We loved Slovenia, a little green gem on the edge of Western Europe that felt more civilised and developed than some of its larger neighbours; the people super friendly and the cycling is great, (aside from a few cycle path niggles). It’s also worth noting that if you’re not a heavy mileage cyclist the obvious stopping points all seem to be about 70/80km from each other, making for leisurely, (or frustrating if your Phil and want to go further) days on the bike. We met lots of other cycle tourists in Slovenia including Canadian’s Iram and Maureen who we met up with at a few other campsites along the way to Budapest. We also met loads of cycle tourists in Ljubljana’s campsite and a Frenchman cycling from Budapest.
Length of stay:
410km (daily av. 82km), 8 days (5 cycling, 3 rest), 8th – 16th August
Road 401 west of Zaga (entry point) → Bovec → Vrsic Pass (1611m) → Lake Bled → Ljubljana → Prebold → Ptuj → Lendava (exit point)
Ljubljana. What can we say, it just lures you in. The best thing to do in Ljub is nothing – just sit back and enjoy the food, (one of the best meals of the trip so far… a bloody great meat feast, including local horse… how you like me now horse!) and drinking with friends.
The shops are good, everyone speaks English and the town is pretty, with graffiti covered walls even looking like part of the artwork. There is a campsite, (the only campsite) within an easy bike ride or bus journey of the centre, (the campsite is not brilliant and can get a little crowded but it does have the advantage of attracting cycle tourists… we met a lot here).
Cycling the Julian Alps. The road follows the Soca River along the valley before climbing up to Vrsic Pass (1611m) reaching some gradients of 16%, pretty steep for a fully loaded cycle. After torrential rain, you can expect mudslides onto the road; they were still cleaning up on our way up. On the north side, a little warning about the cobbled hairpin bends, they definitely slow you down. The descent finishes in Kranjska Gora, a cute but strangely wanky ski town.
Ptuj Thermal Park. A giant water park with slides, saunas and thermal pools with a campsite next door. Good fun for a touristy change, but quite pricey at €17 each, (camping and entry to the park).
Everyone speaks English. Most young people and people in Ljubljana anyway – makes communication a little easier… but as with any country it’s worth learning at least a little of the local.
Our first crash in Skofja Loka. This is the first example of a town forcing cyclists onto the footpaths with pedestrians. Until now we never go on cycle paths unless it’s better than the road. However, the drivers don’t like this in Slovenia and on this occasion a driver beeped loudly, startling me and causing me to brake and Phil to run into me. I came out with grazed knees and Phil with a slightly untrue wheel, (which was a simple fix).
Coffee. Probably doesn’t help that it’s next to Italy, (so the bar was quite high) but the coffee is pretty bad – although if you hunt in the bigger supermarkets you can find some stuff that’s not horror.
Signposting. Not great, sometimes they only signpost the next town (that might not be on your map), sometimes they only signpost the ultimate destination and they often don’t tell you distances.
Beer. Not great… not piss water but nothing to write home about.
The roads are good in the west and we never had a problem with cars passing us. When you get further east, they become more obsessed with getting bikes off the road by posting “no cycling” signs everywhere, and getting you onto the footpaths with the pedestrians. The pedestrians don’t seem to mind but the path conditions can become a bit dire i.e. up and down the dropped kerbs for driveways.
There is a great path running from Kranjska Gora to Mojstrana but it comes to an end and spits you out onto a mountain bike path to Jesenice, they do appear to be constructing the rest of it now.
Whatever you do don’t even think about cycling on the roads in Ljub, there are cycle paths everywhere and they are very efficient, much like Amsterdam. Sometimes the footpath is rubbish but just deal with it like the locals do.
To get into Ljub from the west, there is a route that runs from near Medvode to the centre, it runs more or less parallel to the main road a few hundred meters to the right, you can pick it up to Medno.
If you’re going up hills, although they might be short, they like to make them steep (up to 16%), so be prepared for some high gradients that might not be on your map!
Food & Drink:
Supermarkets are full of the usual things, but fruit and veg not as good as Italy and France. Bakeries are hard to find.
Lasko and union beers are not great, but we did have a great beer from a microbrewery at a restaurant in Ljubljana.