What do you do when ominously dark clouds gather and thunder claps loudly just a few minutes before you’re about to set out for a short drive to a mountain peak?
On this day, we accepted the dare. And, for the most part won. Above is a view to the southeast from the summit of Slavnik, at 1028m (3373 ft), one of the highest mountains in Slovenia’s Istria, a region in the country’s southwest. This view faces Croatia; the border is just a few kilometers to south.
The spare mountainous plateau on which Slavnik sits is known as Čičarija (pronounced Chee Cha Ree Yaa) –Ćićarija in Croatian, Cicceria in Italian– one of Slovenia’s least populated areas, which spans much of the area between The Bay of Trieste and the Kvarner Bay near Rijeka and Opatija, Croatia.
The mountains in this immediate aren’t as picturesquely dramatic as their northerly Alpine cousins, but it’s nonetheless an inviting area whose attraction lies in the views its position affords. Nothing in Slovenia rises higher than Slavnik to the west, thus offering clear views of the Adriatic, the Bay of Trieste, Slovenia’s Julian Alps and Italy’s Dolomites.
The conditions have to cooperate of course; today they didn’t but if you look really hard you can make out the coast near Trieste, Italy, below.
Accessible by foot from at least seven well-marked and maintained paths, it’s a popular hiking destination but you can also get pretty close to the peak by car. (Four wheel drive and/or high clearance is recommended.)
That doesn’t mean it’s busy. Today (an early September Monday) we didn’t cross paths with a soul. The 11km drive along a forest service road from the village of Hrpelje on the Trieste-Rijeka highway takes about 30 minutes and isn’t a terribly exciting journey. If it’s views you’re after, check and respect the forecast before you go.
From the Ljubljana-Koper motorway, take the Kozina exit and follow signs for Rijeka. In Hrpelje, look for a yellow sign which reads ‘Slavnik’ on the right.
Check out hribi.net for seven options, ranging from 1hr15min to 2hrs30min one way. A mountain hut, Tumova koča, sits a few dozens strides below the peak. Open weekends and holidays.