Published on: 16 March 2014 | Last updated: 19 May 2019
At a glance
326 kilometres (in Austria and Germany)
355 or 387 kilometres in Italy (distance depends on which variant you choose)
Fairly easy. If you are heading north-south there are some short climbs to the main passes but there are shuttles if you'd rather avoid these.
Mainly on traffic-free cycleways (although these may be roads that are restricted to agricultural vehicles so in summer expect to see tractors trundling round with trailers of freshly-mown hay).
Mainly on surfaced roads or cycleways. But note that there are some important stretches on unsurfaced cycleways and forest roads. In particular the route over the Fernpass in Austria is likely to be problematic for people with trailers or full-loaded touring bikes.
Finding your way
The route is generally very well signposted in both directions. However, note that in Italy there are some variants of the route that aren't signposted, and in the Veneto region the signposting is very patchy.
Signposting is generally very good, but each country has different approaches. Click the photo below for a small slideshow of examples of signs from the German, Austrian and Italian sections of the route.
When to go
May to September or October is probably the best time. The highest point on the route is 1504 metres so snow shouldn't be a problem. Bear in mind that even in summer, the weather in the mountains can be unsettled.
The Via Claudia Augusta is an international cycle route that runs through southern Germany, Austria and Italy (with a brief section in Switzerland). The route takes its name from the road build by the Roman emperor Claudius Augustus. The road became, and remained, one of the major routes for trade and travel across the Alps.
The Roman road linked the Donau (Danube) with the river Po and with the Adriatic coast near Venezia. The cities along the way included Augusta Vindelicorum (modern-day Augsburg), Feltria (modern-day Feltre), Tridentum (Trento), Verona, and the river port of Hostiliae (Ostiglia) on the Po.
There are surprisingly few visible remains of the old Roman road - there are a couple of short stretches of the old road that you can see in southern Germany. A couple of milestones have been discovered along the Italian section of the road. You can see the remains of the old roman bridge at Algund (Lagundo) in Italy.
The precise route of the old Roman road is uncertain but this was, and is, a major trading route and avenue of communication and cultural exchange connecting northern Europe with the Mediterranean and beyond. One of the great things about the route is the mixing of the influences from the German-speaking and Italian-speaking areas.
The Via Claudia is about much more than the Roman remains - the route remains an important artery of commerce and cultural exchange for almost two millennia after it was built. The route is dotted with castles and fortifications built to defend, control, and tax, trade along the route.
The route is a story of three rivers. In Germany it follows the Lech south to the border with Austria. In Austria it follows the course of the Inn for part of the way and in Italy it follows the Adige (Etsch in German).
The majority of the route is on traffic-free cycleways. If the cycleways have a disadvantage it's that they often bypass the towns and villages along the way so it's very easy to just keep cycling and miss out on the places along the way. To get the most out of this route you need to take the time for little detours off the route - even if it's only to go for a swim.
Options and connections
In Germany and Austria there is one single official route, while in Italy there are a number of variants (these are discussed in more detail in the Via Claudia Augusta in Italy. It also connects with other cycleways and routes which means that you have lots of options if you want to make the Via Claudia part of a longer journey.
In Germany the Via Claudia connects at Donauwörth with the Donau Radweg (Danube cycleway) which runs from Donaueschingen in Germany to Budapest (and beyond). The other major connection in Germany is with the D9 Romantische Straße (Romantic Road) cycle route which runs from Würtzburg to Füssen.
In Austria the major connection is with the Inn Radweg. The Inn Radweg connects in turn with the München-Venezia cycle route, and so offers an alternative route into Italy, or an alternative route to München (Munich).
And if that isn't already more than enough choices, the Via Claudia connects with two of Italy's main international cycle routes: the Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) which continues south to Bologna and the n Firenze and Rome, and with the Ciclovia del Po (eurovelo 8)which runs east-west across the country.
The Via Claudia Augusta is unusual in that there are 6 shuttle bus services provided to support the route. Two of these are in the Austrian section and the remaining four in Italy.
If you don't mind a bit of climbing then in most cases there's nothing to stop you going ahead under your own steam, however I think it is worth thinking seriously about the shuttles over the Fernpass and from Trento to the Lago di Caldonazzo. The descent from the Fernpass is a mountainbike track which is tricky at points and would be difficult if you are pulling a trailer or riding on a full-loaded touring bike. The first part of the climb out of Trento is on a very narrow and relatively busy road.
In Italy the official route offers the choice of riding to Altino which is close to Venezia or of riding south via Verona to Ostiglia on the Po. You could also opt to turn off the route near Rovereto and head west to the Lago di Garda.
We need to talk about Venezia
Many people will be attracted to this route by the fact that it leads to Venezia. I hate to say it, but Venezia is far from ideal as the destination for a cycling tour.
The first and most obvious problem is that bikes are banned from the historic centre of Venezia. You can ride over the causeway that leads to Venezia, and to the ferry terminal, or the Santa Lucia train station but that's as far as you can go — you aren't allowed to either ride or push your bike in the pedestrianised zone. There's more detail about the ban below (Venezia and bikes).
The ban on bikes reflects the huge problem of overcrowding. In summer, Venezia is a small place that gets hit by a daily tsunami of people. With an estimated 30 million visitors a year, the situation has become so bad that there has even been discussion of using turnstiles to control access to the Piazza San Marco.
My advice would be that if you want to see the treasures of Venezia then go out of season. Don't obsess about getting to Venezia, and ignore everything else along the way - there are a lot of places along the way where you can enjoy the region's rich artistic and cultural heritage.
Hopefully that won't put you off the route altogether. My top tips would be to find somewhere to stay on one of the islands on the eastern edge of the lagoon. From here you can take a vaporetto to the outer-lying islands of Burano and Murano and from there into Venezia itself. You can also island-hop along the edge of the lagoon to Chioggia and back (or continue south to Ravenna).
Continuing on …
You can of course continue on from the end of the tour. If you end at Quarto d’Altino you can follow the coastline north into Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and on from there to Trieste.
Alternatively you can head south, skirting round the laguna di Venezia to connect with the river Po cycleway.
If you take the Verona-Ostiglia option you can connect with the Po cycleway - or alternatively take the Bicitalia Ciclovia Tirrenica from Verona to Mantova, and on from there to Parma and then the Toscana coast.
Much of the cycleway south from Bozen coincides with the Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) cycle route. The two routes divide north of Verona, and the Ciclopista del Sole heads for Bardolino on the Lago di Garda - and from there it heads south to Mantova and on towards Rome and southern Italy.
When to go
In the hottest days of summer the Italian television news usually reports the hottest cities; Bozen and Meran often feature in the list with temperatures in the upper 30s. If you have the choice then September is a better choice then July or August. Spring, when the apple tress are in blossom, would also be a good time.
Getting there and getting back
There are regular trains between München (Munich) and the Donauwörth. The S-Bahn line from Munich airport connects with the mainline train services at the München Hauptbahnhof and München Ostbahnhof stations (for more information see the airport's website: munich-airport.de: Getting to and from the airport by train.
In Italy one branch of the Via Claudia ends close to Venezia Marco Polo airport, and it is also fairly easy to cycle from here to Treviso and the Treviso Antonio Canova airport. Verona airport is the most convenient for the other branch.
If you are planning on travelling back by train, all of the lines head via Verona to the Brenner pass and from there to Innsbruck. You can catch Italian regional trains to the border but if you are planning on going to Innsbruck or München then the best bet are the Eurocity services run by Deutsche Bahn and ÖBB (and a part of trenitalia). Some services run from Venezia but others start in Verona. The Verona services have a dedicated bike carriage.
bikeshuttle.at (de/it/en) offer daily bus services back from Verona and Venezia to München main station, and a three times a week service from Verona to Füssen or Garmisch stations (services run between May and October).
Venezia and bikes
In 2016, the Comune di Venezia extended the ban on cycling in the centro storico (historic centre) so that now you cannot either ride bikes, or push them. If you do, you risk a 100€ fine.
I haven't been able to find a formal definition of the centro storico, but it applies to most of the group of islands at the centre of the Laguna di Venezia. You can still ride to the Piazzale Roma on the main island, and also to the ferry terminals but no further than that. Google Maps and OpenStreetMap maps show the pedestrian-only areas of the city, and it's safest to regard all of these as off-limits — although there is an exception for the area in front of the Santa Lucia train station.
If you want to see it in black and white, see the city's website: comune.venezia.it: Forbidden Behaviour.
And if you want chapter and verse, the ban is in Articolo 28 of the Regolamento di polizia urbana (pdf) which says:
Nel Centro Storico di Venezia è vietata la circolazione dei velocipedi anche se condotti a mano
Note that at the time of writing the city council had just approved a new version of the regolamento.
The regulation provides an exception for residents of Venezia, and children under the age of ten in specific areas. It also gives the police power to impound bikes until the fine is paid.
I don't know how vigorously the ban is enforced, or your chances of not encountering someone from the local police. If you do decide to take the risk, be discreet and pay attention to the other #Enjoy-Respect-Venezia rules. Last year (2018) one unlucky cycle tourist was fined 350€ for a combination of offences.
Maps to print out or view offline
- Via Claudia Germany and Austria: A4 maps (30 Mb)
- Via Claudia in Italy: A4 maps Part 1: Reschen See to Trento (26 Mb)
- Via Claudia in Italy: A4 maps Part 2: Trento to Altino (50 Mb)
- Via Claudia in Italy: A4 maps Part 3: Trento to Verona and Ostiglia (21 Mb)
The zip files contain pdf files packaged together for convenience. If you are using a tablet you may find it easier to download the individual sections.
- Via Claudia Germany and Austria: A5 maps (30 Mb)
- Via Claudia in Italy: A5 maps Part 1: Reschen See to Trento (26 Mb)
- Via Claudia in Italy: A5 maps Part 2: Trento to Altino (50 Mb)
- Via Claudia in Italy: A5 maps Part 3: Trento to Verona and Ostiglia (21 Mb)
The zip files contain pdf files packaged together for convenience. If you are using a tablet you may find it easier to download the individual sections.
About the maps
The maps are in two versions: A4 portrait format - for printing and maybe also for viewing on an iPad, and A5 for smaller tablets and smartphones. (A4 and A5 are international paper sizes).
Links open in new windows unless you ‘save as’ etc.
Show map download links for individual sections
Via Claudia in Germany and Austria: A4 maps
- Via Claudia Germany and Austria Part 1: A4 maps
- Via Claudia Germany and Austria Part 2: A4 maps
- Via Claudia Germany and Austria Part 3: A4 maps
- Via Claudia Germany and Austria Part 4: A4 maps
Via Claudia in Germany and Austria: A5 maps
- Via Claudia Germany and Austria Part 1: A5 maps
- Via Claudia Germany and Austria Part 2: A5 maps
- Via Claudia Germany and Austria Part 3: A5 maps
- Via Claudia Germany and Austria Part 4: A5 maps
Via Claudia in Italy: A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 5 (The Vinschgau): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 6a (Algund to Trento via Meran): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 6b (Algund to Trento via Marling): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 7a (Trento to San Cristoforo al Lago - alternative): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 7b (Trento to San Cristoforo al Lago - official): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 8 (San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 9 (San Cristoforo al Lago to Bassano del Grappa): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 10 (San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Croce d'Aune): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 11a (Feltre to Treviso): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 11b (Feltre to Treviso via the Passo di Praderadego): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 12a (Treviso to Altino): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 12b (Treviso to Altino via the Girasile cycleway): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 13a (Trento to Verona): A4 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 13b (Verona to Ostiglia): A4 maps
Via Claudia in Italy: A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 5 (The Vinschgau): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 6a (Algund to Trento via Meran): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 6b (Algund to Trento via Marling): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 7a (Trento to San Cristoforo al Lago - alternative): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 7b (Trento to San Cristoforo al Lago - official): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 8 (San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 9 (San Cristoforo al Lago to Bassano del Grappa): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 10 (San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Croce d'Aune): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 11a (Feltre to Treviso): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 11b (Feltre to Treviso via the Passo di Praderadego): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 12a (Treviso to Altino): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 12b (Treviso to Altino via the Girasile cycleway): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 13a (Trento to Verona): A5 maps
- Via Claudia Augusta Part 13b (Verona to Ostiglia): A5 maps
Via Claudia In Germany and Austria: gps files
(.zip file containing 4 track files and one file of waypoints)
Via Claudia in Italy: gps files
(.zip file containing 17 gpx track files plus waypoints)
Italy Points of Interest
POIs are like waypoints, but while you can usually only store a limited number of waypoints on a device, you can store thousands of POIs. These files include information about campsites and hostels, bike shops, train stations, drinking water sources as well as warnings for tunnels and roads where bikes are banned. Please check the ReadMe file for instructions. Updated April 2018. The file format is only compatible with Garmin GPSes .
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs etc
There are lots of accommodation options along the route. See the individual sections of this guide for more information.
There aren't a huge number of hostels on the route, but there's a fair number. There's more information in the individual sections of this guide.
There are plenty of campsites along the central part of the route through Austria and Italy's Südtirol, but the further south you go the fewer there are - although there are lots around Venezia.
The route has its own dedicated website viaclaudia.org (de/it/en)with information about accommodation and points of interest along the route as well as shuttle services to take you to the top of the major passes. There’s also a very useful interactive map
- bahn.com German Railways
- oebb.at ÖBB (Austrian Railways)
- [viaclaudia.org: shuttles](http://www.viaclaudia.org/de/via-claudia-bereisen/radroute/radshuttle.html "viaclaudia.org: radshuttle"]
- VCA shuttles pdf brochure (de/it/en)
- bikeshuttle.at (de/it/en). A taxi/transport firm based in Nauders they offer daily luggage transport services on the route as well as shuttles over the main passes. Between May and October they offer They also offer also daily bus services back from Verona and Venezia to München main station, and a three times a week service from Verona to Füssen or Garmisch stations.
Tourist information sites
Regional tourist information sites for Germany and Austria:
Regional tourist information sites for Italy:
- suedtirol.info (de/it/en/nl/cz/pl)
- visittrentino.it (it/de/fr/en/nl/cz/pl/sk/ru)
- veneto.eu (it/de/fr/en/es/pt)
There are also many local sites — see the individual sections of the guide for more information.
- viaclaudia.org the official dedicated website for the route
- Bayernnetz für Radler - Bavarian Network for Cyclists
- ADFC Bett und Bike site listing bike-friendly accommodation in Germany —operated by the German cyclist’s association the ADFC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad Club)
- Radtouren in Österreich overview of cycle touring routes in Austria
- veloland.ch (de/en/fr/it) cycle routes through Switzerland
- Innradweg the site for the Innradweg
- donauregion.at site for the Danube cycleway through Oberösterreich (northern Austria)
- donau.com site for the Danube cycleway through Niederösterreich (lower Austria)
It's perfectly possible to ride the Via Claudia independently: the route is well signposted, and online services such as Booking.com make it really easy to book accommodation en route, but there are tour operators. These offer the option of a guided tour which means that you travel with a group, and 'self-guided' which mean that they organise your accommodation, transport your bags and provide backup in emergencies. The operators I know of are:
- Saddle Skedaddle (a UK tour operator with an Italian sister company) offer a week-long abbreviated version of the Via Claudia starting at Lermoos in Austria and ending at the Lago di Garda in Italy. Links: skedaddle.co.uk: La Via Claudia guided tour | skedaddle.co.uk: La Via Claudia self-guided tour
- Alpine Bike Adventures offer a week-long self-guided trip between Augsburg and Bozen in Italy. The website gives no information about the company but there is what looks like a US phone number (866-291-4402).
Articles in this series:
- The Via Claudia in Germany and Austria: Overview
- Via Claudia Part 1: Donauwörth to Landsberg Am Lech
- Via Claudia Part 2: Landsberg am Lech to Füssen
- Via Claudia Part 3: Füssen to Imst
- Via Claudia Part 4: Along the valley of the Inn
- The Via Claudia in Italy: Overview
- Via Claudia Part 5: The Vinschgau
- Via Claudia Part 6: Algund to Trento
- Via Claudia Part 7: Trento to the Lago di Caldonazzo
- Via Claudia 8: San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Valsugana
- Via Claudia Part 9: the Valsugana cycleway to Bassano del Grappa
- Via Claudia Part 10: San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Passo Croce d’Aune
- Via Claudia Part 11: Feltre to Treviso
- Via Claudia Part 12: Treviso to Altino (and Venezia)
- Via Claudia Part 13: Trento to Verona and Ostiglia