Slovenia can be perceived as emerald of Europe, since 60 % of its territory is covered with forest, which places Slovenia on the third place in Europe. During the 7-day bicycle excursion, one can enjoy wonderful green nuances of forests, meadows, rivers, lakes and vineyards. There will also be an opportunity to visit Ljubljana which was proclaimed the green capital of Europe in 2016 – a recognition for achievements of high environmental standards and incentive for sustainability.
On the following paragraphs, a course of the excursion by days will be introduced schematically. Transportation with accompanying vehicle is organized between individual stages of the excursion, and accomodations are located along the way, in inns and tourist farms.
All the daily stages are of medium difficulty. Their length and difficulty can be adjusted according to the wishes of the group, as well as the duration of the entire excursion.
THE HEARTH OF JULIAN ALPS
Mojstrana – Kranjska Gora – Zelenci – Planica – Belopeška jezera – Predel – Bovec
The cycling adventure begins in the heart of the Julian Alps, more precisely in Mojstrana, the cradle of Slovenian mountaneering. The path leads from Mojstrana through the glacial valley of Vrata which offers a majestic view of Triglav’s north face. The cycling begins on the so called cycling route of three lands which runs all the way to Trbiž and runs along the route of the former narrow-gauge railway. Two-way cycling route is completely separeted from the road and is considered a cycling high way which offers majestic views of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps (Triglav, Škrlatica, Špik,…). In Kranjska Gora, a break for lunch and a stroll around two artificial lakes, called Jasna is planned. After that, the path will lead towards Rateče, past Zelenci where the Sava Dolinka has its spring, and then unites with Sava Bohinjka at Radovljica. An educational path leads around the source which teaches about the wealth of flora and fauna that make Zelenci a protected as a nature reserve. Before we reach Rateče, we turn left towards Planica, the valley under Ponce where the final contest in ski flying takes place every season. In the last few years, Planica became a modern Nordic centre which offers excellent conditions for training to athletes, and the visitors can visit a museum of ski jumping or visit the Planica Giant, second biggest ski flying hill in the world, from which a zip line leads back in to the centre.
The excursion continues across the Slovenian-Italian border to the Lago di Fusine lakes in the foothills of Magart. During the descent toward Lago del Predil, we regain the energy for ascent to the Predil Pass, where we re-enter Slovenia. On the top of the pass, a monument to fallen Austrian soldiers who fought against the advancing French in the Hermann Fortress is placed. After that, the route descends towards Log pod Mangartom, past the Koritnica Valley where another fortress is located, the Kluže Fortress which was demolished during the First World War in heavy fighting between Austrians and Italians. The daily stage finishes in Bovec where we can use the time until dinner to explore the beautiful Soča Valley.
Kanal – Plave – Nova Gorica – Vipolže – Šmartno – Gonjače
After breakfast, a short ride through the Soča Valley where in the First World War a front line between Italy and Austro-Hungary ran, follows. The remainings of the front are still noticable on ridges and mountains, its history is introduced in the museum in Kobarid. We begin with the cycling in Kanal ob Soči where a road with less traffic on the right bank leads towards the village of Plave. Here begins a 10-kilometer cylcing path which runs all the way to Solkan and offers majestic views of the Soča Valley, especially the Solkan Bridge, the railway bridge with the biggest arch in Europe. The path leads from Solkan towards Nova Gorica where a lunch break can be organized. Contrary to the neighbour city, Gorizia, Nova Gorica does not have old city centre due to the fact that it was only established after the Second World War, after the establishment of the border with Italy. We cross the border again and continue our way through Gorizia and Števerjan towards the Gorizia Hills, the land in the West of Slovenia which is dubbed »Slovenian Toscana« among the visitors due to its landscape, comprised of viniferous hills and roads with less traffic that offer idyllic terrain for cycling. Apart from vineyards, plantations of peaches and cherries which grow well due to the Mediterranean climate can be found here, as well. The cycling continues through the village of Gornje Cerovo towards Vipolže, in centre of which the Villa Vipolže is located, one of the few late renaissance mansions. Architectural gems can also be observed in the village of Šmartno which was built on the site of an old Roman settlement and has beautifully preserved defence walls from the times of Turkish incursions. In the nearby Gonjače, we can climb the tower which offers a beautiful view of the entire Gorizia Hills, as well as Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the Gulf of Trieste. The day finishes with a dinner in Gorizia Hills and with wine tasting.
Hrastovlje – Kubed – Koper – Strunjan – Portorož – Piran
The accompanying vehicle will take us from the Vipava Valley through the Karst and the Črni Kal Bridge to the Karst Rim, a steep border between Karst plateaus and flysch land, known as Slovene Istria, which gradually descends towards the sea. The cycling begins in Hrastovlje, at Holy Trinity Church, known for the Danse Macabre fresco, which is protected as a monument due to its authentic style of building. Especially noticable is the bell tower, former defense tower of a fortress, built for defense against Ottomans. The path gradually descends from Kubed to Koper and is surrounded by low evergreen vegetation and vineyards. Koper is considered to be one of the oldest Slovenian cities, first being mention already in the Roman times. Koper was an island until the 19th century – the proof of which is Škocjanski zatok, a remnant of shallow sea which is a natural reservation where salt and fresh water mix due to proximity of the outfalls of the rivers Rižana and Badaševica. All this creates a special habitat for numerous plants and animals. After arriving to Koper, the time is right for lunch and exploration of the old city cenrte, especially the Tito Square with the Praetorian Palace. Cycling from Koper to Izola takes place on the newest cycling route in Slovenia which was set on a previous local road after the completion of the Markovec Tunnel. Many cyclists meet on this road which offers a view of the Port of Koper, active since the year 1963, through which the majority of automobiles arrives to Central Europe. The rest of the stage leads through Strunjan where we can stroll to 130 m high cliffs, to Portorož, and to Piran where the old city centre and Tartini Square, named after famous composer of Venetian origin from Piran, are inviting.
LJUBLJANA MARSHES AND CAPITAL OF SLOVENIA
Borovnica – Lake Podpeč – Brezovica pri Ljubljani – Ljubljana
The staging point of this part of the excursion is Borovnica, a settlement in the southwestern part of the Ljubljana Marshes, a tectonic sink on the juncture of Alpine and Dinaric region. Due to constant floods and congestion of water, this area was marshy until the 19th century, nowadays it is however completely drained. DUe to its biotic variety, the area of the Marshes is protected as a landscape park. The way leads from Borovnica past the column of the Borovnica railway bridge, built in 1856 as a part of the Vienna-Trieste railway, which was at the time the longest railway bridge in the world. During the Second World War, it was almost entirely demolished and later abandoned. The path continues on the edge of the Marshes, through villages Kamnik pod Krimom, Preserje and Podpeč where the view of Ljubljanica – known as the river with seven names – appears. In Podpeč, we turn towards Lake Podpeč under the southern hillside of Krim, which came to exsistance as a reservoir of water from karst springs. The excursion continues towards Brezovica and Ljubljana on a two-way cycling path. Brezovica is a suburban settlement, located 5 km southeast from Ljubljana, in the centre of which the Baroque church of Saint Anthony the Great is located. The cycling continues on the cycling path along Trieste Street which brings us all the way to Ljubljana.
Ljubljana is the capital city of Slovenia and regional centre of employment. Due to a great traffic density, especially in time of morning and afternoon rush hours, bicycle is a suitable mode of transportation for exploring the streets. The way leads from Trieste Street over Aškerc and Zois Street to the Ljubljanica where we turn left, follow the flow of the river and arrive to Prešeren Square, named after Slovenian poet France Prešeren, which serves as a staging point for the visit of the Ljubljana Castle or the old city centre.
ALONG THE DRAVA RIVER
Maribor – Ptuj – Ormož
This stage of the excursion runs on a part of the cycling path along the Drava river between Maribor and Ormož. The entire Podravje cycling path runs from the spring of the Drava in Toblach, Tyrol to its mouth near Osjek, Croatia and is more than 700 km long.Cycling starts in Maribor, SLovenia’s second largest city, the home of the oldest grape vine in the world. Before cycling we can visit the old city centre with the cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and visit the Maribor Castle which serves as the primary location of the Regional musem Maribor.
The path leads us on a razgiban teren through Malečnik to Duplek, a settlement in the northwestern part of Slovenian Hills which is followed by descent to the Drava and a ride on its bank through Vurberk to Ptuj, the oldest Slovenian city. Ptuj developed on the location of Roman military camp and is considered the largest Roman settlement on the territory of today’s Slovenia. Numerous temples, dedicated to the god Mithra, the patron of soldiers can be found in Ptuj. Ptuj contains magnificent city centre which developed in the middle ages around the Ptuj Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in Slovenia. After lunch in Ptuj, the excursion continues past Lake Ptuj, the biggest artificial lake in Slovenia which was created with the impoundment of the Drava for the needs of Formin hydroelectric power plant. The cyling continues on the left bank of the Drava on the Ptuj Plain which with the Drava Plain comprises the biggest plain in Slovenia and is important for agriculture. THe rest of the way descends slightly, with the exception of slight ascent before Ormož, the town on the hillside of Slovenian Hills where this day’s stage finishes. In Ormož, we can visit Ormož Castle, built for defence against Turkish incursion, or go to a wine tasting into one of the biggest wine cellars in Slovenia.
BOTH SIDES OF SOTLA RIVER
Rogaška Slatina – Olimje – Kumrovec – Bizeljsko
The stage before last begins in Rogaška Slatina, the birth place of Slovenian spa tourism. The town used to be a spa resort for the Austro-Hungarian elite, today however it attracts the guests from all over the world, due to the effects of its mineral water – slatina. The emphasis lies on diagnosis and healing with the help of mineral water which is branded Donat Mg since the beginning of the 20th century.
While we cycle we can explore a beatuful town centre of this resort with promenade, and then we continue our journey on a cycling lane towards Podčetrtek. Our way leads past Lake Vonarje which was created by impounding the Sotla, the border river between Slovenia and Croatia. In Podčetrtek, the path turns towards Olimje where a monastery of Minorites is with the oldest apothecary in Slovenia is located. In Olimje, there is time for lunch and for home made chocolate tasting.
The path then returns to Podčetrtek where we cross the border and continue on the left bank of the Sotla on the edge of the wine-growing region Zagorje. The path leads to Kumrovec, birth place of Josip Broz Tito, whose birth house is exhibited as part of the ethnological museum Staro Selo which depicts the way of life from 100 years ago. We cross the border again and cycle through the hills to Bizeljsko where there is time for dinner.
DOLENJSKA AND FINISH AMONG AMONG THE VINEYARDS
Novo mesto – Otočec – Šmarješke toplice – Malkovec
The cycling adventure finishes in Dolenjska, a landscape full of hills, on the banks of the Krka, on the border betven Pannonian Basin and Dinaric mountains which is limited to the East with the ridge of Gorjanci. Wine making gives Dolenjska a special character, since nearly every sunny slope boast vineyards. The speciality of this region is cviček, composed of red and white grape sorts.
Cycling begins in Novo mesto, where we can find a beautiful view of the city centre and Kapitelj church from the bridge. If requested, we can visit the Kapitelj Hill and enjoy the view from it, or visit the old part of the city where the street Breg, Main Square with the town hall and the Dolenjski muzej with the exhibition of situlae can be visited.
During the cycling towards Otočec, a view of Trška Gora, the most famous wine-making hill in Dolenjska with numerous vineyards and vineyard cottages appears. The path continues along the Krka and brings us to the Otočec Castle, located on an island between two river branches of the Krka. In Otočec we turn to a cycling path which leads through Šmarješke Toplice to Šmarjeta. From there, we follow the local road towards Škocjan where the most ardous part of this stage, an ascent to Telče begins. In Telče, we are rewarded with a stunning view of the Šentjernej plain and Gorjanci. The path leads from Telče to Malkovec, where we will drink a toast to a successful cycling adventure.
- Bicycle excursions are organized on optional date, for gropups of no less than four participants (max 7 patticipants per guided group)
- Due to the great density of local roads and the lack of bicycle lanes outside settlements, the bicycle tours are organised on local roads with smaller density of traffic, and partially on existing and marked bicycle lanes.
- Participants can cycle by themselves or under guidance.
- Because gravel roads are included in the excursions, trekking bikes are required. Optional rent of electirc bike is possible, for additional payment.
- Cycling is possible in individual organization or under guidance.
- Accompanying vehicle is at participants’ disposal for technical support, support with drinks and snacks, support with directions, transport of bikes and passengers during the stage of the excursion or to the start of the next stage of the excursion.
- All the stages are of medium difficulty, the length of a segment, as well as the duration of the entire excursion can be adjusted in accordance with the wishes of the group,
- Excursions are enriched with the additional offer, which includes visits of surrounding natural and cultural sites, possibilities for relaxation, sports and suggestions for lunch.
Participants can choose between entire bicycle excursion and individual stages. Price is established in accordance with the participants demands and wishes.
BASIC PRICE OF THE EXCURSION INCLUDES:
- Rental of a trekking bike (if participants have their own bikes, the price is lower),
- Accompanying vehicle with a trailer,
- Accomodations in authentic Slovenian guest houses and tourist farms,
- Half board (dinner and breakfast arranged in the place of accomodation)
- Cartography and instructions for cycling.
- Transfer from and to hotel/airport in Zagreb or Ljubljana.
- Fully qualified bike guide fort he whole trip,
- Sightseeing and sports activities, suggested in the programme,
- Rental of electric bike,
- Rental of navigation equipment (self guided tours)
The starting point of the excursion depends on the selected daily stages. In the evening on the day before the start of the excursion, we can provide transport from Ljubljana/Zagreb airport or hotel to the accommodation next to the starting point. We will also take you to Ljubljana or Zagreb after the the end of cycling trip.