Your starting point is Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city. The town is located on the banks of the Drava River and is home to one of the country’s few town castles. The castle houses the only Slovene fashion museum, which has an excellent collection of costumes and uniforms, the most prestigious being a military uniform worn by Tito.
Day 2: MARIBOR – PTUJ (29 km). **** spa hotel.
Your route follows the Drava River as it meanders its way south-east across the vineyards and orchards of the Drava Plain and passes through the oldest settlement in Slovenia, Ptuj, with 2000 years of history and an incredibly well preserved castle dating as far back as 69 AD. Visit the Ptuj Wine Cellar, which has its own shop and tasting room, and try the Traminec white wine.
Day 3: PTUJ – JERUZALEM (50 km). **** mansion, set among the vineyards.
Today your route takes you across the eastern plains that lead through tiny villages and picturesque landscape. In the scenic village of Ormož, tucked comfortably at the foot of the Slovenske Gorice Hills, you can visit the wine cellars for lunch and taste the white wines that are predominant in the region. From here you cycle northwards along the famous Ormož to Ljutomer wine road, through a myriad of terraced vineyards where the sound of the Klopotec, wooden wind rattles, will fill the air.
Day 4: JERUZALEM – MORAVSKE TOPLICE (44 km, 52 km with a side trip). Superb ***** spa hotel with outside and inside pools.
In the morning you continue along the wine road; on a clear day you can see as far as Hungary. There is a never-ending choice of wine cellars between here and Ljutomer offering some of the best white wines in the region; although you might not want to stop at too many in case you start cycling around in circles bleary-eyed. Visit the floating mill of Veržej before crossing the Mura River into the most eastern region of Slovenia: Prekmurje.
Day 5: MORAVSKE TOPLICE (rest day or round trip of 25 km or 50 km). Superb ***** spa hotel with outside and inside pools.
You can take the day off and immerse yourself in the healing powers of the thermal spa that Moravske Toplice is most famous for. Or you can take a short cycling trip out to the theraputic Bukovnica Lake, said to have bio-energetic healing effects! Along the way you’ll see many L-shaped farmhouses and beautiful white storks nesting on the rooftops. Enjoy a coffee in the Slovene-Hungarian border town of Lendava and try the local specialty cake, gibanica.
Day 6: MORAVSKE TOPLICE – VITOMARCI (41 km). ** family farmhouse.
As you head back westward you can stop at the lovely Renaissance castle in Murska Sobota, which houses a regional museum with an interesting exhibition devoted to the culture and traditions of the Prekmurje region. Then cross the River Mura on an old-fashioned float before cycling across low green hills to a little village nestled amid the lovely Slovenske Gorice Hills.
Day 7: VITOMARCI – MARIBOR (36 km). **** city hotel.
For your final day you can take a leisurely ride through quaint rural villages and farms. Soon you will join the Malečnik wine road that leads back into Maribor. Although this is predominantly white wine territory, there are a couple of very good reds. Stop in the quiet little village of Vodole, where you can have lunch in one of the tourist farms serving up grilled blood sausages with sauerkraut.
Day 8: DEPARTURE FROM MARIBOR.
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