Through Austria along the River Drau: Part 2 Spittal an der Drau to Tarvisio

Published on:  | Last updated: 22 December 2019

Cyclists on the Ciclovia Alpe-Adria Radweg (FVG1) near the Austrian border

Cyclists on the Ciclovia Alpe-Adria Radweg (FVG1) near the Austrian border

At a glance


65 kms


Easy. Flat from Spittal to Villach and then climbs gently to Tarvisio.


Mostly traffic-free cycleway with short stretches on quiet roads.


Mixed - mainly tarmac-surfaced cycleway or road, but there are some shortish sections of unsur­faced track.


Well signed.

Spittal an der Drau - Villach 43 kms
Villach - Arnoldstein 17 kms
Arnoldstein - Tarvisio 5 kms

Map and altitude profile

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Spittal – Villach

Coming out of Spittal you cross the rail bridge over the Lieser river. Quiet roads take you out of the town and once again under the A10. The cycleway then runs beside the autobahn (screened by trees) for a little under 3 kilometres before the motorway crosses to the other side of the river. For the next five and a bit kilometres the unsur­faced cycleway makes its way peace­fully along the river bank before crossing over the river at Patendorf where it picks up a deserted riverside road. 

This section of the route was great for a fast cruise, but it found it less inter­esting and varied than earlier sections. There’s one bar/café on the route itself (at Weissenbach but, bad news for early risers, it didn’t not open until 10.

The stretch of the route into Villach itself is lovely, but it’s easy to make the mistake, as I did, of sticking to the embankment and missing the town itself. I’ll bet a lot of people do this and it’s probably the reason why the city has set up its Radbutler right on the cycleway. The Radbutler offers a secure place to leave your bike while you go sight­seeing or have a meal. The first two hours are free (2-4 hours: 2€; 4-24hrs 4€). The service operates between 1 May and 31 October (opening hours; 9:00 to 18.00).

Cyclist-pedestrian bridge ove the Drau (Drava) river at Villach

Cyclist-pedes­trian bridge ove the Drau (Drava) river at Villach

Villach - Tarvisio

At Villach the Ciclovia Alpe-Adria Radweg parts company from the Drauradweg which continues on towards Maribor. 

The CAAR route follows the R3 (Karnischer Radwanderweg/GailTal Radweg) to the border. A nice riverside cycleway following the river Gail eventually turns into aggregate stretch by the motorway. The current version of the route runs alongside the main road into Arnoldstein (the Open Street Map maps show an older version of the route). 

Cyclists on the Ciclovia Alpe-Adria Radweg approaching the border with Italy

Cyclists on the Ciclovia Alpe-Adria Radweg approaching the border with Italy

In Arnoldstein the route heads along the main street and there’s a short stretch where cycleway seems to be more theor­etical than real – but you can take to the pavement if you need to.

After Arnoldstein there’s a roadside cycleway to the border. The road itself is fairly quiet – most traffic seems to follow the motorway that you get glimpses of in the valley below. 

Cyclists on the Ciclovia Alpe-Adria Radweg near the Italy-Austria border

Cyclists on the Ciclovia Alpe-Adria Radweg near the Italy-Austria border

You cross into Italy at a disused Italian border check­point. The FVG1 (Italian section of the CAAR) starts on your right, but there are a couple of bars if you want a drink or something to eat.

There is a lovely section of cycleway through the woods passing the restaurant and B&B in the old post office. When I rode this part of the route there was detour through the village of Coccau and then a section of road that came out on the other side of the tunnel on the SS13. Work was due to start in Autumn 2015 on a new section of cycleway on the old rail line 

The cycleway resumes at the other end of the tunnel. From here the FVG1 goes all the way to Tarvisio and beyond. The cycleway into Tarvisio passes the junction what you can take cycleway into Slovenija. 

In Tarvisio there are three stations: Tarvisio Centrale (disused) which doesn’t actually seem to be anywhere near the centre of Tarvisio; Tarvisio Città which is still on the Italian railways computer system but trains don’t stop there any more; and then there is Tarvisio Boscoverde which as the name suggests (Boscoverde means green woods) is out in the countryside, but easily accessible from the main cycleway. 

Tarvisio is mainly a ski-resort and feels like it – but the mountain backdrop is superb.

Cyclists on the Ciclovia Alpe-Adria Radweg (FVG1) at the beginning of the Italian section

Cyclists on the Ciclovia Alpe-Adria Radweg (FVG1) at the beginning of the Itlaian section

Options and connections

This route connects with the FVG1 Ciclovia Alpe-Adria Radweg route which will take you all the way to Grado on the Adriatic coast. And at Grado you can pick up the eurovelo 8 (see also Islands and Lagoons of the Adriatic Coast.

Just before you get to Tarvisio you could turn right and head for Slovenija along the FVG1A and Slovenian D2 cycleway.You could do this as a side-trip or head through Slovenija. See Friuli Venezia Giulia cycleways and cycle routes for more information.

It also looks like there area lots of inter­esting possib­il­ities in the lake district to the east of Villach. See for more information.

Crossing the border (the faded red line marks the border)

Crossing the border (the faded red line marks the border)

More information

Places to stay

Transport and services

If you want to return to Lienz or Toblach there are frequent train services from Villach. If you want to return from Tarvisio, (or one of the stations between Villach and Tarvisio) then you will need to catch the e MiCoTra (it) train which only runs twice a day (in the morning or early evening). For inform­ation about timetables and fares see You can also download the 2017 MiCoTra timetable from this site:  2017 MiCoTra timetable.


If you’re looking for inform­ation about cycling in the Kärnten (Carinthia) region then there is a very useful tour planning resource at which includes (for example) the inter­esting-but-challenging Drei Laender Tour (three countries tour) which takes in Austria, Italy and Slovenija.

For inform­ation about possib­il­ities in Slovenija (slo/ita/en/de) is a great starting point. There’s also an excellent paper map (‘Emerald Cycling Trails’) available from tourist offices in Slovenija). There’s a circular route connecting Tolmin and Nova Gorica in Slovenija with Cividale del Friuli and Gorizia in Italy. There are also a number of other ‘famil­i­ar­isation tours’ and ‘connecting tours’. See also Friuli Venezia Giulia useful websites and resources.

Screenshot from

Screenshot from

Articles in this series

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