s Adriatic coast, passing through glacial valleys, scenic woodlands, and vineyards. Trek the most picturesque stages of the trail to experience the natural treasures and cultural heritage of these three splendid countries, discovering remote chapels, sapphire lakes, and secluded waterfalls. Savor distinctive cuisines along the trail, warming up with homemade soups in Slovenia and sipping local wines at a charming Italian osteria.
Arrive in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s elegant capital, and settle into your hotel in the historic district. Founded 2,000 years ago as a Roman trading center linking the Adriatic Sea to the Danube region, the city became the center of a newly independent Slovenia in 1991. Set out on a walking tour to admire Ljubljana’s picturesque art nouveau architecture and notable landmarks, beginning with the intricate clock tower at Town Hall and winding through Prešeren Square, named for one of Slovenia’s great Romantic poets. Marvel at the intricate facade of the Cooperative Bank and stare down winged beasts on the iconic Dragon Bridge. This evening, enjoy a first taste of Slovenian cuisine at our welcome dinner.
This morning, head north to the medieval town of Bled, tucked at the feet of the Julian Alps. Board a traditional pletna boat and cross the glassy waters of Lake Bled to visit the 17th-century Church of the Assumption, perched on a tiny island. As we climb a monumental stone staircase up to the church, listen for the ringing of its bell, which is said to make wishes come true. Return to shore and travel to Gozd Martuljek, where we set out on a hike through a verdant forest to Martuljek Gorge. Pass ribbon-like waterfalls streaming over rocky cliffs and stop for a warm drink and lunch at Lipovceva hut. This afternoon, continue north into Austria’s breathtaking Grossglockner Valley. (2 miles hiking, 2 hours)
Today we set out on the first stage of the Alpe-Adria Trail, which begins on the slopes of the majestic Grossglockner—Austria’s highest peak—and snakes through the mountain valleys of Hohe Tauern National Park, the largest national park in Austria. Skirt the edge of the largest glacier in the Eastern Alps and pass turquoise lakes of meltwater and sparkling streams. Wind down valley slopes into sweeping Alpine meadows, where medieval chapels and chalets dot the trail. Take in spectacular views of the mighty Grössnitz waterfall and the picturesque mountain village of Heiligenblut, said to be home to a vial of Christ’s blood, before reaching the valley floor. (5–6 miles hiking, 5–6 hours)
Drive to the start of our next stage of the Alpe-Adria Trail, which climbs through a variety of ecosystems in the Nockberge Biosphere Reserve. Hike through fields of dwarf pines to the shores of Lake Nassbodensee, crossing over alternating strata of calciferous and crystalline rock. Pass through the towering stone gate of the Törl and onto the plateau of Predigerstuhl, which offers sweeping views over the trail as it winds through old iron mining country. Reach this section of the trail's highest point at the peak of the Pfannock, then descend past glittering lakes and windswept fields to Brunnachgatter ridge. Later, drive across the border to Slovenia and check in to our hotel on the outskirts of Kranjska Gora. (6–7 miles hiking, 5 hours)
Today’s stage begins in the Alpine village of Kranjska Gora, where we set out on a gradual ascent to Vršič Pass, the highest mountain pass in the Eastern Julian Alps. Along the way, hike under a canopy of pines past bright blue mountain streams, and stop to visit the Russian chapel. This intricate wooden structure was built by Russian prisoners of war during World War I, and serves as a memorial to those who perished while building the mountain road. Opt to continue up to the summit of Vršič before gathering at the Erjavčeva Koča hut for a hearty lunch. Leave the trail this afternoon for a visit to the crystal-clear Soča Spring, the headwater of the pristine Soča River, which winds alongside much of the Alpe-Adria Trail. (6 miles hiking, 4–5 hours)
Follow the emerald ribbon of the Soča River as you trek through Triglav National Park. Enter the wide basin of the Trenta Valley, where sheep graze in meadows and traditional farmhouses are clustered below towering peaks. Cross a suspension bridge over Kršovec Gorge and continue towards the sleepy hamlet of Bovec, famed for its local cheeses. (9–10 miles hiking, 4 hours)
Begin today’s hike at the majestic Boka waterfall, which tumbles over 300 feet to the Soča Valley floor. Continue along the banks of the Soča River, keeping an eye out for one of the river’s rare inhabitants: the endemic marble trout. Choose to visit the secluded Kozjak waterfall, and then wind around the base of Krn Mountain to the medieval town of Kobarid. After a riverside picnic, explore the extensive collections of the Kobarid Museum, including exhibitions on Slovenia’s involvement in World War I. Learn about skirmishes that took place in surrounding valleys and villages, including the 1917 Battle of Caporetto, memorialized by Ernest Hemingway in his novel A Farewell to Arms. This evening, enjoy a well-deserved feast prepared by an acclaimed local chef and accompanied by a selection of Slovenian wines. (11 miles hiking, 5 hours)
Set out from Šmartno on one of the later—and most spectacular—stages of the Alpe-Adria Trail, meandering through rolling hills past the terraced vineyards and lush orchards of Slovenia’s Brda region. Here, medieval castles and white churches overlook villages where locals have been working the land according to ancient practices for many generations. Break for lunch at a local restaurant in Medana before crossing the border into the Friuli–Venezia Giulia region of Italy. Conclude our hike in a village outside of Cormòns. Afterward, return to the hills of Brda to taste artisanal wines at a family-run estate overlooking flourishing vineyards. This evening, travel to the Adriatic coastal city of Trieste, a crossroads of Latin, Slavic, and Germanic cultures, and settle into our waterfront hotel. (7-8 miles hiking, 4–5 hours)
Begin the day with a tour of Vilenica Cave, descending into an enormous cavern of towering rock pillars and delicate stalactites. Then set off on a scenic hike along a woodland trail which passes by Lipica Stud Farm, the world’s oldest continuously operating stud farm and the original home of the Lipizzan horse. View some of these iconic horses, which are born gray but turn a striking white over time, and have been prized by European nobility for centuries. Continue to the summit of Monte Cocusso, enjoying a breathtaking panorama of the Italian border. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant before setting out on our final hike through the spectacular karst landscapes of the Val Rosandra Nature Reserve, winding past rocky cliffs and sweeping valleys towards the Adriatic coast. Our trek concludes on the outskirts of Trieste in the hamlet of Bagnoli della Rosandra, where we take in the salty perfume from the sea. Transfer to Trieste and enjoy a festive farewell dinner this evening. (8-9 miles hiking, 3-4 hours)
After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Ljubljana to connect with your flight home.