The Slovenia Green Gourmet Route (SGGR) is the perfect itinerary for rapidly evolving world travelers who demand everything: pleasure, adventure, and responsibility. Combining food, Slovenia Green-certified destinations, beautiful and varied landscapes, challenging and safe cycling, and “the world’s most sustainable country,” the SGGR has something for everyone but never forgets its roots — the communities scattered across this beautiful and magnificent Central European nation.
The route, which only visits green-certified destinations, crisscrosses nearly all of Slovenia, which was named the European Region of Gastronomy for 2021. The path provides all the information cyclists need to discover Slovenia along forest roads and quaint streets. The Green Gourmet Route makes food and wine a top priority and visits Michelin-starred restaurants (Michelin awarded Slovenia its first stars in 2020), great local bistros, farmers, and wineries.
The itinerary was created to give travelers all the information necessary to drink in this country’s rich wine history and learn more about its expansive food culture.
The Slovenia Green Gourmet Route begins in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, and utilizes the country’s convenient train system to the Soča Valley, framed by the Alps. Cyclists then pedal to the Vipava Valley, roll into the Karst Region, and then take another train east. After discovering the Sava River region, travelers go north to Ptuj, along the Drava River, to Maribor.
The SGGR is a route that travels at human speed and makes nature, food, great wine, and green-certified destinations its main must-see activities. But, perhaps the most important aspect of the new itinerary is that it makes the people along the trail its most important asset.
Slovenia Green routes are recommended itineraries for your green travel in Slovenia.
Why are they special?
Slovenia Green routes connect exclusively destinations that have been awarded the Slovenia Green certificate by committing to a green future and developing their tourism in a sustainable manner.
After landing in Ljubljana, take a deep breath and get ready for the adventure ahead. The country’s capital is the place to imbibe Slovenia’s welcoming cosmopolitan element — with riverside cafes, restaurants, and shops — before heading out into village life surrounded by rivers, lakes, and mountains.
From Slovenia’s main city, cyclists will board a train that follows a railway, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century to connect Austria and Germany with the port of Trieste. The historic Bohinj railway is bound for the country’s northwest corner and the tracks run past the beautiful Lake Bled to Bohinj. Then the track goes below the ridge of Julian Alps and across the Bohinj tunnel to the Soča Valley, which has been recognized with a Slovenia Green Gold certification.
After arrival to the tranquil town of Most na Soči, one can immediately admire the emerald waters of the Soča River, considered to be one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe. The Soča Valley was the first destination in Slovenia to earn the title of the European Destination of Excellence due to its sustainable development in tourism. Heading out of town, the cycling route, which begins with a short 23-kilometer premier stage.
The sweeping roads take riders first to Tolmin, one of the great adventure travel destinations in Europe and home to the nearby Tolmin Gorges, which form the southern entrance to the Triglav National Park. Among the other attractions include the Tolmin Museum and the Mengore Outdoor Museum, which provides an up-close look at the former WWI battlegrounds, which defined this region a century ago. This is also where the GGR intersects with the Walk of Peace hiking route that follows the front lines of the First World War along the Isonzo Front.
Cyclists can sleep in Tolmin or continue on to sleep in Kobarid, which is one of the region’s most important towns and the site of the Kobarid Museum. Also along the Walk of Peace, the museum provides a comprehensive look at how the First World War changed Europe and the world and how the tragedy can serve as a positive point of peace today. Besides being another magnet for biking, hiking, fishing, and kayaking, Kobarid is also the location of the restaurant Hiša Franko and its chef Ana Roš, who is the only recipient of two Michelin Stars. Hungry cyclists will find that many of the restaurants in the area place a priority on responsible methods and use only local ingredients.
If you spent your first night in Kobarid, you’ll start your second day with a bike ride to Tolmin. From there you’ll cycle along rivers Soča and Idrijca to the train station Most na Soči. A train will take you to Kanal and from there you’ll firstly be cycling on the local road on the right riverbank of river Soča and then on the picturesque cycling trail to the village Plave and all the way to Solkan.
Leaving the emerald waters of the Soča River and the green foothills scattered through its valley, the route discovers a different sort of richness: wine. Heading south for just over 50 kilometers, and paralleling the Italian border, the SGGR rolls into the Goriška Brda Region, which is actively developing its sustainable tourism offer all year round, reducing pressure on the environment, and promoting soft mobility. For a short time after reaching Solkan, the cycling route leads you through the Italian side of Goriška Brda, passing the Oslavje and Števerjan villages. You then reach Slovenia again very soon and cycle towards the village Hum.
As the route pedals towards the Adriatic — with occasional climbs that are appropriate for all cycling levels — the climate also begins to change. The air takes on a Mediterranean feel. The mountains, though still visible and very present, start to become more background scenery than bicycling challenges. In the place of alpine meadows, vineyards dominate the new landscape. In every direction, grapevines methodically line fields into the distance and drop behind the horizon. Many vineyards will harvest this fruit to create some of the most unheralded wine on the continent.
For many travelers, these gentle, rolling hills recall visions of Tuscany. The region and its wineries are famous for their hospitality, but they are now becoming increasingly well known across the globe for their high-quality vintages. The world is starting to catch on it seems.
After cycling through the border villages the cycling route passes the view tower in Gonjače which stands tall in the Goriška Brda and offers a fantastic panoramic view. The view shows just how singular Slovenia is. To the north, you see high Julian Alps with it’s stunning mountain peaks. Italy’s Friuli Region fills the western view. To the east, the Vipava Valley, the route’s next stage, awaits. And, to the south, Slovenia’s Karst Region flowing to the Adriatic Sea calls for more adventures.
Finishing your stop at the Gonjače view tower means that you’re almost finished for the second day of cycling. From there you reach Šmartno and Dobrovo villages in a very short time and you can finally enjoy a well-deserved break with a view over the vineyards.
In case you’d like to choose a harder route variant for the second day, we’ve also prepared this option. It goes from Kobarid to Livek, past Nebesa and Livške Ravne to the Kolovrat ridge where an Outdoor museum Kolovrat is located. This First World War Museum stands right on the spot of the third Italian defence line from the First World War. After taking a look around the outside museum the cycling route continues through Lig, Kambreško, and just under the peak of Korada to Gonjače. After reaching Gonjače the route to the finish is completely the same as with the easier option of the trail.
THINGS TO SEE:
**Opening hours (restaurants, degustations, …)
Though it is difficult to pull yourself away from the Goriška Brda Region, the next stage offers another full and rewarding day of excellent cycling and top-end gastronomy. The trail also takes cyclists through different natural environments and provides real insight into why Slovenia is so singular among destinations in Europe.
Lonely Planet wrote this about this beautiful area of Slovenia: “The [Vipava] Valley is green and beautiful, the food and wine are of superior quality. A perfect destination for a relaxed and at the same time active vacation.”
This stage, which is about 60 km long, passes the italian side of Goriška Brda for a short time at the beginning of the day. It goes to the center of Stara Gorica which is on the Italian side of the border. In Stara Gorica you cross the border and shortly afterwards join the cycling route on the outskirts of the Slovenian city Nova Gorica, which is a green destination with a golden Slovenia Green mark. Europa square which connects the cities Nova Gorica and Stara Gorica or Gorizia is in the near vicinity of the route. This square is a demonstration of an exceptional unity and connection between the neighbouring nations.
From there the route follows the crystal clear and magical Vipava River, which is famous for its trout and unparalleled fishing. Placing a toe into the beginning of the Karst region, the ride will continue into another incredible — and incredibly unheralded — wine region. This is the home to the largest number of indigenous wine varieties in Slovenia.
The day ends in Vipava, a Slovenia Green Gold destination with its historic castle ruins, incredible wine, and food, which has earned a Michelin Star. Cyclists can also carry on to Ajdovščina, which is the second largest town in the valley and a Slovenia Green Silver destination. A former Roman stronghold located on the Hubelj River. Bubbling over with history and centered around a relaxed old town center with art galleries, boutique accommodations, wonderful restaurants focused on dishes created with local ingredients, craft beer, and, of course, great wine, this is the perfect spot to celebrate the end of another great stage and get ready for the days ahead.
THINGS TO SEE:
Nova Gorica and Vipava Valley Tourist Board
Like with the Goriška Brda Region, leaving the Vipava Valley will be difficult. As is the case with every region in Slovenia, there is always the sensation that you could just stay where you are for a few more days to cycle, eat, explore, and just take in the majesty of the scenery. Once you’ve pulled yourself away and finished that cup of coffee while enjoying the lush green panorama, get on the bike to pedal into the Karst Region.
Heading south, the trail eventually rides along and crosses the Vipava River before also crossing the Močilnik Stream and rolling west to the Karst landscape that acts as a connection between the Alps, vineyards, green valleys, and the Adriatic Sea. This region is famous for its incredible caves, open landscapes, horses, and mouthwatering — and locally sourced — food.
The route of the fourth day is characterized by rolling terrain and moderately difficult riding, because you’ll have to gain some altitude to reach the Karst plateau from the Vipava valley. We’ve included three variants of the route in the navigation pack so you can adjust the trip to your physical condition. The easier variant includes less ascent while the hardest variant on the other hand includes ascending to the beautiful and high Karst ridges that offer fantastic panoramic views before descending in the direction of Štanjel.
The day and 38-kilometer stage kicks at the end with a climb up to Štanjel, or — if you’re feeling strong — another 10 kilometers down the road in Komen. Among the many exciting discoveries that gourmet cyclists will discover is that this is both wine AND prosciutto (called pršut here) country. Between the towns, the Ščuka family estate, in the village of Kobjeglava, produces some of the best pršut anywhere … and welcomes guests.
In Štanjel, cyclists are rewarded with a wonderfully picturesque perched medieval village, where architecture, culture, and heritage merge. The views across the karst landscape are worth the ride alone. The real magic here happens while taking in an art gallery, seeing the castle, or visiting the Ferrari Garden. As dusk falls, relaxing in the main square with a top-end meal and bottle of wine will make anyone glad they stopped.
Just down the road, Komen is another Instagram-worthy perched village. This is also where the Slovenia Green Gourmet Route intersects with the Walk of Peace walking path, which pays homage to the First World War front line that once ran across this stretch of land. History and respect meet in Komen, a beautiful place where excellent food, wine, and cycling have also intersected.
Cycling deeper into the Karst Region gives cyclists another day and stage — this one approximately 48 kilometers — to get to know one of the most important, beautiful, and fragile areas of both Slovenia and Europe. In this critical environment, stone and water converge to create the world caves for which it is famous. But, caves are only the beginning.
The Karst region is famous for its crafts like basket-making and stonecutting. There is also a unique and mind-blowing amount of natural diversity here where forests, rocks, and water creates their own climate. The result of this crossroads between culture, crafts, and climate creates, as one might expect, a fantastic growing zone for fruits, vegetables, and grapes for world-class wine.
For many today, Slovenia may seem like the next great culinary locale in Europe. People here, however, have been aware of the food and wine quality in this country since time immemorial. Be sure to take lunch in one of the many spots along the route that specialize in homegrown, homemade meals.
Traveling south and east from Komen, the SGGR hugs the Italian border and parallels the Gulf of Trieste to the west. After an undulating morning of pedaling, riders meander their way to the town Lipica. This is the site of the famous stud farm, where the white, thoroughbred Lipizzan horses have been bred since the 16th century.
Turn due east, cycle through the town of Lokev to the end of the day’s route in Divača. Along the way, two of the world’s great underground caverns — the Divača Cave and the Škocjan Caves — welcome visitors. Since the 19th century, visitors have marveled at the Divača Cave, which has an illuminated, 500-meter path.
About four kilometers away are the Škocjan Caves, which have been on the UNESCO World Cultural, Slovenia Green Park, and Natural Heritage list since 1986. As its website describes, the incredible system “is a broad network of underground caves, passages, collapse dolines, natural bridges and swallow holes. It was created by the Reka River which, after flowing for 50 km on the surface, disappears in this location into the karst underground and reappears in water sources near the Gulf of Trieste.”
After an excellent first week in the saddle, get ready for the Slovenia Green Gourmet Route’s second, eastern half. Take a train with your gear back to the capital city of Ljubljana, which is both a Slovenia Green Gold destination and arguably not just the greenest capital in Europe but also one of the most welcoming places to enjoy great food outside in the town center among visitors and locals alike.
Begin your morning in the Old Town along the Ljubljanica River with coffee in one of the nearby waterside cafes. From your spot, you’ll be within a few steps from the Ljubljana Central Market, where vendors offer fresh-baked bread, vegetables, cheeses, nuts, honey, and more.
After shopping for breakfast and replenishing your energy — and your snacks for your bike packs — you can get to know Ljubljana in a different light by heading on one of the guided tours, where learning about culture is intertwined with tasting food, beer, and wine. One such walk is the Moustache Tour. Other culinary outings visit the growing number of gourmet spots scattered across the metropolis.
Before lunch, take a trip to the Ljubljana Marshes, which can be reached by bicycle or on foot. Only a few capital cities have such a vast and special green area at their doorstep. UNESCO-protected because of its beautiful nature and rich archaeological heritage, the Marshes are located in the Ljubljana Basin and stretch over an area covering 163 square kilometers. On the southern edge of the Marshes, the Ljubljanica River flows out of multiple Karst springs.
If you are in the city on a Friday, you have to visit the Open Kitchen or Odprta Kuhna in Slovenian. Restaurants from around the city set up in Pogačarjev Square to share a truly multicultural and tastebud-tingling culinary experience. From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. dozens of chefs cook dishes from nearly every tradition and nearly every continent to an eager audience of gourmands, who have known for years what the world is starting to discover: the Slovenian capital is a gourmet capital.
As an additional cycling trip of day 6 we recommend the circular Plečnik cycling route which lasts for 2 hours and leads you to Plečnik’s heritage in Trnovo, center of Ljubljana, Žale graveyard and Tivoli park.
Taking in the eastern half of Slovenia makes the Green Gourmet Route a truly country-wide experience.
After opening the day with a train ride east from Ljubljana, riders will deboard in Hrastnik and jump on their saddles. From here, cyclists will follow a narrow canyon to Podkraj on the Sava, which widens significantly at the town of Radeče and offers incredible views of the landscape along this important river and into the welcoming Posavja Valley.
Today’s stage, around 27 kilometers in length, is all about relaxed, easy cycling and great wine along quiet roads surrounded by vineyards on excursions like the Castle Wine Stories of Posavja. And at the end of the ride, adventurers can soak in the area’s famous thermal spas. Does it all sound too good to be true? Welcome to the Posavja Region.
Millennia ago, the Romans respected this lush region and instantly saw its value as both a place to grow incredible food and a place for transportation around the region. In time, castles began to appear throughout Posavja — with a prominent example in the silver-certified Slovenia Green town of Sevnica, where today’s stage ends. What often intrigues travelers here is how little they know about this part of the country. The next thing many visitors notice is how much the region stays true to the values that have made it a land of rich bounty for so many centuries.
Though the scenery is stunning for the entire ride, staying overnight in Sevnica and the incredibly dense cultural history here make this stage worth it all by itself. Visitors will need to stick around for another day or come back to see all the sites. A few key must-sees include the Sevnica Castle, which dates to the 1300s, the 5th-century Ajdovski Gradec archaeological site, and the Railway Museum. And this is to say nothing of the delicious fruit and grapes producing wines like the region’s famous Blaufränkisch variety.
Wine and food events and festivals happen throughout the year and make the Posavja Valley and Sevnica one of the next great destinations in Central Europe.
The next day — a hearty 56-kilometer stage — is slightly more challenging, but no less beautiful as it rambles south and then east until it eventually straddles the Croatian border and then heads north. Along the way, riders will find themselves in the gourmet country with dozens of magnificent bistros and restaurants, and places to sample top-end wines. There are also plenty of attractions along the way.
Right at the beginning of this day’s route when you’ll be cycling along the river Sava to Krško you’ll pass Rajhenburg castle which was built in 12. century. This is only one of the dozen castles in the Posavje region and it really shows why visiting this part of Slovenia is really worthwhile. The impressive castle which stands on a hill right at the confluence of rivers Sava and Brestanica was renovated in the last years and today hosts traditional events, concerts and theatrical performances.
After seeing the Rajhenburg castle the route then leads to the north, past the Krško city to Kozjansko. On top of a longer ascent and just above the small city called Podsreda the Podsreda castle is located. This is the most medieval castle among Slovenian castles and an information center for Kozjansko regional park is located in its basement. Kozjansko regional park is the largest Slovenian protected area and has earned a golden Slovenia Green Park mark.
The route then makes its way to Podčetrtek — a town and Slovenia Green Gold destination surrounded by nature, spas, gourmet experiences, and a chance to interact with forest and mountain wildlife in a unique way. Nearly everywhere you turn you will find a different place to try great food and sample wine.
This area is known for numerous attractions, and nearly all fit perfectly with a cyclist’s priorities when the day’s ride is through. For the kids and family, relax at Jelenov greben, a family farm with splendid food and a petting zoo of sorts with around 100 freely roaming deer and mouflons. The Olimje Chocolate Shop is a family-run business that produces some of the best homemade sweets you’re likely to taste. The Kozmus Beekeeping Farm welcomes guests to learn about this incredibly important, gourmet process. And the Terme Olimia Resort, where spas, restaurants, and accommodation exist in one spot, your body will be ready for the next day.
If you are feeling energetic after the day’s ride, you can also visit Beaver’s Center that shows the rich nature around Sotla river, and afterwards continue riding for another 5 kilometers to reach the town of Rogaška Slatina. This gold-stamped Slovenia Green destination is one of the country’s oldest spa sites.
For centuries — the first mention of the springs here dates back to 1141 — people have been coming here to heal and relax. The mineral water, which produces the well-known Donat Mg water, has the world’s highest content of magnesium. While strolling down the promenade of Spa Park, you can even visit the Hall of Minear Water to try the renowned mineral water. Later, we recommend a walk to the historical Crystal Hall and a special beauty treatment at Kozmetika Afrodita beauty center.
But, Rogaška Slatina isn’t only about spas and springs. Ana’s Palace Museum nicely shows everything that Rogaška Slatina is known for. There is also a wonderful wine road in the area and the town has a long history of glass production as well. Dating back to 1655, the Rogaška glasswork and the artistry of its creation are some of the most impressive on the planet. For a perfect end of the day, you can visit Rogaška Glassworks to see how crystal glass products are made.
Relaxed and recovered with a massage and some wildlife bonding, you’ll wake ready for the next stage, which covers approximately 62 kilometers of rolling terrain. Today’s route continues north to the ancient, yet thriving Ptuj, which is Slovenia’s oldest town. Visitors marvel at Ptuj’s magical lake, buzzing cobbled streets, castles, and festivals showcasing outstanding wine, food, and art.
There is evidence of the city’s settlement as early as the 3rd millennium BC. The Celts left their mark during the Iron Age and then the Romans made this area an important army camp. The middle ages brought stability to the region and made Ptuj what it is today with several of its main buildings and sightseeing attractions already taking key spots of prominence, including the Dominican Monastery, the Minorite Monastery, and the Church of St. George.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Ptuj, which straddles the Drava River, is a magnet for visitors — especially active travelers. A tradition of wellness and spa possibilities along with a full calendar of events make this a premier stop for cyclists along the Slovenia Green Gourmet Route.
Although this stage of the route is a bit longer, you can make it even more interesting with a short but steep ascent across Haloze. From there you can enjoy marvelous views over the wine-growing hills, fields of Ptuj and Ptuj lake.
This stage takes you on easygoing asphalt and gravel sections along the Drava River. Today’s trail, which is about 32 kilometers long, follows Drava Cycling Route and makes all of the area’s incredible and lush strengths immediately available the way only bicycling can.
As riders roll to the end of the Green Gourmet Route and the final destination of Maribor — a city with Slovenia Green Bronze certification — they will discover the world’s oldest vine, which has its house and museum. This vine, which is of the Žametovka variety, is more than four centuries old and recognized by the Guinness Book of Records. The age of the vine is indicative of the depth of the area’s gastronomic and gourmet prowess. Make sure to relax with great food and wine as your SGGR pedaling odyssey comes to a close. The city is a hub for excellent and Michelin-recognized restaurants and bistros.
But Maribor is more than just a city with a beautiful river and wine. The city has museums, theaters, and art galleries to explore between escapes to hiking trails with panoramic photo-ops of the Drava River. Take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy Slovenia’s second-biggest city and the main metropolis in the east.
Before taking the train back to Ljubljana, spend the day investigating the cycling routes around Maribor. There are urban paths, mountain bike trails, and connections to larger networks. In all, the city is the headquarters for hundreds of kilometers of cycling itineraries through the area, region, country, and extending into Europe.
The first interesting cycling route that we recommend leads you from Maribor to the popular viewpoint on St. Urban. From there a beautiful panorama of the second largest city Maribor opens in front of your eyes. The cycling route then leads past the village Gaj nad Mariborom to Zgornja Kungota where an excellent, one Michelin star rated restaurant Hiša Denk is located. After having a delicious multi course meal you can slowly start returning to Maribor. You can choose either to cycle along the gradual cycling trail and local roads or you can opt for an automobile transfer to the route’s starting point.
The second cycling route that could be interesting to you leads you from Maribor along the Drava river to a short stop in Drava center where you can rent a canoe or a paddle board to enjoy some water activity. We also recommend you to grab a chocolate bar in the chocolate shop Teta Frida that’s in the center. After this pause the cycling route leads you to the funicular that’ll take you to the ridge of Pohorje which offers a magnificent view of the surroundings. You then cycle on the ridge until you reach Areh village and then descend steeply to Planica village where the Tourist organic farm Pri Baronu with a Slovenia Green Cousine mark is located. To get to the route’s starting point in Maribor you cycle past the Botanical garden.
Before boarding a train back to the capital Ljubljana, wave goodbye to the Slovenia Green Gourmet Route — the world’s first all-green-certified gourmet cycling itinerary — and congratulate yourself for being a responsible traveler who knows that the destinations most important ingredients are its food, culture, and the people who produce them.