Koper's hinterland hides numerous hillocks, dotted with picturesque Istrian villages. This circular tour will take you over Mediterranean hills towards Dragonja valley on Croatian border and back again to the center of lively Koper itself. We make our way from the "urban grasp" of Koper very quickly and find ourselves among orchards, vineyards and olive trees. We cycle mostly on low traffic asphalt roads but some sections are quite rough and demand the use of a mountain bike. Some excellent Istrian restaurants are along the way, we can freshen up in Dragonja river in summer-time and ancient Istrian villages will take care of the "cultural" part of the tour. A trip for all seasons!
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Koper. Park on one of the parking lots near the historic center of Koper, but it is better still if you follow the signposts for Pula from the motorway and park near a large shopping mall Merkator and OMV gas station.
From the center of Koper take the main road towards south in direction of Pula to OMV gas station by Merkator shopping mall. Turn left towards Vanganel at the traffic light by the gas station. You are leaving Koper slowly and turn left to a 'dead end' street behind the last houses of the settlement. Carry on past single-story houses and garages until the end of the street. Look for a small pedestrian bridge, cross the stream and go to the right on an low traffic asphalt road. Follow the main road along charming vineyards and fruit plantations to Vanganel village. Turn left in Vanganel (direction Marezige) and start to ascend on a bit wider road. After ca. 500 m you will spot tennis courts on your left and right behind them turn left on a tractor road that ascends to Marezige through a nice forest and past cute vineyards. When you reach the main road at the church in Marezige, turn right and already after a few meters turn left. A delightful asphalt descent, which ends almost too quickly, follows. After that you have to ascend again. Rise up to the first crossroad, turn right (direction Boršt) and ride on a beautiful panoramic road on top of the hill above Dragonja valley all the way to Labor village.
Behind Labor follows the 'rough' part of the tour: a descent to Dragonja valley. At the end of a village by the church look for a stony tractor road that is quite 'gentle' at first, but those who aren't used to stony descents will have to pass some sections on foot in the lower part. (Option: if you wish to avoid this descent, turn right in Boršt village, descend to a nice little village of Glem, continue descending and just after crossing a stream turn left on a road that leads to Dragonja valley as well). You can freshen up after the descent in Dragonja river (of course, that depends on the temperature and water level) and then continue cycling along a dirt road towards west. Pleasant countryside restaurants above the valley attract quite a lot of visitors on weekends, therefore the road itself can be quite dusty.
After ca. 5 km you reach a crossroad where an asphalt road branches towards Pomjan. Take on the steep asphalt road to the right. Ascend to a small settlement and turn left on a small tractor road at the last houses. After a short descent another ascent begins and you will already spot the bell tower of a church in Krkavče village in front of you. In this incredible small Istrian village you can visit the wonderfully renewed traditional stone house 'Hiša v Vrešje' and find more about traditional Istria (you should make an arrangement in advance. Contact madam Ondina Reja, +386 5 656 7017).
From Krkavče continue upwards on the asphalt road to the next crossroad where you turn right towards Koštabona village. Its old stone houses, a few churches and a beautiful view on Dragonja valley are certainly worth a visit. Ascend back towards the big church where you turn slightly to the right. At the end of the village asphalt is replaced by a dirt road and continue northwards until you come to a slightly bigger asphalt road. Turn sharply to the right and soon you are rewarded with a wonderful view of the next interesting village – Pomjan. At the lowest point of Pomjan a rough tractor road branches sharply to the left and you will already see Koper in the distance. Keep on the widest tractor road during the descent and turn left by a fence when you reach the first houses. A nice path brings you to a wider road on which you descend very quickly to the bottom of the valley. Turn left on a bigger asphalt road and bike straight ahead to Koper. A cyclist path takes place on the left side of the road..
Pomjan village (360 m)
Length (duration, km):
Koper - Marezige: 45 min (10 km)
Marezige - Labor: 45 min (8.5 km)
Labor - Krkavče: 1.30 h (13 km)
Krkavče - Pomjan: 1.15 h (11.5 km)
Pomjan - Koper: 30 min (7 km)
Total: 5 h, 50 km
Type of trail:
66% asphalt (33 km)
22% dirt road (11 km)
12 % tractor road (6 km)