Published on: 13 January 2018 | Last updated: 22 December 2019
At a glance
If you are heading towards Venezia this section is almost entirely downhill, although there are a couple of short climbs.
The whole of this section is on the traffic-free Ciclabile delle Dolomiti cycleway.
Most of the cycleway between Toblach and Cortina is on aggregate-surfaced cycleways, and there is a section of track coming out of Cortina. In total there are about 30 kilometres of aggregate-surfaced cycleway.
The section is well signed, with a combination of the München-Venezia route signs and signs for a Veneto regional route.
Also known as …
The Ciclabile delle Dolomiti is part of a wider project, called the Lunga Via della Dolomiti, which aims to create a circular route around the Dolomites.
The München-Venezia cycle route follows the Lunga via delle Dolomiti cycleway (Ciclabile delle Dolomiti) as it heads south through the Dolomites. The ciclabile follows the route of the trenino delle Dolomiti, the train line that once linked Austria and the Veneto. From Toblach (Dobbiaco) it heads to Cortina d’Ampezzo, and then through the villages of the Cadore. This is perhaps the highlight of the whole route — it’s one of Italy, and Europe’s, most scenic cycleways.
Map and altitude profile
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|Toblach - Cortina d’Ampezzo||29 kms|
|Cortina d’Ampezzo - Sottocastello di Cadore||33 kms|
Toblach to the Passo Cimabanche
The cycleway starts close to the station in Toblach (Dobbiaco), going under the road as it heads out of town. It climbs gently over the next 15 kilometres, with an altitude gain of a little over 300 metres before the Passo Cimabanche (1535m).
The cycleway follows the Höhlensteintal (Val di Landro) that goes through the heart of the northern Dolomites, with the Naturpark Fanes-Sennes-Prags on one side, and the Naturpark Drei Zinnen on the other.
A couple of kilometres out from Toblach you pass the Toblacher See, which is almost as beautiful as the nearby Pragser Wildsee. There are a couple of places to eat or get a drink beside the lake.
The Sorgenti war cemetery
Three kilometres further on, look out for the Sorgenti War Cemetery (also known as the Croda Bagnata or Naßwand war cemetery).
The soldiers buried here were injured fighting on on the Monte Piana (the mountain that you can see towering above the Dürrensee) and died in the nearby field hospital. Originally some 2,000 soldiers were buried here. The Austro-Hungarian empire was a multi-ethnic empire and as well as Austrians and Germans, soldiers from other countries in the empire, were buried here, along with the bodies of prisoners from Romania, Poland, and Russia.
After the war the Italian government adopted the policy of closing war cemeteries and bringing the soldiers’ remains to ossuaries. The German government also adopted a policy of centralising the remains in larger cemeteries, and later after the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria, this policy was extended to the remains of Austrian soldiers.
However, even in death, the Nazi government’s racial policies continued to operate so the bodies of soldiers from the other countries that had made up the empire — who were now regarded as Untermensch — were left behind, and, judging from the names on some of the crosses, so were Austrian and German Jewish soldiers.
The cemetery was then effectively abandoned. Fortunately, in the 1950s, a local woman, Waltraud Fuchs, took responsibility for caring for it. Today, it is cared for by her son Hanspeter. It has been declared a national monument — although there are also signs appealing for donations for the cost of its upkeep.
Next stop is the Dürrensee (Lago di Landro) 11 kilometres from Toblach. Look out for a turning on your left that leads to the Drei Zinnen Blick — a scenic viewpoint from which you can see the Drei Zinnen (Three Peaks — Tre Cime in Italian).
The altitude of the lake is just under 1400 metres, leaving a bit over 100 metres more ascent until you get to the pass.
At the pass the München-Venezia crosses over into the Veneto and begins the long, 46-kilometre, descent to Sottocastello di Cadore.
From the Passo Cimabanche to Cortina d’Ampezzo
The cycleway and the road continue together to the old station at Ospedeletto. After that they diverge, the road descends into the valley of the Torrente Boite while the cycleway continues on the valley side, descending more gradually down into Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Woodland gives way to open mountainside. Monte Cristallo looms above you, and in front, the vista opens up of a chain of mountains.
The cycleway brings you to a junction with the SR48 as it descends from the Passo Tre Croce. On the other side of the road is the old train station — now used as the coach/bus station.
If you want to visit the centre of Cortina, you have to contend with Cortina’s one-way system. My suggestion would be to turn right (onto the SR48) and then right again (the one-way system doesn’t give you any other option). Follow the markings on the road for Belluno and Venezia, and then bear left. At the junction go left (signs for Belluno, Pocol and for the Falzarego and Giau passes). If you want to visit the centre of Cortina, then take the next left into the Piazza Pittori Fratelli Ghedina. The centre of Cortina is a zona traffico limitato, so it might be worth getting off your bike to be on the safe side.
If you don’t want to visit the centre of Cortina then continue where the cycleway resumes on the other side of the bus station.
Cortina – Sottocastello di Cadore
Coming out of Cortina there’s a section of pista ciclabile through the woods that’s a little gravelly. The pista ciclabile gets back into its stride at the Dogana Vecchia 8 kilometres on from Cortina. Dogana Vecchia means old customs house - this used to be the border between Italy and Austria.
From here on though it’s a wonderful cruise down towards Calalzo di Cadore. As well as the scenery, look out for the beautiful old station buildings.
When to leave the cycleway
The München-Venezia cycle route follows the Lunga Via delle Dolomiti cycleway almost all of the way to its end at the train station in Calalzo di Cadore, but near Pieve di Cadore it makes a sharp right and heads down towards Sottocastello di Cadore and the valley of the Piave river.
I first rode this section of cycleway just after the route had opened, and I don’t know how much you can rely on the München-Venezia cycle route signs at this point.
The turning for Sottocastello is on the outskirts of Pieve di Cadore: you come to a crossroads: to your left is the Via Arsenale leading uphill to the centre of Pieve, and the Lunga Via delle Dolomiti cycleway resumes on the other side of the road; you need to turn right and head downhill on the Via Villanova which leads into the Via San Valentino. The Via San Valentino brings you into Sottocastello’s Piazza San Leonardo, beside the church.
There are other routes you can take: if you miss the turning onto the Via Villanova, there’s another turning a little way further on. You could, in theory, take the road (the Via Galghena/Via Saccon), from Tai di Cadore, but while, at first sight, this looks like the simplest option, it isn’t: if you zoom in you’ll see that the cycleway at this point runs on a viaduct.
Looking ahead: closure of the cycleway at Castellavazzo
Further on, on the next section of the route, a key section of cycleway has been closed, meaning that you need to ride on the busy SS51 for a kilometre and a half. One of the options for avoiding this section of the SS51 is to continue on the Lunga Via delle Dolomiti cycleway to the station at Calalzo di Cadore and take the train from there to Longarone. For more information see the next part of this guide: München-Venezia: 7: the Via Alemagna (Sotto Castello di Cadore to the Lago di Santa Croce).
Here’s a short speeded-up time-lapse video showing the cycleway from the Vecchia Dogana near Cortina d’Ampezzo to the point where you need to turn off to go to Sottocastello.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs
Find and book places to stay with Booking.com
There’s plenty of choice of accommodation along the route, but Cortina d’Ampezzo is an expensive place, and this has a bit of a ripple effect on prices in other towns in the valley.
Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:
About these links
If you use these links to book accommodation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.
I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirmation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accommodation.
I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the opportunity to let me know if there’s a problem.
Many properties offer free cancellation but it’s a good idea to check the conditions as these vary from property to property.
There used to be a hostel in Calalzo di Cadore, but it seems to have closed.
There are two campsites between Cortina and the coast: the International di Cologna campsite that’s reasonably close to the route at Sottocastello, and, some way further on, the Sarathei on the Lago di Santa Croce. I’ve stayed there a couple of times and it’s a nice site.
Transport and services
Trains and buses
There is no train service between Toblach, Cortina and Calalzo di Cadore. There is however the Bike Express service that runs between Innichen, Toblach and Cortina operated by Cortina Express. The service runs between July 1 and September 8 (checked August 2019). The buses run every couple of hours and the trip takes a little under 45 minutes. You can check the times on the bus company’s website. Note also that you have to book in advance, and you can only load bikes at certain stops (eg at Toblach train station and not at the bus station).
There’s also the Dolomitibus ‘Trenobus’ service that operates on a circular route taking in Cortina, the station at Calalzo di Cadore and Auronzo di Cadore. You can download the summer 2018 flyer from this page: dolomitibus.it: Trenobus delle Dolomiti (direct download link: dolomitibus.it: trenobus summer 2018 timetable ).
The Südtirol regional bus company also operate bus services between Toblach and Cortina, but you can’t take bikes on these.
You can now take bikes on the trains from Calalzo di Cadore — but note that some trains are replaced by buses, so be sure to check the timetable.
If you are travelling south to Venezia you will normally need to change at Ponte nelle Alpi, but note that on weekends and holidays in summer there are direct trains to and from Venezia. In autumn this is replaced by a direct train to/from Padova and Vicenza which runs on Sundays and holidays. For both services you must reserve the place for your bike, but you can buy tickets, and make reservations, up to five minutes before departure.
Food and drink
For me, the Tappa bar-ristoro in Valle di Cadore is an obligatory stop. There’s an outdoor terrace with great views over the valley.
Bike shops on this section of the route
If you know of other bike shops, or you spot a mistake, please let me know.
- ciclabiledolomiti.com is the official site for the Ciclabile delle Dolomiti/Lunga Via delle Dolomiti
- If you read Italian you might want to check out bellunoinbici.it, the site of the local FIAB (Federazione Italian Amici della Bicicletta for news about new cycleways in the area or problems on the route
- infodolomiti.it: Ciclovia dell’Amicizia (it only) has a very useful interactive map of the route through the Provincia di Belluno (ie from Cortina south to the Lago di Santa Croce). The map shows hotels and other accommodation, as well as places of interest (tip: click the icon in the top right-hand corner to go fullscreen)
- infodolomiti.it: Bike (it/de/en). 21 cycle routes in the Provincia di Belluno.
- veneto.eu has an excellent Bike Tourism section with information about the regional routes (en/fr/de/it/es/pt/pl/jp.
Tourist information websites
- the major tourist information site for the Veneto is veneto.eu (en/fr/de/it/es/pt/pl/jp)
- dolomiti.org (it/en/de) has tourist information for Cortina d’Ampezzo and other resorts in the Veneto Dolomites
- infodolomiti.it (it/de/en). Tourist information for the Provincia di Belluno. Includes an accommodation listing.
Articles in this series
- München-Venezia Overview
- München-Venezia: 1: München to Achenkirch
- München-Venezia: 2: Achenkirch to Hall-in-Tirol
- München-Venezia: 3: Hall-in-Tirol to Brenner
- München-Venezia: 4: Brenner to Fortezza Franzensfeste
- München-Venezia: 5: the PusterTal (Fortezza Franzensfeste to Toblach)
- München-Venezia: 6: the Ciclabile delle Dolomiti
- München-Venezia: 7: the Via Alemagna (Sotto Castello di Cadore to the Lago di Santa Croce)
- München-Venezia: 8: the Lago di Santa Croce to Treviso
- München-Venezia: 9: Treviso to Venezia