An easy paced trip for those wishing to experience the beauty of the Austrian and Italian Alps in style. The riding is concentrated along Via Claudia Augusta, a 2000-year-old Roman-built road which was, for many centuries, the main commercial route across the Alps. Originally used for the transportation of wine, olive oil and oysters from the Mediterranean, it now serves as the perfect biking route through an area of stunning views and historic sites.
The journey begins in Austria on the slopes of the mighty Zugspitze (2692m) and takes in some of the most beautiful Tyrolean landscapes imagineable. From Lermoos our journey heads off on a series of rolling forest trails and across undulating countryside trails, before heading upstream alongside the icy waters of the River Inn. Crossing the border into Italy via the Rescen Pass, the panoramic views open up as we roll gently down into the Vinschgau Valley and the South Tyrol. The ride continues via apple plantations, vineyards and historic castles – of course we make some time to sample the wines for which the region is famous.
As the week draws to a conclusion we enter the Etsch valley which leads us straight into the bustling city of Trento, where we can spend an evening soaking up the trendy Italian atmosphere in the numerous gelaterias and capuccino bars. Of course, we don’t want to overdo it in Trento, as we need to reserve a little energy for the last day of riding through the Sarca Valley and onward to our final destination Lake Garda. Superb hotels (3 or 4 star), many with pools and delicious evening meals are just what you need after a day in the saddle and complete what is an impressive package.
Day 1: Arrival at Munich and transfer to Lermoos
Following arrival into Munich we transfer across the border to the Austrian village of Lermoos. The village is situated in a lovely meadow and offers a beautiful view of Germany's highest peak Zugspitze (2692m). With most flights arriving around lunchtime and the transfer time around 2 hours, we will spend our time in Lermoos preparing our bikes for the week ahead. Should time allow, we may even sneak in a quick leg stretch before our welcome drinks and evening meal, which we'll take at the hotel. During the meal we'll have an informal chat with our guides about the week to come. Includes: (D).
Day 2: Landeck, 60km & 740m height gain
Our first days riding and probably the trickiest of the trip is a wonderful introduction to the area, and takes in Fernpass, the castle of Fernstein and Lake Schanzlsee one of the most beautiful and breathtaking Alpine lakes of the Außerfern region. The morning will be a varied affair of forest trails, undulating dirt roads and a short but tricky descent, before an easy stretch as we come into Nassereith. A little further on and we reach Imst, an ancient little town beautifully situated on a terrace above the River Inn at the mouth of the Gurgl valley. From here we criss-cross the ice-blue River Inn over its many bridges, as we continue along the Via Claudia to Landeck where we stay for the evening. If you've still the energy and the time, the nearby Castle Landit is well worth a visit, with the views across the valley to the north superb. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 3: Nauders, 58km & 1,100m height gain
We continue once more through the Inn Valley with its meadows, fields of flowers and impressive mountains. Passing typical Austrian villages along the way, we arrive at the famous Kajetansbrücke. At Martina we cross the Swiss border (don't forget your passport today!), which is followed by another climb. Once at the top however, we can just sit back & reflect before rolling down to Nauders (1400m). Situated in the border triangle of Austria, Switzerland and Italy and surrounded by the Weisskugel it is a lovely setting. It's here that we will spend our final night in Austria, with once more the accommodation of a very high standard. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 4: Rabland, 84km & 640m height gain
"Buon Giorno Italia“. Following another hearty breakfast we cycle up the last 108 metres to reach the Reschenpass (1508m) and arrive in Italy, where a breathtaking view opens up before us : the blue Lake “Reschen” and just behind the white peaks of Ortler (3905m). Enjoying the landscape we take a fast downhill into the Vinschgau Valley. Stretching from the Reschen Pass to Kastelbell/Tschars and bordering with Switzerland and Austria, it is a most beautiful valley of sparkling lush meadows, gigantic glaciers and glittering lakes. Our path heads now through apple plantations and from here we can see the castle “Juval” belonging to the famous Alpine climber Reinhold Messner. Our final destination today is Rabland, situated at the entrance of the Vinschgau Valley. This is a nice place of small lanes, historic buildings, and typical Tyrolean Wine Taverns (Buschenschanks) and cafés with sun terraces just perfect for a post ride drink and spot of 'exploring'! Includes: (B), (D).
Day 5: Tramin/Kaltern, 54km & 640m height gain
First 'port of call' is the 'Jewel of the South Tyrol' Merano (324m) where we spend a short time. Situated in a beautiful setting where the three valleys of Vinschgau, Etsch and Passier come together. This unusual geographical location – the town is sheltered to the north and east by high mountain ranges – is the reason for its mild Mediterranean climate and enables a wide variety of colourful, Mediterranean and sub-tropical plants to thrive.
From here we continue our way through some more apple plantationsand vineyears; taking in superb panoramic views, small villages with market squares and historical sites along the way.This part of Italy is German speaking, with the famous “Gewürtzraminer” white and “Kalterer See” red originating here, and so we have scheduled a spot of pre-dinner wine tasting....well it would be rude not too! With the hotel boasting a good swimming pool, there's also time for a quick dip too. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 6: Trento, 55km & 420m height gain
Before we really get started on our bikes today we visit the small Roman chapel of St. Jakob in Kastelaz, in Tramin. The chapel houses the oldest Romanic frescos in this part of Italy and is well worth a few minutes of your time. You will have noticed that the mountains have now become rougher on the side of the Etsch Valley as we continue towards Trento. With the terrain very easy going now and you well into your 'stride', we cover the distance quickly and arrive around lunchtime.
Positioned in a wide glacial valley, where the Fersina and Avisio rivers join the Adige (the second longest in Italy) and surrounded by mountains, including the Vigolana (2,150m), the Monte Bondone (2,181m) Trento is spectacularly placed! This is a bustling city bursting with Italian flair, with gelaterias, capuccino bars and trendy boutiques all ready to lure a few Euros from your grasp! With this in mind, the afternoon is yours do do as you please. Yet again a superb hotel and evening meal will complete the picture. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 7: Riva - Lake Garda (Lago de Garda), 56km & 890 height gain
Our final challenge lies ahead in the form of the 'cheeky climb' to Candriai from where we roll down into the Mediterenean Sarca Valley. From here on in the route is 'flat' as we switch between quiet lanes and cyclepaths alongside the River Sarca as we eat up the kms. Along the way we'll enjoy a fantastic landscape including glimpses of our final destination Lake Garda (Lago di Garda). Mid afternoon and congratulations are in order. Over the last six days you'll have covered around 370kms from Austria to Italy (plus a few minutes in Switzerland). Time to celebrate with a few bottles of the fizzy stuff and another delicious dinner at a local restaurant. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 8: With bikes packed the previous night, its an early start following breafast. Time to bid farewell to Italy as we transfer back to Munich (5hrs) for flight connections. To break up the journey, we'll stop on the way to grab some lunch prior to our arrival at the airport. Includes: (B).
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