Lake Bled to the Adriatic Cycle TourPosted on April 20, 2014
I recently spent a few days in Slovenia, taking a closer look at our very popular Lake Bled to the Adriatic Cycle Tour. Time restraints meant I had to drive the route rather than cycle but it was still very enjoyable so here’s a brief account of the trip
I flew into Trieste rather than Ljubljana, which is the closer airport to Bled, but the minibus transfer still took less than 2 hours and cost a very reasonable 25 euros. It was late when I arrived so after checking into the very comfortable 4 star Golf Hotel in the centre of the village I went straight to bed.
The next morning I awoke to a stunning day and jaw-dropping scenery. Lake Bled is almost too idyllic for words and after a quick breakfast I grabbed my camera and followed the walking/cycling trail around the lake. Halfway around I detoured up one of the signposted trails to get a better vantage point. These trails are all quite steep but the resulting views more than compensate for the extra effort. Back on the lake-shore local ferrymen will be happy to row you out to the Island on a traditional Pletna Boat for a small fee, otherwise carry on to Bled Castle which sits on a bluff overlooking the lake and is well worth the climb.
I left Bled and drove up to the Pokljuka plateau. This is quite a climb and you’ll be relieved to hear that a transfer is included for all customers. There is then a long exhilarating freewheel down into the delightful Bohinj Valley. The route continues through sleepy alpine villages to Lake Bohinj and finally the pleasant alpine village of Ribcev Laz. Your second night will be spent at the 4 star Hotel Kristal, a comfortable family-run property which also offers a range of Ayurvedic and sports massages should you feel the need.
Day three includes the toughest climb of the trip so have a good breakfast and prepare for some exercise! Shortly after leaving Ribcev Laz the road starts to climb. Over the next 7 miles you will gain 2400 feet in altitude. Take your time and stop for a rest whenever the need arises. A transfer can be pre-booked for this section at a cost of 15 euros per person if necessary. At the top, a cooling freewheel through an alpine forest brings you to the tiny hamlet of Sorica located on a high plateau. Top tip – the bench beside the statue of the area’s most famous resident, artist Ivan Grohar, is an idyllic spot for a picnic. The rest of the day’s ride is an easy and enjoyable downhill glide to one of Slovenia’s oldest and charming medieval towns, Skofja Loka. You will stay in the pleasant Mini Hotel on the edge of the town. Be sure to visit the historical town centre for wonder round and perhaps a meal or drink in one of its atmospheric bars or restaurants.
Day four consists of a pleasant easy ride along a wide fertile valley to Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. You will spend the night in the modern and comfortable M Hotel which is a perfect base from which to explore this interesting city. In the evening I recommend heading for the vibrant riverside area in the city centre where you will find lots of restaurants bars and street cafes.
On day five you head south out of the city through a huge marshland area, popular with wildfowl. Most people stop at the impressive Vrhnika Gorge but severe winter storms have rendered it temporarily unsafe so I continued on through pleasant rolling countryside to Vrhnika. Your accommodation here is the pleasant 3 star Hotel Mantova and I highly recommend a visit to the attached Cafe Argos which offers a huge selection of the most delicious ice creams.
I couldn’t drive the day six route as its mostly on forest roads and paths but apparently it is a challenging day with many short but noticeable hills. The serenity of the Rakov Skocjan nature reserve compensates for this effort and you eventually arrive in Postojna where you will stay the night in the modern but comfortable Kras Hotel.
On day seven you can start the day with a visit to the nearby caves which are both extensive and impressive. I also recommend a short detour to striking Predjama Castle which seems to be growing out of a cave and has an interesting history. The day’s ride is highly enjoyable, leading you along quiet leafy lanes, past brooks and vineyards to a delightful Agriturismo property near Stanjel. Hear you can really unwind and taste some of the regions superb wines.
Day eight is a relatively easy day of riding through pleasant rolling countryside. One of the day’s highlights is a visit to the Lipizaner stud farm and training ranch near Lipica. You can pay for the full tour if you wish or just admire the horses grazing in extensive fields around the ranch. You spend the night in the family run Hotel Malovec in the small town of Divaca.
On day nine the Adriatic comes into view and you can if you wish make a short diversion to visit Trieste otherwise you follow the bike path along the Slovenian coastline to Ankaran where you will stay in the Vila Andor, a charming boutique hotel.
Your final day is a triumphant easy ride along the coast to Portoroz and then to Piran, a picture perfect medieval village with a bustling waterfront and delightful narrow alleyways to explore. You will stay right on the beautiful square in the pleasant Hotel Tartini. Make a point of visiting the rooftop terrace for one of the best views in Piran.
All in all this is a wonderful cycling holiday with ever changing scenery, culture and cuisine as you descend out of the Alps through river valleys and vineyards to the Adriatic.