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.

Itinerary

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.  Jamaica Moun­tain Bike Park

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

Our first day starts off with a short climb, over­look­ing green fields and spec­tac­u­lar peaks. The Jam­ni­ca ride takes you to the hills sur­round­ing Dix­i’s base. It fea­tures sin­gle­track, fire roads and some dirt roads. Smooth sin­gle­track, aban­doned trac­tor trails, awe­some views and man­age­able climbs make it the per­fect warmup for the days ahead.

A lunch will be ready at a tourist farm around midday.

After lunch, we’ll start off with a lit­tle climb­ing, tak­ing us to remark­able sin­gle­track for a per­fect end to the day.

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

Day 3. Lift-Accessed Rid­ing in the Karawanke Range

Across the val­ley from our alpine lodge is a net­work of gor­geous sin­gle­track, accessed by cable car.

We’ll start with a fun trail straight from our base, fol­lowed by a 1 hour ride on fire roads (with a wee bit of pave­ment — but it will be worth it!) that takes us into Aus­tria to the slopes of Peca Mountain. 

We’ll load our­selves and our bikes in a cable car, which will take us all the way up to 1700 m above sea lev­el, where we reach the high­est point of the day.  We’ll enjoy a short rest to take in the spec­tac­u­lar views from the moun­tain hut, before we descend down on riv­et­ing sin­gle­track back to Slovenia.

Lunch will be served at an authen­tic moun­tain hut, sit­u­at­ed near the church of Saint Hele­na. Sit­ting on the ter­race, perched on the edge of scenic vis­tas, we’ll enjoy a meal of tra­di­tion­al min­ers’ food. 

After lunch, we’ll start down some  epic ridge sin­gle­track which will take us down to the valley. 

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

Day 4. Under­ground Rid­ing and Dri­ve to Vipa­va Valley

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

Above the min­ing vil­lage Crna, we’ll start with few km’s of grav­el road uphill, with a beau­ti­ful mead­ow on top. The descent is a com­bi­na­tion of road chang­ing to breath­tak­ing nar­row sin­gle­track down to the val­ley. After a short tech­ni­cal sec­tion, we pop out on a gor­geous mead­ow trail with mar­vel­lous views of the vil­lage of Crna wrapped in the sur­round­ing val­leys.  Back to the for­est, 100 meters of steep tech­ni­cal climb­ing take us out again to see the moun­tains peaks in the area.

The final leg of the ride takes is to an open hill ridge trail down to the town of Crna. This final descent is tru­ly breathtaking.

Next up, the under­ground cen­turies-old mine!

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!

After the ride, we will stop for lunch in Mez­i­ca,  then head to south­ern Slove­nia, where we’ll check into our moun­tain­side farm house in the town Sin­jivrh where we’ll also enjoy dinner. 

Day 5. Vipa­va Val­ley, Enter Croatia

After break­fast in the vil­lage of Sin­ji Vrh, we’ll expe­ri­ence one of the trip’s most stun­ning trails.

We’ll head up the Vipaya Val­ley (the Val­ley of the Wind) for a gru­el­ing but scenic climb to a spec­tac­u­lar look­out over the Pos­to­j­na Val­ley. The descent is rocky, fun, and long.

We’ll stop for lunch at a beau­ti­ful river­side restau­rant in the vil­lage of Vipa­va, then sam­ple some local wines at a near­by wine tast­ing shop.

After a lit­tle more rid­ing this after­noon, 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 and head out for dinner.

Day 6. Grozn­jan and Boat Trip to Rovinj

After break­fast, we’ll trans­fer from our hotel to a town called Groznjan.

Grozn­jan is a unique, small, Medieval town, today known 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. 

Day 7. Pre­ma­ture Trails

This morn­ing, we’ll enjoy our break­fast in the vil­lage 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.

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

Day 8. 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!

Picture Yourself Here…