Cycling in Slovenia

Slovenia is a paradise for cyclists. Photo: UKOM archive


We can say, without exaggerating, that Slovenia is a paradise for cyclists. For those strenuous ones, who like to test the limitations of their abilities, and the others, who enjoy Sunday family trips on bicycles. Well, our cycling trails cannot compete the length or organization of others, for example those in the Netherlands. However, if you are searching various and picturesque landscape, undamaged nature or lonely villages, cycling in Slovenia is an ideal choice. Slovenia is a small country, and when it comes to cycling, that is a privilege; on a bicycle, you can easily ride the distances here and if you are one of those enthusiastic cyclists, you could suddenly find yourself on the other side of the country.

Where to Get Information?

It is not hard to get the information about cycling in Slovenia; you can certainly get it in any tourist information office. But to make the first contact, the Internet became almost indispensable. There are quite a few interesting and useful web pages, and one of the best is www.slovenia.info/en . There, a visitor can also find plenty of other useful information. We have found some interesting suggestions for cycling in Slovenia.

A Bicycling Village in the Forest – Pohorje

Photo: UKOM archive

The imposing fifty kilometres long silicate Pohorje massif is the last spur of the Central Alps before they sink into the hills and lowlands of the Pannonian Plain. Best known is its eastern part where Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia, developed at its foot. Slopes covered with vast forests rise from the lowlands like a green hat all the way to their rounded tops.

The Pohorje massif is extensively crisscrossed by forest roads and tracks that take cyclists into the tranquillity and freshness of the forests. The seven hundred meter climb from the foothills to the top of the massif is a good challenge even for the most enthusiastic cyclists, while those less prepared for such a climb can make the ascent into the heights more easily by gondola.

The centre of Pohorje bicycling  is located at the upper station of the gondola lift from Maribor. Here is - among others - the Martin Cycling Village with a pension, log cabins, and a campground. Renting and maintenance of bicycles is provided, guides are available, and, most important, an extensive network of trails across Pohorje begins here. Over 200 kilometres of trails have been marked, and the most enthusiastic cyclists can tackle the four kilometre long safeguarded recreation downhill trail.

Bicycle Trails in the Karst Park

Lipizzaner horses. Photo: Bogdan Kladnik

An extensive plateau spreads across the hinterland of the Bay of Trieste where numerous karst phenomena developed on the limestone bedrock and carried the name and the glory of Karst  (Kras) into the world.

The pleasant and undemanding riding on the slightly undulating plateau world can be varied with more difficult ascents to the peaks at the edge of the plateau. Due to the mild climate not far from the sea, cycling is possible in all seasons but is most beautiful in spring and autumn. This region will draw cyclists who desire a safe and diverse landscape away from busy roads and enjoy dirt roads and tracks along with asphalt roads.

With the support of the European Union's PHARE programme, an extensive network of bicycle trails  totalling a good 360 kilometres has been created. By combining trails, you can make trips of various lengths and degrees of difficulty, from short family trips to strenuous mountain bike trips.

You can ride to viewpoint peaks on the edge of the plateau, follow the line of an abandoned railroad from World War I, admire the Lipizzaner horses in Lipica, visit the oldest tourist cave in the world at Vilenica, explore remarkable blind valleys or the steep cliffs at the edge of the karst plateau, stroll through pleasant karst villages, or just enjoy the tranquil trails that run between long rocky walls. The railway links the trails, the starting points are furnished with information signs, and there are resting places at the most typical sites. The numbered trails are uniformly marked at junctions with metal signposts.

When to Go?

Bicycling is possible in all seasons in Slovenia as the mild coastal climate allows pleasant bicycling even in the winter months. In the alpine world, on the contrary, the most pleasant bicycling season is in mid summer when the coast and the plains are too hot. Most of Slovenia lies in the transitional climate area between submediterranean and temperate continental climate regions. Northeastern Slovenia lies in the continental part of the country where the temperatures for bicycling are most favourable between April in October.

Kozjansko on Bikes

Photo: UKOM archive

In eastern Slovenia, the Sotla River meandering slowly across the lowlands at the edge of the hilly world forms part of the border with neighbouring Croatia. Numerous small valleys indent the softly undulating winegrowing hills. The historical legacy of this former march region includes numerous castles, and below one of them, Podčetrtek Castle, the Terme Olimia Health and Holiday Resort developed beside a spring of medicinal thermal water. Numerous less travelled local roads lead through the hilly landscape, offering comfortable family cycling. We can also retreat from the little valleys on tracks to the crests of the winegrowing hills or to the cool of the forests on mountain bikes. Ten marked circular bicycle trails from five to twenty-eight kilometres in length lead from the spa. They are mostly intended for mountain bikers and there is a tourist map available. There is also a small guidebook available for road cyclists that outline longer cycling trips of up to forty kilometres into the wider area on unmarked routes. Some of the trails lead into neighbouring Croatia, because spa guests are allowed to cross the border on the local roads.