Mangart Saddle

Driving to the Mangart Saddle in Slovenia

Julie Slovenia 6 Comments

The Mangart Saddle, also called the Mangart Pass or Mangartsko sedlo, is the highest lying road in Slovenia. It’s a winding, white-knuckle drive through the mountainous region of northwest Slovenia. If you have nerves of steel and want to add a cool mini road trip onto your tour of Slovenia, this is a great option.

Mangart Saddle Map

Our Experience

We drove the Mangart Saddle on a one-day road trip through Slovenia. Our day started with a drive over the Vrsic Pass, a visit to Bovec, and a walk through Tolmin Gorge. Rather than drive back to Kranjska Gora the same way, we decided to take a detour through Italy.

As we drove up route 203 from Bovec, we saw signs for the Mangart Saddle. Curious, we decided to check it out.

As soon as we turned right onto route 902, the road that leads to the Mangart Saddle, we knew we were in for an adventure. The road is extremely narrow, just wide enough for one car in most spots, and it didn’t take long until we drove on our first hairpin turns.

About 2 km into the drive there is a small ticket booth. It is here we paid the toll to continue the adventure (€5 in 2018). No turning back now!

Just past the toll booth is where the real fun begins.

For several kilometers you wind your way up through a forest. The trees and vegetation give the impression of safety since it is harder to see the drop-offs from the edge of the road.

But once you climb above the trees, this begins to really feel like an adventure. Now the views are phenomenal, the hairpin turns are a thrill, and you are hoping you don’t meet too many oncoming cars. Since the road is so narrow, it can be very difficult to squeeze past each other. And if you are the car on the edge of the road…be careful!

Mangart Saddle Tunnel

View of the Road

Driving Mangart Saddle

Drive Mangart Saddle

Mangart Saddle in August

Meanwhile, just to really keep things interesting, a massive thunderstorm was closing in on us. Earlier in the day we drove through a wicked storm in Bovec and we weren’t too excited about being caught in one on the Mangart Saddle. Luckily, the weather held off. But the distant rumbles of thunder added to the excitement.

Once on top of the Mangart Saddle, we parked in the small parking lot and walked on a very short hiking trail for some of the most spectacular views of the day. From here, we had amazing views over the Log Koritnica Valley in Slovenia and the Lakes of Fusine in Italy.

View over Italy

Top of Mangart Saddle

Mangart Saddle View

For us, this drive up the Mangart Saddle was an unexpected surpise. Even after Tolmin Gorge, Vrsic Pass, and the beautiful Soca Valley, this was the highlight of our day. And to think that we knew nothing about the Mangart Saddle when our day started!

Since the road ends at the Mangart Saddle, you will drive down the same way you came. Driving down the road was not nearly as scary as driving up it.

The entire round-trip drive took us one hour.

Learn how to plan a road trip through the Soca Valley, the Vrsic Pass, Tolmin Gorge, and the Mangart Saddle in our article Slovenia Road Trip: Vrsic Pass, Soca Valley, and Tolmin Gorge.

About the Mangart Saddle

Topping out at 2,072 meters, the Mangart Saddle is the highest lying road in Slovenia. The Vrsic Pass, a more popular high mountain pass in Slovenia, tops out at 1611 meters.

In less than 12 km, this road climbs 980 meters and winds its way through five tunnels carved out of the rock.

The Italian army built this road in 1938 as part of its defense against the Yugoslav army.

Allow an hour to an hour and a half to do this drive. Our drive was quick because we never got caught behind a cyclist or a slower driver. However, we just may have been lucky.

To drive to the Mangart Saddle you will have to pay a toll at a ticket booth (€5 in 2018). This ticket booth is located 2 km past the point where you turn onto route 902 from route 203.

This road is extremely narrow. In many places, big blocks of concrete form a makeshift guardrail. However, there were a few places with no protection.

Mangart Saddle Road

Occasionally, the road widens and this is a good place to pass other vehicles, if the timing works out. On the rare occasion we met an oncoming car, we did manage to squeeze past each other on the narrow road. Fortunately, on the day we did this, there was very light traffic on the Mangart Saddle (we did this drive in August).

In order to do this drive, you need to have excellent driving skills, a good head for heights, and nerves of steel. If you meet an oncoming car, you need to be prepared to reverse into a pull-off to let traffic pass. It’s rare, but it does happen.

Be prepared to share the road with cyclists and motorcyclists.

Motorcycles on Mangart Saddle

The road is closed in the winter due to snowfall and the potential for avalanches. In general, it is open from May through November, although these dates can change based on weather conditions.

Once on the Mangart Saddle, you have the option to hike or climb to the summit of Mangart Mountain. There are several routes from the top and some routes involve the use of via ferrata equipment.


Do you have plans to drive the Mangart Saddle? Comment below if you have any questions.

More Information for Your Trip to Slovenia:

Planning a trip to Slovenia? Read all of our articles in our Slovenia Destination Guide.

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Mangart Saddle Slovenia

Comments 6

  1. Hi,

    where can I find some information about road opening?

    There is a web site or an e-mail/phone number to call for information about road opening?

    Thanks

    1. Post
      Author

      Unfortunately, I don’t know of any specific website to direct you to. You could do a Google search or check Google Maps…sometimes they will mark road closures (for example, when Going to the Sun Road (in Glacier NP) closes in autumn for snow, Google Maps will indicate the road closure). Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi, we plan a trip to Mangart Saddle, but somewhere I read that there is no entry ban.
    How far from Bovec can you drive by car?

    1. Post
      Author
  3. Hello
    Good to know the Mangart saddle drive is so interesting
    I plan to do this before reading your article , now I definitely will do this unless weather not favorable. Our trip will be in late September
    My plan trip is
    Start at Bovec where we stay, then take this side trip to Mangart saddle and back, then through Vrsic Pass to Kranjska Gora, end at lake Bled and stay that night there
    I want to ask
    Is the part from Mangart into Italy and Predil Pass, back to Slovenia and Kranjska Gora good too?
    If that part is good, I may plan some way to include this too
    Thank you
    PS read a few of your article, well done and very good information
    👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

    1. Post
      Author

      The drive through Italy and then where you enter Slovenia near Ratece is not very interesting, in my opinion. However, I found the border between Slovenia and Italy interesting (the border near Mangart). It’s an old, deserted border station and it feels a little bit eerie. It won’t take you too long to detour here from Mangart just to see it, if you are interested. You could drive into Italy for the view over Lago del Predil, too. But that’s as far as you need to go, in my opinion, especially since you have so much to do this day. Here’s the link to the border I am referring to, just to be clear. Cheers, Julie

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