Bolzano - Mantua - Venice Bike and Boat

This tour really does offer a lot of variety and a unique opportunity to combine a more classical bike and hotel tour with a bike and boat trip through the Po Valley to wonderfully vibrant city of Venice.  The cycling route starts in the superb Dolomites and follows the course of the River Adige which takes you to the palm lined shore of the very stunning Lake Garda.  Further on through the tour, you will reach the enchanting Renaissance town of Mantua where you will embark aboard the Ave Maria boat.  

The Po River flows into the Venetia lagoon where you first stop will be Chioggia, known as 'Little Venice' and famous for its bustling fish market.  At the end of the trip you'll be welcomed by the amazing Venice - a destination that has lured passersby for centuries!

Itinerary & prices - see below

Getting here

Bolzano is connected with the following airports:
Innsbruck: 120 km, Verona: 150 km

  • Day 1 - Bolzano

    Individual arrival into Bolzano which is a famous commercial and tourist centre and also a historical and cultural connection between the Italy and Germany.

    Tour runs every other Wednesday from may thru September


  • Day 2 - Bolzano – Trento (65/70 km)

    Today's cycle ride will take you along the Adige beside apple orchards, vineyards and through the typically Italian villages of Ora, Egna and Salorno.

    Once in Trento you can spend some time exploring the painted buildings. Today's stage can be shortened by taking the train along the way should you wish.


  • Day 3 - Trento – Desenzano/Peschieras (50 km by bike + ferry)

    Today is all about your progress towards Lake Garda.

    On the ferry boat you will travel as far as Peschiera/ Desenzano along the southern shore of the lake.


  • Day 4 - Desenzano/Peschiera – Mantua (70/45 km)

    Your cycling today will take you along one of the most famous Italian cycle paths which runs parallel to the River Mincio.  The stage ends in Mantua where you will embark aboard the Ave Maria.  

    There will be an introductory meeting from 4.30pm followed by a chance to meet your tour leader, skipper and crew along with a refreshing aperitivo.

    After dinner, you will have the time to stroll into town and savour the historic centre at it's most enticing.


  • Day 5 - Mantua round tour (35 km)

    A day dedicated to the discovery of this little visited cultural gem, its three picturesque “lakes” formed by the Mincio, and its surrounding countryside – once a City State ruled by the Gonzaga family and now considered by many as Italy’s “Sleeping Beauty”.

    A cruise on a local barge lets us discover a water scape rich in bird life, lilies and other aquatic flora.

    In the afternoon you will enjoy a walking tour of the historic centre and enjoy the rest of the day in town at your own leisure.


  • Day 6 - Mantua – Zelo (50 km)

    After breakfast, you will set sail from the "lakes" of Mantua and cruise through the lush wetlands that lead to Governolo Lock, where Mantua's River Mincio flows into the Po. Here, you will saddle up and follow the broad sweeps of the levee towards Ostiglia renowned for its medieval fortress and fierce fighting in 1945, as the Allies drove Hitler's forces back. 

    Next: Bergantino, home of the distinctive Museum of Fairground Rides and its collection of street organs, all expertly restored (and thunderous!). This village is also in the heartland of Grana Padano – the arch-rival of Parmesan – and a visit to the local cheese factory, sampling some well seasoned Grana, is a must!

    We catch up with our barge in Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, the waterway which runs parallel to the Po.


  • Day 7 - Zelo – Ferrara – Adria (50 km by bike + 60 km by bus)

    This morning you will cross the River Po and ride southwards through a patchwork of farmland, orchards and hamlets, as far as Ferrara. Under its ruling family, the Este, this city state attracted architects, artists and scholars for centuries, pioneering town planning principles that have been emulated worldwide ever since. To this day, Ferrara University ranks among the best and the town is dubbed the ''Cycling Capital of Italy".

    A private bus and trailer then take you back to your floating hotel in Adria, an ancient Roman port once washed by the sea which bears its name. Adria is also renowned for its Etruscan and Greek heritage.

    An after-dinner passeggiata into town for a well-earned grappa or gelato is in order.


  • Day 8 - Adria – Po Delta Nature Reserve – Chioggia/Pellestrina (40 km)

    After a short cruise, you will cycle into the delta of the life-giving Po. This unique wetland is the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to a sizeable colony of flamingos. Weather permitting, as we continue towards Chioggia, we can also enjoy a break at a fine-sand beach nearby for a dip in the Adriatic – not forgetting a hot savoury piadina!

    Also known as “Little Venice”, the colourful fishing hub of Chioggia is a great place to "go local", and what better way than by making your own bigoli for dinner? This quintessentially Venetian type of pasta is at its best when made fresh, and a delicacy served with a creamy baccalà sauce.


  • Day 9 - Chioggia/Pellestrina – Venice (30 km)

    Venice beckons, but first another world altogether: Pellestrina, the first of two islands you will traverse today – a humble and tranquil fishing backwater, picturesque as ever with its cottages, boats and nets.

    A short island-hop by ferry lands you on the Lido. Fashionable in high society ever since the Belle Époque, the Lido di Venezia is now home to the International Venice Film Festival and its galaxy of stars.

    After rejoining your barge, a gentle cruise takes you to your final destination. After dinner you can savour Venice at night, now free of the crowds and at her most romantic: Benvenuti a Venezia!


  • Day 10 - Venice

    After breakfast – and perhaps following a wander off the beaten track with your tour leader – you all meet up with your Venetian guide for a tour through the historic centre.

    Christened La Serenissima ("The Most Serene"), the Venetian Republic held sway over much of the Mediterranean (and beyond) for centuries – both as a military power and a beacon of culture, her explorers reaching as far as China and Newfoundland. After your guided tour, you have the afternoon free to enjoy the city at your own pace.
     


  • Day 11 - Departure

    Departure after breakfast.


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What's included

  • 3 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast buffet (in Bolzano, Trento and Peschiera/Desenzano)
  • 7 overnights on board Ave Maria with full board (breakfast, dinner and a self-made packed lunch)
  • Coffee and tea and other hot drinks on board
  • Sheets and towels
  • Complimentary courtesy kit
  • Daily short cleaning of the cabin
  • Welcome briefing in English
  • Travel Guide, Maps, Road book
  • English speaking tour leader within an international group
  • Second tour leader with a minimum of 25 people
  • Luggage transportation till Mantua
  • Guided visit in Venice and Mantua
  • Visit of a cheese factory with tasting of typical Grana Padano
  • Visit of Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum
  • Harbour charges
  • 4-hour ferry cruise on Lake Garda
  • Bus transfer Ferrara-Adria
  • Boat excursion in the Nature Reserve of the Mincio Park
  • Hotline service

Other things to consider

  • Local hotel taxes
  • Beverages on board
  • Museums, fees and extras in general
  • Ticket for public transportation in Venice
  • Tips
  • Everything, which is not mentioned in the section “included in the price”

Route profile

  • Total length: 365 km
  • Total vertical up: 590/770 m
  • Terrain: 95% tarmac, 5% unpaved
  • Train connection among the overnight stays: day 2, 3, 4
  • Possibility to shorten the itinerary by taking the train: day 2 and 3


From Bolzano to Mantua you will ride on well-planned cycle lanes, part of which run along the Adige banks. Towards Lake Garda there is a bit more challenging climb to face. From Mantua to Venice you will pedal along rivers and canals on tarmac cycle paths or roads with low traffic.

Easy cycling in mostly flat areas, with only few short climbs and descents. Little effort required, suitable for most people.

Accommodation

The Ave Maria is a modern and highly appointed river barge which was launched in 2011.

The boat is equipped with:

  • 4 Superior Double cabins (three of these can accommodate up to 4 persons adding 2 bunk beds) above deck, approx. 11 m2;
  • 10 Standard Double cabins (three of these can accommodate up to 3 persons adding 1 bunk bed) below deck, approx. 11 m2;
  • 3 bunk bed cabins (also available as Single cabins) below deck, approx. 7.5 m2.

Extra features on the Ave Maria

  • 2 sundecks
  • Free hot drinks machine (including Italian ground coffee)
  • Free wi-fi in the common areas
  • Large 55” screen in the lounge for video
  • Dedicated bike storage (for approx. 40 hanging bikes)
  • Hair-dryers (limited number) available on request
  • Complimentary courtesy kit: soap, shower gel, shampoo, hair conditioner

Holiday insurance

Holiday insurance is a requirement when booking our holidays

If you have a policy in place - that's great - if not the policy on our site is available from MPI  This covers all the key areas.

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