I don’t remember when and how I learned about Velika Planina, Slovenia but as soon as I discovered this place I knew I want to see it really badly. While the majority of tourists who visit Slovenia focus on Ljubljana, Lake Bled, or Postojna Cave, Velika Planina is this overlooked gem that doesn’t get much attention. Well, it should as the place is simply spectacular and mindblowing.
It took me years to eventually get there but it was worth the wait – Velika Planina exceeded my expectations and quickly became one of my Balkan highlights. Don’t make my mistake and be sure to include this incredible place in your Slovenia itinerary!
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Where is Velika Planina
Velika Planina, the plateau settlement in Kamnik Alps, is located in the northern part of Slovenia, not far from the border with Austria. Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is some 35 km away from Velika Planina.
How to get to Velika Planina
To reach the plateau of Velika Planina you need to take the cable car and then the chair lift from Kamniška Bistrica. Reaching the place is super easy when you travel by car, just follow the directions and then park at the parking lot near the cable car station.
It gets a bit more tricky with public transport, however not impossible. There are three daily buses from Kamnik to Kamniška Bistrica, leaving at 7:20, 11:30, and 17:15 (return at 7:40, 12:05, and 17:35). Unfortunately, there are no direct connections from Ljubljana, you need to transfer in Kamnik. The departure times above are valid at the time of writing this article, you can check the current schedule here.
You can also go on the tour from Ljubljana, this way you can save the hassle of public transport.
The operating time of the cable car and the chair lift depends on the season and the day of the week. Currently, the return ticket (valid for both the cable car and the chair lift) costs 21€. You can check the current timetable and prices here.
When I visited Velika Planina in September 2011 (on Friday) everything operated smoothly and I could catch the first cable car after arriving. But I can imagine it can get a bit crowded in the peak season or in the mornings.
What to see in Velika Planina
The main reason to visit Velika Planina is to see the picturesque herders’ dwellings settlement. This, together with the spectacular landscape around it, creates a truly unique and magnificent place.
The first highlight when visiting Velika Planina comes with the cable car ride up. From the lower station, you can’t fully appreciate the incredible Kamnik Alps surrounding the area but the higher you get, the more breathtaking views are.
You quickly forget about the thrill of the cable car journey and focus on the panorama around you. It only gets better once you board the chair lift.
Once you get closer to the upper station you can notice numerous cottages strewn around. This part of Velika Planina was built in the 1960s and is not part of the original settlement.
Local companies built holiday houses for their employees but they were designed to resemble the original dwellings Velika Planina is known for. At the time when the holiday complex was created, there were around 60 houses in here.
Still today you can rent a cottage here and spend some relaxing time in this beautiful setting. The only downside is you need to take the food and all the necessities with you since there is no shop around (there is a restaurant but better check the opening hours).
When you get to the top of the chair lift head for the top of Gradišče mountain (1666 meters above sea level), only a short walk away. From there you can admire a beautiful panorama of the Kamnik Alps but also see the original Velika Planina settlement on the other side of the mountain.
Velika Planina is one of the largest herdsmen’s settlements in Europe. For centuries local shepherds came to the plateau to pasture the cattle. That’s also when the herdsmen’s cottages were created.
There used to be around 140 of them (now less), all of them built in a traditional way and a similar style (however you can notice some present-day additions, such as photovoltaics). The cottages in the settlement are strewn around the place so there is enough place for the cattle too.
On top of one of the hills, there is a small Chapel of Our Lady of the Snows, originally designed in 1939 by the famous Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik (he is known for his works in Ljubljana, Vienna, Prague or Belgrade). Unfortunately, the church together with some huts burnt down during World War Two and what you can see today is a rebuilt version from 1988.
The cattle pasture season in Velika Planina takes place between June and September and that’s when you can expect some more attractions here. You might see shepherd at work, try traditional food (or see how it’s prepared), and visit the huts.
Unfortunately, during my visit there were only a few animals around, I was too late to see Velika Planina at its full bloom.
But the best thing to do in Velika Planina is wandering around the plateau and admire the stunning landscape and traditional architecture. When I visited the place there were hardly any people around, the weather was perfectly warm and sunny and I felt so relaxed simply by breathing the fresh air and enjoying all the beauty around me.
You can also go hiking from Velika Planina and in the wintertime, you can enjoy some skiing here. But even without these activities, this is a wonderful place that is worth visiting for its vibe, history, architecture, and of course views.
Final thoughts on visiting Velika Planina
Velika Planina quickly became one of my favorite places to visit in Slovenia. While I adore Bohinj and enjoy Bled (among all the other destinations in the country), this place was different. Mass tourism still didn’t fully get here and you can enjoy the atmosphere and the raw beauty of the settlement and its surrounding.
Don’t miss Velika Planina when you visit Slovenia. This is truly one of a kind place and I bet you will enjoy it as much as I did.
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