A Cycling Odyssey through the Western Balkans

April 2024 Living

Maja Dragovic


Photos by Matevž Hribar

In the ever-evolving landscape of global travel, where adventure intertwines with sustainability, one cycling route stands out as a beacon of exploration. The Trans Dinarica Cycle Route, an ambitious trail spanning all eight countries of the Western Balkans, has garnered well-deserved recognition as one of Lonely Planet's Best in Travel experiences for 2024.  

This 3364-kilometer (2090-mile) odyssey beckons with the promise of breathtaking landscapes, cultural immersion, and sustainable exploration. Winding its way through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia, the Trans Dinarica unveils a tapestry of mountain ranges, the azure embrace of the Adriatic Sea, and the serenity of lakes and rivers. The route, carefully curated for exploration of UNESCO sites, national parks, and villages, embodies a commitment to responsible travel. 

Border to GeoKarst  

The journey kicks off in the northwest corner, tracing the Italian border with the majestic Julian Alps in the background. As cyclists pedal their way through the picturesque Goriška Brda wine region, the Trans Dinarica then reveals the wonders of Slovenia’s UNESCO-recognized GeoKarst Region. Every twist and turn in the trail presents a new chapter in the unfolding narrative of this diverse and culturally rich region. 

 Jan Klavora, from Good Place, a cycling and outdoor tour operator that is the route’s organiser, shared insights into its unique appeal. 

 “The route is special because it gives travelers a sustainable way to see some of the most special parts of the Western Balkans at a relatively slow pace,” Klavora explained. “There is more time for interaction with the landscape, cultures, food, and people along the way.” 

Community connections 

For the creators of the Trans Dinarica, the route’s geographic features are intricately tied to the warm welcome from the communities it traverses.  

»The people along the route were the highlights«, Klavora reflects. »In every country, city, town, and village people invited us in to have coffee and share the idea of the cycle route«, he explains enhtusiastically. »In each case, they were pleased to learn that they would soon be welcoming more people into their communities and would have the chance to share their heritage with the world 

In a region that grapples with exodus of its people, the route provides an incentive for locals to remain within their communities. As Klavora concludes, »the route provides families in cities, towns, and remote areas the opportunity to be a part of the tourism economy as they welcome adventurers 

In the realm of cycling adventures, the Trans Dinarica Cycle Route isn’t just a physical journey but a transformative odyssey where the true treasures lie in the people who call this region home. As Lonely Planet heralds its inclusion among the Best in Travel experiences for 2024, the Trans Dinarica beckons intrepid cyclists to embark on a voyage of discovery, pedaling through the heart of the Western Balkans and leaving lasting memories etched in the landscapes and hearts along the way. 


This article was originally published in The Adriatic Journal: Strategic Foresight 2024
If you want a copy, please contact us at info@adriaticjournal.com.