If you're looking for a ski holiday that's all about intimate 'human-sized' winter-sports experiences, Slovenia has you covered. This welcoming country has a total of 230km of runs, spread over a network of small, family-friendly resorts which offer an understated, homely atmosphere with terrain to suit all levels, from beginner to expert.
These Slovenian ski resorts may be smaller than many other European Alpine ski resorts, but the experiences they offer and the nature surrounding them are unforgettable. And with the distances between each resort fairly short, it's possible to ski-hop from one to the other, and all on one single country-wide ski-pass.
Where is Slovenia?
Situated in Central Europe, Slovenia borders Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, and is easily accessible from all neighbouring countries, as it has good road and rail connections. There are two low-cost flight providers – EasyJet and Wizz Air – flying from London to the main Slovenian international airport Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Airport, as well as scheduled flights with British Airways.
What are the ski resorts like in Slovenia?
Slovenia is proof that big is not always better. The four largest ski resorts have no more than 10 ski lifts, while there are several medium-sized ski resorts with 2-10 ski lifts, and some smaller ski resorts with a maximum of two ski lifts. The country's 12 mountain centres are mostly active all year round, so they also offer sports activities outside the winter season. Of the 230km of pistes in Slovenia, 85km are blue, 114km red and 27km black.
The largest ski centre is the Maribor Pohorje Hills, with 41.5 kilometres of runs. This city resort in the north-east of Slovenia offers a perfect combination of great ski slopes, excellent wellness centres, wonderful nature and all the amenities of the city. You can even ski right into Maribor. The slopes are suitable for children and other beginners, with an excellent ski school, and also the most demanding skiers. It also has the longest night ski run in Europe!
At Kranjska Gora, a popular family resort in the north-west corner of Slovenia near the borders with Italy and Austria, you'll find 18 ski slopes ranging from nursery to black runs. The cable cars and ski runs are strung along the slopes of the Vitranc Mountain from the village of Kranjska Gora to Planica - home of one of the largest ski jumps in the world - at altitudes ranging from 800m to 1215m.
For beginners, one of the best ski centres is the spa and ski resort of Cerkno, an award-winning destination renowned for the quality of its teaching - it's a go-to for Slovenian schoolchildren - and its ultra-modern facilities.
Kope ski centre is located at elevations from 1010m to 1536m in the far western, highest part of the Pohorje Hills, above the town of Slovenj Gradec. Surrounded by lush forests, it offers beautiful views of the surrounding area. In Kope, skiers with various skill levels can enjoy 8km of ski slopes, connected by six ski lifts and two four-person chairlifts. Kope also has a trail for cross-country skiing, a ski walking trail and a sledging hill.
The cross-border Kanin Ski Centre is the highest ski centre in Slovenia (2,300m) and is linked with the Sella Nevea in Italy. The cable-car takes you to 2,202m with panoramic views over the Alps and the Adriatic Sea. Kanin - Sella Nevea offers great freeriding, with a ski season stretching till the beginning of May. While most of the slopes are more suitable for experienced skiers, both sides of the ski area also offer flatter terrain for beginners.
In the heart of the Savinja Valley, sits the Golte Ski Resort, a family-friendly destination with more than 12km of runs suitable for all abilities, served by five ski lifts. A great place to spend a day in beautiful surroundings, it also has a popular wellness hotel reached via the longest cable car run in Slovenia.
Vogel is another hugely popular ski centre, with spectacular panoramic views of the snow-covered landscape. Located in the Triglav National Park above Lake Bohinj, it has 22km of pistes, spread over 15 runs - including a snow park - served by eight lifts, and as well as great downhill and off-piste skiing, it offers plenty of other winter sports activities such as snow-rafting, airboarding (basically body-boarding on snow!), cross-country, paragliding and ski touring.
At the most visited Slovenian ski centre, Rogla, an hour's drive from Maribor, combines 12km of downhill skiing with an extensive network of cross-country trails over an area of nearly 250 acres. Children can get their first experiences at the Uniorček ski run, and pile on the fun in the Children Snow Park. Adults too can enjoy some fun at the Rogla Fun Park, intended for skiers and freestyle snowboarders.
Highlights of skiing in Slovenia
Skiing Slovenia is not like skiing in most Alpine areas. Even the biggest resort is not large by Alpine standards. That, of course, is an intrinsic part of its appeal. Slovenia is perfect for families and beginners, and for skiers looking for a less daunting, cosier ski experience, without the pressure to rack up high mileage.
The smaller ski centres offer a relaxed and authentic atmosphere. The larger ski centres are usually part of year-round mountain centres with a wide variety of available activities and well-developed infrastructure, including ski schools with multi-lingual ski instructors. Most will also take your breath away with their unspoilt nature and incredible views of the surrounding valley and peaks.
In lower-lying ski centres, expect plenty of forested plateau-like slopes. Higher-lying ski centres, located at an elevation from 1500m to 2300m, are more open and offer wide-ranging views. If the conditions are right, the skiing season in Slovenia can even last until May.
Small, easily accessible ski resorts in Slovenia
The attraction of skiing in Slovenia is that you can try different ski resorts in one day due to the short distances between ski centres with many less than one hour apart. At each resort you will find well-maintained ski runs that are suitable for beginners and advanced skiers. In addition to skiing, you will also be immersing yourself in some of Europe's most scenic landscapes.
Ski Slovenia under one ski pass
The single skiing ticket, Ski Pass Slovenia, combines several Slovenian ski centres. You can purchase either family or individual ski pass tickets, season passes, or multi-day ski passes, all valid for the majority of Slovenian ski slopes.
Exciting cross-country skiing in Slovenia
One of the most popular activities among Slovenians is cross-country skiing, and you can find marked cross-country trails in many places all over Slovenia. Everyone can enjoy cross-country skiing: true cross-country enthusiasts and beginners alike will fall in love with Slovenia's quiet trails.
Among the best locations for trying out this sport are Kranjska Gora and its surrounding area .Some 40km of well-maintained cross-country trails will take you from the centre of Kranjska Gora to Planica Nordic Centre and onwards to the scenic Tamar Valley. The section of the trail between Rateče and Tamar is suitable for more skilled cross-country skiers. Maintained trails are also located on the way towards Gozd Martuljek, Mojstrana and Zgornja Radovna.
On the Pokljuka Plateau there are more than 25km of regularly maintained cross-country trails, and there is a sports centre at Rudno polje, which is known as a venue of biathlon world cup competitions. And when snow conditions are good, there are over 50km of cross-country trails in the Bohinj area, including 25km of beautiful maintained trails at Soriška Planina.
Pohorje offers a wide range of well-maintained trails, with many located near the Pohorje ski slopes, such as Kope and Rogla so you can ski and cross-country ski on the same day.
Loads of off-the-slopes activities
Many of Slovenia's ski centres are geared up to offer other winter activities, from snowshoeing to sledding, tubing, dog-sled rides, ice skating, ice climbing and paragliding. And Slovenia is also something of a paradise for wellness fans, with many resorts having their own spa and wellness facilities.
Then there's the food - Slovenia has no less than 170 typical dishes! The major characteristic they have in common is that they are made from locally produced ingredients. Discover protected and special Slovenian cheeses, meat products, sausages, oils, honey, and other tempting food.
Once you have explored snow-covered nature on skis, sledges or in other ways, you can also take time to explore the history of nearby towns. An evening walk along the decorated old town streets is absolutely magical, particularly in the run up to Christmas. A visit to historical towns will certainly be the cherry on the top of your unforgettable winter holidays in Slovenia.
To find out more about skiing in Slovenia, go to slovenia.info