Mangart Saddle in Slovenia – Wander Through the Clouds
Mangart Saddle, also called ‘Mangart Pass’ or ‘Mangartsko Sedlo’ lies at the bottom of Slovenia’s fourth highest mountain. It’s very popular during the summer months due to its convenient access. This winding road to the summit is paved but very narrow, with some brutally steep parts. You should not be afraid of heights and have nerves of steel while driving this road. At points there is no barrier on the sides and drop reaches hundreds of meters down. All this guarantees an extreme adventure and truly unique surrounding. We visited on a rainy and cloudy day, which gave this wonderful spot the look of a dramatic movie location. In this article, you will find all the information you need to wander through the clouds in Mangart Saddle in Slovenia.
Getting to Mangart Saddle
Mangart Saddle is located close to the Italian border in the Julian Alps, in the north-west part of Slovenia. It’s about 125 km from the capital Ljubljana, or half the distance from Bled. Road 902 leading all the way to the top begins just past the Viadukt Mangart right here. It’s a narrow, paved path that goes through multiple tunnels, misty forest and some of the most spectacular views in Slovenia. At the peak there’s a perfect loop, one way only which brings you to the highest point: the Mangart Saddle. Take your time on the way to the top and watch out in the tunnels: mountain goats hide there from the rain and often block the road. Also sheep often pass across the road.
It’s only 10 km to the top, but the drive there will take you about 30 min. When we visited (August 2020) the last part of the road was closed. We left the car at on a large parking lot and proceeded on foot.
Being on the top of 2050m with spectacular views surrounding us and clouds that were moving right around and though us was an intense experience. There were moments when we couldn’t see anything more than a meter away, the wind was strongly pushing us and the rain was trying to find its way through our waterproof jackets. However, it’s still one of our favourite adventures on the month long road trip.
We wandered around for over an hour despite the bad weather. The clouds covering the edges of the mountains looked mystical and we couldn’t shake off the feeling of admiration for the power of nature and this majestic show.
We went back to the car, cooked some easy noodles for lunch and continued to appreciate the views around. Before we returned back down the same impressive, curvy, narrow road, we thought to ourselves that the spot where we parked our car, would be perfect for a night stay… If camping was allowed in Slovenia- that being said.
Hiking in Mangart Saddle
Mangart Saddle is a wonderful place for hiking. You can casually walk around the pass like we did, or proceed further for more thrilling adventure.
At the highest point of the road look for a path that crosses a grassy slope in the direction of Mangart (visible in the distance on the picture below). Follow the path to a marked crossroads (there is a writing on a rock) where the Slovene route turns to the right and the Italian to the left. The Slovenian path is dangerous and have many exposed climbing parts, partly a via ferrata which requires gear. Do not follow it, unless you are experienced climber & mountaineer with a gear. Turn left into the Italian trail instead. It is easy most of the time, but it does have some passages secured with steel cables- luckily those are not very exposed. It should take you apx 2h15 to reach the highest point. Descend the same way.
This Mangart Italian hike (not to mix up with “Via Italiana”, for actual via ferrata) has a 630m elevation and completing it should not take more than 4h. Make sure to wear proper hiking shoes. The best time for completing this hike are the summer months. However, in the early summer there still might be ice on the trail. Do not hike on a rainy day as the terrain is quite soft in some places and can crumble because of the water.
You can find more information about the normal hike, and the 2 via ferratas (that are for experts) on this website.
Is this Slovenian gem dangerous?
The road is narrow, with no protections and old tunnels: nothing dangerous, but you need to have strong nerves and good control of the vehicle. The truth is that along the way you are hoping not to meet too many cars, since the road is so narrow. However, Mandart Pass is not as popular as it’s spectacular views might suggest and it’s usually not too busy.
When is Mangart Saddle open
Mangart Saddle- considered the most beautiful alpine road in Slovenia, is not accessible for the whole year. The road usually opens in May until end of November. Opening for the traffic depends on the weather conditions (snow, avalanche dangers), so it can also open/close earlier/later then officially said.
↬ Note : We found information online about a toll booth where you need to pay 5 EUR to enter the road. When we visited the booth was closed and we didn’t have to pay. However, it’s good to have some change with you just in case.