Slovenia Bike Tour
Slovenia has snow-capped Alpine peaks, ice blue rivers, stunning alpine lakes and a glittering Adriatic coastline – but without the tourists and crowds of other European destinations. It was part of the Hapsburg Empire for centuries, so its capital has more in common with Vienna or Prague than with its southern neighbors. We begin the tour in delightful Ljubljana and then head straight for the Julian Alps. The first three days are in magnificent Alpine scenery, while the next two take in the Mediterranean flavor of Slovenia’s western edge. We even spend a day in the vineyards, orchards and rolling hills of Italy’s Friuli region. The hotels range from charming 3-star “boutique” B&Bs to 4-star luxury mountain lodges, complete with sauna and indoor pool. We end the trip in Italy, and spend the night in a former royal palace. Come and experience what some consider the most spectacular biking in Europe.
Trip Design: We designed this tour to be a journey through Slovenia’s dramatic landscape, from the Julian Alps to the gently rolling wine country. We see the country’s most beautiful lakes, bike the most exciting pass, circle the highest mountain, have dinner at one of Slovenia’s finest restaurants, and end in Italy with the shimmering Adriatic in the distance. In the middle of the tour we have a two-night stay in lovely Kobarid, which allows us to enjoy a ride into Italy’s little known Friuli region. There is a satisfying sense of “flow” to the trip as we cycle broad alpine valleys and over spectacular passes towards the Adriatic sea.
Slovenia Bike Tour itinerary
Arrive independently in Ljubljana and take some time to explore the old part of the city. The Slovenian capital has become one of the hippest cities in Europe, reminiscent of Prague but without the crowds. It’s small enough to get around on foot, but so cosmopolitan you will hear a variety of languages being spoken as you stroll along the banks of the lovely Ljubljanica River. Lively with bars, cafes and art galleries, the green city of Ljubljana is a great hideout from bigger European capitals. Meet your guide in the afternoon for a walking tour of town followed by a welcome drink and dinner. Overnight at the charming B&B Slamic in Ljubljana. Hotel and dinner included.
Transfer from Ljubljana to Skofja Loka, a charming town dating back to medieval times. Stop to admire the cobbled lanes and medieval houses before picking up your bike to head into Alpine Slovenia. We ride to the Sorica pass, where you get the first glimpse of the Mt. Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia at 2,864 m (9,400 ft). A downhill ride takes you to crystal-clear Bohinj Lake, where we’ll stop for some refreshment after the first day’s efforts. In the evening we try some shepherd’s delicacies at a local restaurant, and we might even pick up some words in a distinctive northwest Slovenian accent. Our host at dinner, Jaka, is not only a great chef who gets his porcini fresh daily from the locals, but he also restores traditional beehives. If you’re lucky, his friends will drop by to play some polka! Distance: 65 km, ascent: 977 m. Overnight at the 4-star Hotel Jezero in Bohinj. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Leave Bohinj and ride around Triglav National Park. Your first stop today is spectacular Bled Lake, with a small islet in the middle it has become the image of Slovenia worldwide. Enjoy a piece of the famous Kremsnita cake and then take a dip in the lake. We then ride through the isolated alpine valley of Radovna, a paradise for nature lovers, with blueberries hidden in green meadows, herds of grazing cows, and streams lining your route. You are now in the very heart of the Julian Alps. Spend the night in the World Cup skiing resort of Kranjska Gora. In front of you stands the mighty Spik mountain range, which is especially stunning when the peaks catch the last glimpse of sunlight. Distance: 68 km, ascent: 315 m. Overnight at the luxury hotel and spa Hotel Spik in Kranjska Gora. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
This morning we ride up the Vrsic Pass, considered to be one of the most scenic mountain roads in Europe. We climb gradually, stopping to admire the scenery, until we reach the pass at 1,611 m (5,300 feet) of altitude, offering you some of the finest mountain views on the trip. The road over the Vrsic pass is the highest in Slovenia, and was built by the Austrians as the main supply route for the Isonzo Front during the First World War. You will ride over some of the original cobblestones before starting a majestic 15 km downhill (not cobbled!) to enter the Soca valley. [DSC_0281, sc] The untamed river is one of the few unspoiled rivers in the European Alps, and is known for its beautiful emerald color. Further down the valley is the small town of Kobarid, our home for the next two nights. The town is a center for all sorts of adventure sports and also has a fascinating museum about the tragic events of World War I. Overnight either at the Villa Franko or the Hotel Hvala. Distance: 68 km, ascent 891 m. Overnight Kobarid. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Today we cross the Italian border and ride through the rolling hills to Cividale del Friuli. Founded by Julius Caesar in 50 BC, it became the first capital of the newly-formed Lombard Kingdom in the 6th century. The Franks conquered it in 774, and it was eventually annexed by the Venetians in 1420. The medieval center is carved in two by a ravine which is spanned by the impressive 15th century “Devils Bridge”. Also notable is the Celtic hypogeum, a subterranean series of halls carved into the rock in ancient times. Was it a Celtic funerary monument or a Roman jail? Return to your hotel in Kobarid for another delicious dinner of local specialties. Distance: 65 km. Overnight Kobarid. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Today we ride through the bucolic scenery and charming villages of the Tolmin area. Cycle along the river and stop for coffee at a brilliant emerald-colored lake, and then attack one last climb before flying downhill into Gorizia, on the Italian side of the border. Our hotel is in a renovated villa that used to house the Bourbon royal family. This evening we have a short transfer back into Slovenia for a special dinner overlooking the vineyards. We visit a local wine producer and enjoy some of best Slovenian wine, including Chardonnay, Merlot and the local varietal Rebula, accompanied by a home-cooked meal. Overnight at the elegant Hotel Entourage in Gorizia (Italy). Distance: 58 km, ascent: 359 m. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
After breakfast we offer a shuttle to the train station in Gorizia. From there you can get easy rail connections to cities like Venice (2 hours), or we can arrange to give you a lift back to Ljubljana. Breakfast included.
Qualifications: Activity Level is 4 out of 5. Rolling terrain with only occasional flat stretches. Frequent hills, some being up to 7 kms long. Twisty roads, so good bike handling skills are required. Daily activity is 4 to 5 hours Max distance up to 65 kms. Note: Slovenia features two strenuous mountain passes. If you ride your bike, they are challenging, if you hitch a ride in the van, they are a peice of cake! Either way, the scenery is gorgeous.
Trip Cost includes: 6 nights’ accommodations; 6 breakfasts and 6 dinners; at least one Slovenian speaking bilingual guide and a second guide; vehicle support; hybrid touring bike (road bikes available for a supplement); all luggage transfers; and guided visits as noted in the itinerary. All departures are accompanied by two guides.
Booking: e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a booking contract (or use the 'Contact Us' link at the top of this page), or click on the 'Book Now' button to the right.
Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of Trip Insurance. We recommend “Travel Guard” to our North American clients, just click on the logo below. Australian, New Zealander, and British travelers, please consult your insurance brokers.
Getting There: the trip starts in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Air: Adria Airlines has daily flights to Ljubljana from Munich, Frankfurt, Vienna, Amsterdam, Zurich and Brussels. There are also flights from Paris with Air France and from London Stansted with EasyJet. From the airport you can take a taxi ride to the center of Ljubljana (about €40), or a shuttle bus that takes about 45 minutes and costs €4.10 (tickets available on board). For more information, see the airport website here.
Rail and/or Bus: Slovenia is bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, so you can also come to Ljubljana via a neighboring country. Here are some sample travel times:
* Venice: there is a train but it is much easier by bus, which takes 4 hours and costs €25.
* Trieste: the bus from this Italian border town takes only 2 hours.
* From Salzburg (Austria) by train: 5 hours, €66
* From Vienna (Austria) by train: 6 – 8 hours, roughly €80
For more information on Italian buses see the DRD website.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends in Gorizia (Italy), just over the Slovenian border. It’s an easy 2.5 hour train ride to Venice, or you may take a shuttle back to Ljubljana.
For complete information on using the Italian train system, see our blog post.
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip, and of course you can e-mail us with any questions.
I am really glad that I trained for this trip because it was a challenging one. I definitely deserved the food and wine I had after each day of cycling. It was delicious, although I found that we had too much food at times and it was wasted. We had some new cyclists on the trip and I wished that their first cycling experience wasn't such a tough one. However, the camaraderie that resulted will be talked about for the rest of our lives. The guides were fantastic and attentive, the scenery was breathtaking and the history and culture were interesting. Joze's love of his country was infectious. Ljubljana was beautiful and unspoiled. I would recommend going there a few days early in order to really check it out. It was a terrific trip.
The scenery in Slovenia is second to none. It is a beautiful country with breath taking views throughout. However, great views also require a lot of climbing on a bicycle. And with two alpine climbs on this tour it requires that you do some kind of training before you come, if you are to enjoy the riding. Or you can just take the van up the major climbs. And our group of 17 received two vans from the company for support. The guides were phenomenal, but that again is not unusual as I've done several tours with this company, and will continue to do so. The food was excellent and the places chosen to eat on tour were remarkable. The beer was good and the wine was average. Then again Slovenian wine is not my cup of tea. Overall the tour was great and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. If I were to make any changes I would have liked to have visited and ate at an Italian winery rather than the Slovenian one while we swung into Italy.
Iâve taken multiple European bike trips over the years and the Slovenia trip of 2013 was one of my favorites. We started with 2-3 days of challenging biking then gradually dropped down from the mountains to end at the coast. The resulting diversity of terrain and landscape made the trip seem like several trips rolled into one. Of course, the food wine and beer were excellent. Prices were reasonable. Sloveniaâs capital, Ljubljana (I still canât pronounce it correctly), proved one of my favorite cities ---an extra day there is not enough. Claire and the local guide, Joze, were brilliant: always there to provide support, experts on the local culture and masters at the bringing the group together socially.
Claire & Joze were great guides! The history of this area is very interesting. The scenery was diverse...Swiss Alp like mountains and Tuscan like coast & vineyards. Lake Bled was gorgeous! This area seems to be somewhat undiscovered by tourists which was nice. The riding was challenging, but fun.