Home > Cycling Along Rivers from Bolzano to Venice
Northeastern Italy’s canals and rivers serve as a link between the region’s cultural centers and, luckily for you, they make for one scenic bicycle tour! The tour starts in Bolzano, known as Bolzen to its German-speaking inhabitants; it is the capital of South Tyrol, a region annexed to Italy in the early 20th century. From the heights of the Dolomites, you’ll descend to the Alpine foothills, following waterways through romantic cities and quintessentially Italian landscapes until you reach the Venetian Lagoon.
The itinerary takes you by countless remarkable sites, three of which (Vicenza and Venice and its lagoon) have been deemed so exceptional that they are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This itinerary takes place mainly on flat terrain, on quiet secondary streets with low traffic, or paved bike paths. Many times, you’ll be closely following the path of rivers or canals — we don’t, however, recommend cycling in them.
For travel and cycling tips to the Veneto, visit our "travel and cycling tips" section.
Thanks to its location on a train line between Munich and Verona, which also connects to Milan and Venice, Bolzano is easily accessible from all major gateways. When you arrive, prepare to be wowed! Bolzano is not your typical Italian city; it boasts a multilingual population and bright, crisp Austrian-influenced architecture. From the railway station, also known as the Stazione Ferroviaria or Banhof, your hotel is a short walk. Aside from meeting your guide and receiving your bikes, you are free to do as you wish today. Stroll through the Piazza delle Erbe’s fruit and vegetable market, do some high street shopping in the medieval arcade of the Lauben, or visit some churches surrounding the old city squares. Enjoy a feast of traditional South Tyrolean cuisine, which is best described as 'mountain food with Italian flair'.
Set out from Bolzano along the Adige River, which carves its way through the peaceful lower Alpine valley. A number of sights may catch your interest, such as the imperial Reinhold Messner Mountain Museum, located within a hilltop fortress just outside of Bolzano. Breeze past vineyards and fields or stop for a snack in towns like Egna, whose whitewashed arcades grace the carefully preserved historic centre. Your destination, Trento (Trent), is a cosmopolitan commercial center oft overlooked by tourists. Consider yourself lucky to get to know the city’s unique blend of Renaissance, Germanic, and modern elements. The Castello del Buonconsiglio and the Cathedral of Saint Vigilius, better known as the Duomo, are the city’s prominent structures.
To shorten today’s stretch, take the train from Trento to Borgo Valsugana, at which point you’ll begin following the Brenta River. Once an important transportation route, the Brenta is now dotted with grandiose villas built by wealthy merchants. Reaching Bassano del Grappa is easy — the Brenta will take you right there, straight to the covered Ponte Vecchio bridge. Leave your bikes at your hotel while you explore the charming city centre on foot.
The walled medieval town of Marostica is the perfect rest stop on today’s ride, where you can jump into a life-sized chess game in the main square. Resplendent villas built by world-renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladiomark your way to Vicenza, where more of his masterpieces await discovery. To protect the palaces, theatres and the Basilica Palladiana, Vicenza has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inspired by the city’s beauty and good-natured vibes, and maybe the rich food and wine, you may head to bed feeling like a great Italian artist yourself.
Cycling out of Vicenza on the bicycle path along the River Bacchiglione you will quickly reach Palladio's most famous villa, the Villa Rotonda. Then, past the hamlet of Montegalda, you will head towards the Euganean Hills, where you will have the opportunity to relax in a 4-star spa resort in the largest European thermal district.
You'll be back on the Bacchiglione river flowing towards the Venetian Lagoon. The unique experience of riding a narrow strait between lagoon and sea cannot be matched! At the end, a ferry will transport you back in time to the tiny fishing village of Chioggia. The quaint cousin of Venice, Chioggia's canals and narrow streets connect the unassumingly picturesque buildings to the fishermen's docks. A seafood supper is highly recommended!
After a fantastic week, you will return your bikes and board a ferry to Venice, island hopping on your way. The romance, mystery and grandeur of Venice are no myth — see for yourself as you wind through the quiet alleys and pass through the bustling Piazza San Marco. You are free to explore with or without a map, but the next part of your adventure is up to you! Your hotel in Mestre is located near the train station and across from a bus stop, both offering regular service to Venice, which can be reached in a matter of minutes. An early arrival will allow you to experience the world’s most romantic and dreamy city.
You can choose to stay in Venice instead of Mestre for an extra fee (on request).
After breakfast, depart Mestre/Venice at the time of your choice.
Possible transfer back to Bolzano (reservation required).
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