July 2022

Karawanken view from Slovenia

Let me start with a bit of history. After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the end of World War I, in many parts of Europe the borders were formed through referendums. This was the case with Silesia in Germany / Poland, it was similar with Carinthia or South Tyrol. As a result of the vote, all of Carinthia, except for a small piece today called Slovenian Carinthia, fell to Austria.

Today the border between Carinthia and Slovenia runs along the Karavanken mountain range. You can get to the other side through the Würzenpass, the Loib crossing, both quite steep, so very suitable for bicycles;). One can also go through a tunnel and the A11 highway (fee is 10€ one way, on holiday weekends always jammed, waiting time can be up to 2h). In addition to the tunnel for cars, there is also a tunnel for the trains.

Train to Jesenice

I decide to go with the latter solution and took some friends with me. A convenient connection takes off from Villach at 8.35 a.m. and arrives in Jesenice at 9.19 a.m. Depending on your condition, you can go to the beautifully situated Lake Bled, or straight away, via Italy’s Tarvisio, to Villach. That trip this means about 70km of mostly undemanding touring.

One of steepy, but very short climbs

Aside from the short route when one leaves the city of Jesenice, the ride goes almost all the way along a beautiful bicycle road. Perfectly marked, just after Jesenice it has a few hills, including maybe two sharp but short climbs; they won’t be much trouble even for occasional cyclists.

In the village of Mojstrana you can stop for a while in the pleasant garden of the Tourist Office, they have complimentary coffee there. It’s also a place where you can rent sports equipment or electric bikes. The place is attractively located, right next to the river and a small bridge.

Sawa Bridge

The route is popular, with plenty of tourists, and a lot of speeding road riders – the excellent surface of the route gives great fun riding on thin tires.

Eventually, the route reaches Kranjska Gora – the most popular mountain resort in Slovenia. In the winter it hosts World Cup skiing competitions, and in the summer it’s full of Sunday tourists, or those who plan to go to nearby Triglav.

Of course, there are many bars along the way, with prices much nicer than in Austria – for example, a large beer costs €2.5.

Just a few kilometers behind Kranjska Gora one suddenly cross Italian border. It is so fast and unnoticeable that I always fail to take a photo. However, this time I noticed that the Italians have taken to work and are replacing the road surface. When I drove there 2 years ago, the asphalt was crumbling and there were lots of holes – today it is smooth as a table.

Fresh Italian work

The Italian part is more hilly, with some nice bridges and views along the way, and that’s how you get to the turn-off at Tarvisio. Going left will take you to the city and on to the route I described before and to the right – to Villach via Arnoldstein. Light and pleasant.

Picture taken from Strava.com