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EuroVelo 8 in Slovenia: The Friendship Route welcomes cyclists with plenty of improvements and new services

dinsdag 13 april 2021
Already on the lookout for an ideal cycle holiday destination next summer? If cycling along the Mediterranean Sea on a fully paved and signed route, through old cities and villages, vineyards and olive plantations appeals to you, then the Slovenian section of EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route would be a great choice and opportunity to visit the homeland of the best cyclists on the world, Roglič and Pogačar!

The Slovenian section of EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route is only 43-km long but will lead you to three Nature Parks (Škocjanski zatok Nature Reserve, Strunjan Landscape Park, Sečovlje Salina Nature Park) and charming coastal towns: Koper with its fantastic architecture inherited from the Venetian Republic; Izola, old fishing town famous for its orange wine; and Piran, hosting a Maritime Museum. Assuming that country borders will be easier to cross in a few months’ time, you could also continue your cycle tour on EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route in the neighboring countries which can be easily reached in a day of cycling: either in Italy, towards Trieste and Venezia, or in Croatia, visiting the UNESCO-listed Euphrasian Basilica of Poreč and the Roman Amphitheater of Pula.

EuroVelo 8 cycling sign, Slovenia
EuroVelo 8 cycling sign, Slovenia

Going back to Slovenia, plenty of improvements of the cycle route’s infrastructure and signing, as well as new services for cyclists, were implemented in 2020 and are still planned for 2021, using funds from the Interreg MED Programme’s MEDCYCLETOUR project that continues in the form of a Long-Term Management Agreement to ensure the sustainability of the transnational activities. Services were also co-financed by the Interreg V-A Italia-Slovenija CROSSMOBY project.

Once a busy coastal road, now paradise for cycling!

The route often leads along the sea coast. In the section between the cities of Koper and Izola, a part of it was the high dense national road, with more than 5000 cars per day in peak season and with very little space for cyclists and pedestrians. In 2016, both municipalities decided to transform the area to cyclists and pedestrian friendly area with wide cycling infrastructure. This resulted in an immediate massive interest among residents and other visitors. The counters in this section show the continuous growth of cyclists by 8% per year from then. Only in 2020, more than 400.000 cyclists cycled through. Families, recreational cyclists and daily commuters, all can find enough space to enjoy the atmosphere of coastal cycling.

An asphalted cycle route, with tunnels lit by solar lighting

In Slovenia, EuroVelo 8 mostly follows Parenzana – the Route of Health and Friendship. The route goes along the former narrow gauge Parenzana railway, which connected the cities Trieste and Poreč and has become a symbol of friendship between the Slovenian, Italian and Croatian municipalities – hence the name of the restored path!

Parenzana Route along the Slovenian coast
Parenzana Route along the Slovenian coast

EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route only differs from the Parenzana route when visiting Izola. The Municipality of Izola started investing in cycling infrastructure in 2018 to enable better access for cycle tourists to reach the town in a comfortable way. The works for renewing the asphalt surface and lights on the coastal path from Koper to Izola will be completed before the end of May this year.

A fully signed EuroVelo route and development of infrastructure

Following the end of the MEDCYCLETOUR project, EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route is fully signed in Slovenia! 136 EuroVelo signs were installed from Škofije (on the Italian border) to Dragonja (on the Croatian border). Nothing easier than exploring this lush green part of the Adriatic coast. Just follow the signs! Although the route is developed, the National Infrastructure Agency, responsible institution for the national cycling infrastructure network and member of the National EuroVelo Coordination Center, prepares new projects for the development of cycling infrastructure with the aim to provide the best possible conditions for cyclists.

EuroVelo 8 cycling trail, Slovenia
EuroVelo 8 cycling trail, Slovenia

Many services for cyclists

Cycle tourists can choose from a range of services on the Slovenian part of EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route.

In the summer, a free Bike & Bus service was already implemented by Regional Development Center Koper in 2019 (co-financed by the MEDCYCLETOUR project) and in 2020 (co-financed by the CROSSMOBY project) and is planned again for 2021. This service allows cyclists to reach Koper for free from the Karst, on a bus carrying bicycles, and links EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route with the Slovenian Karst area.

An automatic bike-sharing service has been set up as a pilot activity of the CROSSMOBY project. The network consists of 5 stations and 25 e-bikes at disposal free of charge until the end of November 2021. The bike-sharing stations are located in Slovene Carsic Municipalities situated about 25 km from EuroVelo 8 and connected to the route via the Bike & Bus service.In the Municipality of Piran, a new e-bike sharing service also started in 2020, offering 35 e-bikes and guided tours, as well as an information centre with e-bike chargers and secure parking.

Cyclists can also choose a variety of bike-friendly accommodation along the route. The cyclists-friendly accommodation scheme is managed by Slovenia Outdoor, also a member of NECC. Bike shops are located in all cities along the routes, so it’s easy to find the help in case of emergencies and bike defects.

From the railway station in Koper, the area is connected with the international railway network. Like elsewhere in Europe Railways is enlarging capacities for bike carriage on the trains.

With its renewed infrastructure, the EuroVelo signs and developed services, the Slovenian stretch of EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route, one of the top long-distance cycling routes in Slovenia is calling for cycle tourists to visit it! For more information, you can also visit the website of the EuroVelo Slovenia, National EuroVelo Coordination Centre for Slovenia.