Cycling, Dining, and Unlimited Adventure in the Heart of Slovenia

Between turquoise lakes, spellbinding biking routes, and dynamic wine regions, Slovenia delivers an unexpectedly enchanting honeymoon.



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IT WAS THE kind of rain that destroys honeymoons. Tipped off by the apocalyptic ink-black clouds gathering above us, my wife and I sought shelter and watched as water rushed through the streets like a river, washing away everything in its path, including our plans. This was to be the triumphant first day of riding bicycles through the hills of northwestern Slovenia, the late summer sun on our necks, the carefree laughter of newlyweds ricocheting between us. Instead, we stood in the tense silence that comes from impossible logistics, wondering how we were going to make it to our dinner reservation at one of the best restaurants in the world, just five miles away.

“Why Slovenia?” was the most common reaction from friends when we told them we’d be spending our honeymoon in this tiny nation of around 2 million people. It is true that with the exception of Lake Bled, with its fairytale church surrounded by turquoise water, it doesn’t fit the postcard vision of a honeymoon. But, having found ourselves drawn to the outdoors over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were looking for something that could tiptoe the line between adventure and luxury; a trip that might include days of challenges and exploration leading directly into evenings of big meals and copious amounts of wine.

Slovenia, it turns out, makes that easy. The country has developed a network of cycling routes called Bike Slovenia Green, all charted out to explore different aspects of the country. It took very little time to settle on riding part of the Slovenia Green Gourmet Route, which winds its way down the western border, occasionally dipping into Italy. The journey would take us through two distinct but practically adjacent wine regions and into the heart of pršut (Slovenian for prosciutto) country. But first, there was the issue of that rapidly approaching, very-hard-to-get dinner reservation.



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Stare at rain long enough and you can convince yourself it’s slowing down. That’s what we did after about an hour, climbing back onto our bikes and making a mad dash through an endless curtain of water. Somehow, we made it to Hiša Franko, the 2-Michelin-star outpost in the Soča Valley, where culinary mastermind Ana Roš assembles awe-inspiring creations from local produce. We were welcomed with Champagne and access to the inn’s dryer. The meal was an exercise in mindfulness, with each course demanding the kind of attention we so often forgo at the dinner table. A potato baked in a cocoon of hay. Lake trout served as cold as the water it came from. A sliver of the perfect carrot, presented and spiced like a kebab. Things were looking up.

The next morning, however, the rain continued. So we called a taxi, threw our bicycles into the trunk, and made our way to our next stop — the quiet mountaintop town of Šmartno, in the wine region of Goriška Brda. By the time we had checked into Hiša Marica, a family-run inn with a restaurant that offers hearty soups, piles of gnocchi, and slabs of juicy steak, the rain had stopped. We spent the afternoon cycling, no real destination in mind, through vineyards that sloped toward Italy.


The following day, we rode south. Our addiction to Slovenia’s macerated orange wines now in full swing, we sought them out wherever we went. In the low-lying vineyards of the Vipava Valley, we left the tiny Vina Krapež with a bottle of their award-winning malvasia, despite not having an inch of space left in either of our bike bags. I wrapped it in a sweatshirt and tied it to the top tube of my bicycle. It made it home, and we’re saving it for our one-year anniversary.

Navigating from the Vipava Valley into the jagged and dry Karst Plateau, we encountered steep climbs and gravel trails. Distances were relatively short — 30 to 40 miles — but we still ended each day a good type of tired, beaten just enough by Slovenia’s hills to feel like we were being challenged, but with enough energy to read a book, watch the sunset, or share yet another bottle of barnyard-forward orange wine.


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Our Contributors

Sebastian Modak Writer

Sebastian Modak is a travel writer, editor, and photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Condé Nast Traveler, and other publications. In 2019, as the New York Times 52 Places Traveler, he traveled to and reported on all the destinations on the Times' "52 Places to Go" list.

Kata Geibl Photographer

Kata Geibl is a photographer living and working between Budapest and The Hague. Her work is mainly focused on global issues, capitalism, the Anthropocene, and the ambiguities of the photographic medium. She has exhibited worldwide in solo and group shows. Her first monograph was published by Void in November 2021.


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