Cycling has experienced a boom in Slovakia in recent years and fortunately the country has many places worth biking.
Over 3,000 kilometres of marked cycling routes exist in the Žilina Region and new ones are still being created. Moreover, cycling buses connect various regions so you do not have to pedal from Žilina to Turiec on a bike, for example, but you can take a convenient ride on a bus and start your cycling tour right at the spot.
In the north of Slovakia, in the area of Malá Fatra, Rajecká Dolina valley, Turiec, Orava, Kysuce and Liptov, cyclists who do not fear hills or who have e-bikes will enjoy the rides. Every region also has easier paths for families with children or those looking for a pleasant pedal.
A pleasant pedal connecting villages
Our first cycle tour is the Bystrická cycling route, which winds through Kysuce, specifically between the towns of Krásno nad Kysucou and Nová Bystrica. In total, the route is almost 21 kilometers long and runs along the track where the forest headland railway ran in the last century.
The route is suitable for families with children - there is only about 120 meters of elevation gain on the entire cycle path. In addition, the road crosses the cycle path only in a few places, so cyclists can feel safe here.
During the entire route, you will be accompanied by the beautiful scenery of the surrounding countryside. The cycle path is lined with benches, rest areas and information boards where you can learn about local attractions and, if necessary, decide to deviate from the route for a while. Near the cycle path, you will also find several options for refreshments in local buffets, for example in Krásno nad Kysucou or near the Slezákovci chapel.
The cycle route passes through the villages of Zborov nad Bystricou, Klubina, Stará Bystrica and Nová Bystrica.
"All the villages are connected to this cycle route, so you can start from practically any point," said Lukáš Holzer. "I was most captivated by the village of Stará Bystrica, where I waited for the Slovak Astronomical Clock to skrike and also took a detour to the lookout tower at Bobovec hill."
For persistent cyclists, Holzer recommends continuing to the Nová Bystrica Water Reservoir, or pedaling all the way to Vychylovka, to the outdoor Museum of Kysuce Villages.
You can also go biking riding on former railways to Orava between Trstena and Nowy Targ and also to Liptov near the Čierny Váh reservoir or from Ružomberok to Korytnica.
Looking for cycle paradise?
If you want to go on a circular route, visit Rajecká Dolina valley, where, as part of the CykloRAJ (Cycling Paradise) project, they are opening new cycle routes and marking already existing paths suitable for cyclists. The circuit is almost 38 kilometers long and has an elevation of approximately 640 meters. You can join in at a number of points along the cycle route. Be sure to set aside a whole day to ride this trail - it's not just the cycling that's interesting, but the sights you can visit along the way.
You can start in Rajecké Teplice and continue on through Stránske, Kunerad and Kamenná Poruba to Rajec, where you can visit the city center, the town hall, the city museum and taste the local craft beer.
Then continue on to Ďurčiná, where there is an over 400-year-old linden tree with a trunk circumference of more than six meters. Nearby is a park with climbing frames for children. A short hop from Ďurčiná is Rajecká Lesná, where, in addition to the popular Stations of the Cross, the Slovak Nativity Scene - the work of master Jozef Pekar from Rajecké Teplice - is worth a visit. In the Slovak Nativity are Slovak cities, castles, old crafts and approximately 300 figures, almost half of which are moving. The entrance fee is voluntary.
Don't miss the Košiare water reservoir on your bike tour, which is surrounded by forests and hills. The circuit continues through Malá Čierna and Jasenová. It is the most demanding part with the biggest elevation gain. Therefore, after overcoming it, you can leave your bikes in the village of Zbyňov for a while and visit Zbyňovský budzogáň, an interesting rock formation in the shape of a clenched fist.
From Zbyňov, it is just a quick jaunt back to Rajecké Teplice. A visit to Spa Aphrodite, where you can relax your muscles, can be a reward after a day spent on a bike.
For adrenaline riders
Cyclists looking for adrenaline can enjoy it in bike parks. One of them is near Ružomberok in Malinô Brdo. There are 12 trails in the bike park that are suitable for advanced cyclists, said Marianna Luka from the center.
"We are working to ensure that even beginners can enjoy riding in the bike park," said Luka. "For now, it's possible to try flow trails, enduro trails and downhill tracks."
Bike parks in the Žilina region
- Jasenská dolina valley (www.jasenskadolina.sk)
- Kubínska hoľa (www.kubinska.sk)
- Malinô Brdo (www.bikepark.sk)
- Meander Oravice (www.meanderoravice.sk)
- Paseky (www.vratna.sk)
- Snowparadise (www.snowparadise.sk)
Sufficient protective elements are a must. A cyclist should be able to ride even on steep slopes and must be able to overcome not only natural but also artificial obstacles found on the tracks, such as tree roots, rocky sections or banked turns.
At the most difficult level, there are sections on the downhill tracks that are very difficult to pass, such as a steep drop over a rocky pass or jumps that need to be mastered.
"Slovak downhill cycling championships are also held on these tracks precisely because of the difficulty, because they can test even the most experienced riders," said Luka.
The routes have a total length of 17 kilometers and there is also a cable car available, which will take cyclists and their bikes to the top of the hill in eight minutes.
Malinô Brdo also offers routes for those who are looking for a normal bike ride without overcoming obstacles or banked turns. The top of the hill can be reached by the afore-mentioned cable car or by walking or biking up an asphalt road.
"From there you continue along the meadow cycle path past the farm through Vlkolínske lúky and end up in the village of Vlkolínec, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site," said Luka, adding that the route is 8 km long and is suitable for children from 10 years of age.
The article has been brought to you thanks to a partnership with the Žilina Tourism Region - www.zilinskyturistickykraj.sk.
Implemented with the financial support of the Ministry of Transport and Construction of the Slovak Republic.