A few weeks ago, shortly after attending an online seminar on the subject, I posted an article about cycling in Slovenia. It was kind of the ‘official’ version and you can read it by following this link. My experience of cycling in Slovenia, as I set out in that post, is very limited; just a few hours back in 2013 as I cycled from Croatia in the direction of Trieste in Italy. Even after such a short visit, however, I was impressed and the seminar made it clear that there was much, much more to see in this, one of Europe’s smallest countries.
A few days later a Slovenian cyclist called Miha Pavšič emailed with an ‘insider’s view’ of cycling in Slovenia. He also sent some stunning photographs and you can read what he said and see his images in this post:
All good things come in threes and clearly cycling in Slovenia is no exception as Robin Watkins has now been in touch. He visited Slovenia in September 2017 and below are his thoughts on travelling through the country and, again, some beautiful photographs. Over to you Robin:
“We visited Slovenia for a two-week cycle tour in September 2017. We had terrible luck with the weather – rain most days – and so couldn’t ride everywhere we wanted to, but we still had the chance to cross mountain passes, explore wonderful countryside, drink local wine and even take short trips into Italy and Austria (we never get tired of crossing borders).
“In the Julian Alps we cycled over the Vrsic Pass, climbing 800m from Kranjska Gora up the switchbacks of the mountain road. The pass was built by Russian prisoners of war and on the way up we passed a small chapel commemorating them. After a fun descent involving 26 hairpin bends we stopped for lunch overlooking Mount Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia which also features on the national flag. In the afternoon we continued downhill through the Soca valley, mostly riding alongside the river Soca which is a spectacular blue-green emerald colour. We finished the day in Kobarid, a popular town for watersports, but rather than hire a canoe we decided to go to the pub instead.
“The next day we continued following the Soca valley, dodging showers through well-timed coffee stops and by sheltering under petrol station awnings, before a steep climb up to Goriška Brda – also known as Slovenia’s Tuscany. This small wine producing region in the west of the country is home to dozens of wineries and we spent the night at one of them, watching the sun set over the vineyards with a bottle of crisp white wine.
“At the end of the trip we headed north to the Upper Savinja valley, close to the border with Austria. This area is less well known to foreign tourists but is just as spectacular as the main tourist sights such as Lake Bled (in my opinion it’s even more beautiful). We left our heavy panniers at our accommodation in Solcava before heading up the Solcava Panoramic Road. The paved trail overlooks surrounding mountains and valleys and it’s worth dedicating an afternoon to it as each view is more stunning than the last. My favourite was of Logarska Dolina (the Logar Valley), which we visited after descending from the Panoramic Road. A 7km tarmacked road runs through the valley taking you to the Rinka falls, a short hike from the car park at the end of the road. At 105m it is the second highest waterfall in Slovenia and the source of the Savinja river which eventually merges with Sava river and joins the Danube in Belgrade. Experiencing the falls was a great way to end a day’s riding and in failing light we rode back to our accommodation for a dinner of fried fish with potatoes and more Slovenian wine.
“Overall, we didn’t experience much dedicated cycling infrastructure, and what we did find was sometimes impassable due to the rain, but we generally found the roads quiet and the drivers accommodating. Although there’s not a dense railway network, we took our bikes on the train a few times without any difficulty which saved us riding some busier sections. Accommodation is plentiful and we never booked anything in advance other than in Ljubljana where we stayed on two different occasions in order to avoid the rain.
“Once international travel can resume I’d wholeheartedly recommend Slovenia as a place to visit for cycle touring. There aren’t many other countries where you can cross a mountain pass in the morning then check in to your flight a couple of hours later.”
You can find out more about Robin’s trip to Slovenia (and elsewhere) on his Crazy Guy on a Bike blog.