Alpe-Adria Bike Tour: Three Countries, One Railway
Self-guided biking in three countries by the Adriatic coast following an old railway Parenzana. 150 miles , 7 days, 3 countries, 1 adventure!
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Moderate
Group Size Small Group
Did you know that you can go for a hike in the Alps in the morning and swimming in the sea in the afternoon? On the same day! It gets even better: you can bike from Slovenian Alps to Italian coast and then onward following a 100-year old now-deserted railway trail along the Adriatic sea all the way through Slovenia to Croatia. Three countries in 7 days! This self-guided tour will fill you with fresh Alpine air, refresh you with Adriatic sea and recharge your soul with warm southern sun. 80-mile long railway trail called Parenzana steers you away from crowds and fast traffic. The Route of Health and Friendship, as Parenzana is also known, meanders through Istrian landscape connecting villages and old towns along the coast, passes vineyards and olive groves, and leads you across the hills and through the tunnels.
Day 1: Arrival day, private transfer from Ljubljana Airport to Bled, in-take meeting
Day 2: Bike from Bled to Kranjska Gora, private transfer to Trenta valley via Vršič mountain pass
Day 3: White water rafting on Soča river, bike from Bovec to Kobarid, transfer to Nova Gorica
Day 4: Transfer to Divača, bike to Škocjan Caves, visit the caves, bike to Trieste
Day 5: Bike on the Parenzana trail to Portorož
Day 6: Bike from Portorož to Motovun
Day 7: Bike from Motovun to Poreč , where the trail ends
Day 8: Private transfer from Poreč to Ljubljana airport
We included items below in order to make the trip as leisure and free as possible:
- Airport pickup and drop-off (transfers can also be arranged from Ljubljana city)
- All private land transfers according to the itinerary
- 6x half-board accommodation in a 3-star hotel (twin/double room) – drinks not included
- Self-Guided booklet with detailed route description, maps and additional suggestions
- White water rafting on Soča
- Škocjan caves entrance fee
- Full equipment: TREK DS road bikes with panniers, helmet, lock, and repair kit (spare tire, pump, tools)
- Tourist tax and vat
- In-take meeting on day 1, logistical support, 24/7 emergency support
The following is not included in the tour, but do not hesitate to ask for an advice on how to arrange it:
- Travel to Slovenia
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses
- Lunches, snacks, drinks
Upon your arrival to Ljubljana Airport, a private transfer to Bled will be waiting for you. After just a short, 30-minute drive you will arrive to Bled. Bled is a small town that lies by the foot of magnificent Julian Alps and is Slovenia’s most popular tourist destination. The glacial Lake Bled with its distinctive island and a 17th-century church, overlooked by a medieval-era castle on top of a 400-ft rock is truly a fairy tale image. After a stop at your 3-star hotel, you will meet with our representatives to discuss the details of the itinerary we prepared for you. We will have a bike ready for you to explore Bled for the rest of the day. You can relax on a circular ride around lake (4 miles) or bike to one of the local natural wonders – Vintgar gorge. The river Radovna carved its canyon 150-300 ft deep and created numerous rapids and natural pools alongside the one mile long gorge. At the end of the gorge there is a 52 ft waterfall Šum, which is the largest river waterfall in Slovenia. Well worth a visit!
Biking: approx. 2 hours
Distance: 10 miles
Cross the Alps on your bike
After breakfast it is time to hit the road! Shortly after leaving Bled, you will enter the scenic Radovna valley. Bike through and enjoy the breathtaking views of the mountains embracing the valley. Your bike route will continue through many small alpine villages heading towards Kranjska Gora. The town is well known as a winter resort and has gained international fame as a venue of some of the most challenging Alpine Skiing World Cup competitions. Just before arriving to the town, you will witness one of the most beautiful mountain panoramas in the Julian Alps – the Martuljek group – a range of 13 mountains, all above 6,500 ft high. Once in Kranjska Gora, a private transfer will take you to the top of the Vršič mountain pass, 5,300 ft. The road is famous for its 50 hairpin bends (24 on Kranjska Gora side and 26 on Bovec side). There will be a quick 10-min stop for a quick walk to the scenic view of the Heathen Maiden (Ajdovska deklica) – a stone woman’s face carved on the side of a mountain. Once reaching the Trenta valley, you will continue biking alongside the famous Soča river all the way to the town of Bovec (1,500 ft elevation) . Soča’s emerald green color and white rapids boasting between rocks will most certainly infuse you with extra energy and the last leg of the trip will feel like a breeze.
Biking : approx. 3 hours
Distance: Bled – Kranjska Gora 23 miles / Trenta – Bovec 9 miles
Morning rafting on Soča river
After breakfast it will be time to get wet! You have not truly experienced the valley of the Soča river, unless you have gone rafting on the river. The unbelievable power of the emerald river’s white rapids in the pristine Alpine environment is a one-of-a-kind experience. After rafting you’ll jump back on your bike and cycle to Kobarid (770 ft elevation). Easy, slightly downhill way passes by small, scenic villages located on the shore of the river Soča. Given enough time, you can hike to the waterfall Kozjak, just outside the town of Kobarid, or you can visit an award winning museum of WWI in the old town itself. From Kobarid the route continues towards Tolmin (660 ft elevation). Along the way you will notice how Soča’s emerald green persist, even this far downstream. Enjoy the beautiful views of the river and the nature all around. Late afternoon private transfer from Tolmin to Nova Gorica (300 ft elevation) .
Biking: : approx. 4 hours
Distance: Bovec – Kobarid 12 miles / Kobarid – Tolmin 12 miles
Underground world of Slovenian Karst
In the morning a private transfer to Divača (1,400 ft elevation) will be waiting on you. From Divača there is only a short, 3-mile bike ride to the stunning Škocjan caves, which are listed as a UNESCO Natural and Cultural World Heritage site since 1986. The giant colorful limestone formations of Karst underground are without question one of the most memorable sights in Slovenia. After visiting the caves you will continue making your way toward Italy and soon you will find yourself crossing the Slovenian-Italian border and arriving to Trieste, an important sea port, marked by multiculturalism, artistic movements and… coffee. It was in Trieste where the first automatic coffee machine was invented by no-other than a founder of Illy Caffe. Perhaps you might want to find the steps of the great writer James Joyce, who called Trieste his home for many years? Or just sit in one of numerous italian cafes enjoying magnificent seafront views.
Biking : aaprox. 3.5 hours
Distance: Divača – Škocjan caves 16 miles / Škocjan caves – Trieste 19 miles
Head south and you will soon enter the famous Parenzana trail. After approximately two hours and 600 ft of elevation difference, you will once again cross the Italian-Slovenian border. When passing by the city of Koper, the largest Slovenian port and the capital of the coastal Slovenia, you will have an opportunity to stop in one of the best wine cellars in Slovenia for wine tasting. As this is an important wine region with long wine-producing traditions and distinct cuisine, this is your opportunity to taste the local Mediterranean flair.
Continue on your bike toward the coastal town of Strunjan, where you will enter a 0.3 mile long tunnel Lucan (or Valeta),the longest one on the Parenzana. Descending towards the coast you will arrive to Slovenia’s biggest beach resort Portorož . Enjoy the relaxing walk on the beach or have a swim in the Adriatic sea.
Biking: approx. 5 hours
Distance: on Italian side 10 miles, on Slovenian side 15 miles
Yet another new country
You will continue going south today, moving on towards Croatia, the third country on your itinerary! Soon after leaving Portorož, you will find yourself biking on the very edge of Sečovlje salt flats , where salt is still produced using a 700-year old method, intertwining man with nature.
Take a deep breath, as your adventure is about to become slightly more challenging: after crossing the border with Croatia, you will start ascending to Buje. It will be well worth it: you will find yourself high up above the Piran bay and admire the salt flats from above. Get your camera ready, this is a spot for some great panoramic shots. When the weather is nice and the sky is clear, your will even be able to admire the Italian Dolomites, imposing and majestic far back in the distance. Looking ahead, however, you will already see the village Buje with its famous bell tower.
You will continue climbing for just a little bit longer , until you reach the village Grožnjan (925 ft elevation). Parenzana is considered the most picturesque on your next stretch, between Grožnjan and Livade village, complete with viaducts, tunnels and forest paths. We suggest that you take a break in Livade (1180 ft elevation), also knows as the Capital of Istrian truffles, and treat yourself to a fine meal, before your final feat. You will head toward your final destination, the medieval village of Motovun (885 ft elevation), on a 3-mile gravel path., Motovun, which sits quietly on top of a hill surrounded by quaint houses on all sides, traces its history all the way back to the 10th century, and now enjoys international fame as a host of the popular annual Motovun Film Festival, which takes place sometime between late July and early August.
Biking: approx. 5 hours
Distance: on Slovenian side 3 miles , on Croatian side 30 miles
Completing the trail
Your last day will begin with a downhill, descending from Motovun, then riding toward towns of Vižinada (266 m) and Višnjan (232 m), passing by old train stations, vineyards and olive farms . On a hot summer day you might want to consider making a stop in Baredine Caves in Nova Vas village. You will see some marvelous underground sculpture-like stalactites! This would be your last stop before reaching the coastal town of Poreč, your final destination on day 7! – Poreč is an ancient Roman town and now one of the most popular summer resorts in Croatia. Take a stroll through the old town center and visit the Euphrasian Basilica, built in early 6th century and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997.
Biking : approx. 3 hours
Distance: Motovun – Poreč 22 miles
Back to the beginning
After breakfast a private transfer back to Ljubljana (the Airport, train station or city) will be waiting for you. Based on your travel plan, your luggage can also be delivered to you to Poreč.
All accommodation is half board in 3-star hotels (twin/double room). Drinks are not included with meals.
- Shoes – athletic shoes, sneakers or any appropriate shoes for biking
- Jacket – warm, wind & waterproof, softshell
- Comfortable clothes
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, any other sun protection
- Water bottle (preferably reusable)
- A flashlight (the tunnel in Motovun has no lights and it is almost entirely dark there)
- First aid (a small basic kit with items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze, antibacterial ointment, sterile pads)
- The tour is considered to be moderate to challenging. There is an average of 28 miles of biking each day with many ascends and descends. A good physical condition is essential.
You might find some springs and water along the routes, but make sure you take sufficient water/drinks on a trip every day. You will also be able to buy it in the shops along the way.
- Breakfast and dinner are included in every accommodation. You will have plenty of opportunities to stop in local restaurants and shops all along the way for lunches and snacks.
- We advise that you to start your daily trips early in the morning to allow yourself enough time to stop often and enjoy the scenery! And escape the hot summer sun!
- As the weather can change quickly, do not forget to bring your rain-covers and a change of extra dry clothes. We also advise that you to place pack things in plastic bags before packing them in the waterproof panniers.
- The tour is not appropriate for pregnant women and children under the age of 15.
All customers are required to notify us before booking the tour of any medical conditions, as well as dietary restrictions. All medications can and should be brought to all activities in the program. If you suffer from any medical conditions, we strongly suggest that you consult your physician before booking a tour to receive an expert medical advice. We are more than happy to discuss and recommend the most suitable adventure for you based on your conditions, but cannot ultimately be responsible for your health.
We compiled a list of further thoughts and recommendations on our Frequently Asked Questions page.