Bikepacking Slovenia: The West Loop
302 Mi.(486 KM)
% Rideable (time)
Pedaling in Place
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.
- 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 140) 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 252).
- 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.