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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 10 Days in Slovenia: The Perfect Itinerary for Your First Visit
- 20 Epic Things to do in Slovenia
- Hiking the Julian Alps of Slovenia: Vrsic Pass to Sleme and Slemenova Spica
- 14 Best Things to do in Ljubljana
- 8 Amazing Things to do in Lake Bled
- One Day in Piran and Koper: How to Plan Your Day Trip
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