Published on: 3 January 2017 | Last updated: 22 April 2019
At a glance
Easy-ish. There's a relatively big climb from Martina to Nauders and the Reschensee (1504m), but this isn't particularly steep and you can take the bus if you prefer.
Traffic-free cycleways or quiet roads.
Mainly on surfaced roads or cycleways
Signposting is excellent, but note that for much of this section you are following the signs for the Innradweg.
The Via Claudia follows Inn river from Imst to Martina in Switzerland before crossing back into Austria and the climb to the border with Italy and the highest point on the whole route at the Reschenpass. Things just keep getting better: the scenery is gorgeous, and there are some lovely Alpine villages on the way. The Altfinstermünz which once controlled the route is a real highlight.
You could continue along the Innradweg to Innsbruck (and on to Passau) or continue on from Martina to Sankt Moritz and Maloja. Or you could pick up the Swiss Graubünden Route (national
Map and altitude profile
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|Imst - Pfunds||54 kms|
|Pfunds - Martina||13 kms|
|Martina - Nauders||8 kms|
|Nauders - Reschenpass||5 kms|
|Reschenpass - Glurns||26 kms|
Along the Inn
From Imst there's a bit more downhill before the Via Claudia crosses the river and joins the Innradweg. From here it follows the river through the Inntal, to Martina just over the border in Switzerland. This section is one of the most scenic of the whole route through Austria.
The cycle route skirts round the town of Landeck on a bend in the river, passing below the castle before continuing on following the banks of the river towards Prutz and Pfunds. This is one of the nicest stretches of the route.
The route crosses the river six times on its way towards the border with Switzerland. There's a lovely roofed timber bridge just after Landeck. The most historic bridge is the Pontlatzer Brücke near Prutz. This was the site for a Roman bridge (the name comes from the Latin 'Pons Ladis') and was the scene of two historic victories by Tyrolean troops against Bavarian forces in 1703 and 1809. There's a monument beside the bridge commemorating these battles.
To the Reschenpass and Reschensee
Bikes are banned from the main road to the Reschenpass, so if you want to cycle to the pass then the you need to continue along the Inn to Martina (1005m). From Martina, there's a straightforward climb on a quiet road (the Martinsbruckerstraße) to the Norbertshöhe (1405m), before descending again to Nauders (1394m). After Nauders there's a final climb to the Reschenpass (1509m).
I haven't done it, but according to the signs along the route, you could continue along the old Roman route, but, according to the warning signs, the route is unrideable even with a mountainbike so you would have to continue on foot as the Romans did.
The route from Nauders to the border with Italy follows the Nauders Alte Straße which I assume from its name (Old Nauders Road) must have been the original road to the pass. It's a lovely ride across alpine hay meadows. There's a sign at the border that says 'Reschenpass Passo di Resia 1455m, but according to the map the pass (and the end of the climb) is a little further on. The source of the Etsch/Adige river (Etschquelle — Sorgente dell'Adige) is close by, although in keeping with the two passes there are two sources —an official one, and the real one inside a disused bunker.This section ends on the shore of the Reschensee (Lago di Resia). On a clear day the views of the Italian Alps are just fabulous: this is not just the physical high-point of the route.
If you feel like taking a break there's a choice of bus services:
- the Huckepackbus Landeck-Nauders shuttle runs five times a day (May to October) between Landeck and Nauders with stops along the way. This is a Postbus service with a trailer that can take 18 bikes. NB no e-bikes. Note also that this is the only VCA shuttle which you can't book by SMS.
- the 4220 Postbus (postbus.at: timetable download) runs from Landeck to Martina where you can change and catch the 270 SAD bus to Nauders (timetable download. (You could of course ride to Martina and get the bus from there). All of the these buses can carry bikes.
Between Pfunds and Martina is one of the highlights of the whole cycle route: the Altfinstermünz. The Finstermünz is definitely worth the side trip. The deep, narrow river gorge, was the location of the old Roman bridge over the river, and continued as the main crossing point over the border until the completion of the modern road to the Reschenpass in 1854. You can see the modern road, almost clinging to the valley sides, high above the Finstermünz.
If you are heading north to south then it's probably easier to continue along the road and then, once you're over the border, look for the signs on the left-hand side. There is a (Swiss) cycle path that takes you down to the Finstermünz, but it's a steepish climb back up, and if you are fully loaded, the easiest option is probably to hide your bikes out of sight and walk down and back up. If you are going south to north then you can easily follow the cycleway down and then continue beside the river towards Pfunds.
The bridge and the fortifications built to defend it have been restored and converted into a museum (the project is supported by local authorities from Austria, Switzerland and Italy, as well as the European Union). Do visit the castle, if only for the video which follows a merchant travelling the route in the Middle Ages, and among other things, tells how he pays the guards on the bridge to fit smaller wheels to his cart so that it will pass over the bridge. You'll need a pair of shoes with grippy soles for going up and down a stairway tunnelled through the rock.
Martina, Nauders and the Reschenpass
The road to Martina continues, alongside the river, through a dramatic gorge. The road is relatively quiet. Look out for the great spike of rock that towers over the road on the left-hand side.
As you head for Martina you may notice signs in a language that seems like Italian, but isn't Italian. This is Rumantsch — one of Switzerland's four official languages (the others are German, French and Italian).
From Martina you cross back over the Inn one final time and back into Austria. The route takes you along the Martinsbruckerstraße from Martina (1005m) to the Norbertshöhe (1405m), before descending again to Nauders (1394m).
After Nauders there's a final climb to the Reschenpass and the Reschensee (1504m) a little further on.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs etc
The tiroler-oberland.com (the tourist information website for Ried, Prutz and Pfunds), nauders.com and venosta.net/vinschgau.net) (tourist information site for the Vinschgau — Val Venosta) accommodation listings and booking facilities:
According to Google the Jugendherberge at Pfunds is now closed. Its web domain is for sale which is almost never a good sign.
I stayed at:
all good choices, but there were a number of other attractive-looking sites along the way.
Transport and services
Bike shops on this section of the route
If you know of other bike shops, or you spot a mistake, please let me know.
There's a railway line between Landeck and Innsbruck with a station near Imst. The nearest station on the Italian side of the border is at Mals (Malles).
Tourist information websites
- tiroler-oberland.com (de/en) the tourist information website for Ried, Prutz and Pfunds
- nauders.com (de/en)
- venosta.net is the tourist information site for the Vinschgau (Val Venosta) on the Italian side of the border
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