Slovenia is known as a country of generous people and good wine. Vineyards, which mostly spread on the hill sites, represent idyllic cultural landscape with wonderful vistas, removed from everyday rush and are as such perfect for relaxation. Viniferous areas are crisscrossed by roads with less traffic, and cart tracks which is why a bicycle is a perfect vehicle for the exploration of viniferous land.
Despite the fact that Slovenia cannot be compared to France or any other large European wine producing country in regard to the quantity of wine produced or the acreage of vineyards, the wines of Slovenian winemakers are recognised in the world, and in Slovenia, a diverse palette of wines, raging from dry to sweet wines, can be found. The diversity of wines depends on soil and especially climate, since the influences of Mediterranean, as well as continental climate from Pannonia are present which affects the wine sort through the extent of sun rays.
There are 38,795 acres of vineyards in Slovenia, altogether. Vineyards are growing in nine wine-growing districts which comprise three large wine-growing regions: Podravje, Posavje, and Primorska. The difference between the regions is not only in the extent of vineyards, but also in architectural characteristics and customs which are the result of centuries-old wine-growing traditions.
The entire excursion is divided into 6 stages, two or three in each wine-growing land. The stages are mostly organized on wine routes which connect picturesque wine-growing villages with rich natural and cultural heritage of the surrounding areas. During the excursion, you will be able to relish in fresh air, wonderful vistas, the harmony of wine tastes and specialities of Slovenian cousine.
Following pages offer a schematic map of the excursion, divided into daily programmes. Transportation with accompanying vehicle is organized between stages. Accomodations with half board are on the way, in the inns or wine-making farms which offer tasting of the local wines.
All the daily stages are of medium difficulty, and can be adjusted to the requirements of the group. The duration of the entire excursion can also be adjusted.
Lenght: 20,7 or 41,4 km
Elevation: 240 m
Surface: asphalt and gravel
Sights: Old Vine House, heart among the vineyards, Maribor old city centre
Maribor – Zgornja Kungota – Svečina
The first day, we will be cycling in Slovenske Gorice (Slovenian Hills), part of Podravje, located near the border with Austria which is known for large vineyards growing on for wine-making beneficial marl ground. The dominating wine sorts are Welschriesling, Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay and Yellow Muscat (Muscato Giallo).
The excurision starts in Maribor at the Old Vine House, a museum dedicated to the oldest grape vine in the world which is 400 years old and whose descendants can be fowayund all over Europe. The leads over numerous hills to Svečina on Slovenian-Austrian border, one of the most famous sights of the area where the gravel road forms the so called »heart among the vineyards«.
Surrounded by beautiful sights on both sides of the border, you will return with your bike or accompanying vehicle to Maribor where you will have lunch and opportunity to do some sight seeing on your own.
Lenght: 45 km
Elevation: 520 m
Surface: asphalt and gravel
Sights: Ptujska gora, large terrace vineyards, Borl castle
Ptujska gora – Žetale – Podlehnik – Cirkulane
The second stage of the cycling adventure will take place in Podravje, this time in the district of Haloze which stretch along the border with Croatia. The district is comprised of long and narrow valleys with many villages, surrounded by hills with altitude of 200 to 400 m. Sunny slopes, especially on the west side of Haloze are filled with vineyards which are listed among the 5 % of the most favourable wine-making areas in Slovenia due to the subpannonian climate and marl ground. Similarly to other wine-growing districts of Podravje, the dominating wine sorts are white sorts, such as Welschriesling, Rhine Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Gris, Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Haložan – the trade mark wine of this wine-growing district.
Cycling starts on Ptujska Gora where we visit the first sight, a gothic church, dedicated to St. Mary, and enjoy in spectacular view of Haloze and Dravsko-Ptujsko Polje. The way leads through Majšperk, Žetale, Podlehnik and Cirkulane, typical roadside hamlets with many tourist farms and wineries. The trip ends at the Borl castle, the castle of strategic importance due to its position near the border between Austrian and Hungarian part of the former Habsburg Monarchy.
Lenght: 56 km
Elevation: 910 m
Sights: Rogaška Slatina, Olimje monastery, castle Podsreda, repnice
Rogaška Slatina – Olimje – Kumrovec – Bizeljsko
Southeast of Haloze lies a picturesque wine-growing district of Bizeljsko, part of the Podravje wine-growing region, and due to its natural and cultural heritage also a part of Kozjansko park. Milions of years ago, this area was covered by the Pannonian Sea from which layers of flint were deposited. In these deposits, people dug holes in which their supplies were stored, among other things turnip (repa) and thus these holes are called repnice. Nowadays only few repnice remain preserved and are mostly used as wine cellars – a particularity of Bizeljsko and Posavje.
Cycling starts in Rogaška Slatina, the cradle of Slovenian spa tourism. Rogaška Slatina was considered a luxurious spa resort for Austro-Hungarian elite, nowadays it attracts visitors from all over the world. The emphasis is on diacnostics in healing of illnesses with the help of mineral water, known since the beginning of 20th century as Donat Mg. Before we start cycling, we can visit the beautiful town centre the town promenade, and then we cycle on a cycling path to Podčetrtek. On our way we drive past Vonarsko jezero which was created with impoundment of the Sotla river, the border river between Slovenia and Croatia. In Podčetrtek we turn towards Olimje where on a small hill a Minorite monastery with the oldest apothecary in Slovenia is located. In Olimje, a lunch break and home made chocolate tasting is possible. After lunch, our path will lead towards viniferous hills, and the cycling on winding roads with almost no traffic and amazing views on Kozjansko Park will start. We will be cycling past Kozje, Podsreda, Pišece to Bizeljsko, where we will be visitng one of the biggest repnice in the world. After the visit, we will make a smaller descent to finish, where dinner will be waiting.
Lenght: 40 km
Elevation: 640 m
Surface: asphalt and macadam
Sights: Pleterje Charterhouse, Kostanjevica na Krki, smaller vineyards with numerous vineyard cottages
Šentjernej – Pleterje – Kostanjevica na Krki – Škocjan – Malkovec
The forth day of cycling takes place in Dolenjska, wine-growing district of Posavje, where the dominant wine sorts are red dry wines and where people without their own vineyard are considered exceptions. Vineyards are smaller, compared to those in Haloze and Slovenske Gorice, and there are more of the so called vineyard cottages which are situated near vineyards. Due to the distance between farms and vineyards, vineyard cottages served as storage for tools and wine, nowadays they serve as weekend houses. According to estimates, there are about 15.000 vineyard cottages in Dolenjska and most of them are equiped for living which represents enormous tourist potential. At the moment, there are 40 providers in Dolenjska who offer their vineyard cottages as accomodation capacities, be it for relaxation in the middle of viniferous hills or for a staging point for the exploration of Dolenjska and its surroundings.
Cycling begins in Šentjernej and we head on in direction of Pleterje where one of the oldest Carthusian monasteries in Slovenia is located. Many surrounding vineyards are in ownership of Pleterje Charterhouse which produces wine, including sacramental wine. Entrance into the area of the monastery, with the exception of the gothic church, is prohibited, the outdoor museum with authentic farms from the 19th century are at visitors’ disposal. Cycling continues through the wine-growing district towards Kostanjevica na Krki the centre of which is located on an island on the Krka river. Furthermore, we continue towards Škocjan, Telče, and Malkovec, where a wine tasting session with Cviček – unique among wines due to its compositon, made of white and red wine sorts – will be organised in a special kind of vineyard house, a wine court.
Lenght: 28 km
Elevation: 230 m
Surface: asphalt and macadam
Sights: Spring of the Krupa river, DC 3 airplane village vine cottage, Three parishes in Rosalnice
Semič – Metlika – Drašiči – Krmačina – Podzemelj
Bela krajina is a region in the southeastern Slovenia, separated from Dolenjska by the chain of hills called Gorjanci, and bounded by Kočevski Rog in the west. It is a harder approachable region in which wine making and selling used to represent an important way of earning. Due to its geography, which is more open towards Pannonian lowlands, the grapes mature sooner as in Dolenjska, and the vineyards are similarly located on the sunny sides of hills, above the zone of the fog from valleys. The most prominent wine is Metliška Črnina, a combination of red wine sorts, in which Žametna Črnina and Blaufränkisch are dominant sorts.
Cycling begins in Semič, on the north side of karstic Bela Krajina plane. A route towards Metlika runs by a wonderful karstic spring of the Krupa under a 30 m high cliff, and at the settlements Otok, an aeroplane DC 3 which was used in a transport of the wounded to the liberated area during the World War II is exhibited. A lunch break and a visit of the castle with the firefighters’ museum are possible in Metlika. The excursion continues towards Drašiči and its viniferous hills, where village vine cottage (neighbourhood vine cellar), a wine bank in which wine of each wine maker in the village is saved. The day’s segment finishes in Krmačina, in Prus wine cellar, where famous wines from Bela krajina are produced.
Lenght: 0 km
Elevation: 0 m
Surface: asphalt and macadam
Sights: Kolpa river
Enjoying at the Kolpa river
The sixth day of the cycling will be spent relaxing next to the Kolpa river. It will be a lot opportunies for swimming, rowing or exploring of the surounding nature by bike. In the evening, the acoompanying wehicle will take us to Goriška Brda, where the dinner and over-night stay will follow. Brdom.
Lenght: 43 km
Elevation: 540 m
Surface: asphalt and garvel
Sights: Vipolže, Gonjače tower, spatious vineyards, numerous wine cellars
Vipolže – Šmartno – Gonjače – Nova Gorica – Vogrsko jezero – Šempas
Goriška Brda is a district on the far west of Slovenia. It is dubbed as Slovenian Toscana among tourist, with its viniferous hills and a network of roads with little or no traffic it offers an idyllic terrain for cycling. It is the most prominent wine-growing district of the wine-growing region Primorska. Apart from vineyards, plantations of peaches and cherries, which grow well due to beneficial Mediterranean climate, can be found here. Since part of the stage is in Italian territory, participants must have their personal ID’s with them.
The excursion begings in the village Gornje Cerovo and continues towards Vipolže where Vila Vipolže, one of the few preserved late Renaissance manors, is located. Architectural marbles are also displayed in Šmartno, a village which is located on the area of a former Roman settlement and still has a defence walls from the times of Turkish incursions. In a nearby village of Gonjače, a tower which offers a view of the entire Goriška Brda, lowlands of Friuli, and the Gulf of Trieste is standing.After crossing the border and Števerjan our way starts to descend towards Nova Gorica where a lunch break is organized. In contrast with Gorizia this town does not have the old town centre since it was established after the World war 2 and the final determination of the border between the countries.
After the break the excursion continues towards Vipava Valley, one of the windiest parts of Slovenia in winter, due to the north wind, called burja. Right before we finish cycling, we ride past Lake Vogrsko which was created for the irrigation purposes with the impoundment of the stream of Vogršček. The finish of the stage is in Šempas, with dinner and tasting of local vine.
Lenght: 32 km
Elevation: 360 m
Surface: asphalt and macadam
Sights: Štanjel Castle, Ferarri Garden, idillic Karst villages, Vipava
Vrabče – Štjak – Štanjel – Manče – Lože – Vipava
The last day of the excursion is dedicated to Vipava Valley, located south of plateaus of Hrušica, Trnovo Forest and Nanos over which the already mentioned burja blows especially in the winter months. South and southwest from Vipava Valley to the Gulf of Trieste spreads Kras, known for prosciuto and for Teran, a sort of wine which grows on a grape vine Refošk, under the influence of soil. There are no vineyard cottages in Kras, more typical are larger wine cellars, and the vineyards are located on gentler slopes. A notable remarkableness of this area is so called osmizza (osmica), social events in wine cellars that originates from the times of the Habsburg monarchy when farmers were allowed to sell wine without paying taxes for eight days in a year.
Accompanying vehicle will provide assistance in the ascent to the village of Vrabče which will be our staging point. From Vrabče, the way will lead through the village of Štjak towards Štanjel, architectual gem of the region, a crowded settlement which was heavily affected by the work of architect Maks Fabiani, born in the nearby village of Kobdilj. During the descent towards Branik we turn right towards the valley of Branica, towards the village Kodreti where we take the main road which connects Vipava Valley and Kras. After a short ascent, the descent continues through the villages Manče and Lože, with beatiful view on the plateau Nanos and the village of Gradišče at Vipava. Cycling will be concluded in Vipava which is located by the numerous sources of the river with the same name. Due to numerous bridges, Vipava is also known as Slovenian Venice.
- 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.