Velika planina: the most beautiful and the largest Slovenian alpine pasture
Exceptional views of Kamnik-Savinja Alps, preserved pastoral heritage and tradition make Velika planina the most beautiful alpine pasture in Slovenia. Visitors can reach the top of the alp by cable car and chair-lift, or hike on the well-marked hiking trails. The most suitable time of the year to visit the alp is summer, when the herdsmen bring their cattle to graze on the mountain and thus create a unique cultural landscape. The herdsmen heritage is presented in detail in the recently renovated Preskar Museum Hut, where the guides are dressed in traditional herdsmen clothing. At some huts, one can taste fresh milk, sour milk or cheese produced on the alp. There are also many mountain huts where local food is served.
Herdsmen’s huts at Velika Planina
The end of spring is when the cowbells out on the Alpine pastures of the Velika Planina plateau start ringing, announcing the arrival of herdsmen. It’s a magical plateau with one of the largest herdsmen’s settlements in Europe. And you’re invited to learn about the fascinating life on the mountain pasture and sample the dairy goodies they’ll prepare for you. Go for a walk through the meadows or take a hike (or mountain bike) across the plateau.
A pleasant walk through conifers and pastures
Velika Planina invites with plenty of opportunities for walks and hikes across the mountain pasture showcasing natural and ethnological curiosities that you won’t want to miss. The fastest way to Velika Planina is by cable car from Kamniška Bistrica. From there, you can take a ski lift to the top, where you’ll be greeted with a magnificent view. Those who prefer a challenge can follow one of the well-marked footpaths to the top. In the winter, there’s a ski slope that will conjure up a true winter fairy tale for you to remember, together with friends and family.
The herdsmen’s settlement on the pasture comprises some 140 huts. With its characteristic architecture, it’s the symbol of Velika Planina. The huts are covered with roofs made of traditional spruce shingles that reach almost down to the ground. The plateau really comes alive in June, with the arrival of shepherds who occupy the huts until September as they tend to their grazing herds. They’re only too happy to invite visitors for a taste of their homemade dairy delicacies, or even prepare an authentic shepherd’s lunch – sour milk and žganci – buckwheat or corn mush. Some of the huts are available to visitors, so there’s no reason why you couldn’t spend a night or two like the shepherds do.
Landmarks on the plateau
Take a break at the chapel of Snow Mary and descend to the famous Vetrnica cave, which is accessible via a narrow circular footpath. On the western edge of the plateau (Zeleni Rob) there’s a picturesque natural window called Luknja (hole). The Dovja Griča cave (meaning wild rock) is located in the Tiha Dolina valley (Slovene for quiet valley), which is only nine metres deep, but known for the many folk tales that it inspired. Another site worth seeing is Preskar Museum where trnič is kept – a special kind of cheese characteristic of the Velika Planina area.
Authentic shepherd’s lunch
In the summer you can pick yourself up on the plateau with an authentic shepherd’s lunch – sour milk and žganci (buckwheat mush). The shepherds will be happy to offer you homemade cheese and other dairy specialties when you visit. Once on the plateau you can recharge your batteries with traditional shepherd’s food, such as jota (bean and sauerkraut hotpot), ričet (barley stew), goulash, sausage with sauerkraut, Carniola sausage, buckwheat žganci or rolled dumplings with cottage cheese known as štruklji.