Bolzano via Mantova to Venice Bike and Boat
CategoryBike and Boat
Self Guided or Guided
Start / FinishBolzano / Mantua
Distance241 miles/388 kms
This boat and bike cycling holiday combines a 4 day cycling tour with a 7 day cycling cruise. Cycle from the alpine town of Bolzano, high in the awe inspiring Dolomites, via beautiful Lake Garda to the Renaissance city of Mantova in Lombardy. Here you join your boat for a wonderful cruise and cycle holiday across northern Italy to Venice.
Enjoy daily rides through ever-changing scenery starting from high alpine peaks, past stunning lakes, through forests, open plains, wetlands and finally the coast. Along the way you will have the chance to explore charming villages and wonderful Renaissance cities of art and culture.
For the first four days, from Bolzano to Mantova, the route is self-guided – in other words you are on your own navigating with the maps and route notes provided, staying in hotels along the route. In Mantova you join a boat for a 7 day cycle cruise eastwards to Venice. A resident bike guide leads daily cycle rides from the boat into the surrounding countryside.
In Venice the boat moors up in the Venetian Lagoon for two nights providing the perfect base from which to explore this unique city.
For the cruise portion of this trip guests can choose from two different vessels, the Vita Pugna, a traditional Dutch barge offering a cosy atmosphere with simple cabins, and the Ave Maria, a larger, more modern boat with spacious cabins and comfortable facilities. These boats operate on alternate weeks so check the ‘Dates and Prices’ tab to see which boat is operating on your preferred date.
This is a leisurely cycling holiday on mostly level terrain. The route follows cycle paths, quiet lanes and small roads with low traffic. One climb, approaching Lake Garda, may test you a little, but remember, you are on holidays and there’s no rush.
Itinerary & Map
This is an easy cycling holiday on mostly level terrain. The route follows cycle paths, quiet lanes and small roads with low traffic. One climb, approaching Lake Garda, may test you a little, but remember, you are on holidays and there’s no rush. For the first four days, from Bolzano to Mantova, the route is self-guided – in other words you are on your own navigating with the maps and route notes provided, staying in hotels along the route. In Mantova you join a boat for a 7 day cycle cruise eastwards to Venice. A resident bike guide leads daily cycle rides from the boat into the surrounding countryside.
Day 1: Arrive Bolzano
On arrival in Bolzano, check in at your hotel and then spend the rest of the day exploring this lovely alpine town surrounded by spectacular scenery. Your welcome briefing is scheduled for approximately 7pm. You are in the South Tyrol, a region that once belonged to Austria and the local people are happy conversing in either German or Italian – many also speak English. Visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology to see world famous ‘Oetzi’ the mummified remains of a man who lived in these parts some 3, 300 years ago. The perfectly preserved body emerged from a glacier in the nearby Oetz Valley in 1991. You can also take a cable car ride up into the surrounding peaks to enjoy the views and perhaps go for an alpine walk.
Day 2: Bolzano – Trento, 44 miles/70 kms
Today there are two route options to choose from. The easiest and most direct route leads you south along the lower Adige valley beside the river which is bigger now, swollen by its confluence with the Eisack River at Bolzano. The second, slightly longer option includes a couple of short climbs but the payoff is a ride through the stunning Caladaro Valley to Lake Caldaro. The lake is one of the warmest in the alps and just perfect for a swim if the weather is hot. The two routes converge in the Adige Valley near the town of Ora from where you continue your journey south. For centuries this wide fertile valley has been one of the primary north-south trading routes through the alps and the scenery is spectacular. Tiny, white alpine villages, perched on the green mountainsides on either side of the valley, are overlooked by towering granite peaks. The easy, level cycle path sticks resolutely to the valley floor leading you through the small pleasant villages of Ora, Egna and Salomo before arriving at Trento, today’s destination. Trento has a long and colourful history, thanks to its strategic position on one of the Alps’ main passes. Head for the picturesque medieval city centre to absorb the atmosphere and learn more.
Day 3: Trento – Peschiera area, 32 miles/50 kms plus ferry
Leaving Trento you continue down the valley to Rovereto where you leave the Adige River and cycle up a ridge to escape the valley. The short, easy climb is rewarded with an exhilarating freewheel downhill to stunning Lake Garda. You can relax now and enjoy a wonderful ferry ride the entire length of the Lake from Torbole, on the North shore, to Peschiera in the South. The scenery is spectacular with high limestone cliffs and tree-lined hillsides plunging down into the deep blue lake. Pretty villages line the shore and brightly coloured windsurfing sails flit to and fro across the lake’s surface. Disembark in Peschiera and make your way to your nearby hotel. Take time to visit Sirmione, a medieval settlement on a tiny peninsular protruding out into the Lake.
Day 4: Peschiera area – Mantua, 28 – 44 miles/45 – 70 kms
Leave the shores of Lake Garda after breakfast and cycle south through open countryside following the course of the Mincio River. This well known and popular cycle path leads you through level countryside on paths and quiet lanes through small Lombardian towns and villages to Mantua where the second part of your holiday begins. Cycle to the quayside, check-in and settle into your cabin. Explore the boat and meet your fellow passengers before sitting down for the evening meal, which is followed by a welcome presentation from the bike guide and crew.
Day 5: Discover Mantova, 22 miles/35 kms
Today’s ride explores the Renaissance city of Mantova and its beautiful surroundings. In the afternoon a local guide leads you through the town centre pointing out the main highlights and providing some background to the magnificent buildings. The Gonzaga family, who ruled Mantova for nearly four centuries, left the city with some amazing architectural masterpieces. Visit Piazza Sordello which forms the heart of the city; Palazzo Ducale with its huge set of frescoes and of course the Duomo, which retains the Romanesque bell-tower form the 11th century. If history is not your thing you can simply enjoy the bustling atmosphere of the medieval town centre, perhaps enjoying a glass of wine or espresso in the beautiful square.
Day 6: Mantova – Zelo, 32 miles/50 kms
Cruise to the medieval town of Governolo where the day’s ride begins. Cycle along a quiet lane that flirts with the Po River, passing small villages and towns such as Libiola, Ostiglia and Bergantino, home to a unique and colourful Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum. At the end of a very relaxing day’s ride you arrive at the small town of Zelo on the ‘Canal Bianco’ where you will spend the night.
Day 7: Zelo – Adria, 32 miles/50 kms plus bus transfer
Today you cycle through open countryside past small villages, farms and country estates to Ferrara. Wide streets and numerous beautiful palaces and castles dating from the 14th and 15th centuries have earned the town its ranking as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The jewel in Ferrara’s crown has to be the fascinating Castello Estense, a medieval castle, complete with moat, which is well worth a visit.
From Ferrara you board a bus for a short ride to the ancient port of Adria, so named because it was once a port town with more direct access to the Adriatic Sea than it has today. The Venetian style is very evident here and you realize the magical city cannot be too far away.
Day 8 Adria – Chioggia, 25 miles/40 kms
The boat will motor to Porto Viro where you will disembark for a very unique ride through the Po delta to the mouth of the River Adige which brings melt water from high in the Dolomites. In this protected area you can expect to see a wide variety of bird-life including herons and flamingos. At the River Adige you re-board your boat for a relaxing cruise along the Po-Brondolo water-way, which links the river to the Venetian lagoon. Chioggia, also known as “little Venice”, is your overnight location.
Day 9 Chioggia – Venice, 19 miles/30 kms
A short and highly enjoyable ride leads you to your final destination, Venice. The route follows the thin strips of land separating Venice Lagoon from the Adriatic. Pellestrina is mostly inhabited by fishermen but it also accommodates a wide variety of bird species in the Ca’ Roman nature reserve. You then hop across to Venice Lido for a very enjoyable ride along the island made famous in Thomas Mann’s book ‘Death in Venice’ and popular with the aristocracy of the Belle Époque. You re-board your boat for a triumphant entrance into Venice, mooring for the next two nights on Certosa Island adjacent to the city in the Venetian Lagoon.
Day 10: Discover Venice
Spend the day getting to know Europe’s most unique city. A local guide will show you the main sites such as St Mark’s Square the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs, Afterwards the rest of the day is yours to wonder where you will in this truly unique and iconic city. Our top tip is to explore the less frequented ‘calli’ with their unique atmosphere, the many museums, gardens and galleries. And also after dark when the day tourists have left and a more serene and romantic atmosphere pervades the city.
Day 11: End of trip.
After breakfast your wonderful trip comes to an end and it’s time to head for home or your next adventure.
Dates & Prices
|2018 Arrival Dates|
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|Ave Maria - Superior|
|Upper Deck Double/twin||£1761||£2043|
|Upper Deck Triple||£1659||£1941|
|Upper Deck Quad||£1609||£1891|
|Vita Pugna - Comfort|
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|Deposit per person||£250|
7 nights full board aboard the Vita Pugna or the Ave Maria and daily coffee & tea**. See practical information.
Welcome briefing at start of cycling tour
Maps & route notes
Ferry cruise on Lake Garda
Local tour guide during boat cruise
Bus transfer Ferrara - Adria
Guided tour in Mantova and Venice
Boat excursion in the Nature Reserve of the Mincio Park
Bike hire & helmet (see supplements)
Ferry boat trip in Pellestrina (approximately €9)
Tourist tax (approximately €10-15pppn, payable locally)
Extra night Bolzano/Mestre, single (£84)
Gluten free or Vegan meal (£56)
Bike with pannier & lock. See practical information. (£136)
Electric bike with pannier & lock (£305)
** Full board - 7 x breakfast, 6 x packed lunch & 7 x dinner
The bikes provided on this tour are modern aluminium framed, 27-gear unisex bikes with comfortable saddle and upright riding position. The bikes are equipped with mudguards, pannier rack, Ortlieb pannier, gel saddle, handlebar bag, water bottle (yours to keep), water bottle holder, lock and repair kit.
Electric bikes are also available for hire. Kalkhoff’s Agattu model offers 36 volts and 8 gears. The battery has a range of approximately 90 kms on flat terrain at an average cycling pace.
We suggest you bring your own helmet for safety and hygiene reasons, alternatively helmets are available for rent at the time of booking.
Hotel details: Stay in comfortable 3 star hotels with en-suite facilities for the first 3 nights.
Between Mantua and Venice we offer accommodation aboard two different vessels, the comfortable, traditional ‘Vita Pugna’ and the modern, well appointed ‘Ave Maria’.
Vita Pugna (comfort)
The lovely Vita Pugna is a traditional Dutch barge with an intimate, cosy atmosphere and welcoming crew. On-board there is a sun deck, spacious air-conditioned living/dining room, which can accommodate up to 23 guests, with a large 42″ screen and free Wi-Fi.
There are 10 double cabins with twin beds, private bathroom with shower/wc and a porthole that can be opened. One of the cabins is slightly larger and can accommodate a third bed. Bedding and towels are provided.
Ave Maria (superior)
The Ave Maria is a modern boat designed and built specifically for this tour. She offers a very good standard of comfort and amenities. There are 2 sun decks, a lounge and dining area, which can accommodate up to 33, with a large 55″ screen and free Wi-Fi.
There are 4 upper-deck, twin/double cabins, 2 of which can accommodate 4 people by adding bunk beds if necessary. Below deck there are 10 more twin/double cabins, 3 of which can accommodate 3 people by adding a bunk bed. There are also three smaller bunk cabins that can accommodate two people or be used as single cabins. All cabins are air-conditioned and have private facilities with shower and toilet. They also all have windows although only the upper-deck cabins feature windows that can be opened. Bedding and towels are provided.
On both boats a hearty buffet breakfast is provided each morning where guests are also invited to prepare their own packed lunch. Evening meal is served on board and is always a culinary delight.
Some hotels have started to charge a local/tourist tax. These taxes are not included in the sale price of the tour and must be paid directly by you at check-in or checkout at the hotels. This fee varies and is ever changing but as a guide, you may be asked to pay between €1-€4 per person per night