PRECIOUS PLACES: Slovenia’s sensational cycling trails
Slovenians love sports. So much so that today marks a new holiday in the tiny central European country – National Sports Day. One of the most popular endeavours amongst Slovenians is cycling, which reflects both ideal conditions for the healthy activity, but also a fanaticism for the sport, which is at a high point thanks to national hero Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner of the Tour de France since 1904 this year.
But you don’t have to follow Pogacar to appreciate Slovenia’s sensational cycling opportunities. With a roughly 50-50 urban/rural ration, nature is just around the corner for most people, and the country boasts some of the most beautiful biking in world, which, combined with a pleasant climate, attract cyclists – both locals and visitors – year-round.
With a “Europe in your pocket” vibe, everything is relatively close in Slovenia and distances between different regions are easily overcome.
There is also a great diversity of experiences suiting anyone from beginner to expert, plus individuals, groups and families.
For adventure enthusiasts, the Julian Alps with Kranjska Gora and Soča Valley, or Koroška region in the Northeast, are some of the most breathtaking cycling destinations, while Rogla and Mariborsko Zreško Pohorje are a paradise for all-road cyclers.
The Trans Slovenia Trail is the most popular among mountain bikers (MTB), while adrenaline lovers can visit a variety of MTB parks – one of the most popular being in forested Kočevje.
There are also plenty more leisurely opportunities to discover Slovenian cities – like the capital Ljubljana – or riding in the wine region for a traditional Slovenian wine and culinary experience.
Here are eight great trails to consider:
Parenzana: Experience Slovenia’s sliver of sea coast by biking along the Parenzana, a biking trail running along the former railway line between Trieste and Poreč. Stops include several picturesque Slovenian coastal towns – the sunny Koper, the fishing town Izola, and romantic Piran. Take a breather in the landscape parks Škocjan Inlet and Sečovlje Saltworks and discover the hinterland of Istria and its local delicacies.
Slovenian Bicycle Touring Trail: For those who relish a bicycle touring challenge, the trail crosses the country’s major mountain groups over 1,800 km. with a total of 50,000 m. of altitude difference. Along the way, cyclists will learn about a number of events from mountaineering, ethnographic and technical history. The path runs past a total of 109 check points and boasts numerous mountain lodges for overnights.
Drava Biking Trail: The Slovenian part of this trail winds from Koroška past Maribor and the oldest Slovenian city, Ptuj, to Ormož. Along the way, there are the castles of the Drava Valley and ancient Roman sites. In Maribor, the Old Vine House shelters a 450-year-old vine, said to be the oldest in the world.
Trans Karawanks: The Karawanks are the longest mountain range in Slovenia and this trail runs across the 120-km-long massif providing exceptional views, peace and quiet, and the chance to get in touch with nature. Mountain and forest trails and dirt roads are perfect for mountain bikers, the stretch from Dravograd to the tri-border above Rateče offers a unique biking experience.
Trans Slovenia 1: The Trans Slovenia 01 mountain biking trail connects three countries – Slovenia, Italy and Austria. The trail travels from the Julian Alps through the picturesque Soča Valley to the green hills of the Brda region, and then through the Vipava Valley and across the mysterious Karst to the coast.
Pohorje Cycling Transversal: A ride between Maribor and Slovenj Gradec covers forest paths and dirt roads through beautiful countryside, and through/past raised bogs and glades, river rapids and other natural wonders.
Via Bela Krajina: The diverse countryside of Bela Krajina offers numerous opportunities for family biking or for those who like to test themselves on more demanding trails. The biking trail across Bela Krajina crosses wine-growing hills all the way to the the river Kolpa.
Goricko Nature Park: Thematic trails run through hills and plains, forests and vineyards in the park. The biking trail from Mojstrana to Rateče follows the Upper Sava Valley under Alpine peaks past Kranjska Gora, or ride along the river Soča on the Solkan Biking Trail.
For a taste of Slovenia’s precious cycling trails, check out this VIDEO.
First published at Travel Industry Today