A motorcycle trip from Trieste, Italy, by way of Slovenia, to the traditional metropolis of Pula, Croatia, begins from the Adriatic coast’s 90-degree bend on the ocean’s northern coast and rolls down its japanese shore to the tip of the Istria peninsula. The 150-mile leisurely journey brims with historical traditions, elegant meals and perched-village photograph ops. Historical past right here is measured in millenniums and empires: Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Napoleonic, Austro-Hungarian.
The trip follows two routes: the EuroVelo 8 and the Parenzana Trail. The paths overlap for a lot of the itinerary earlier than separating after which reuniting on Croatia’s Istrian coast. The six-stage trip covers between 22 and 30 easy-to-moderate miles per day, with occasional difficult ascents. Cyclists pedal sufficient to see a great deal of tradition whereas incomes their seafood, pasta and wine — however not a lot that they’ll be exhausted.
You’ll begin in Trieste by hopping on the 4,700-mile EuroVelo 8 (EV8), which extends from Cádiz, Spain, to Cyprus. The EV8 is a part of the EuroVelo community, which started 25 years in the past with 12 routes crisscrossing the continent. Immediately, the community connects 42 international locations on 17 routes, masking greater than 50,000 miles. The most recent trail, working from Austria to Hungary, was added in 2020.
“The truth that extra individuals are taking on biking is nice for all of us,” EuroVelo’s director, Ed Lancaster, not too long ago instructed me. “Biking helps native economies,” he mentioned, noting that it additionally “reduces tourism’s environmental footprint.”
South of Trieste, in Muggia, Italy, the EV8 overlaps with the Parenzana Path by way of Slovenia. The routes diverge in Croatia, the place you’ll take the Parenzana, which follows the trail of the previous Parenzana railroad. Constructed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1902, the practice linked 33 stations over 76 miles from Trieste to the Croatian city of Poreč, on the Istrian coast. Immediately it supplies a biking hall by way of communities identified for truffles, olive oil and wine.
Each the EV8 and the Parenzana roll throughout a number of surfaces: bike paths faraway from site visitors; roads and byways, typically with little site visitors; and gravel trails by way of vineyards and forests.
Among the many causes I counsel this trip: The phases are quick, signage is common and the trail is full of villages and providers. On a current journey, I stayed at bike-friendly inns and guesthouses, and set off every morning round 8 a.m., giving myself loads of time to discover.
Day 1: 30 Miles from Trieste to Piran, Slovenia
A clean begin on the coast
After arriving in Trieste from Ljubljana, the place I dwell, I began my journey with a two-cup morning within the residence of the Illy espresso firm and, arguably, Italy’s espresso capital. The primary cease was the Illy Ponterosso cafe on the mouth of Canal Grande, whose out of doors tables overlook the canal flowing into the Gulf of Trieste. As I sipped an espresso, I inspected my gravel bike (a hybrid with road-bicycle geometry and off-road sturdiness). It was loaded with luggage for garments, instruments, maps and notebooks. Behind me, the statue of James Joyce, who lived and wrote in Trieste, appeared to prod me to my subsequent cup on the Piazza Unità d’Italia, mentioned to be Europe’s largest sea-facing sq., the place I sat on the Caffe degli Specchi amid Hapsburgian architectural pomp. By the point I completed my espresso, I used to be able to hit the path.
From the piazza, I jumped immediately onto the EuroVelo 8 and rode for practically 9 miles on two-lane roads and bike paths to the fishing village of Muggia, the place the Parenzana Path begins and the 2 routes merge. I crossed into Slovenia, which instantly lived as much as its repute for cycle-based journey. For a lot of the nation, the asphalt path — typically working parallel to site visitors because it passes cities and runs by way of occasional stretches of forests — is flat, devoted to bicyclists.
My first cease — at a pekarna (bakery) for a chocolate croissant — was in Koper. Slovenia’s solely transport port feels industrial till you attain its medieval, Venetian Republic-era heart. I pushed my bike throughout cobbled streets resulting in Tito Sq., residence to the Thirteenth-century Praetorian Palace and the 177-foot City Tower, with views down the coast.
The trail hugged the shore to Izola, with its laid-back marina crammed with sailboats and fishing skiffs, and climbed into the forested countryside. Quickly I entered the primary of a number of previous stone tunnels alongside the Parenzana Path. On the opposite aspect of the 600-yard Valeta Tunnel, the path descended into farms and vineyards.
The seaside resort of Portorož got here into view and, past it, Piran, one other city with historical roots and Venetian landmarks. Right here I took a neighborhood bike path from Portorož to Piran, which sat on the tip of a finger-shaped peninsula pointing at Italy.
That night, on the family-run restaurant Pri Mari, I ordered a glass of native pinot blanc and the John Dory (a flaky, white fish) baked with herbs. Dessert was a pear cooked in crimson refosco wine, drizzled with chocolate. Over the span of 30 miles, I had rolled throughout two international locations and 5 coastal cities.
Day 2: 23 Miles from Piran, Slovenia, to Grožnjan, Croatia
Into Croatia on the Parenzana Path
Asphalt modified to gravel after I crossed into Croatia. As I pedaled alongside the border, Slovenia’s Secovlje Salina Nature Park — the place one can go to historical salt flats — stuffed the vista. Quickly after, the 2 routes forked. The EuroVelo 8 continues to the Adriatic (I’d rejoin it in Porec), and the Parenzana, which I adopted, made a U-turn because it headed into Istria’s inland, foodie heart.
I pedaled on the packed-gravel path that ran alongside a distant state highway, steadily ascending from an elevation of round 250 ft to about 950 ft. Within the hilltop city of Buje, I ended for a beer-tasting at San Servolo Resort. Nestled in wine nation, Istria’s greatest beer maker has constructed a compound with a brewery, steakhouse, pizzeria, lodge and spa with brew baths.
I continued my relaxed ascent to Grožnjan, a bohemian village perched at round 900 ft, the place a Neolithic fort as soon as monitored the peninsula beneath. Immediately, artists’ ateliers line its pedestrian-only streets and draw guests, who flock right here each summer season for a jazz festival, in addition to drama, music, dance and meditation workshops.
I pushed my bike alongside stone alleyways to Vero, a cafe-bar with views of the Mirna River Valley and the Motovun Forest, the place white and black truffles develop beneath oak, ash and beech timber. I ordered a glass of biska, do-it-yourself mistletoe schnapps. Within the distance, Motovun, one other perched village and the following day’s vacation spot, poked by way of the clouds.
Day 3: 22 Miles from Grožnjan to Motovun, Croatia
Within the land of truffles
Since this was my shortest using day (17 miles), and would typically have me on a gradual descent, I made a decision to take a five-mile detour for lunch. Within the city of Livade, I turned east on a service highway that parallels the Mirna River and pedaled to the group of Gradinje and Konoba Dolina, the place I sat on the restaurant’s wraparound porch.
I’ve been to Dolina a number of instances — and, to me, that is quintessential Istria. Easy, cheap, do-it-yourself dishes, just about all of which deal with truffles. Folks might affiliate the pungent fungus with France and Italy, however the tuber is a lifestyle in Istria, the place, in 1999, the world’s largest white truffle was unearthed. (At practically three kilos, it was, on the time, the Guinness World Document holder.)
The noon solar shone on my face when a glass of malvasia, Istria’s traditional white wine, arrived. “Truffle hunters and their canine come straight from the woods to promote us what they’ve discovered,” the waiter mentioned as he introduced my starter of scrambled eggs with shaved white truffles. When he put a dish of fuži pasta (a form of rustic penne) earlier than me — once more topped with white truffles — he mentioned merely: “Don’t use Parmesan. You’ll cover the flavour.”
The day’s solely actual climb (round 600 ft) took me to Motovun. On the prime, I walked the city’s steep, medieval, flagstone streets to Konoba Mondo, one other intimate bistro well-known for truffles, for my second spherical. I sat on the terrace the place “Tartufi” (truffles in Croatian) was painted on a picket signal on the wall. This time I had steak topped with slivers of black truffles, an Istrian crimson known as teran, and the tavern’s knockout panna cotta in a wild-berry sauce.
Day 4: 23 Miles from Motovun to Porec, Croatia
Again towards the ocean
Istria is wine nation. The Greeks grew grapes right here greater than 2,500 years in the past. Immediately, there are a whole bunch of winemakers; over 100 are formally related to the peninsula’s wine roads. Of the various varieties produced, the dominant two are malvasia, a white, and teran, a crimson.
As I rode to the coast, the Parenzana glided alongside a gravel path that undulated by way of forests and vineyards; rows of vines rolled over the panorama like waves of corduroy.
I may odor the Adriatic earlier than I noticed it. Its perfume, coupled with the feeling of touring underneath my very own energy, gave approach to exhilaration as I descended to the ocean and the Parenzana Path’s terminus in Porec’s historic heart.
Porec’s Outdated City is a compact tangle of streets resting on a spit of land thrust into the ocean. Its recorded historical past dates again hundreds of years. The Romans established an essential colony, Parentium, within the second century B.C. Nonetheless, it’s the UNESCO-inscribed Euphrasian Basilica, from the sixth century A.D., that has turn into the city’s calling card. The sprawling Byzantine-era complicated borders the shore alongside bars, retailers and eating places. I stood contained in the central apse, mesmerized by the mosaics: a swirl of marble, ivory and mother-of-pearl.
After an awe-filled couple of hours, I walked by way of Outdated City to Konoba Ćakula for seared tuna steak after which continued across the southwestern fringe of the town’s peninsula to my room on the bike-friendly BO Hotel Palazzo.
Day 5: 27 Miles from Porec to Rovinj, Croatia
Difficult climbs alongside the EV8
The Parenzana ended as I left Porec on the seaside Route 143, and the EuroVelo 8 took over for the final two days. Signage and surroundings weren’t the one modifications. The path went from primarily gravel to principally asphalt, and there was extra climbing. This meant pacing myself up crests, which, on a constructive observe, supplied nice vantage factors, after which utilizing gravity by way of the troughs.
Such was the case as I pedaled by way of the city of Vrsar — the place Casanova’s visits within the 1740s have impressed a historic center tour following his exploits — earlier than climbing above the Lim Channel after which descending to its edge. On the backside of the 7.5-mile-long, fjordlike channel, which feeds into the ocean and creates good situations for shellfish farming, I ended at Restaurant Fjord (+385 52 448 222) on the channel’s banks. After a pick-me-up of a half-dozen European flat oysters harvested inside view of my desk, I climbed 492 ft again up the fjord’s south face.
The day resulted in Rovinj, greater than midway down the coast. The solar was setting in town’s row of pastel buildings overlooking the Adriatic. The middle — one other compact, peninsular assortment of serpentine alleys — teemed with vacationers and locals. Croats stood round converted-barrel tables consuming white wine subsequent to the out of doors market. Guests studied maps underneath the Seventeenth-century Balbi’s Arch, which sits between the principle sq. and Grisia Street. From there, they’d lumber up the cobbled road, crowded with boutiques and galleries, to the hilltop, 18th-century Church of St. Euphemia.
I pushed my bicycle alongside the waterside promenade to La Puntulina and took a seat on the southwest-facing terrace. I ordered mussels steamed in wine, garlic and olive oil, and grilled sea bream and sipped a malvasia from the Matošević Vineyards, which I had cycled previous close to the Lim Channel, and watched the solar meet the ocean.
Day 6: 25 Miles from Rovinj to Pula, Croatia
Hugging the coast on the ultimate stretch
View of historical ruins.
By Day 6, I used to be used to the routine: wake, trip, discover. What I’ve by no means grown accustomed to, even dwelling within the area for years, is the quantity of tradition packed into each locale alongside this 150-mile, three-country trip. Pula, Croatian Istria’s largest metropolis and my ultimate vacation spot, was no exception.
A mixture of industrial, shipbuilding grit and historical tradition, Pula is known for its sprawling Roman amphitheater. I rode straight there, wanting to see the first-century construction, identified domestically because the Arena. It’s nonetheless in use as a live performance venue and the positioning of the annual Pula Film Festival. I then pedaled to a cafe-bar on the principle sq. — the positioning of the traditional Forum, from the primary century B.C., and the Temple of Augustus.
A waiter carrying half-liter mugs crammed with beer handed by. The tip of my journey mirrored the start: After biking from the highest of Istria to the underside, I used to be once more on a plaza staring on the Adriatic. Like that morning in Trieste, which now appeared weeks in the past, I made a decision to splurge with two drinks. This time I opted for ice-cold beer.
What, how and when?
For touring, I trip a gravel bike, which mixes long-distance rideability with rough-and-tumble energy. I carry 4 bike packs: a seat pack for garments; a body pack for instruments; a big handlebar pack for additional instruments and toiletries; and a smaller handlebar pack for passport, pockets, notebooks and maps.
My journey started with a three-hour train ride from Ljubljana, the place I dwell, to Trieste. Along with the 9.90 euro (about $10.30) practice ticket, there was a further 5 euro cost for my bike. On the finish of my tour, I took the practice again to the Slovenian capital from Pula. (For these returning to Trieste, taking the practice again by way of Ljubljana continues to be the quickest possibility.)
The perfect instances for this trip are spring, when wildflowers are in bloom, however vacationer season isn’t, and fall, when temperatures are good, and grape and olive harvests are in full swing.
There are campsites, non-public lodging and hostels along the route. There are additionally bike-friendly inns. For the lodgings beneath, charges are per evening for doubles throughout the first week in June.
In Trieste, Urban Hotel Design welcomes cyclists with 49 rooms (€174, or about $182). In Piran, Slovenia, Hotel Piran, opened in 1913, is a seaside, four-star possibility (€156). Over the Croatian border in Grožnjan, the six-room B&B Artegnana 1798 is, like its hilltop village, stuffed with character (€112). In previous city Motovun, Villa Borgo (and annex) has 15 rooms and an condominium (779 Croatian kuna, or about $108). The 74-room, waterfront BO Hotel Palazzo in Porec is each stylish and relaxed (€131). Rovinj’s Hotel Eden is a good place to relaxation earlier than the ultimate stage (€230). End in Pula overlooking the Adriatic at Hotel Park Plaza Histria (€132).