Mantua/Venice Bike & Boat

This wonderful leisurely bike and barge tour takes you along the River Po and offers you a superb taster of Northern Italy.  The tour can be either guided or self guided.

The tour explores celebrated cities of art, one of Europe's prime Nature Reserves and a wealth of tucked away rural hamlets.  The tour starts in Mantua which was once a major city state crowned by the Italian Renaissance.  It then progresses on to Ferrara and culminates in Venice

Please note the tour can also be taken in the opposite direction - Venice to Mantua.

Itinerary & prices - see below

Getting here

Mantua is connected with the following airports:
Verona: 45 km, Venice: 120 km

  • Day 1 - Mantua

    From 4.30pm onwards you will be welcomed aboard the Ave Maria which will be your home for the next week.  At 6.30pm you are invited to an introductory briefing with your tour leader, the skipper and crew and you can enjoy a refreshing aperitivo.  

    After dinner, you can stroll into town and enjoy the historic centre of Mantua.  

  • Day 2 - Mantua round tour 35km

    Today you will cycle to three picturesque lakes formed by the Mincio and somewhat of a cultural gem in these parts.  The surrounding countryside is now considered by many locals as Italy's 'Sleeping Beauty'.

    A cruise on a local barge will allow you to discover waters rich in bird life, lilies and other aquatic flora.  

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

  • Day 3 - Mantua – Zelo 50 km

    After breakfast you will set sail from the lakes of Mantua and cruise through the lush wetlands that lead to the Governolo Lock where Mantua's River Mincio flows into the Po.

    Here you will begin your cycling towards Ostiglia which is a medieval fortress renowned for its medieval fortress and fierce flighting 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. 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!.

    You will catch up with the Ave Maria in Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, the waterway which runs parallel to the Po.

  • Day 4 - Zelo – Ferrara – Adria 50 km by bike + 60 km by bus

    This morning you will cross the Po River and ride south through farmland, orchards and hamlets as far as Ferrara.  This city attracts 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 nest 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 5 - Adria – Po Delta Nature Reserve – Chioggia/Pellestrina 40 km

    After a short cruise this morning you will cycle into the delta of the Po.  This unique wetland is the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to a large colony of flamingos.  

    Weather permitting as we continue towards Chioggia, you can also enjoy a break at a fine sand beach nearby for a dip in the Adriatic.  

    Also known as 'Little Venice', the colourful fishing hub of Chioggia is a great place to make your own bigoli for dinner.  This quintessentially Venetian type of pasta is at its best when made fresh and served with a creamy baccalà sauce.

  • Day 6 - Chioggia/Pellestrina – Venice 30 km

    Pellestrina is the first of two islands you will traverse today. It is 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 di Venezia which is now home to the Venice Film Festival and its galaxy of stars.

    After rejoining the Ave Maria you will be taken to Venice where you can enjoy this vibrant city after dinner.

  • Day 7 - Venice

    After breakfast – and perhaps following a wander off the beaten track with your tour leader – you all meet up with the 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 8 - Departure home

    Departure home after breakfast.

    Tour is suggested from Mantua to Venice but on alternate weeks, you can do the tour from Venive to Mantua

    If you would like to add some additional days in Venice, we can arrange these for you - do get in touch.

There is nothing available. Please contact us for an enquiry.
  • Holidays Insurance

    Compulsory when traveling - ensure you have travel insurance ...there are many policies available and many search options to find policies - see our multi-activity policy that covers our activities

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  • Meet & greet

    Meet & greet No need to struggle with heavy luggage or equipment and no need to take a shuttle bus - Simply drive to the terminal forecourt where you will be met by a uniformed driver who will take all the stress away from you.

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What's included

  • 7 overnights
  • Full board (breakfast, dinner and a self-made packed lunch)
  • Coffee and tea and other hot drinks on board
  • Sheets and towels
  • Courtesy kit
  • Daily short cleaning and mid-week cabin cleaning service and towel change
  • Travel Guide Maps, Road book
  • English speaking tour leader within an international group
  • Second tour leader with a minimum of 25 people
  • 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
  • Bus transfer Ferrara-Adria
  • Boat excursion in the Nature Reserve of the Mincio Park

Extras to consider

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

Good to know

  • This tour offers the chance to choose if pedalling alone (taking advantage of a very detailed route description) or with the whole group, following the tour leader. When booking the tour please specify which option you prefer.

Route profile

  • Total Length: 205 km
    Total vertical up: 20 m
    Terrain: 95% tarmac, 5% unpaved
  • This cycling tour is largely along the flats of the Po plains and the daily stages vary from 25 to 55 km – mostly on tarmac cycle paths along rivers and canals, or quiet country roads.
  • The boat is moored at night and typically sets sail after breakfast, meeting up with the bikes in the afternoon. Some parts of the itinerary are undertaken by boat, to allow easier access onto cycling paths or simply to enjoy the cruise.
  • Easy cycling in mostly flat areas, with only few short climbs and descents. Little effort required, suitable for most people.
  • The tour is also suitable for children. If the child one day does not want to cycle, he/she can stay on board  with one of the parents.


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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