By car, you can drive across Slovenia in a couple hours, in either direction. Roughly one hour driving is equivalent to one day of bicycling. The pandemic has complicated the idea of even visiting Slovenia’s border countries. I’ve toured twice around the world by bicycle. I love international travel, but now even exploring my own country of Slovenia is somewhat difficult. Combing the train, buses or Prevoz with your bicycle can give get a jump on your tour. The many villages, campgrounds, nature, museums, restaurants of Slovenia can be explored up close with a bicycle.
I’ve been to Velenje several times and it just keeps getting better and better. Velenje was nominated for best Slovenian natural beach in 2018. I put my bike on the train and a couple hours later I was lakeside. There was some left over EU money so Velenje decided to use it to expand their bicycle path network. Everywhere you want to go now, offers safe family friendly bike routes. Before from the campground you had to take a dirt path & cross over the train tracks, no more. Now there’s a new bicycle path & tunnel to the grocery store.
As a rock & gem collector I always visit the Hiša Mineralov. They have a full collection of Slovenian, Balkan and International specimens. The castle museum has a great African art collection. The tourist office also has rotating art showings too. I was lucky enough to catch the beer & food festival in Velenje too.
Something I like doing while travelling is visiting local breweries and Vegan restaurants. I contacted Skubeer brewery in Šoštanj, , it’s about a 4 km ride from the campground. They’re working on the bike paths, including this one. It was sunny when I biked over and dark when I attempted to bike back. At one point I was so lost, I was pushing my bike through the woods & using google maps.
They wanted me to help them empty the keg, (if you insist). It was great to experience a small family business making a go of it. I watched them bottle the beer, by hand. Some other micro breweries I’ve visited had the auto bottle filler.
I intended to stay in Velenje for just 2 or 3 days, I stayed for a week. There was always something fun & interesting to do. I tried paddle boarding for the first time too!
After a week in Velenje it’s time to do some riding. The more you familiarize yourself with using a map program it’s easy to figure out the low-traffic routes. The route to Zalec was nearly car-free and had awesome views. Once you climb out of Velenje, you ride the crest of the mountain, with views on both sides of the road. You have to stop at ZALEC BEER FOUNTAIN, hey I rode my bike, I earned it.
I’ve been to Celje several times. Slovenia’s 3rd largest town has & is investing in bike infrastructure, like Velenje. I rode on gravel into Celje, they were about to asphalt it anyday. I stayed at the MCC Celje hostel, not only a great bed, but the best beer selection in Celje.
There’s a man made lake outside Celje, Lake Šmartinsko jezero. Originally built for a water supply for Celje, but then Celje decided to use a different source. You can spend a full day riding around the lake, swimming and there are several restaurants around the lake. The sky view, the lake looks like an octopus (google maps). I’ve been watching from the train as they were building the new bike route from Celje to Lashko. So I’m going a ride it and check it out, I’m excited. I wanted to do the Lashko brewery tour too, but no, covid closed. Still a great safe ride.
BIKING TO PTJU & PTJU
This was one of the best biking days ever. The route from Celje to Putj had bike paths for the first 15 km. When your that far out of town, there’s not a lot of traffic. It’s awesome to be in parts of Slovenia that most people don’t see or visit.
I’ve been to Ptuj 5 or 6 times. I use to live in Skofja Loka, both claim to be the “oldest” cities in Slovenia. Personally I don’t brag about being the oldest, just saying. I like camping at the Sava Resort Ptuj. If you stay 2 nights, you can get the camping, resort access (pools & saunas) and 4 “AWESOME” buffet meals, all for 58 euro. A few other must visits in Ptuj are the Bodi Karvana and the Muzikafe. Muzikafe has the best hang out private patio garden. Ptuj has the Kurent Festival, I went years ago, fun, but once was enough. After 150 Kurrents ringing cow belles, that was enough bells for one day.
I grabbed the train in Ptuj and headed back home to Ljubljana.
After writing this, I’m reflecting on how lucky some of us are to have been able to travel “virus” free. What’s happening makes the simple bicycle travel I just outlined, nearly impossible at this time. Here in Slovenia, you’re not even allowed to travel to the next municipality. This situation is bad for me, but I feel worse for young people. What’s happening is so unfair. Slovenia will probably open up first for in country residents travelling in Slovenia. Travelling to neighboring countries? it’s going to be awhile. So biking will probably be a great viable option for future travel, without much traffic.
Let’s get through virus mess, wear a mask, stay the phuck home and hope for a better tomorrow.
Velenje to Ptuj by bicycle GOOGLE MAP ROUTE