“Slovenia was pretty and flat and in the late afternoon of a hot day in July, it was a very picturesque and pleasant place through which to cycle. Although linguistically (and probably culturally – I didn’t really have the chance to find out) much the same as Croatia, physically, the countryside was more like southern Germany and, I guess, Austria which was only 100km further north. All the fields had been freshly cut and large rolls of hay were strewn across the landscape like discarded Liquorice Allsorts made from Shredded Wheat. In the distance were the hills, carpeted by a continuous cover of dark green trees, which pushed this area to well over 700m above sea level. It was in total contrast to the coastal cycling that I had been experiencing for much of the previous week and it was blinking marvellous.”
That was back in the summer of 2013 as I made my way along the Mediterranean coastline from Greece to Portugal. It was the briefest of visits to Slovenia – just 30 km over the course of a few hours – but it was difficult not to be impressed. My route, across the south-western corner of the country, can be seen on the map below in blue:
So, all things considered, I didn’t get much of a chance to ‘experience’ the country in any meaningful way, but it sticks in my mind as a delightful few hours of cycling in the sun along a green and very pleasant valley. Perhaps, however, it’s time to return…
A few days ago I attended an online event organised by the Slovenian Tourist Board which introduced two cycling routes that may well be worth adding to the ‘to do’ list; the Julian Alps Bike Trail and the Drava Cycle Route. Two of the presenters on Zoom were actually streaming their talks live from the Slovenian wilderness…
…which was a clever way of showcasing the beautiful countryside. But to the cycling!
The Julian Alps Bike Trail
This is a new route, broken down into 8 stages of around 35 km each. It reaches 1,600 m at its highest point and there are campsites in all of the main stopover towns that form the loop.
I dare say the route is more mountain-bike friendly than touring-bike friendly although if you are bikepacking I’m sure you’d manage just fine. The Slovenian authorities seem keen to cater for all types of cycle tourists, as is clear from the following short video:
The Drava Cycling Route
This, I think, is a much more established route than the Julian Alps Trail although to my shame, I had never heard of the river that it follows never mind the route itself. The River Drava itself is a 700 km tributary of the Danube that has its source in Italy, crosses southern Austria, the north-eastern part of Slovenia and then heads off across Croatia. Around 150 km of its length is through Slovenia but I think you are able to follow the river for most of its length through the other countries as well. Here’s the Slovenian section:
Much more information can be found on the Drava Bike website. The beautiful images will come as no surprise; Slovenia’s location near Italy, Austria and the Adriatic Coast puts it firmly in a corner of Europe that drips with stunning vistas.
As I mentioned, my experiences of Slovenia are limited. It would be interesting to hear from anyone out there who has travelled a bit more extensively in the country than me. Is it really as perfect for cyclists as it seems?
You can find much more information about cycling in Slovenia on the dedicated cycling pages of the Slovenian Tourist Board’s website. There are plenty of options!
Header image: Slovenian Tourist Board / Tomo Jeseničnik