The word Balkan comes from Turk­ish, mean­ing “chain of wood­ed moun­tains.” Had the ancient Turks rid­den moun­tain bikes, they might have come up with anoth­er word for “wood­ed moun­tains with killer moun­tain biking.”

The Balkan coun­tries of Slove­nia and Croa­t­ia are just that sort of place, with the Sloven­ian Alps and Istri­an moun­tains of Croa­t­ia pro­vid­ing the spec­tac­u­lar back­drop for this adventure.

Forest­ed sin­gle­track meets old-world-charm on this ride through his­to­ry in one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing areas of Europe. The Balka­ns were long a cross­roads for cul­tures from all over Europe and Asia — now they’re a cross­roads for trav­ellers look­ing for some­thing beyond the typ­i­cal Euro­pean experience.

Since the end of the Balkan war in the 90s, Slove­nia and Croa­t­ia have been two of the hottest trav­el des­ti­na­tions in Europe, and it’s easy to see why: Slove­nia is an out­door lover’s par­adise, with beau­ti­ful­ly pre­served wilder­ness and stun­ning moun­tain peaks as far as the eye can see, while Croa­t­i­a’s coast­line is quick­ly becom­ing a play­ground for the world’s glit­er­att. The Istri­an moun­tains are home to olive groves, vine­yards, charm­ing medieval towns and beau­ti­ful moun­tain bike trails.

Is This Ride For You?

You like tight, forest­ed sin­gle­track that opens up to spec­tac­u­lar views. You can han­dle mod­er­ate­ly rooty and rocky sin­gle­track. You can ped­al for an aver­age of 4.5 hours per day, mul­ti­ple days in a row and can han­dle one fair­ly big day of climb­ing 1300 m. You’re into his­to­ry and vis­it­ing 1000-year-old medieval towns and vil­lages. You love explor­ing oth­er cul­tures, and enjoy authen­tic culi­nary experiences.


Day 1. Arrive, Trans­fer to our Alpine Lodge in Jamnica

Wel­come to Slovenia!

After we pick you up (3:00 p.m. from Hotel Park or 4:00 p.m. from Ljubl­jana Joze Puc­nik Air­port) we’ll trans­fer to our alpine lodge in the Karawanke Range of north­ern Slove­nia, near the Aus­tri­an bor­der, locat­ed approx­i­mate­ly 2.5 hours north-east of Ljubljana.

Our home for the first 3‑nights is a charm­ing Aus­tri­an-style guest­house on an organ­ic farm, high in the moun­tains. “Sound of Music” scenery sur­rounds us on all sides, as do miles and miles of singletrack.

Dixi is our local host here. We’ll dine on fresh food from Dixi’s farm tonight while review­ing what this incred­i­ble week of adven­ture has in store.

Day 2.  Jam­ni­ca Trails

We’ll rise and shine to enjoy a home cooked group breakfast.

A net­work of nat­ur­al flowy sin­gle trails for almost every lev­el of rid­ing gives us an oppor­tu­ni­ty to get to know each oth­er, the trails, and the ter­rain and most­ly get a first touch of the rid­ing in the Alps. Because of the vast­ness of the trail net­work, we can adopt the length of our first day of tour to the group needs and wishes.

After rid­ing, we’ll return to our alpine lodge for anoth­er deli­cious meal pre­pared fresh from the farm.

Day 3. Epic Pod­peca Rides & Black­hole Trail

In the morn­ing, we’ll load up the van and start our jour­ney to the south.

The famous ridge rides of the region are now com­bined with a worlds only prop­er under­ground enduro trail in the world. As the trail is marked black to dou­ble black, the group will have a choice to split and one group could go for an eas­i­er under­ground bik­ing or if nec­es­sary walk the hard and tech­ni­cal bits through some colos­sus, epic chambers.

In Roman times, lead ore was exca­vat­ed from these same cham­bers under Mt. Peca. From then until the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry, rough­ly 1,000 kilo­me­ters of tun­nels were hol­lowed out under the mountain. 

We’ll load up the van with our gear, then head to the mine entrance. Our local guide will out­fit us with head­lamps and take us into the bow­els of the earth, along an 8‑kilometre long mine­shaft. It’s an oth­er­world­ly expe­ri­ence, and one of the coolest things you’ll ever do on a moun­tain bike!

From there, we’ll shut­tle back to our lodge for a hearty dinner. 

Day 4. Pet­zen Trails

In the morn­ing, we’ll load up the van and start our jour­ney to the south. 

Impres­sive moun­tains, attrac­tive val­leys and refresh­ing lakes – South­ern Carinthia (Aus­tria) with its lakes and moun­tains has plen­ty to offer to a moun­tain bik­er. The flag­ship of the region is the MTB ZONE Bikepark Pet­zen with its 11-kilo­me­tre Flow Coun­try Trail. It is one of the longest moun­tain bike fow trails in the world and was recog­nised by the IMBA as the best of its kind in the world. The 5–6‑kilometre long trail called Thriller and EWS offers nat­ur­al ter­rain, rock and a lot of roots.

After lunch we dri­ver to Soča Val­ley. As this is a long dri­ve we will have a cof­fee stop in Slovenia‘s most famous Lake Bled. The most renowned of the Sloven­ian Alpine rivers is the Soča, and many peo­ple con­sid­er it the most beau­ti­ful riv­er in Europe too. Its waters shim­mer in a unique emer­ald col­or. It is known world­wide for the bat­tles of the Ison­zo Front that took place here dur­ing World War I, which was described by Ernest Hemingway. 

Tonight you are free for din­ner on your own — feel free to ask for any recommendations! 

Day 5. Stun­ning trails of Soča Valley

After break­fast at our BnB, we’ll head out for our rid­ing for the day. In the midst of high moun­tains we found some stun­ning sin­gle track trails.

The day will start with van uplift to ex Slove­nia-Italy bor­der. Half way up to our top today. We will be climb­ing up on an old mil­i­tary road. The gra­di­ent is just per­fect. After the stun­ning view to the sur­round­ing high moun­tains, we will descend on an epic wind­ing trail back to the val­ley. Our rid­ing will stop at the lunch time and you will have a free after­noon to rest or to join some unfor­get­table activ­i­ties such as canyon­ing, kayak­ing or rafting.

Day 6. From the Alps to the Mediter­ranean (Italy)

The longest trail of the week we will start with van uplift to vil­lage on the foothills of Mata­jur mountain. 

After climb­ing to the top of the moun­tain on the bor­der to Italy at an alti­tude of 1642m we will have 12km descend which ends in front of the best ‘’gela­te­ria’’ in the area at an alti­tude of 150m. After well deserved piz­za, gela­to and cof­fee, van will pick us up and we will dri­ve to Dinar­ides For­est plateau to our next lodge.

Please Note: The Mata­jur trail is weath­er dependent.

Day 7. From Dinar­ides For­est Plateau Into the Vine Valley

The famous Sloven­ian vine region of Vipa­va offers us diver­si­ty of scenic moun­tain bike trails. We start the ride from the hotel at the top of Dinar­ides For­est Plateau and head all the way down to the val­ley. Not to lose all the fun we will use the trails of local enthu­si­ast to extend the ride and fin­ish with the lunch in medieval town of Ajdovščina.

After lunch we will vis­it the famous UNESCO Ško­cian Caves, then we’ll hop in the van and cross the bor­der into Croa­t­ia, arriv­ing at the beau­ti­ful hill­top town of Motovun, where we’ll check into our rooms. 

Tonight you are free for din­ner on your own — feel free to ask for any recommendations! 

Day 8. Grozn­jan Trails

After break­fast, we’ll trans­fer from our hotel to a town called Grozn­jan. Grozn­jan is a unique, small, Medieval town, known today for its arts and music cul­ture, boast­ing upwards of 20 art galleries.

We’ll gear up and start our ride straight from town. Todays ride will cov­er some of the trails used in the local Enduro and XC races. These immac­u­late trails flow through small trees and the mead­ows of Istria. After rid­ing, we’ll pack up the shut­tle and head out for Lim Fjord, about a 1 hour drive.

We’ll have a well deserved lunch upon arrival in Lim Fjord, before hop­ing in a boat to Rov­inj where we’ll check into our rooms and head out for dinner.

Please Note: The boat ride to Rov­inj is weath­er dependent.

Tonight you are free for din­ner on your own — feel free to ask for any recommendations!

Day 9. Pre­man­tu­ra Trails

This morn­ing, we’ll enjoy our break­fast in the town of Rovinj. 

For the last day of our Ride, we will bike to the scenic end of the Istri­an Penin­su­la. Kamen­jak Penin­su­la is a nat­ur­al resort, offer­ing scenic sin­gle­track in wild Mediter­ranean nature. While rid­ing, we can take a few stops to dip into fresh Mediter­ranean water, and — for the brave — cliff jump­ing will be pos­si­ble at sev­er­al spots. We’ll stop for lunch in Pre­man­tu­ra. On the way back we will pass the famous Amphithe­atre in Pula

Tonight, we’ll head back to Rov­inj for our final din­ner where we’ll cel­e­brate our week of adventure!

Day 10. Return to Ljubljana

After our final group break­fast, we’ll load up the van and head back to Ljubl­jana Joze Puc­nik Air­port by 2:00 p.m.

High five your new rid­ing pals and say your good­byes until next time. Sob, weep, waaaaa!

The fol­low­ing data rep­re­sents a typ­i­cal itin­er­ary, but adven­ture trav­el can be unpre­dictable and our Guides may need to make last-minute changes to ensure your enjoy­ment. Inclement weath­er, road clo­sures, changes to the itin­er­ary to accom­mo­date requests, and oth­er issues may affect the itin­er­ary. The ride data rep­re­sents an ‘aver­age’ itin­er­ary, and may dif­fer when you actu­al­ly show up to ride. Our guides make every effort to stick to the itin­er­ary as post­ed, but your safe­ty is our #1 priority.

Ride Data: Breathtaking Balkans

Day Hours of rid­ing Dis­tance rid­den Ele­va­tion gained Ele­va­tion lost High­est ele­va­tion
1 0 0 0 0 0
2 5 24 4000 3461
3 6 25 4265 8202 5577
4 4 11 1148 1640 3576
5 3–4 19 2296 4921 4068
6 3 9 0 4895 5387
7 4 12 1640 3264 98
8 4 14 1594 1489 2987
9 5 10
10 0 0
Totals 34 HRS

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Dates chosen: May. 26, 2024—Jun. 04, 2024
Skill Rating: Blue Square
Fitness Rating: Blue Square
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Skill Levels
Black Diamond

The Black Diamond Rides are  suitable for riders looking for that edge. Maybe it’s the edge of a drop, the edge of a cliff, or singletrack requiring focus and fast reactions developed from extensive experience riding “the edge”. You will find yourself on steep trails of varied surfaces. In the Pacific North West that could be slick roots and loam, in Nepal you will find exposed granite in the Mustang Valley and in Guatemala it maybe narrow stairways through cliffside villages. While airtime is rarely required, the ability to find the backside or clean a tabletop should be comfortable or in a state of progress. Obstacles on Black rides are likely to be outside the range of your bikes ability to cover your goofs with its awesome suspension and grip.

Blue Square

In general, Blue trails are narrower than green trails, encounter unavoidable obstacles such as roots, rocks, and drops that are up to 8-inches tall. You will want to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of mountain biking including body positions, powerful braking, cornering, riding on varied terrain, steep sections and experience riding trails that requires line choice. Airtime is not mandatory, but you will find yourself on trails with alternate lines giving you the option.

Double Black Diamond

A Double Black ride is for those that already know they are looking for a Double Black. It’s going to be very hard and require advanced bike handling skills. You will find yourself on trails with sections most non-riders would look at and say, “that’s totally nuts!”. You will know how to look at a line and contemplate where it will work and where it won’t. Drops of a couple feet should be comfortable and getting your bike off the ground should feel predictable and fun.

Green Circle

Typically, green Rides are safe for beginners. Green Rides may have both avoidable and unavoidable obstacles. Trails are generally low grade, wide, consistent surface texture and have minimal features. You are likely to come across unavoidable obstacles 2-inches or shorter, which is small enough for mountain bike tires to simply roll over. More challenging than tarmac, but in general, a wonderful Ride for those riders new to mountain biking or looking for a casual experience.

Fitness Levels
Black Diamond

A Black Fitness ride will test you. Aside from needing to be able to manage up to 6 hours on the bike, day after day, including distance up to 50km/30miles and elevation gains up to 1750m/5000feet of climbing, you will be adding extra challenges along the route like periods of hike-a-bike and the extra effort required by the whole body to safely dance with your bike over technical terrain. Generally, riders who are up for a Black Fitness ride, likely spend time on the bike a couple times each week.

Blue Square

Blue should be considered a good deal more effort than our Green Rides.  You should be able to handle 3 to 5 hours in the saddle covering up to 45km/30miles and be able to pull off a big day of 1000m/3000feet of elevation gain. Managing fuel is important as well.  You should have a good understanding how your body responds to multiple days on the bike. We will help with positive coaching, a manageable pace and plenty of trailside snacks.

Double Black Diamond

A Double Black will be for those with the strength and endurance to get to the top of anything they want and understand the term “turning the screw”. Distance could be quite high on some routes and elevation gain numbers could hit 2000m/6000 feet+ in a day. You are likely riding multiple days a week during the dry periods and have a trainer or belong to a gym for the rest of the year.

Green Circle

You should be ready to spend 2-4 hours per day on the bike. Mileage may be up to 30km/20 miles and elevation gain will be under 500m/1500feet. On e-MTB tours, numbers will be higher, however the approximate effort would be considered similar to a standard Green Circle ride. If you get on your bike once a week, you will be just fine. However, when preparing for a Ride, you will benefit from more rides and time in the saddle.