Explore three countries by bike in one week, cycling between Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. The history of the Republic of Venice provides the background to the entire trip. From the canal city of Venice, pass beaches, simple fishing villages and grand palaces as you make your way along the coastline and to the plain of Friuli. Ancient Roman towns and numerous castles are dotted on the route to the lively harbour city of Trieste. With two border crossings to cycle through, the journey ends on the beautiful Croatian coastline in the town of Porec. Staying in specially chosen hotels in the historic centres or along the coastline, this cycle journey offers a perfect combination of historic towns and seaside landscapes.
The cycling is introductory to moderate (2) grade with daily cycles of around 40 to 70km/25 to 43.5mi. The accent is on keeping a steady pace with time to stop and take photos (subject to weather conditions). You will need a reasonable level of cycling fitness to participate fully in this adventure. The first three days are mainly on flat roads, across the Veneto and Friuli plain, while the last three stages are slightly hillier. You need only carry your camera and water bottle. Your luggage is transported for you between hotels. *For safety reasons, we insist that cycle helmets be included as a compulsory item on your equipment list.
Make your own way to Mestre on the mainland of Venice. On arrival at your hotel you will be given your hotel vouchers, route information and maps. From here it is easy to venture into the famous canal city for your own personal exploration – note that bikes (like cars) are not allowed on the island. The city of Venice will captivate you with its splendour and history. In the early evening you will meet with a local representative who will describe the tour, deliver your bikes and answer any of your questions.
Today you take the ferry to the island of Lido, passing in front of Piazza San Marco, and a smaller boat to Punta Sabbioni (tickets included). From here you cycle towards Jesolo or Caorle along the Venetian Adriatic coast, with numerous opportunities for a refreshing swim in the sea. Overnight at Jesolo or Caorle.
Today you will leave the sea behind and head north towards the Julian Alps. The route follows quiet country roads, traversing a land that is rich in water. You will be passing through an area with a multitude of 'Valli da pesca' (stretches of lagoon enclosed by earthen dikes where extensive fish farming is practised) and 'casoni' (constructions used by fisherman in the past during fishing season). There is a small section (1.8km) along a dirt road near the village of Torre di Mosto. Continue to the town of Portogruaro, one of the main centres during the 'Serenissima Republic of Venice' period and still impressive today with its glorious 'palazzi' or palaces.
Spend the day cycling in the midst of the plain on the eastern border between the region of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, passing through an area abundant in water and history, among rivers, canals and ancient Roman towns. Your destination for the day will be Aquileia, with its Roman excavations, or Palmanova, named "the starry city" because from above it resembles a 9-pointed star.
You can shorten the stage by about 20km/12.5mi by catching the train from Portogruaro to Latisana.
This morning you cross the Isonzo river, the scene of important battles during the First World War, before heading towards the sea: the Gulf of Trieste awaits you with many possible stops along the way. Visit Duino with its two castles, Sistiana with its characteristic bay, and Miramare with its white castle built according to the wishes of Maximilian I of Augsburg, situated in a beautiful park of more than 20 hectares. A few kilometres further is Trieste, once the only sea port of the Hapsburg Empire. Trieste has a lot to offer in the way of attractions.
It is possible to shorten the cycle by about 30km/18.5mi with a train transfer at the end of the stage, from Monfalcone to Trieste. This also avoids the quite busy 'Strada Statale 14'.
Today is a more demanding stage than the preceding days, with some short ascents and some stretches of moderate traffic. After a few kilometres you will cross over the border into Slovenia. Continue cycling through famous holiday resorts such as Koper, originally a Venetian town and then Austrian, and Piran, another important town which was ruled for a long time by the Venetians. You will finally arrive in Portorož, a town renowned for its spa and bathing facilities.
Today's cycle takes you through the salt mines of Secovlje, a large Slovenian town where a unique habitat has formed for halophytic plants and animals and migrating birds. Cross the Croatian border along Istria, the Adriatic Sea's largest peninsula. Here the terrain becomes hilly, with small villages and vast forests. Your destination is Porec, the tourism capital of Croatia. You should take the time to see its Eufrasian Basilica, which was declared Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO in 1997.
After breakfast the trip concludes.
It's possible to return to Venice by ferry - please ask for our rates.
F. Szanto., Sydney, NSW Australia
The first three days of the Venice > Porec bike ride lulled us into a false sense of security: the last three days were much more demanding but not difficult (at least we didn't think so). The places and people we met were terrific.
B. & E. Christison., Vermont South, VIC Australia
The connection of historic places through a well planned bike trail offered a great mix of experiences - slow travel engaging with the local place and people. Well organised with good local operator and extensive support information.
J. Hepper., Hobart, TAS Australia
Per Person, Twin Share