The Route of Friendship and Health winds along the route of the former narrow-gauge railway line that connected Trst and Poreč, as well as other towns and villages along the line. The Parenzana railway line was the main land artery between Istria and Central Europe for 34 years. It is called the Route of Friendship because its revival was the result of a joint decision by Slovenian, Italian and Croatian municipalities lying along the route of the once popular Parenzana.
It is called the Route of Health because after more than hundred years of the first train ride along the line, it may be used by hikers, cyclists, runners, sportsmen, as well as all locals and tourists who appreciate a healthy lifestyle and are keen on discovering their home region or holiday destination. The route winds through old towns and villages, sometimes right by the sea, and the other time through vineyards and olive groves. It leads through short maintained tunnels, crosses valleys and goes up and down the hills. The route is suitable for anyone. It is not too difficult, yet it is interesting, diverse, and informative. There are several stops along the way where you may take a rest, and obtain interesting additional information. One of such stops is the Parenzana Museum in Izola.
Around Slovenian Istria by Bike
Ride past the Portorož bus station, and turn towards the Avditorij. There is a short, yet steep ascent and you already reach the illuminated tunnel descending to Strunjan. At the camping site turn left to the sea and ride past the Salinera resort. Then turn up the hill. Cycle about 1.5 km uphill and then turn right and descend towards Fiesa along a steep, paved road until you reach the lake. Then continue cycling along the sea to Piran. When you reach Piran, ride down to the town, and carry on cycling along the seafront to Portorož.
Trail: Portorož - Strunjan - Piran - Portorož
Difficulty level: easy
Distance: 13 km
Slovenian Istria and the Hinterland
Start in front of the Grand Hotel Portorož and ride towards Lucija along 4 km of level ground, just right for warming up. Turn right at the end of the two-lane road at the crossroads of the main road for Croatia. Cycle past the two petrol stations and you reach the first short ascent. At the top, continue cycling left where you see the pub Kapitol. A wonderful view of the salt pans opens. Ride down the slope and continue along the main road towards the border crossing Sečovlje, riding past the Portorož airport. Turn left before the border crossing, cross the bridge, and continue cycling for 2 km across the plain to Dragonja. Turn left before the Dragonja border crossing, and after a short ascent you reach the agritourism MAHNIČ. At the bus station descend into the valley and continue cycling. There is approximately 12 km of good macadam lane in front of you. After approximately 3 km, you have the first chance for refreshment at the agritourism KORTINA which is also very well marked. Continue your journey along the unique valley where the River Dragonja meanders. On the ridges on the left you see the villages of Krkavče, Puče, Koštabona, Zupančiči which offer interesting ascents for fitter cyclists as they lie at an altitude of 280-400 m. After an 8 km ride you reach the confluence of the Stream Rokava and the River Dragonja. Here you can refresh yourself and replenish your supply of drinking water. The spring is very well marked. Continue cycling along the valley past the village of Zupančiči where the asphalt road begins. After approximately 1.5 km you reach a beautifully restored mill. After the mill continue cycling towards Koper. The descent is approximately 5 km long. In Koper, turn towards the sea and ride along the coastal road through Izola, ascend to Belveder and then descend to Strunjan where you turn right and drive through the camping site under the bridge along the asphalt road towards the illuminated tunnel. When leaving the tunnel cycle downhill past the Avditorij into Portorož and finish your tour at its start.
Trail: Portorož - Koper - Portorož
Difficulty Level: medium difficult
Distance: 49 km
Riding time: 2.5 hours
Average speed: 21 km/h