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Cycling in Slovenia is something that had never occurred to us. To be very honest with you, until a year ago, we even couldn’t point where Slovenia was on the map (we know, shame on us).

Bohinj lake which we visited during a cycle trip in Slovenia

Bohinj Lake, Slovenia

Cycling in Slovenia: Where the idea came from

Our relationship with Slovenia started in March 2017, when we attended ITB Berlin (International Travel Bureau), the largest tourism event in the world. The fair was incredibly big, with many floors, different stalls for each country, regional products, artistic shows and everything which was related to culture and/or tourism in general. The ITB is practically a tour around the world, but without leaving the German capital.

The Australian stand during ITB 2017, the event that introduced us to the idea of a cycling trip in Slovenia

A bit of the Australian stand during the ITB 2017

In the midst of such an event, one destination stood out: Slovenia. This one, which is one of the most recent European republics (it gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1997), was the main sponsor of ITB 2017. For this reason, the Wi-Fi password was “ifeelslovenia”, all the souvenirs carried their name and logo, the speeches mentioned the country and so forth. In short, everything reminded us – better still, introduced us – to Slovenia.

It was also in this event where we found out Slovenia was awarded “Europe’s most sustainable country” and that they promote adventure and sustainable tourism extensively, particularly cycle tourism.

I Feel Slovenia

In Parma a week before starting our cycling trip from Italy to Slovenia

In Parma, Italy, a week before starting our bike trip

Months after, when we were already living in Parma, Italy, we decided to organise an audacious adventure: our first long distance bike trip together.

We wanted to do a month of travel and had numerous possibilities of routes. That’s when we remembered Slovenia, the little country we had met during the Berlin event and which was just about 600 km (372 miles) away from Parma.

Before going, we got in touch with the I Feel Slovenia organization. They then connected us with a local association which promotes cycle tourism in the country, the Hiking & Biking Slovenia, which were very kind to put a whole itinerary for us based on the sort of bikes we had as well as our interests.

This bike trip from Italy to Slovenia became a video series for our YouTube channel and you can see it all in here! 

Our itinerary for cycling in Slovenia

  • Day 1: Arrive in Koper (we crossed the border with Italy from Trieste)
  • Day 2: Go to Skocjan Cave (35KM)
  • Day 3: Go to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle (30KM)
  • Day 4: Transfer to Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia (180KM). As it was a quite long distance, the Hiking & Biking offered us a transfer.
  • Day 5: Maribor
  • Day 6: Maribor
  • Day 7: Go to Ptuj, the cutest and oldest town in the country (26KM)
  • Day 8: Transfer to Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital (130KM). Once again, the Hiking & Biking arranged a transfer for us.
  • Day 9: Ljubljana
  • Day 10: Ljubljana
  • Day 11: Go to Kranj (30KM)
  • Day 12: Go to iconic Bled Lake(26KM)
  • Day 13: Go to the surprising Bohinj Lake (30KM)
  • Day 14: Bohinj
  • Day 15: Go to Kobarid, where the Soca River Valley begins (75km)
  • Day 16: Kobarid
  • Day 17: Kobarid
  • Day 18: Go to Brda, the Tuscany of Slovenia (50KM)
  • Day 19: Brda
  • Day 20: Brda
  • Day 21: Go back to Italy going through the walled city of Palmanova (26KM), from where we took our train back to Parma!

Cycling in Slovenia: the country’s infrastructure for cycle tourism

Cycling in Slovenia and visiting the capital Ljubljana

Tiago in Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital

We entered Slovenia after two weeks cycling through Italy. Up to there, our experience was being amazing, as Italy has a great infrastructure for cyclists, such as many cycleways, all very well signalled and well educated drivers towards cyclists. However, Slovenia surprised us so much that it made Italy look like they were not prepared for this type of activity.

Why do we say that?

Not only well signalled and cycleways scattered around the country, but almost every car in Slovenia gave priority to bicycles. Much more than in Italy. We felt really secure cycling through even the motorways, amongst cars.

Nevertheless, it is important to say that we wouldn’t have been able to follow the route if wasn’t for an offline map app we had. We used the app and it really saved us every now and again – fair to say not the first time though. That means, not all the ways are well signposted. Therefore, if you are doing a long distance bike travel around Slovenia, keep paying attention and if not sure about the way, ask the locals. The Slovenians are really kind and everyone seemed to know all the routes suitable for bikes.

Nature in Slovenia

Aerial view of he Soca River in the region of Kobarid which we visited during a cycling trip in Slovenia

Aerial view of he Soca River in the region of Kobarid

More than half Slovenia is covered by forest and its nature is breathtaking. A bike trip is normally slower, thus allowing you to observe and absorb more of the environment around you, let alone exploring places out of the route too. We went into every corner we could with the bikes and discovered wonderful hidden places!

Is it easy to travel by bike in Slovenia?

The negative side of cycle tourism in Slovenia, at least for newbies such as we are, is that the country is very hilly and the way, most of the times, can be hectic. Slovenia has so many “ups and downs” that in the end, we were not enjoying any downhill anymore as the first thought was always “dam, it’s coming an uphill”!

The way and the views were incredible though, and it really made up for all the efforts. But there were moments in which Fernanda thought she wouldn’t make as the way was quite exhausting.

Slovenian hospitality

With a kind Slovenian friend, the owner of a coffee shop we went to, who didn't let us y for o breakfast

With a kind Slovenian friend, the owner of a coffee shop we went to, who didn’t let us pay for our breakfast

Another highlight of a bike trip is that it allows you to interact with locals. Many people saw us coming with our bikes full of stuff and out of curiosity came to talk to us, asking where we were going or coming from. It always ended up with a nice conversation.

We found the Slovenians really friendly and hospitable. During our trip through the country, we met many people and were given many things, such as fruits from a lady when we had a break in one of the villages; a couple of coffee from the coffee shop owner; a family invited us to put our tent in their garden and even a hotel didn’t allow us to pay for our one night staying one time. The gestures of affection from the Slovenians were such that we left completely holding high regard of them and the local hospitality.

Do you have to be an expert to make a long distance bike trip through Slovenia?

Aerial view of Slovenia's countryside

Slovenia’s beautiful countryside

Very short answer: Nope! As we said, it was the first time for Fe in a travel of this kind. In addition, our bikes were not professional, were heavily loaded and we still managed to make the whole itinerary.

We travelled on our own pace, not going on a rush. But we were also testing our limits whenever possible, obviously always respecting our limitations too. It was a formidable experience and we liked so much that we are already planning our next for next year! The cyclotourism is a beautiful, enjoyable and fun way to know more about your destination. We should definitely talk more about it.

How about you? Have you ever thought of making a long distance bike trip? Better still, have you ever done one? Share your story with us in the comments below. We would love to hear it.