Visiting lions and giraffes
It's no coincidence that the route starts next to the Ljubljana zoo. Easy access, spacious car park and ideal for a family on a Sunday afternoon. Some people would like to take a nice stroll and watch the mischief of the animals – please, come in! Others, usually family 'chiefs', would like to take in some fresh air or give out some sweat – perfect for them to finish the ring around the capital and reunite at the starting point. Tested!
The pioneer route
Hop on your bike at the car park next to the zoo, turn immediately left onto a neat cycle lane. The path runs along the route of the original 'Pioneer Railway'. The former route takes you to Glinščica , a stream which is sometimes quite nasty and floods occasionally, but recently there hasn't been much of it left . Cycle along the left bank of the stream, past the first bridge located just before the stream makes a right turn, and continue to Road XXI. This was probably the beginning of the 'Pioneer Railway' route. At the third street (Road XVII) turn right, go along this street to the end and at the traffic lights before the level crossing, turn left onto Road II. This road would take you to the former Marn Inn, which received a new name with new owners: Rožna hiša , however, turn left before the inn onto a narrow asphalt path, which brings you to a hole under the railway after some 20 metres. Underpass! Be careful as you go through it because of two holes in the asphalt which are better avoided! And, to avoid any accidents, you should bend your head. A helmet wouldn't help here.
Bobenčkova Street takes you across Tržaška Road to Jamova Road, where you turn left and go straight on past the Jožef Stefan Institute . Behind the Institute, there's a crossing with Jadranska Street. Turn right at the traffic lights, past the houses of knowledge of physics and mathematics (both faculties are located here ), and drive over Gradaščica Stream to Vipavska Street. Continue towards south. Not right, not left, just straight on. You only make a turn where there's no other alternative. When that happens, turn left onto Cesta v Mestni log Road. In between, the road slightly rings but you can afford a short trip through Murgle , a renowned residential area. When your curiosity is at least slightly satisfied, go back to Cesta v Mestni log Road.
You'll find yourself at the traffic lights near a new residential-commercial building , which means that you're now entering Trnovo. The question of where the building got its name the 'Trnovo Gate' seems redundant at this sight, doesn't it? Drive straight across the crossroads and immediately turn slightly right (Cesta na Loko Road), past the Gurman Inn until you reach Opekarska Road.
From Trnovo (Thorny place) to a little less thorny garden
Traffic lights stop you again in Opekarska Road – turn carefully left until the next one where you turn right. Cross Mali graben and the River Ljubljanica over bridges, and although you're tempted to take a ride on the Ljubljanica with one of the boats tied at the Livada Inn, our goals are different. So continue along Hladnikova Road as far as Ižanska Road where your patience is put to a test yet again at the traffic lights which finally allow you to turn left to the Botanical Garden .
You aren't half way through the route yet but the Botanical Garden is well worth stopping for. At least to take a sneak peek at this island of priceless collections of life on the roots. It's worth a visit, even if you aren't into flowers.
Drive along the Gruber Canal, under the new Karlovški Bridge and past the old one to Hradeckega Road, which was named after a former mayor who had the city land under the Golovec Hill sold under the condition that the buyers would build houses on that land. Well, some houses have indeed been built, right next to each other, but then traffic started annoying them so the entire road was embellished with speed humps. These were supposedly the first of this kind in Ljubljana. Speed humps, that is.
When you arrive to the second traffic lights, all shaken up, turn left across Poljanska Road towards the Pri Jovotu Inn and Kodeljevo Swimming Pool Complex, but turn right onto the cycle lane before reaching them. The new cycle lane will take you along the Kodeljevo Sports Park on the left bank of the Gruber Canal to Kajuhova Road. Continue your trip along the edges of Ljubljana along this road. First cross the Ljubljanica , Zaloška Road and, using an underpass, the railway, and go past the heating plant and mega shopping centre BTC to the Šmartinska Road. Cross the road in the extension of the Kajuhova Road.
Unfortunately, just passing Žale
You're on Jarška Road now, which slightly turns just after the traffic lights. Nove Jarše is on the right, Žale on the left, where you can also see the famous Plečnik complex. This time just drive past it, you can check out Plečnik's work next time. However, you can stop and visit the new city park for a few moments, which fills up the space where gardens used to be between Žale and Nove Jarše. Then hurry up towards the ring road.
Speed humps along Jarška Road see to that you don't drive too fast and forget to turn left onto a nice two-way cycle lane just before the ring road. Cycle along the ring road, which is on your right, past the Tomačevo roundabout , football stadium and basketball hall , across Vojkova, Dunajska, Slovenčeva and Verovškova roads, then along the new part of Litostrojska Road on the new cycle lane, past the new state administration buildings to the Litostroj complex. Turn right onto the cycle lane (along the north ring road), along which you drive to the railway leading to the Gorenjska region in peace, only disturbed by another cyclist or walker, where you turn perpendicularly left and go along Korotanska Street back to Litostrojska Road. On the left from the crossroads, you can see the once mighty Titovi zavodi Litostroj plants or what's left of them. This used to be the leading Yugoslav industrial company dealing mostly with turbines for power plants all over the world. Let's take a look at special concrete street lamp posts , which were characteristic of that period. Luckily, tradition has been preserved and the part of the company which survived is still considered as one of the most important manufacturers of large water turbines and their parts in the world.
On Litostrojska Road, turn right, cross the level crossing and check out the preserved bunkers from World War II, which protected the crossing through the barbed wire around Ljubljana. Continue to Celovška Road, wait for the green light to flash and dash straight along Šišenska Road, until a green or red light dictate again when to hit the pedal or brake. Then you come to Vodnikova Road, named after our famous poet, travel writer, descriptor of his beloved country and traditions of its inhabitants, Valentin Vodnik (1758–1819) . He could have described so much more if he had the kind of a bicycle, we have today! Well, you have it and perhaps you should work your way to his homestead . That wouldn't be so bad! You should turn towards the city now—along Vodnikova Road, of course—and after about 700 metres, you'll be able to see it on your right. The homestead, of course! On the opposite side is the Dr. Peter Držaj Hospital.
When you've seen the homestead, you may have a snack at the Pri Vodniku Inn, or just drive around the homestead, turn sharply right, go straight on and over the speed humps until you reach the traffic lights on Šišenska Road, near the crossroads where you've begun the Vodnik's curve.
Šiška and finish
At the traffic lights, go towards the Koseze Pond, past a modern housing estate, which is similar to the one in Murgle, only that these buildings have several apartments, and Mali Graben is substituted by the Koseze Pond. Between the housing estate and pond, cycle along the new cycle lane until you reach the cycle lane running along the route of the 'Pioneer Railway'. The lane slightly descends towards the zoo. When you cross the road coming from Brdo (Brdnikova Street), you can already hear unusual voices to be heard in a city. Animals. Wild. Exotic. Zoo.
For a backcountry and more demanding cyclist, this route is, of course, not enough and at the same time, it is too much. Not enough length and too many stops. But if you consider this a slightly accelerated hike, then it should be alright. And, along the route, you can see things you never get to see from behind the steering wheel. Besides: aren't other members of the family, who, in the meantime, were watching elephants, snakes, ostriches and other beasts, already waiting for you?