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 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 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 trip costs (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):
- Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of your holiday for our 5% Early Bookers discount.
- Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards
- Get a group of 10+ people together for a 10% Group discount
Please note there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.
Day 0: Travel 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 then nipping up to the monastery 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.
In order 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 Passo di Pramollo
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. Our ‘classic’ route joins a cycle path that follows the river Fella up the deep gorge to the town of Pontebba (there is the option of transferring this section). Here we take on the Passo di Pramollo (1530m) to briefly nip into Austria, before returning to our hotel just inside the Italian border.
Today’s ‘challenge’ route deviates from the river Fella and climbs up through a remote but beautiful valley to the Sella di Cereschiatis (1065m) before rejoining our ‘classic’ route at the base of the Passo di Pramollo.
Challenge route: 81km with 2800m ascent [ride profile]
Day 5: Passo di Pramollo to Ovaro (via 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 (where we stay for two nights) is right at the base and is a nice place to relax, so doing a U-turn if the going gets tough is always a possibility!
We start the day descending into Austria, where we wind our way gently up the wide, glaciated valley, linking picture-perfect villages before climbing back into Italy over the Passo di Monte Croce Carnico (1358m). Following a technical descent, we climb up the Sella Valcalda (958m), which is also no stranger to the Giro.
Day 6: Day ride from Ovaro (Sella Ciampigotto & Monte Crostis)
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 on to high Alpine pastures – the café at the top offers us a warm welcome and views towards the Dolomites. From there we take a journey back in time as we head over the Sella di Rioda (1800m) and down into the remote mountain community of Sauris. The valley now holds a deep reservoir, where we have the option of detouring over the Passo del Pura (1428m) or continuing to descend through Ampezzo to the valley floor. From there we gently climb back to the hotel to pack up bikes and relax – or not…
Not many people have heard of Monte Crostis (1982m), but those that have cycled it never forget it! The 14km narrow mountain road averages a relentless 10.1% and climbs 1420m! If you have the energy, this climb (similar to the Gamoniteiro in Spain) will put an everlasting smile on your face!
Day 7: Travel Home
All good things must come to an end… we offer included transfers from Ovaro to Venice Marco Polo airport (2hrs) in the morning.