Published on: 18 April 2019 | Last updated: 25 August 2019
This route takes you from the Reschensee on the border between Italy and Austria before heading for the Martina in Switzerland. From Martina, it follows the Inn river as it flows through the Inntal (Inn valley) towards the Donau (Danube). At Rosenheim it leaves the Inn, to head through the Bavarian countryside to München.
I planned this route partly to offer an easy route to München, but it works in either direction. If I had had more time, I would have loved to have continued following the Inn as it heads to Passau on the Donau.
At a glance
331 kilometres (to München)
Generally easy, but with some short climbs
Almost entirely traffic-free
The vast majority of the route is on surfaced cycleways or roads, but there are some sections of compacted-aggregate cycleway, especially in the northern sections
When to go
April to October. The highest point on the route is at 1520m altitude, so there is likely to be snow in winter.
Options and variants
The route can be ridden in either direction.
There is an option of continuing to Wasserburg, and then following a signed cycle route (the Inn-Isar Panoramaweg) from Wasserburg to München.
In Italy the route connects with the the Etschradroute which follows the Adige river and is one of Italy's main cycleways.
The route connects with the Swiss Graubunden route (National Route 6), and the German national route D11 (Ostsee-Oberbayern).
If you continue to Passau you can pick up the Donauradweg, which in turn offers a huge number of connections with other cycleways along the European river network.
Also known as …
Map and altitude profile
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Run your cursor over the graph to show the elevation, and distance from the start, for any given point on the route. (Note: the altitude graph is not shown where the route is flat).
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|Reschensee to Pfunds||28 kms|
|Pfunds to Landeck||31 kms|
|Landeck to Imst||21 kms|
|Imst to Stams||32 kms|
|Stams to Innsbruck||37 kms|
|Innsbruck to Rattenberg||50 kms|
|Rattenberg to Kufstein||31 kms|
|Kufstein - Rosenheim||41 kms|
|Rosenheim to Aying||37 kms|
|Aying to München||29 kms|
|Rosenheim to Wasserburg||29 kms|
|Wasserburg to München||67 kms|
About this table
The table doesn't necessarily show the distances from one city centre to the centre of the next town — if a route skirts around a town the distances are measured to the nearest point on the route from the centre.
Map showing the route and variant
If you are using this route to head north from Italy, then you are probably going to ride it as a continuation of the Etschradroute, via Meran, or by riding on the Brennerradroute to the Brenner Pass. You could take the train to Mals (Malles) on the Italian side of the border, which is close to the starting point, but note that there are restrictions on taking bikes on trains between Meran and Mals, and you may need to put your bike on a separate bike transport for transport by road.
The route also offers a convenient option if you want to head south from München.
München Hauptbahnhof (central station) is a main hub on the German rail network.
You could also fly to Munich Airport (Flughafen München). There are S-Bahn trains from the München Ost station to the airport. The route passes under the bahnhof, so you could, in theory, pick up the route direct from the airport.
Innsbruck Airport (Flughafen Innsbruck) may also be a convenient option. The route passes close to the airport - although on the other side of the river. Check part 3 of the route guide for information on getting to the route from the airport.
Why choose this route?
Alternative cycle routes: the Innradweg vs Via Claudia vs München-Venezia
The Via Claudia and München-Venezia go over the mountains between southern Germany and the Austrian Tirol (the Nordtiroler Kalkalpen), while this route goes around them - taking advantage of the gap created by the Inn as it flows north towards Rosenheim. This is a definite advantage going north to south as the climbs heading north are a lot steeper than the climbs in the other direction.
For me, the other main advantage of this route is that you get to both the upper and lower Inn valley (Oberinntal and Unterinntal).
If you follow the München-Venezia route, you get to visit Innsbruck and Hall, but you miss out on Imst and the upper Inntal. If you follow the Via Claudia, you see Imst and the upper Inntal, but you miss out on Innsbruck and Hall. This route means you can have the best of both worlds.
There are of course other ways that you could combine the three routes. Heading south to north the main alternative would be to take the Brennerradroute to the Brenner pass and pick up the Innradweg at Innsbruck.
Heading north to south you could take the München-Venezia to Hall-in-Tirol, and then continue following the Innradweg to Imst and from there on into Italy.
I planned and rode this route on my way back to München to catch the train home. I had a day in hand so I went on to Wasserburg; if I had had the time I would gladly have continued on, at least to Passau where the Inn flows into the Donau (Danube) and the Innradweg ends.
The Donau is part of the network of cycleways along the major European rivers and waterways, so there are any number of options from Passau.
The network of signed cycle routes in Germany mean that there are lots of possibilities. For example much of the route north of Kufstein coincides with Mozart Radweg a circular route running via Salzburg. It also connects at Neubeuern with the east-west Bodensee-Königssee Radweg.
The highlights and the lowlights
For most of its way through the Tirol, the Inntal is a broad river valley with steep valley sides rising up on either side. The valley sides are dotted with farmhouses and villages, high above. So high that you wonder how anyone ever managed to settle and build a home there. On a hot summer day, with the heat haze, they take on a magical quality.
For millennia, the Inn river and the Inntal have been a major international trade and communication route across the Alps. The cities along the river, and the castles built to defend and control the trade routes, are a big part of the rich cultural and historical fabric that makes the journey so enjoyable.
The Habsburgs relocated from Meran (Merano) in the Südtirol (now in Italy), so they could base themselves in this important crossroads in the heart of the Alps. The area was their base as the dynasty made the transition that saw it come to control a global empire.
But being a major trade route has a significant downside too: for much of the way through the valley you're never very far from an autobahn — although there are sections of the route where the autobahn disappears into tunnels bringing long intervals of complete peace. I don't want to give the wrong impression: the noise is never oppressive, but it is often there in the background. I wouldn't want to live with it, but for a cyclist, it's no more than a mild annoyance. The Austrian government has passed laws to ban lorries at night and at weekends (from 15:00 on Saturdays), and there are places where you can understand why they would have done it.
The Inn valley is one of the most populated parts of Austria, but the route does a pretty good job of threading through, or steering you around, the most urbanised bits. Urban and rural can also coexist surprisingly close to one another, and it's very likely that somewhere along the route you'll hear the sound of cowbells mingled with the sound or traffic.
Finding your way
The Innradweg and Mangfallradweg are both signed and relatively easy to follow.
The Innradweg brochure includes a handy, but not especially detailed, maps for the whole of the radweg. You can order the paper version, and download the pdf version, from this page: innradweg.com: innradwegkarte bestellen.
The German cyclists organisation ADFC (Allgemeine Deutsche Fahrrad-Club) produce a 1:150,000 scale map covering the whole area to the south-east of München. The scale is probably just right for cycle touring. The maps include a lot of detail (if anything maybe a little too much). As you'd expect, they show all of the cycle routes in the region, and as a bonus, you can download GPS tracks of all the routes. They are also printed on plastic sheet, so they are waterproof and tear resistant. The one to buy is the Radtourenkarte Blatt 27 . The ADFC maps are widely available (you should be able to get them from a certain online mega-retailer, as well as from the German online bike shops). You can find a complete list here: fahrrad-buecher-karten.de: ADFC radtourenkarten
Tour operators and other services
CrazyBikez in Innsbruck rent out trekking bikes (hybrids) plus pannier bags and helmet. BikeBringer in München also rent trekking bikes. They can also rent accessories like child seats and trailers as well as pannier bags.
Articles in this series
- The Inntal: Introduction
- The Inntal: Part 1: Reschen to Imst
- The Inntal: Part 2: Imst to Innsbruck
- The Inntal: Part 3: Innsbruck to Kufstein
- The Inntal: Part 4: Kufstein to Rosenheim to
- The Inntal: Part 5: Rosenheim to München
- The Inntal: Part 6: Variant: Rosenheim to Wasserburg (and München)
Places to stay
The region has a very well-developed tourist infrastructure, and there's a wide choice of accommodation. The Innradweg is a relatively well-established cycle route, so hotels should be used to seeing cycle tourists, and have somewhere to store bikes — but it's always worth checking just in case. However, definitely don't assume that hotels in München will have somewhere to store a bike (I learnt this the hard way).
The tyrol.com regional tourist information website has an accommodation section (tyrol.com: Book your holiday). There's also a listing of accommodation for cyclists — although bear in mind that many of the places listed are off the route (tyrol.com: Accommodation for cyclists).
Accommodation in München
Hotels in München aren't cheap at the best of times, but prices can, literally, triple if there's a big trade show. This also affects hostels. And then, of course, there's the Oktoberfest. If you have flexibility in when to travel it's worth checking accommodation prices before you make travel bookings.
If you're looking for a bike-friendly place to stay, then my top tip would be the Bold Hotels. There's one in the centre of town and another in the suburbs in Giesing on the southern side of the city. Both have underground garages. The hotel in Giesing is a little way out, but still a fairly straightforward ride into town, and may be a better bet when prices go crazy in the centre of town.
A note about Oktoberfest
Despite the name, Oktoberfest is mainly in September — it runs for a couple of weeks and comes to an end on the first Sunday in October.
There are very few hostels on the route, and all but one are in either München or Innsbruck. The Austrian Youth Hostels Association has a listing, and map, of jugendberbergen (youth hostels) in the Tirol: oejhv.at: Youth hostels in the Tirol (en/de).
There are two hostels in München that are part of the German youth hostels association. There's a map of the hostels in Bavaria on its website: bayern.jugendherberge.de: Map of youth hostels in Bavaria as well as a form for online bookings (de only).
There are plenty of campsites along the western part of the route. There are fewer on the eastern part, but if you don't mind making a short detour, you should be able to find somewhere to stay.
Transport and services
Train and bike buses
Most of the route is served by train services. There is no train line from Landeck into Italy. There are bus services with bike transport to Martina and Nauders (see part 1 of the guide for more information).
Taking the train
Travelling with a bike on Austrian trains is generally very straightforward. You need to buy a bike ticket which costs 10 per cent of the full ticket price (with a minimum of 2€). On Railjet and other long-distance services, you need to reserve a bike place, but you can do this online or at the station ticket office.
In Germany, things can get a little more complicated: with, at first sight, a confusing range of options. You can see them here: bahn.de: bahn und bike in Bayern. It isn't as complicated as it looks at first sight. The two main types of tageskarte (day-ticket) are: the Fahrrad-Tageskarte Bayern is valid for all trains within Bayern, operated by all train operators, while the other, the Fahrrad-Tageskarte Nahverkehr is valid for the whole of Germany, but only on services operated by Deutsche Bahn.
If you are only making a short journey, you may save some money by buying a Fahrrad-Kurzstreckenkarte. These are valid for single journeys within Bayern of up to 50 kilometres and return journeys of up to 20 kilometres. Fares are 50 percent of the flexpreis fare.
The good news for families is that the bike ticket also covers your children's bikes.
Things get a little more complicated …
The good news is that some Verkehrsverbünden (local transport associations) have introduced Kostenlose Fahrradmitnahme (free bike transport) on certain routes. The bad news is that München isn't one of them, so if you are planning on travelling into the city by train you'll find that it is pflichtig.
There are bike shops in the main towns along the route.
Few services on the route itself, but you're never very far from a village or town.
Places to eat and drink
The Tirolean supermarket firm MPreis operate a chain of cafes called Baguette — most are located in the supermarkets, but there are some stand-alone branches. They were my go-to choice for breakfast and lunch. The bread is excellent, although the coffee is pretty average (but that never stoped me going back to claim my free second cup).
While I'd rather support independent backerei, the Baguette branches are often very conveniently located for the route. There are branches in most of the towns along the route. Including Nauders, Zirl, Innsbruck, and Hall-in-Tirol. There's also one in Imst.
Tourist information websites
The main regional tourist information website for the Tirol is tirol.com. Available in nine languages, and it's excellent. There's also an iOS/Android app: for download links go to: tirol.com: Tirol Travel Guide App. Note that the domain 'tirol.com' belongs to a newspaper and will send you to their site.
The tirol.com website covers most of the route. For the German section the main regional website is bavaria.by. (available in ten languages).
There are several area tourist information websites — these are listed in the 'Resources' sections of the articles in this guide.
Tourist information websites
Most of this route follows the Innradweg. this has its own dedicated website: innradweg.com. In theory, it's available in English, but at the time of writing (2019) pretty much all of the content was only available in German. But, with the aid of Google Translate/Bing Translator, you can still use it.
The brochure/map of the Innradweg is also available in English. It's a useful pocket-size map with a listing of places of interest along the route. You can order it from innradweg.com. You can also download a pdf version, and order marketing material for the Tirol and other regions.
The tyrol.com website has a section aimed at cycle-tourers: tyrol.com: Cycling. This includes information on the long-distance cycle routes that pass through the region: tyrol.com: The Tyrol's Long Distance Cycle Paths. Their guide to the Tirol section of the Innradweg is here: tyrol.com: Inn Cycle Path.
If you'd like an overview of other possibilities in Austria, the Austrian national tourist information website austria.info has a useful cycling section: austria.info: Cycling and Biking.
For the German section of the route, the cycling section of the chiemsee-alpenland.de area website (de only) is a useful resource: chiemsee-alpenland.de: Radfahren. It includes lots of information about the other long-distance cycle routes passing through the region (chiemsee-alpenland.de: Cycle tours).
The chiemsee-alpenland.de has a guide to the Mangfall Radweg here: chiemsee-alpenland.de: Mangfall Radweg.
If you're interested in onward connections using the German cycle network then radnetz-deutschland.de. It has a page giving an overview of the network of national routes: radnetz-deutschland.de: The new cycle network for Germany. There's also a page about the D-11 cycle route (used for the connection between Rosenheim and München) here: radnetz-deutschland.de: D11 radroute.
Transport and services
Travelling with a bike in Austria is relatively straightforward. ÖBB (Austrian Railways) has a useful page on its website that will tell you everything you need to know: oebb.at: Your bicycle on the train
There is no train line between Landeck and Nauders on the first section of the route, but there are buses with bike trailers, or bike racks, to fill the gaps. The Resources section of the first part of this guide includes links to the bus timetables.
Taking a bike by train in Bavaria is a bit more complicated because of the mix of transport companies and local authorities. Here's a list of useful web pages.
- bahn.de: bahn und bike in Bayern. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a version of this page in English. It includes information about the prices for bike tickets in the region as well as a list of train services where bikes travel freebahn.de: kostenlose fahrradmitnahme
- Bayern rail network map showing regional and S-Bahn routes
- list of Bayern train services with bike capacity problems
- an advice leaflet published jointly with the ADFC cyclists organisation
You can take your bike on the S-Bahn trains to the airport, but not during the rush hours. For chapter and verse on the rules see: mvv.muenchen.de: rules