Slovenia's new green cycling tour takes you to wineries and national parks

In a history-making move for cycle tourism, Slovenia is set to open the world's first long-distance, multi-stage itinerary that exclusively connects green-certified locations. The “Bike Slovenia Green” route, which will launch 1 November, makes stops in seven locales during a week-long, cross-country journey. The path takes riders through the heart of the Julian Alps, around the country's iconic Lake Bohinj and Lake Bled, before heading south to the Adriatic coast.

Cyclist peddle past Slovenia's famous Lake Bled © Uroš Švigelj

“This route stops in places that make responsible practices a priority, but these are also incredible places to cycle to and through,” says Jan Klavora, a partner at Visit GoodPlace, a tourism operator based in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. Klavora and GoodPlace were tasked with the new trail's design in a project funded by the European Union and administered by Slovenia’s ministry of economy. “All of the towns meet the strict international and the even stricter Slovenian standards for Green certification, but the route also goes through three wine regions, takes cyclists to family-run boutique hotels, and mostly utilizes quiet country roads and bike-only paths.”

The new tour connects green destinations - including wine regions - around Slovenia © Uroš Švigelj

The route, which visits seven destinations, starts high in the Julian Alps in the mountain town of Kranjska Gora. Heading south to the shores of Lake Bled – the country’s calling-card postcard shot complete with island-bound church – the path then rolls into Triglav National Park, centred around the 2864-meter Mount Triglav, on the way to Lake Bohinj. After the Soča Valley with its emerald-green river, the trail follows the Italian border’s contours through the town of Šmartno – in one of the nation’s best wine regions. From there the itinerary enters Komen and Lipica in the karst region before arriving in Slovenia’s Adriatic hub, Koper.

Take a bike tour to green destinations in Slovenia © Uroš Švigelj

Each of the destinations along the route have been certified under the Slovenia Green brand, which is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Candidates are judged on criteria such as authenticity, beautification, sustainable resource management, nature protection, and community involvement. Destinations must also be leaders in sustainable planning and tourism development. There are presently 48 certified destinations in Slovenia.

Thinking responsibly is nothing new for Slovenia. The country was named “the world’s most sustainable country” when it was awarded the National Geographic World Legacy Award in 2017. In 2016, Ljubljana was named the Green Capital of Europe.

“Growing in tourism isn’t so hard,” says Klavora. “Being brave enough to do it responsibly is the key.”