The Via Claudia Augusta in Italy Overview

Published on:  | Last updated: 7 February 2018

Via Claudia Augusta, looking down towards the Vinschgau (Val Venosta)

Via Claudia Augusta, looking down towards the Vinschgau (Val Venosta)

At a glance

Distance

355 kilometres (Ostiglia option) or 387 kilometres (Quarto d'Altino/Venezia option)

Difficulty/​terrain

Easy but there are more challenging options if you want them.

Traffic

The northern part of the route is almost entirely on traffic-free cycleways. On the southern parts of the route it mainly uses quiet roads.

Surfaces

Predominantly on surfaced roads or cycleways

Finding your way

The signposting is generally excellent but note that some of the variants aren't signposted, and once beyond Verona and Feltre it tends to be very patchy.

Cyclists on the Via Claudia near Graun im Vinschgau

Cyclists on the Via Claudia near Graun im Vinschgau

Introduction

The Via Claudia crosses the Italian-Austrian border near Nauders and follows the Adige (Etsch) river as it heads towards Verona and then the Adriatic.

The route takes you through the Südtirol, and Trentino into the Veneto —each region with its own history and identity. The Trentino and Südtirol are two of Italy’s most distinctive areas. The Südtirol is overwhelm­ingly German-speaking while the Trentino is predom­in­antly Italian-speaking.

The Italian section includes some of Europe's premier traffic-free cycleways. These bike paths are a bit like the cycling equivalent of motorways and the only disad­vantage is that it's all too easy to zoom through and miss the riches along the way.

The Via Claudia passing the Schloss Kastelbell (Castello di Castelbello)

The Via Claudia passing the Schloss Kastelbell (Castello di Castelbello)

Highlights

The scenery along this stretch of the route is gorgeous. On one side of the broad river valley you have the great mountains of Lombardia and the Brenta Dolomites, and on the other the Dolomites.

Verona and Venezia are the best-known city destin­a­tions along the way, but some of the less well-known towns are great places to visit. My pick of the places you haven't heard of but are worth your time would be: Glurns (Glorenza), Bozen (Bolzano), Trento and Feltre.

Overview map

  Map:  VCA-Italy-overview-show map in overlay    |    VCA-Italy-overview-show map in new window   

Distances

Via Claudia Augusta: Feltre-Treviso-Venezia option
Reschensee - Bozen 113kms
Bozen - Trento 60kms
Trento - Feltre 106 kms
Feltre - Treviso 81 kms
Feltre - Treviso (via Passo di Praderadego) 108 kms
Treviso - Altino 32 kms
Via Claudia Augusta: Verona-Ostiglia option
Reschensee - Bozen 113 kms
Bozen - Trento 60 kms
Trento - Verona 99 kms
Verona - Ostiglia 81 kms

Options and connections

The official route has two main options - one goes via Feltre to Venezia and the other via Verona to Ostiglia. They're both good options. The first option has the obvious attraction of Venezia but there is a tricky climb from Trento —although you can avoid it by taking the shuttle or the train. The second option offers a relaxed cruise to Verona, but to be honest after Verona it's not especially inter­esting.

Connections

As cycle routes go, the Via Claudia is well connected, so there are lots of options if you want to include it in a longer journey. It connects with two of Italy's main inter­na­tional cycle routes: the Ciclopista del Sole (eurovelo 7) and with the Ciclovia del Po (eurovelo 8) which runs east-west across the country.

The Ciclopista del Sole continues south from Trento to the Lago di Garda, and then Mantova. From Mantova you can continue to Bologna and then Firenze and Rome. You could also turn left at Bozen and then follow the PusterBike cycleway to Toblach (Dobbiaco). At Toblach you can then head south into the heart of the Dolomites on the Ciclabile delle Dolomiti or pick up the Drauradweg through Austria (see also: italy-cycling-guide.info: Through Austria along the River Drau from Toblach to Tarvisio).

The Via Claudia connects with the Ciclovia del Po/​eurovelo 8 at Ostiglia on the Po, and on the Adriatic coast north of Venezia. You could follow the coastline north into Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and on from there along the coast of Slovenija and Hrvatska (Croatia). Or you could head south, island-hopping along the eastern side of the Venetian lagoon (see italy-cycling-guide.info: Islands and lagoons of the Adriatic Coast)

Variations

The position is complicated by the fact that the official route as you see it on the viaclaudia.org website (viaclaudia.org: inter­active map), and on OpenStreetMap maps differs from the route as it exists on the ground. For example at Algund (Lagundo) north of Meran (Merano) the official route leaves the river and detours through the the wine country via Marling. It's a nice route, but as far as the Südtirol region, and the signposting, is concerned the route continues to follow the river on towards Meran and Bozen.

In this guide I have presented all of the variants so that you can choose between them. The other main variant is at Borgo Valsugana where the official route climbs to Castello Tesino and goes from there to the Croce d'Aune. The original route also offered the option of continuing along the Valsugana cycleway to Tezze and then on from there to Feltre. This option is still signposted and still perfectly viable.

Cyclist on the Vinschgau Radweg (Via Claudia) near Algund

Cyclist on the Via Claudia near Algund

The shuttles

The Via Claudia Augusta is unusual in that there are 6 shuttle bus services provided to support the route . Four of these are on the Italian section:

  • Trento - Civezzano - Pergine
  • Castelnuovo - Bieno - Castello Tesino
  • Ponte Oltra - Sovramonte - Croce D‘Aune
  • Mel - Castello di Zumelle - Praderadego

I would defin­itely consider the shuttle from Trento (you could also catch the train). The initial stretch out of Trento is on a fairly steep and narrow road. I've ridden it a couple of times, and the drivers have always been consid­erate, but even so you may find it a little stressful. The route out of Trento is one of the least satis­factory parts of the whole route and I would be tempted to avoid it.

Cyclists riding the Vinschgau Radweg/Via Claudia near Partschins (Parcines)

Cyclists riding the Vinschgau Radweg/​Via Claudia near Partschins (Parcines)

More information

Places to stay

Hostels

There are quite a lot of hostels on the Südtirol section of the route, but fewer as you get further south. There are loads of backpacker hostels in Venezia but the ban on bikes in Venezia itself probably rules these out.

Campsites

There are lots of campsites along the northern part of the route, but the further south you go the fewer there are. There are fewer sites after Trento. On the Verona variant there are only a couple of sites on the route itself before Verona (and one relat­ively close), (but you have the option of a detour to the Lago di Garda). After Verona there's only one site — at Villafranca di Verona On the Feltre-Treviso variant there are no campsites after Feltre until you get to Venezia.

Transport and services

Please see the main overview article for inform­ation about getting back from the end of your tour.

You could of course just do the Italian section of the Via Claudia. If you are planning to travel by train to the start of the Italian section please bear in mind that the popularity of the Vinschgau Radweg means that there are restric­tions on the carriage of bikes at certain times between Meran and Mals (Malles) - the nearest station to the start of the route.


Trains

The cycleway through the Vinschgau (Val Venosta) has become so popular that, during the summer, there are restric­tions on when you can get on a train with your bike. There's also a bike transport service.

Here's the text of a notice on display in 2017.

No boarding with bicycles in the train stations of Merano, Lagundo and Marlengo from 29th April 2017 to 31 October 2017 on the Val Venosta train (Vinschger Bahn) between 8:00 am — 1:00 pm and between 3:00 pm — 5:30 pm.

At Merano train station you can load your bike on a truck and use the transport service for bicycles until Malles. The bike can be collected in the dedicated area areas at the following train stations: Naturno, Laces, Silandro, Spondigna and Malles.

The bike transport service leaves Merano every day at 9:16 am, 10:16 am, 11:16 am, 3:16 am, 4:16 am, and 5:16 pm.

Groups can book their own back transport service also outside the above-mentioned time schedule by calling: +39 0473 201 500. Daily ticket for bikes: 7 euro.

ATTENTION: in order to carry your bike on trains in South Tyrol you need an additional ticket. A daily bike ticket costs 7 euro and must validated before each ride. In case of overcrowded trains the access with bike on board can be denied.

Transport of bikes is in wagon A and there is a maximum of 15 bikes.

Check the mobilitaaltoadige.info website for any changes in the policy.

The wording on the website is slightly ambiguous: it says that the cost of the transport service is the same as the cost of a day bike-ticket. I don't know whether that means that, your 7 euros gets you a ticket that is also valid on the train for the return leg. The tickets for the bike shuttle are available at the ticket offices or at shuttle service departure point.

Sign indicating the way to the bike-loading point in Meran station

Sign indic­ating the way to the bike-loading point (Fahradladestelle/​​Carico bicicletta) in Meran station

Bike taxi

If there's a group of you, bikeshuttle.at, based just over the border in Nauders, taxi services aimed at cyclists. They also offer a bike return service from Verona, the Lago di Garda and Venezia.

The BikeMobil Card and bike rental

The Südtirol government also seem to have worked hard to make renting a bike a convenient option with rental points at many stations. The BikeMobil a card that is valid for transport on the region's rail and bus services, as well as some cable lifts and the Swiss Post Bus service to Müstair. The card (available for 1, 3 or 7 consec­utive days) includes a day's bike rental. Note though that you are not allowed to take your rental bike on public transport — the idea is that you rent your bike from one of the rental points in the scheme, go for a ride and then drop it off at another rental point

There's a dedicated website (suedtirolbike.it it/​​de/​​en) with all the inform­ation you need about the 22 rental shops in the area and the range of bikes on offer. They offer one-way rental as well as sports road bikes and electric bikes.

Resources

General tourist information

The Südtirol, Trentino and Veneto have excellent regional tourist inform­ation websites and these are the ideal starting points for planning your trip. The links are:

There are also plenty of local tourist inform­ation sites: these are listed in the detailed articles.

Cycling websites

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 are plenty of sites giving more inform­ation about cycling in the areas along the route. These are listed in the individual articles.

Shop sign in Borgo Valsugana (Trentino)

Shop sign in Borgo Valsugana (Trentino)

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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