Bikepacking Slovenia: The West Loop

  • Distance

    266 Mi.

    (428 KM)
  • Days

    7

  • % Unpaved

    70%

  • % Singletrack

    5%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    6

  • % Rideable (time)

    99%

  • Total Ascent

    32,135'

    (9,795 M)
  • High Point

    5,878'

    (1,792 M)

Contributed By

Joe Cruz - Pedaling in Place

Joe Cruz

Pedaling in Place
Slovenia—east of Italy’s Dolomites, south of Austria and sharing borders with Croatia and Hungary—has everything an intrepid cycle tourist could want. This loop includes remote dirt roads through rolling hills, picturesque towns, steep climbs, and bits of single track to keep you grinning. It’s a great introduction to this wonderful country.
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Slovenia is a small country with immense adventure potential. This mixed terrain loop in the western half has it all: rugged jeep roads, alpine ridge and meadow singletrack, abundant WWI history, castles, long rolling dirt sections through vineyards and orchards, cobbled switchback climbs, quaint villages, and a terrific European capital city. There are sections on the Austrian border and a more substantial foray into Italy. Asphalt roads link it all together, but these are invariably beautiful and pleasant. Make no mistake, this is a route for a capable mountain bike with a bikepacking setup. Touring Slovenia this way opens up an incredible backcountry and a fascinating landscape latticed with remote tracks.

Special thanks to Marko Šajn for help with planning the later sections of the route.

  • Highlights

  • Must Know

  • Camping

  • Food/H2O

    💧

  • Ljubljana—the capital of Slovenia and starting point for the route—is pleasant and charming, well worth spending a day or more in.
  • Lake Bled is a jewel of the region.
  • Ride through Triglav National Park, in the shadow of Mt. Triglav, the highest peak in the Julian Alps.
  • Go over Vršič Pass on the fascinating old WWI road, with the remains of bunkers, tunnels, and gun emplacements all around.
  • Turquoise water swimming holes.
  • The descent off of Mt. Stol (starting at mile 123 / kilometer 197) is one of the great gravel descents anywhere. The ascent that got you there, through a tunnel of trees, is also notable.
  • Unmistakable rhythms of Italy near the border, and food and wine to match. The time spent in Italy itself is tantalizing and wonderful.
  • Amazing limestone caves at Rakova kotlina pri Rakeku (mile 233 / kilometer 375).
  • This is a bikepacking route; a traditional touring bike will sometimes be overwhelmed.
  • A perfect landscape and track for a couple or a group with riders of different experience levels or fitness for bikepacking. Can upscale it by staying in a few hostels instead of camping, or can make it harder by covering more distance. Everyone will be happy.
  • Most Slovenians speak excellent English. Adventure sports are very popular, and you will receive advice, encouragement, and help wherever you go.
  • Larger towns in Slovenia and Italy have well stocked bike shops.
  • Wild camping is officially illegal in Slovenia. In practice, we had no trouble finding discreet places to pitch our tents every night of our tour. In fact, locals often encouraged us to do so. Little used dirt and farm roads are abundant. Please #leavenotrace.
  • Food is readily available throughout the tour in small and large towns. We usually carried no more than a few meals. For our nights in Italy, we ate dinner in town by getting takeout and eating in the center square. We would then bike a half hour out of town to find camping.
  • There are abundant water sources on the route. We were usually able to fill our bottles at a public fountain in the villages we passed through. We carried two bottles each and this was sufficient, even in the heat of summer.

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on BIKEPACKING.com, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. BIKEPACKING.com LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

  • mikeetheviking

    Man this looks freakin’ great! Loving the ancient architecture and the greenery!

  • DavidHine

    Sold

  • http://www.fueledbyporridge.tumblr.com Mario Angst

    This looks amazing. I have spent a couple of days mountainbiking in Slovenia on a cross-alps trip and after Switzerland and Austria, Slovenia felt like a voyage to the Alps in the 1970s. Great! Besides, Ljubljana is one of the most vibrating, young and enchanting cities in Europe I have yet been to. Thanks a lot for putting this together and great to see more European routes. On another note, congrats on the great redesign and rebranding of the page.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ bikepacking.com (Logan)

    Thanks for the encouraging words, Mario! I’m definitely excited to learn about great routes from this part of the world, and hope to get there to ride them, soon…

  • Daniel

    so… is there an east loop too…? :-)

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ bikepacking.com (Logan)

    Not yet… that I know of; seemed like a good name though. Somebody needs to create an East Loop to match!

  • Joe Cruz

    Thanks, Mario. For sure I had an incredible time in Slovenia and I look forward to going back for more exploration.

  • markosajn

    Actually a 1800km long loop is in the making… it will cover roughly 55.000m of altitude and a big part of Slovenia. The routes have mostly all been checked out, the only thing that remains now is to get some of the land owners approval, since mountain biking in Slovenia is illegal(long story that would cause a lot of facepalms if I would go into it). And that’s also slowly but successfully happening, so hopefully this will be legal soon!

    Some info: http://www.pzs.si/novice.php?pid=10006

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Interesting. Thanks for the insight!

  • http://www.packgofind.com Erkki Punttila

    Thank you for a great inspiring website with interesting routes and great info! I spent last week in Slovenia and took a variation of this route modified slightly to suit a cross bike better. Here is my trip report: http://www.packgofind.com/slovenia

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Cool, thanks for sharing!

  • Joe Cruz

    Erik, I’m so glad that you took this route! Your photos and narrative are wonderful, and bring me back to beautiful Slovenia. I hope we cross paths some time. —Joe

  • http://www.packgofind.com Erkki Punttila

    Thanks! It was truly a great route with spectacular scenery. Currently planning to do a couple of similar routes in Europe next summer.

  • Alan Parsons

    Great work guys, would love to come over to slovenia to ride this, be great to meet up with Klemen as well.

  • Graham Plant

    I’m going to Slovenia for the second time this year on a mountaineering trip! After reading this there may be a second trip being planned for this year to explore this beautiful country by bike.

  • Depestel Christ

    Looks great .Thx for sharing.

  • http://www.spokwerks.com/ wunnspeed

    So, an American, a Welshman living in Italy and a Brit with an Italian name meet in Slovenia… sounds like a joke eh? Well, we attempted the West loop in late March and found out that it’s a bit too early. We came up with a “winter version” that we can share, if anyone wants it. Unfortunately, on the next to last day, one of our trio ended up with food poisoning and we had to take the train back to Ljubiana. That was.. er, interesting as the lady at the train stationed seemed to only know the word… “No!” when we asked about bikes on the train. In the end, we got on, paid for the bikes on the train and all was good. Aside from the train lady, people were amazingly friendly, food, coffee, schnapps, etc. were all great and shockingly inexpensive compared to Switzerland where I live. Luckily, I get to go back at the end of May. Woohoo!

  • Chuck Kuykendall

    Great photos! What kind of camera setup did you use?

  • Joe Cruz

    Hi Chuck—I think I was shooting on my Panasonic G7 with a pany 25 prime lens and an Olympus 9-14 wide angle.

    Joe

  • Clément

    Hi Joe, Hi Logan,
    Thanks for sharing this great route!

    Antoine and I have done this tour, two weeks ago, on the other way around, starting from Postojna.
    We had an amasing time meeting friendly slovenians, swiming and fishing in this cold turquoise water and enjoying calamar, cevapcici on the way :)
    Mount Stol and Vršič Pass were challenging, but so rewarding on the top.

    From an advise of locals, we have made a change on the route. At Nova Gorica, we did not cross the italian border, instead we have followed the river Soca all the way up to Tolmin. There is a very nice bike path all along the river Soca. We went back on your track trough Kobarid road.

    Cheers
    Clement

  • Jack

    Hi Joe, this route looks great, many thanks. We are a group of about 8 from South Africa, planning to go last week of June. We are planning to go very light and stay in Airbnb type accommodation along the way. Rough plan is as follows:-

    1 Ljubljana to Lake Blad 68ks 2064m
    2 Lake Blad to Kranjska 59ks 3140m
    3 Kranjska to Bovec 51ks 2041m
    4 Bovec to Robidisce 49ks 2473m
    5 Robidisce to Gorizia 68ks 1756m
    6 Gorizia to Postojna 69ks 2156m
    7 Postojna to Ljubljana 64ks 1386m
    Any advice or tips
    Jack

  • gonebybike

    @disqus_rJ9iGEvkVx:disqus Do you think this route be doable creditcard style? I see there are many hostels/hiking huts in Slovenia?

  • Marc Hardeman

    Hi Clement,

    I’m thinking about doing this route in April next year and I was hoping to include 1-2 days of fishing too. I am very interested which part of the river you fished and where you got permits. Maybe we can share some info via Facebook?

    Kind regards,

    Marc Hardeman (add me!)

  • Bianca Bilt

    Hello! Very nice route! I would like to do it too on July 2017, but I will come by car in Ljubljana and I have a little problem…do you know where I can park my car without leave a lot of money? How did you get there, by car or by train, or did you cycle to Ljubljana?

  • http://adventures-in-bikepacking.tumblr.com/ Emma

    Hi Joe,

    We did our first multi-day bikepacking trip (part of the Camino North Route) in 2015 and were looking for something a bit more challenging for 2016. When I found your Slovenia route on the bikepacking site we decided to go for it and I’m really glad we did! I thought it might be useful for people thinking about doing this trip to add a few of our experiences here too to add to yours.

    We went with 2 friends of ours in July 2016 and finished the route in 12 days with a couple of breaks along the way. One of our group didn’t want to camp so we ended up planning the entire trip estimating how far we might go each day + accumulative ascent and booked all of our accommodation ahead of time.

    We had a really amazing time. The people are so friendly and the food was delicious. Cycling with all our kit was quite a challenge on some days due to the heat (we measured over 40degrees on one day!) but it was definitely worth it. I can’t put into words quite how breathtaking Vrsic Pass and Trenta Valley is. Its definitely worth a freezing cold dip in the beautiful Soca river too!

    If you fancied a bit of treat and have time for a day’s relax along the way I would highly recommended the Kekec Homestead in Trenta Valley. Stunning location, homemade delicious food and wine from the owners vineyard. Its a replica of a famous Slovenian film called Kekec.

    One other thing I would mention which I haven’t seen anyone else talk about on here is the possibility of meeting a Bear on the route. Apparently this is very rare unless you disturb a mother and her cub but does happen and it actually happened to us high up the track between Godz Martuliek and Kransjka Gora, close to the Austrian border. After talking to quite a few locals it seems we were very lucky to see one! (or if you don’t want to see one, like me – unlucky!)

    Also, probably due to the time of year we went, part of the route just outside Skofia Loka was very overgrown with no visible path. We ended up going a far longer way round on the road to avoid this. This was the only part of the route we didn’t manage to do.

    Check out my blog if you want to see a day by day photo diary of the trip. Each day also documents locations, distances and accumulative ascents: http://adventures-in-bikepacking.tumblr.com/tagged/slovenia/chrono

    Hope this is helpful for anyone else thinking about doing this trip.

    Emma

  • http://adventures-in-bikepacking.tumblr.com/ Emma

    Hi Bianca,
    We stayed in a hostel in Ljubjana for the first night and they let us park our car in their secure car park for our entire trip. It cost us a pack of beers!

  • Chris

    Hi Jack,
    for your 3rd stage I can recommend Hostel Soca Rocks in Bovec.

  • Bianca Bilt

    Hey thx for answer, I would like to cycle one week (+/-) and this is my biggest problem with parking. I was looking for BTC too. How many nights did you leave your car ?

  • Bianca Bilt

    Hello Emma,
    Do you remember the name of the hostel ?
    Thx a lot!

  • http://adventures-in-bikepacking.tumblr.com/ Emma

    It was called Hostel Tabor, pretty much in the centre of Ljubljana.

  • Miha

    Hi,

    For those who plan this route, I would recommend to cycle through Soca valley, instead crossing the border to Italy. It is the most picturesque valley you can imagine. Belive me, I live here ;)

  • http://joecruz.wordpress.com Joe Cruz

    Clement, thank you so much for sharing your photos! It makes me so happy to see them, and to know that you had a positive time on this route. Slovenia is such a wonderful place.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  • http://joecruz.wordpress.com Joe Cruz

    Thank you for this update, Emma. I’m glad to know that you had a great time, and the bear encounter sounds scary and exciting. Your plan to do it with accommodation sounds splendid, and I am sure others will be curious to see how you divided up the route. Wonderful Tumblr and your adventure crew is inspiring!

    Joe

  • Achim Später

    Clement, I will do this tour with your modifications at the end of june with my gravel bike. I will roll in from the north, starting at the Tauern southside.

    Greetings Achim

  • Achim Später

    Starting next Saturday with a gentle Roll In from the North.

    https://ridewithgps.com/routes/22180267

  • Achim Später

    The northern uphill to mount Stol was marked for reparation by a construction team last week. There may be a road closure in the near future. The trail section east of Nova Goriza is blocked by heavy fallen trees, caused by a strong storm some days ago. I recommend to change the route in this section.

  • Nikola Gereci

    Guys, thank you for the great route!
    This was my first bikepacking trip. I’m used to road touring, so I was very surprised at the amount of time I got to spend in nature. I learned a lot about a neighbouring country (I’m from Croatia), and I think I’m in love with this type of travel. I may not be going back to traditional road touring :).
    I also made a short video, so check it out if you’re considering trying this route.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuUSDHZDBQ4

  • http://joecruz.wordpress.com Joe Cruz

    Nikola, wow, I *love* this video. It captures my memories of that ride so very well, from the swim in Lake Bled to the view into Austria to the mix of dirt and singletrack. Thank you so much for sharing it. It makes me smile to hear that this kind of travel is appealing to you for the time spent in nature. I think I know just how you feel.

    I was just back in Slovenia during the first week of July and it gave me such a good feeling to be there again. We really enjoyed scouting and mapping this track. We then went to Croatia for a ten day bikepacking trip, which I will soon share here on bikepacking.com. That was also a tremendous experience. I’m sorry that you and I didn’t correspond sooner!

    All the best and, again, what a great video. I agree that it’s a must-see for anyone considering doing this route.

    Joe

  • Nikola Gereci

    Glad you like it :).
    Again, the trip was a delight!
    Also, I’m looking forward to your report (and possibly route) of your trip to Croatia, since I’m on the lookout for any routes or trip ideas near (or relatively near) me.

    Cheers!
    Nikola

  • Xavier

    Hi there! I’m a gravel biker from Catalunya (Spain, north east). I’m thinking about do this route one month forward… I’ve 15 days in August, and I’m looking forward a good bikepacking tirp… First question, is this route suitable for gravel bikes? or a mountain bike is needed?

  • Xavier Plana

    Thanks Bianca and Emma! this info will be very useful for me… I’m planning to go there next august, also by car!

  • Xavier Plana

    Hi Achim! I would like to do the route this august! with a gravel bike also… which one was your experience!?? thanks in advance for your answer!

  • http://joecruz.wordpress.com Joe Cruz

    Hi Xavier—The route was scouted and conceived for mountain bikes. But it all depends: if you frequently do rocky singletrack on your gravel bike, then you’ll be just fine. Be sure to watch Nikola’s nice video, above, to get a sense of the textures of the ride.

    Hope you have a great time,
    Joe

  • Xavier Plana

    Thanks for your help Joe! I’ll take into account your comments… Honestly… I’m not 100% sure about going there with my gravel bike… once I’ve seen Nikola’s video (great!). We’ll see! bye and thanks again!

  • Achim Später

    You should use knobby tires to handle loose gravel.Be prepared to sometimes push your bike on steep and rough gravel roads. Travel light, there a a lot of good accomodations. Next time i would get rid of the whole camping gear. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ed45599f27f1674392c63cd26e4a000c4f5c5e87c20887d17143b5a7e4be1b51.jpg

  • Xavier Plana

    Hi Achim! thanks a lot for your advices! so mostly it could be done with a gravel bike!? great news… I’ll come to you again if I finally decide to choose this route! is one of my mine candidates! I’ve some days to think about it… thanks again!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e18fb0969dc69fd9d62a171c08276d1f6b14cdfb1067c4500db74bf8ff96a01c.jpg

  • Xavier Plana

    thanks a lot for your comments Joe! I’ll take it into account! for sure!

  • Bianca Bilt
  • jess

    What time of the year would be recommended for this route? Would April or May be doable/fun? Or is that too early?

  • http://joecruz.wordpress.com Joe Cruz

    Great photo! So glad to hear you had a good time.

    Joe

  • http://joecruz.wordpress.com Joe Cruz

    Hi Jess, I don’t have a good enough sense of what the weather is typically like in April. Perhaps someone with knowledge will jump in. I would guess that by mid-May it would be fine; we scouted this route in the first week of June.

    Joe

  • Alana Vandeghinste

    Does anyone have some good suggestions on finding a place to safely store a car in or around Ljubliana whilest we’re on the road?
    My boyfriend and I are planning to give a go at this route next month, but are worried about leaving te car at some random place.
    We’re open for all sugestions.. Taking a train form Belgium is not one of them though. We would not want the trainride to become the biggest adventure in the whole trip…

  • http://joecruz.wordpress.com Joe Cruz

    Hi Alana—Send an email to our pal Marko Sajn (http://www.cognitive-state.com/) and let him know I suggested it. He no longer lives in Ljubljana, but he’s likely to have contacts there that can help.

    Hope it works out, it’s a beautiful route!

    Joe