My first adventure in the mountains and it exceeded all expectations.
The mountainous region of Europe, where Slovenia, Austria and Italy meet, is a delight for road cyclists looking for a week of spectacular riding away from the crowds. We have crafted this Classic Cols style itinerary to make the most of the landscape whilst also having options for more time off the bike, if that is your preference.
We start the week exploring Slovenia’s magnificent Triglav National Park with its glacial lakes and glorious towering limestone peaks, the highlights being the Vršič pass and the Mangart Saddle. We then head briefly into Italy to explore the Austrian/Italian border on gravity defying roads that were built to mobilise arms during the Great War.
We end our week getting to know the beautiful but less explored eastern Dolomites, also including the infamous Monte Zoncolan.
Assisted by two exceptional guides in fully kitted-out support vehicles, our tour participants can ride at their own pace, stop when they want and make each day their own. In a group of around 20 riders, this generally means we have 3 – 4 mini groups with similar aspirations and fitness levels who tend to ride together. We find this means that nobody feels held up, or as if they are holding others up.
It is important to us that you book the correct road cycling holiday for you, so do download and read the Trip Notes for all you need to know on how this holiday works: food, accommodation, travel and so on…
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Departure Dates & Prices
We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts off the basic trip cost (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):
- Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of the start of your holiday for our 5% early bookers discount
- Get a group of 10+ people together for a 7.5% group discount and, as the group organiser, receive a £150 voucher for your next holiday
- Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards
Please note that there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.
Day 0: Arrival day
We offer included airport transfers (a journey of 1hr 30 min) at scheduled times during the day from Venice Marco Polo airport to our start hotel in Solkan on the Slovenian/Italian border.
Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) and airport transfer timings can be found in our Trip Notes.
Check-in, assemble bikes and share a hearty meal in preparation for the adventure ahead!
Day 1: Solkan to Ribčev Laz
Our destination is the picturesque lake of Bohinjsko jezero on the southern flanks of the Triglav National Park. Our Slovenian road cycling adventure starts relatively gently, undulating through unspoilt rural countryside to the base of Bohinjsko Sedlo (1277m). This is a cheeky little climb up through the forest with some changing gradients. From here you have the options of descending to our 4-star hotel on the lake and exploring the surroundings or extending your ride by heading down to Lake Bled (with its iconic island church).
For those wanting a taster of the gradients on Mt Zoncolan, nipping up to the monastery and viewpoint of Sveta Gora (630m) first thing in the morning is a good option.
Day 2: Ribčev Laz to Bovec
Today is all about the Vršič Pass (1611m), a truly remarkable road on which to cycle a bike. It was built by Russian prisoners of war, so is often known as the ‘Ruska cesta’. Its northern flanks are epitomised by 24 hairpin bends, many of which are still cobbled! As the road meanders higher and higher it commands spectacular views of the Triglav National Park. From the pass we descend into the lush green valley and onto the mountain town of Bovec, where we stay for two nights.
To get to the base of the climb, there are two good options. The first descends gently to Lake Bled, where we climb slightly before joining the valley road. Our ‘challenge’ route takes a more mountainous ride over the cross-country ski haven of Goreljek (1256m).
Day 3: Day ride from Bovec
The saddle of Mangart (2055m) is the highest surfaced road in Slovenia and our destination for today. We start by riding up through the deep green valley surrounded by an amphitheatre of limestone mountains. When we get close to the Italian border, we branch off on a narrow road that winds its way into the high pastures with constant breathtaking views, making this one of the most beautiful road cycling climbs in Europe. What goes up, must come back down and the descent is a true reward for your efforts.
The afternoon can be spent lapping up the ambience of Bovec or taking on the southern (steeper, but no cobbles!) side of the Vršic Pass (1611m)
Day 4: Bovec to Tröpolach
We start the day by following the pale blue waters of the Soča river, before heading west to bid Slovenia farewell and climb up the Sella Carnizza (1094m). Here we descend steeply into Italy and the town of Resiutta where we join a wonderful, surfaced cycle path on the bed of the old railway line up the deep gorge to the town of Pontebba. From there, we take on the Passo di Pramollo (1530m) and descend into Austria for the night.
Today’s Challenge route heads down the cycle path and then climbs up through a remote but beautiful valley to the Sella di Cereschiatis (1065m), before re-joining our Classic route at the base of the Passo di Pramollo.
This is quite a challenging ride, so there is the option of catching a lift in the van at various stages during the day.
Day 5: Tröpolach to Ovaro & Monte Crostis
We start the day in Austria, winding our way gently up a wide, glaciated valley, linking picture-perfect villages before climbing back into Italy over the Plöckenpass/Passo di Monte Croce Carnico (1358m). This well-constructed road has been used as a trade route since the Middle Ages, and was the scene of a long, gruelling battle during WW1, leaving the pass adorned with military remnants.
Following a technical descent, we climb over the beautiful Sella Valcalda (958m), no stranger to the Giro d’Italia, for lunch in Ravascletto. This is part of the Zoncolan ski area – we are getting close to the mighty beast! The afternoon can be spent relaxing in the grounds and wellness centre of the hotel or taking on Monte Crostis.
Not many people have heard of Monte Crostis (1982m), but those who have cycled it never forget it! The 14km narrow mountain road averages a relentless 10.1% and climbs 1420m, making it the climb with the most vertical ascent in Italy! If you have the energy, this beautiful climb (similar to the Gamoniteiro in Spain) will put an everlasting smile on your face!
Day 6: Sella Ciampigotto & Monte Zoncolan
Monte Zoncolan (1735m) is by no means the highest, but is certainly the steepest climb in the area. Introduced into the Giro d’Italia cycle race in 2007 it quickly became a game-changer, mixing things up a bit in the Peloton. With 10.1km averaging 11.9% (including 6km at 15%) today is your opportunity to really give it a go! Fortunately, it is entirely optional, and our hotel is right at the base and a nice place to relax, so doing a U-turn if the going gets tough is always a possibility!
The 29km of the Sella Ciampigotto (1790m) are a wonderful journey, starting in villages with distinctive green-tiled church towers. You will pass through cross-country ski stations and over high Alpine pastures – the café at the top offers us a warm welcome and views towards the Dolomites. You can either return the same way or take a journey back in time over the Sella di Rioda (1800m) and down into the remote mountain community of Sauris. The valley now holds a deep reservoir, where we head over the Passo del Pura (1428m) before descending through Ampezzo to the valley floor. From there we gently climb back to the hotel to pack up bikes and relax.
Easier route: 62km with 1300m ascent [ride profile]
Classic route: 83km with 1680m ascent [ride profile]
Harder route: 92km with 2120m ascent [ride profile]
Monte Zoncolan option: adds 23km and 1250m ascent to any route
Day 7: Departure day
All good things must come to an end… we offer included transfers from Ovaro to Venice Marco Polo airport (2hrs) in the morning.