Day 1: Arrival to Ljubljana. Main attractions: Slovene capital, old town center, and lovely “fin de siecle” mansions. Mighty fortress above the city. We liked: relaxing with a drink on the bank of Ljubljanica river. Evening walk, enjoying lights and sounds of the city. Accommodation in 3* hotel.
Day 2: Ljubljana- Vrhnika (40 km; 58 km with a detour). A nice easy first day across the historic and richly diverse plains surrounding the capital. Accommodation in 3* hotel. As the morning sun begins to rise high in the sky, you will be cycling across an immense 160-square kilometer marshy plain. The Ljubljansko Barje was once a great lake until it dried up 6000 years ago, leaving behind an incredibly diverse landscape that is now home to some of Europe’s rarest forms of bird, plant and insect life.
Along the way you can take a short walk into the picturesque Iški Vintgar gorge nature reserve, carved deep into a stunning limestone dolomite plateau, and visit the remnants of the world’s highest railway viaduct in Borovnica. Just before arriving in Vrhnika, you can visit the Technical Museum of the Republic of Slovenia housed in Bistra Castle, where you’ll find a great hunting collection and an interesting exhibition of Tito’s cars.
Day 3: Vrhnika – Postojna (34 km (44 with a detour)). Hilly day, side roads. A slightly more demanding day over gentle hills, forest roads and a typical Carst polje (field). Accommodation in 4* hotel. On this day the roads will take you away from the main tourist routes and off the beaten track. You will experience the real Slovenian countryside as you cycle past the beautiful Slivnica Mountain and the magical disappearing lake of Planina, and marvel at the wonders of this vast world of limestone. You can stop for a picnic lunch in the Rakov Škocjan nature reserve, where the Rak River has carved out a stunning gorge containing some of nature’s most incredible landscape formations, including two natural bridges.
Day 4: Postonja – Stanjel (45 km; 55 km with a detour). Easy routes, one long descend some hills afterward. Accommodation in 2* country inn. So far nearly 30 million tourists have visited this stunningly beautiful underground Postojna cave formation, carved deep into the heart of the limestone hills. This is the most extensive cave system in Slovenia, covering a total of 21 kilometers. The 1½ hour tour will take you through a fairytale world full of large and colorful stalactites and stalagmites, not forgetting the unique “human fish”, a mysterious creature that lives in dark pools inside the caves.
You can also take a short detour to the impenetrable fortress of Predjama castle, wedged tight into a crevasse halfway up a 123-meter cliff-face protruding dramatically into the surrounding basin. Here lived a vivacious and daring knight. Erasmus kept a whole army at bay by utilizing the secret of the Predjama Caves to sneak out for supplies, which included freshly picked cherries which he used to throw at his adversaries to taunt them. Take the tour and learn how Erasmus met his untimely demise in less than poetic circumstances, as he was literally caught with his pants down.
Day 5: Stanjel round trip (30 km). Choose from a day of no cycling, or a short trip to neighboring villages. Spend the day in a typical Carst village Štanjel in the heart of vineyard country, where you will see a museum of well-kept traditional houses built entirely from the surrounding limestone. The nearby region was once host to the WWI Battle of Isonzo; visit the many touching monuments here. You will also visit a local artist and painter. Try the food in the local hotel: delicious Carst ham (pršut) and tasty wine from one of the many nearby domestic cellars. Enjoy the great vistas from Štanjel village, a nice picnic area in a special garden, and a visit to the lovely Štanjel Castle.
Day 6: Stanjel – Lipica – Divaca (47 km). Mostly flat with just one long, but steady uphill climb. Accommodation in 3* hotel. First stop is at the lovely botanical garden in Sežana, then it’s on to the stud farm of Lipica, where you can visit these beautiful thoroughbred Lipizaner horses whose glistening white coats and gentle, graceful dancing have earned them a worldwide reputation. The history of the Lipica horses is closely linked to the Vienna riding school. Take a tour in a traditional carriage, watch them perform and visit them close up in their stables. This will be a day to remember. If you have the time for a couple of side-trips, you can also visit the unusual but very interesting “War Museum” set in the village tower of Lokev, and the breathtaking Škocjan Caves; not as large as Postojna but equally, if not more fascinating.
Day 7: Divaca – Lipica – Trieste – Koper (60 km). Long downhill ride from the high Carst plateau to Trieste. Accommodation in 3* hotel. There are two optional trips:
- Tour A. Route through Slovenia – 60 km, descend into the valley of Hrastovlje, where a known church featuring an interesting “death dance” fresco can be visited. This variant goes through quiet countryside.
- Tour B. Route through Italy (55 km) and the lively port of Trieste. Long downhill ride from the high Carst plateau to Trieste. Accommodation in 3* hotel.
If you skiped Postojna caves – this morning you can visit Škocjan Caves – no less interesting but way less frequented Karst Caves – even listed as UNESCO natural monument! For your last day you take a slight diversion into the Italian town of Trieste - once an important port with its worldly flair and wonderful atmosphere. Visit the castle, cathedral and Piazza Unita central square. Trieste was once part of Slovenia whilst under the rule of the Austrian monarchy.
Relax with a cappuccino in the many old-fashioned cafes. The tour ends at Slovenia’s port town, Koper, the largest ‘island’ town on the Slovenian Adriatic coast, and, time-permitting, you can cycle along the coastal path and visit the gorgeous Venetian architecture in the little harbor village of Piran. Alternatively you can skip Trieste altogether and spend all your time on this small, but beautiful and diverse strip of Slovenian coast. Long downhill from Carst high plateau to Koper.
Day 8: Departure from Koper.
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