Our 10 night holiday takes you from the turquoise waters of Lake Bled, nestled below Slovenia's jagged Julian Alps, along the Alpe Adria Trail, passing into Italy. Wind down through the mountains to the island of Grado on the Adriatic coast. On route pass through the historic towns of Venzone, Udine and Palmanova.
Day 1: Arrive in Bled Arrive at your stunningly located 4 star hotel overlooking Lake Bled, its romantic island and mountains beyond. Time for a refreshing dip, sauna or massage before sampling chef Andrej Rovan's gastronomic cuisine - we promise that dining here for the next 2 nights will be a real treat!
Day 2: Lake Bled Circular Cycle 32km/20mi or 41km/26mi Your circular warm-up ride takes you first along the shore of Lake Bled and then through a series of sleepy Slovenian hamlets and on to 12th century Kamen Castle. Explore its Gothic and Renaissance keeps, and climb the preserved Roman tower - great views from the top. Picnic at the peaceful Zavrsnica Reservoir then cross the white-water Sava Dolinka River back towards Bled. We strongly recommend the short uphill detour to its castle - the oldest in Slovenia - with towers, ramparts, moat and viewing terrace.
Day 3: Lake Bled to Tarvisio 36km/22.5mi After breakfast, we take you (25 mins) to Mojstrana, a gateway village to the Triglav National Park. You can almost reach out and touch the jagged limestone pinnacles of the Julian Alps on the one side, and the contrasting rolling hills of the Karawanken mountains on the other, as you start your cycle west through the valley. Birdlife here is prolific so look out for eagles, hawks and rare birds of prey as you approach charming Kranjska Gora, a pretty alpine ski village and fantastic lunch spot. A pine-scented stretch then leads you across the border and down to the gorgeous 4 star Hotel Edelhof, just 5 minutes' walk from the village centre.
Day 4: At Tarvisio Widely regarded as the 'jewel in the crown' of the Julian Alps, the twin glacial lakes of Fusine are breathtakingly beautiful. Alternatively, if you're up for a longer cycling challenge, it's an exhilarating ride over the border to the Austrian alpine town of Arnoldstein where a chairlift (open 25/5 - 28/9) whisks you to the tripoint where Austria, Italy and Slovenia meet - a fabulous experience and undoubtedly one of the best photo opportunities of the week!
Day 5: Tarvisio to Venzone 65km/41mi A longer but totally undemanding cycling route today packed with interest, colour and natural beauty. After a 400m descent (great fun!) into the wooded Fella Valley, your traffic-free cycle trails wind through cheery mountain communities - often criss-crossing the river below - en route to Venzone, a jaw-droppingly pretty mediaeval walled town, famous for its lavender.
Day 6: Venzone to Udine 54km/31.5mi As the sun rises the valley lights up and the mountain silhouettes come to life; you coast effortlessly along tranquil lanes, passing fruit orchards, vineyards and remote churches nestled in the rolling foothills of the Friuli hills. Lots of traditional villages - Tavagnacco, Treppo Piccolo and Osoppo - will tempt you for lunch before you continue on through gentian-carpeted meadows to the historic regional capital, Udine.
Day 7: At Udine The birthplace of acclaimed 17th century artist, Giambattista Tiepolo, Udine's honeycomb of brightly coloured, portico-lined squares between Piazza Liberta, known as 'the most beautiful Venetian piazza on the mainland' and Piazza Matteotti, boast fine shops, historic cafes and traditional osterias and are the very essence of this friendly city. For a longer day out Venice can be reached (90 mins) by train.
Day 8: Udine to Palmanova 31km/19.5mi If you fancy the idea of gentle pedalling from one pretty wine village to the next - with lots of traditional tasting trattorias thrown in - then this is the day for you! Enjoy lunch in mediaeval Pavia di Udine then it's on through sun-dappled cornfields and swaying vines to the 16th century star-fort citadel of Palmanova.
Day 9: Palmanova to Grado 30km/19mi The highlight of today's cycle is, without doubt, the UNESCO-listed, ancient Roman city of Aquileia, a self-standing masterpiece of sacred art and historical treasure. Discover its immense archaeological site, magnificent 14th century mosaics and dominant patriarchal basilica before heading down the spectacular Adriatic lagoon to the island town of Grado where the elegant 4 star Hotel Hannover overlooks the charming port, and is just 200m from the beach.
Day 10: At Grado It's easy to see why Grado is known as the 'Sun Island' and you may well be tempted to spend the day relaxing on its sandy beaches simply soaking up the lovely views over the sea to Croatia and Slovenia! But do make time to stroll the calli e campielli (lanes and courtyards) of the well-kept historic town. Here you'll find winding alleys, pretty little squares and traditional cason (old fishermen's houses clustered together almost one on top of the other). There is the option to cycle along the coast through the Cavanta nature reserve to the delta of the River Isonzo too.
Day 11: Leave Grado Please note that cycling helmets are compulsory in Slovenia for all customers under 15yrs. As we are unable to provide these, we strongly recommend that you bring your own. Please see our Planning your holiday page for full details.
All continental breakfasts and 4 evening meals
Lufthansa Heathrow to Ljubljana via Munich 06:55/12:15 and transfer to hotel 40 minutes. Return: Transfer to airport 30 minutes then Lufthansa Trieste to Heathrow via Munich 13:20/17:05.
32 per night (6 nights will be in a double for single occupancy and 4 nights will be in a single room).
Hotel Triglav (4 star) The Hotel Triglav is a historic hotel sitting above beautiful Lake Bled, dating back to 1903 it has an interesting history through the times of communism and the break-up of Yugoslavia. It has in recent years become renowned for its innovative take of Slovenian cuisine. All rooms are of a good size, there is also a lovely terrace where you can view the lake and enjoy a glass of wine from its extensive cellar. The hotel has a swimming pool and sauna both adding to the comfort. Sitting opposite the town of Bled you can follow a lake path to either visit the town or the impressive castle which towers over the lake.
Hotel Edelhof (4 star) Sitting just a short walk from the centre of Tarvisio and at the foot of the winter ski slopes the Hotel Edelhof takes its influences from bordering Austria in its design and feel. The breakfast room and restaurant are more akin to an Austrian Stube and the rooms are delightfully decorated, a mix of elegance with an Austrian mountain feel. The food though is distinctly Italian with great local choices and good wines, the hotel has a small spa area (pay locally) and a garden terrace.
Agiturismo Casali Scjs (2 star) The Agriturismo Casali Scjs is a quaint farmhouse in a rural setting. There is a restaurant next door or it's around 400m into Venzone. A national monument, Venzone is a great example of architectural renovation. The Tiere Motus is a museum that retraces the history of the town and especially of the earthquake and the subsequent reconstruction work.
Astoria Hotel Italia (4 star) The Astoria hotel sits on one of the squares in the centre of the old town of Udine, the hotel building dates back to the 14th century and has been owned by many noble families. The rooms are large and offer all modern amenities, the large breakfast room opens out into a small garden where breakfast can be taken in good weather. The city's historic quarter is on your doorstep with a huge choice of restaurants, and the train station is just a 20 minute walk away.
Hotel Ai Dogi Palmanova (3 star) This lovely 3 star hotel is in a quiet spot in the corner of the piazza which is the heart of the geometric perfect town. With the square on your doorstep, there is a great choice of restaurants and bars, and it is easy to explore the town. It has one of Italy's best pizzerias. The rooms are nice and modern and the hotels small breakfast area has a well-stocked buffet.
Hotel Hannover (4 star) The Hotel Hannover is in the perfect position for visiting the town of Grado, situated looking over the harbour and on the edge of the charming old fishing quarter. It has good sized rooms some with balconies, others with views of the harbour, and a nice breakfast room and harbour side outside terrace. The restaurants of the town are within easy walking distance of the hotel.
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