Via Claudia Augusta: Part 4 Following the Inn

Published on:  | Last updated: 29 April 2017

Cyclist on the Via Claudia near Zams

Cyclist on the Via Claudia near Zams

At a glance

Distance

80 kilometres

Difficulty/​terrain

Easy-ish. There's a relat­ively big climb from Martina to Nauders and the Reschensee (1504m), but this isn't partic­u­larly steep and you can take the bus if you prefer.

Traffic

Traffic-free cycleways or quiet roads.

Surfaces

Mainly on surfaced roads or cycleways

Signs

Signposting is excellent, but note that for much of this section you are following the signs for the Innradweg.

Cyclist on the Innradweg/Via Claudia near Landeck

Cyclist on the Innradweg/​Via Claudia near Landeck

Overview

The Via Claudia follows Inn river from Imst to Martina in Switzerland before crossing back into Austria and the climb to the border with Italy and the highest point on the whole route at the Reschenpass. Things just keep getting better: the scenery is gorgeous, and there are some lovely Alpine villages on the way. The Altfinstermünz which once controlled the route is a real highlight.

Options

You could continue along the Innradweg to Innsbruck (and on to Pasau) or continue on from Martina to Sankt Moritz and Maloja. Or you could pick up the Swiss Graubünden Route (national

Wooden bridge over the Inn near Landeck

Wooden bridge over the Inn near Landeck

Map and altitude profile

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Distances
Imst - Pfunds 54 kms
Pfunds - Martina 13 kms
Martina - Nauders 8 kms
Nauders - Reschenpass 5 kms
Reschenpass - Glurns 26 kms
Cyclist on the wooden bridge over the Inn near Landeck

Cyclist on the wooden bridge over the Inn near Landeck

Along the Inn

From Imst there's a bit more downhill before the Via Claudia crosses the river and joins the Innradweg. From here it follows the river through the Inntal, to Martina just over the border in Switzerland. This section is one of the most scenic of the whole route through Austria.

The cycle route skirts round the town of Landeck on a bend in the river, passing below the castle before continuing on following the banks of the river towards Prutz and Pfunds. This is one of the nicest stretches of the route.

The route crosses the river six times on its way towards the border with Switzerland. There's a lovely roofed timber bridge just after Landeck. The most historic bridge is the Pontlatzer Brücke near Prutz. This was the site for a Roman bridge (the name comes from the Latin 'Pons Ladis') and was the scene of two historic victories by Tyrolean troops against Bavarian forces in 1703 and 1809. There's a monument beside the bridge commem­or­ating these battles.

Cyclists crossing the Pontlatzer brücke near Prutz

Cyclists crossing the Pontlatzer brücke near Prutz

To the Reschenpass and Reschensee

Bikes are banned from the main road to the Reschenpass, so if you want to cycle to the pass then the you need to continue along the Inn to Martina (1005m). From Martina, there's a straight­forward climb on a quiet road (the Martinsbruckerstraße) to the Norbertshöhe (1405m), before descending again to Nauders (1394m). After Nauders there's a final climb to the Reschenpass (1509m).

I haven't done it, but according to the signs along the route, you could continue along the old Roman route, but, according to the  warning signs, the route is unrideable even with a mountainbike so you would have to continue on foot as the Romans did.

The route from Nauders to the border with Italy follows the Nauders Alte Straße which I assume from its name (Old Nauders Road) must have been the original road to the pass. It's a lovely ride across alpine hay meadows. There's a sign at the border that says 'Reschenpass Passo di Resia 1455m, but according to the map the pass (and the end of the climb) is a little further on. The source of the Etsch/​Adige river (Etschquelle — Sorgente dell'Adige) is close by, although in keeping with the two passes there are two sources —an official one, and the real one inside a disused bunker.This section ends on the shore of the Reschensee (Lago di Resia). On a clear day the views of the Italian Alps are just fabulous: this is not just the physical high-point of the route.

Shuttles

If you feel like taking a break there's a choice of bus services:

  • the Huckepackbus Landeck-Nauders shuttle runs five times a day (May to October) between Landeck and Nauders with stops along the way. This is a Postbus service with a trailer that can take 18 bikes. NB no e-bikes. Note also that this is the only VCA shuttle which you can't book by SMS.
  • the 4220 Postbus (postbus.at: timetable download) runs from Landeck to Martina where you can change and catch the 270 SAD bus to Nauders (timetable download. (You could of course ride to Martina and get the bus from there). All of the these buses can carry bikes.

The SAD bus from Martina to Nauders and Mals in Italy

The SAD bus from Martina to Nauders and Mals in Italy

The Finstermünz

Between Pfunds and Martina is one of the highlights of the whole cycle route: the Altfinstermünz. The Finstermünz is defin­itely worth the side trip. The deep, narrow river gorge, was the location of the old Roman bridge over the river, and continued as the main crossing point over the border until the completion of the modern road to the Reschenpass in 1854. You can see the modern road, almost clinging to the valley sides, high above the Finstermünz.

If you are heading north to south then it's probably easier to continue along the road and then, once you're over the border, look for the signs on the left-hand side. There is a (Swiss) cycle path that takes you down to the Finstermünz, but it's a steepish climb back up and if you are fully loaded, the easiest option is probably to hide your bikes out of site and walk down and back up. If you are going south to north then you can easily follow the cycleway down and then continue beside the river towards Pfunds.

The bridge and the forti­fic­a­tions built to defend it have been restored and converted into a museum (the project is supported by local author­ities from Austria, Switzerland and Italy, as well as the European Union). Do visit the castle, if only for the video which follows a merchant travelling the route in the Middle Ages, and among other things, tells how he pays the guards on the bridge to fit smaller wheels to his cart so that it will pass over the bridge. You'll need a pair of shoes with grippy soles for going up and down a stairway tunnelled through the rock.

The Altfinstermünz on the river Inn between Pfunds and Martina

The Altfinstermünz on the river Inn between Pfunds and Martina

Martina, Nauders and the Reschenpass

The road to Martina continues, alongside the river, through a dramatic gorge. The road is relat­ively quiet. Look out for the great spike of rock that towers over the road on the left-hand side.

As you head for Martina you may notice signs in a language that seems like Italian, but isn't Italian. This is Rumantsch — one of Switzerland's four official languages (the others are German, French and Italian).

From Martina you cross back over the Inn one final time and back into Austria. The route takes you along the Martinsbruckerstraße from Martina (1005m) to the Norbertshöhe (1405m), before descending again to Nauders (1394m).

After Nauders there's a final climb to the Reschenpass and the Reschensee (1504m) a little further on.

Nauders: the Naudersberg

Nauders: the Naudersberg

More information

Places to stay

Hotels and B&Bs etc

The tiroler-oberland.com (the tourist inform­ation website for Ried, Prutz and Pfunds), nauders.com and venosta.net/vinschgau.net) (tourist inform­ation site for the Vinschgau — Val Venosta) accom­mod­ation listings and booking facil­ities:

Hostels

According to Google the Jugendherberge at Pfunds is now closed. Its web domain is for sale which is almost never a good sign.

  Hostels map:  VCA-FT-hostels-mapshow map in overlay    |  VCA-FT-hostels-map  show map in new window   

Campsites

I stayed at:

all good choices, but there were a number of other attractive-looking sites along the way.

  Camping map:  VCA-FT-campsites-mapshow map in overlay    |  VCA-FT-campsites-map  show map in new window   

Transport and services

Bike shops on this section of the route

If you know of other bike shops, or you spot a mistake, please let me know.

Transport

There's a railway line between Landeck and Innsbruck with a station near Imst. The nearest station on the Italian side of the border is at Mals (Malles).

Resources

Tourist information websites

Cycling websites

Transport

Via Claudia mural between Tosens and Ried im Oberinntal

Via Claudia mural between Tosens and Ried im Oberinntal

Articles in this series

Get in touch

Please get in touch if you find any errors in the information, or if there’s anything, good or bad, that you’d want other cyclists to know.


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