When planning my trip to Slovenia, I knew that we had to visit Mangart to climb Slovenia’s third highest mountain. Although I’m newer to hiking and climbing than some adrenaline addicts, I enjoying pushing myself of my comfort zone and being in the mountains. This post about Mangart will cover logistics of visiting Mangart, the crazy road up Mangart (Slovenia’s highest road), hiking Mangart, and the Mangart via ferrata route.
Mangart is one of the tallest mountains in Slovenia located in Triglav National Park, Slovenia’s most famous national Park. This park is full of mountains, but there’s a reason why everyone talks about Mangart. This mountain is along the Italian and Slovenian border, so much so that your phone might keep switching countries.
I was a bit shocked over how many people were here although it was mostly locals when I visited Mangart in summer last year. The road that lies to Mangart is well known in Slovenia for being the highest road in Slovenia and when we told locals our plans to climb Mangart, they were impressed that we were in the know. For climbers (who enjoy klettersteig), I consider Mangart to be one of the hardest via ferratas that I’ve climbed so far as it was psychologically changing due to the sheer vertigo.
- Slovenia’s highest road that leads to Mangart saddle
- Parking near Mangart
- Where to stay near Mangrt
- Safety advice for hiking and what to bring with you to Mangart
- Getting to the Mangart hiking and hiking up Mangart
- Safety advice for climbing Mangart
- Mangart via ferrata
Slovenia’s highest road that leads to Mangart
As mentioned, the road to Mangart is the highest road in Slovenia and we actually had to pay a fee to drive on it. Be sure to bring some euros with you to pay the fee. (We stopped at an ATM near Koblarid.) The road was originally built by the Italian military.
The road is not open all year, mostly in summer, due to snow and the risk of avalanches. The dates vary depending on the conditions each year, so don’t plan on going any earlier than May and consider making some calls to see if the road is open before you drive there in shoulder season. We hit serious traffic heading towards Mangart, especially close to Strmec na Predelu. There is a stoplight that is on a steep hill and inexperienced mountain drivers may struggle with dealing with traffic given the incline.
An important note: this driving route is not for inexperienced mountain drivers. The road is fairly narrow and there are a number of cyclists as well as motorcyclists on the shoulder of this route. As a result, you will need to drive carefully as we were stuck behind a cyclist and next to another cyclist, which limited our speed.
Honestly, we enjoyed the slow route as it gave us more time to enjoy the views out the window. The road towards Mangart took about 45 minutes to drive after we paid the fee as the pass is quite narrow. Although the view is incredible, there are limited places to stop off. (The view at the top is beautiful too!)
Parking near Mangart
Once you reach the top, it’s one way only. You must commit to staying to the right although you’ll almost immediately see a parking lot. We ended up having do to the full circle and ended up parking near the bottom of the loop, close to the exit on the way down. To be fair, the views were stunning!
Where to stay near Mangart
Bovec as well as Log pod Mangartom are very close to Mangart, but we couldn’t find anything affordable for our dates. We ended up staying in Kobarid, a scenic Slovenian town only twenty minutes from Tolmin.
It is possible to stay a bit closer if you plan ahead, however we enjoyed the local atmosphere with fewer tourists than the surrounding towns. Book early as this area is popular!
Apartments and hotels in Kobarid were a fraction of the price those closer to Mangart and it was still possible to easily visit the attractions of Eastern Slovenia with minimal driving. There’s an ATM, a nice bar with craft beer, quite a few pizzerias, and a supermarket. We stayed at Apartma Zotler, a cozy basic apartment perfect for three people right in the city center.
Some safety advice for hiking and what to bring with you to Mangart
Although Mangart is beautiful, it’s been kept mostly natural. I consider that a perk, however it means that you’ll want to bring everything that you’ll need with you as there wasn’t a place to purchase food when we were there.
Be aware of rock falls as well as ticks. If a rock falls below, be sure to shout to notify anyone below you. That rock might continue for a while and hit hikers below you! Be sure to notify someone of your plans, just in case.
We ended up bringing two sandwiches for lunch, two Nalgene bottles (for water), a box of granola bars to snack on, and an army backpack to hike with. If you’re not a big hiker, hiking poles would be recommended as the hiking path is fairly steep and quite a few people that we met were glad that they had them for the way down.
We recommend wearing appropriate hiking shoes (that preferably go above your angle to prevent your ankle from rolling) as well as exercise clothing. As you’re over 2,000 meters above sea level, it does get colder on top of the mountain, so I’d recommend having a zip-up sweatshirt to wear just in case you get cold. If you’re hiking some of the lesser known and difficult trails, it would not hurt to wear a helmet to protect your head from rockfall.
Most importantly, check the weather and know yourself. You do not want to be stuck on top of one of Slovenia’s tallest mountains in the middle of a lightning storm. If you’re not much of a hiker, it’s easy to enjoy the views or a picnic with minimal hiking (a scramble up to the viewpoint).
Getting to the Mangart viewpoint and hiking up Mangart
When you’re coming from the parking lot, you’ll need to do a brief scramble up towards the viewpoints, which is not handicap friendly. That part took a few minutes although it did involve some waiting as only one person can easily hike down the “easy” part at one time although more advanced hikers can go around the popular way down. At some points, there were metal bits to help you.
Once you reach the saddle, you can just enjoy the views. A lot of locals clearly just came for the day with a picnic to enjoy the view. If you’re not much of a hiker, you can stop here. There are a number of less steep hikes in the area around Mangart! While on Mangart, we saw numerous paragliders using the mountain as a jumping point.
If you’re interesting in hiking to the summit, the trail is estimated to take about 2-4 hours although we met people who said it was shorter…and longer than that. It depends on your hiking level. The path is clearly marked and it’s easy to see everyone coming down the mountain.
Hiking poles are recommended for the way down if you’re not a strong hiker. The hike up Mangart is moderately difficult although it’s fairly steep. It’s a neat loop that is about 4km total, including passing the cross by the summit. For more information about the hike and other beautiful scrambles in the Julian Alps, I strongly recommend purchasing the Julian Alps of Slovenia by Cicerone book, which I own.
Safety advice for climbing the Mangart via ferrata
We came to Mangrt to climb! The kind of climbing done at Mangart is specifically via ferrata. Via ferrata is a kind of rock climbing that you can do solo that requires some practice that utilizes a cable that is drilled into the rock. These courses are generally self-maintained and we went independently.
The bulk of the climb took about 2-3 hours as we went slowly. I believe fully that you can climb it faster. I would rate the Mangart via ferrata route to be around a 4B-4C. We came into it thinking that it was a bit easier, but you must have a good grasp of rock climbing techniques as well as freedom from vertigo. As there is a section that is entirely disconnected from a rope and minimal places to fully rest, I’d place it closer to a C using via ferrata ratings.
I’ve climbed via ferratas in over five countries at this point and it’s very important that you have proper technique to ensure that you are always connected to the cable. It was one of the steepest and most challenging via ferratas that I’ve done and there’s a bit where there is no rope.
The Mangart via
As with any via ferrata course, you need helmets, good via ferrata technique, a via ferrata set, a carabiner for resting, harnesses, and good shoes with strong grip. Rock fall is a risk with the Mangart via ferrata due to the fact that Mangart is like a wall and someone climbing above you can easily knock a rock down on you. Be sure to yell, “Incoming Rock!” whenever you knock over a rock.
Mangart Via Ferrata
I strongly recommend watching the video, which is chronological, and includse detailed information about the trail markers as I felt that we were felt in the dark. The via ferrata ends on the saddle, however finding the beginning path is non-trivial.
Look for the fence in the photo above, which will mean that you enter Italy by descending on the scree covered path. (Nobody said that this hike was a cake walk.) You don’t need your gear on yet as there aren’t any cables until you reach the beginning of the via ferrata, which isn’t for another 20-30 minutes as you need to descend to the base of the mountain.
From here, you’ll want to look for a little flag with red/white on it. It means that you’re going the right way. You’ll be following a narrow path down the mountain towards an alpine hut that you’ll eventually reach. At one point, you’ll pass over a scree field. The views on this part of the path are absolutely beautiful and there are very few people around.
At this point, you’ll see the beginning of the via ferrata / klettersteig up Mangart. Start climbing. There were minimal hand holds with mostly natural rock, so I recommend wearing gloves to protect your hands as well as full length pants. At multiple points, we had to use the rope itself as the climbing was fairly difficult with not many natural handholds.
At one point, you’ll reach a cave. From here, you’ll climb through the roof of the cave. Just be careful as although you’re attached the cable, you’re right on the edge of a ledge after you climb through the roof. This requires long legs and/or upper body strength. It’s a cool point in the via ferrata to stop and enjoy the view!
You’ll continue and about 2/3 of the way, there will be a few steps where you entirely unhook from the via ferrata, which is very unconventional to say the least… Don’t worry: It’s not too long until you get back hooked in. Following this section, you’ll have more horizontal climbs until you reach the last part, which involves a lot of vertical climbing. This is when my own vertigo kicked in. Luckily, you can see the top and you just need to get yourself over the edge.