Published on: 16 March 2014 | Last updated: 3 November 2018
At a glance
93 kilometres via Meran | 94 Kilometres via (Marling)
Easy - flat or slightly downhill
Traffic-free cycleways if you go via Meran. The Marling option involves some quiet roads.
Note that at weekends in summer the cycleway gets very busy. In my experience it is friendlier and more relaxed during the week.
Leaving the Vinschgau behind, the Via Claudia heads into the broad river valley with the high rock walls on either side. You are now on the Etschtal Radweg (Ciclabile Valle dell'Adige) which runs on the top of the high embankments (levees) built as flood defences along the banks of the river. The landscape is dominated by apple growing: it must be a wonderful sight in spring when the apple blossom is out. Continuing to follow the river Etsch-Adige the route crosses the border into the Trentino.
Map and altitude profile
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|Algund - Meran||4 kms|
|Meran - Bozen||35 kms|
|Bozen - Auer||17 kms|
|Auer - Salurn||12 kms|
|Salurn - Lavis||33kms|
|Lavis - Trento||9 kms|
Through Germany and Austria there's one single route, but in Italy there are a number of points where you have choices. One of these is at Algund (Lagundo). The route shown on the viaclaudia.org website (and on OpenStreetMap maps) crosses the Adige and heads via Marling and Lana. However, you can also continue on towards Meran and Bozen. The two options converge near Bozen.
If you're not interested in visiting Meran or Bozen then the Marling route is quite a scenic option, but note that, apart from some Via Claudia information panels, it is unsigned. It also follows quiet roads rather than traffic-free cycleways (although the roads are very quiet).
Map of the two options at Algund
Even more options
There's nothing that says that you have to head south from Bozen; you could head north towards Brixen (Bressanone) and from there take the Pusterbike through the Pustertal (val Pusteria). See Südtirol cycleways and the Pusterbike cycleway for more information.
Heading south from Bozen you could take the option of going through the wine country around Kaltern and the KaltererSee. This might combine well with the Marling option of the Via Claudia.
The Sudtirol Wine Road (Suedtiroler Weinstrasse) website has information about three circular rides around Bozen. The northern wine route is a 45-kilometre circular route to the north and west of Bozen. The central wine route is a 23-kilometre circular ride in the Kaltern area. The southern wine route is a 39-kilometre circular ride through the wine-growing area to the south of the Kalterersee.
The wooden bridge on the approach to Algund is also the parting of the way for the two options. Turn right if you want to go to Marling. The route passes Forst Brauerei. Nearby is the Burg Vorst (Castello Foresta) which is owned by the family who own the brewery.
Note that the route crosses a main road that is off-limits to bikes, you can go straight on but not right or left.
After Naturns comes the spa town of Meran. I would definitely advise detouring off the cycle route to explore the city centre. If you have the time and the inclination you might want to visit the spa itself (opening times and prices). (You may also want to check out the link for the Piscina Naturale/Naturbad at Gargazzone (photogallery | opening hours and prices). Take the underpass that links the cycleway with Gargazzone and then follow the signs.
You could also visit the Schloss Tirol castle - home to the dukes of Tyrol until they moved their capital to Innsbruck, or the gardens of the Trauttmansdorff Castle.
Bozen is about 100 metres in altitude below Meran - so enjoy the last bit of downhill. From Bozen to Trento it’s pretty much all flat. You could bypass the centre of Bozen (Bolzano) but again it would be a pity to miss out on it. The city has one of the best networks of cycleways of any city in Italy and it’s definitely worth taking the time to wander around. (download a pdf map of the city’s cyclepaths ). Fore more about Bozen see: italy-cycling-guide.info: Bozen.
Sigmundskron (Ponte d'Adige)
The two variants rejoin near to Terlan and Andrian. A little further on you come to Sigmundskron (Ponte d'Adige) and the only point on the route where the signage is confusing: it seems to be directing you right, over the bridge, when in fact you need to go left (following the sign for the Radstation Wiesl). ( picture of the signs). By the way, even if you are heading for Eppian and the wine route it's still better to go left than right: there's an old railway bridge that takes you over the river and you can pick up the cycleway to Eppian.
You take the next right and then right again. In front of you you should see a castle on a hill — this is the Schloss Sigmundskron (Castello Firmiano). The castle has been restored and is now home to the Messner Mountain Museum Firmian. The museum's theme (borrowing the words from the website) is man’s encounter with the mountains. An itinerary between the various works of art, installations and relics and explores the religious significance of the peaks as an aid to orientation and a bridge to the beyond. It looks like an interesting place, I just wish I'd known about it when I passed by. The Museum is open every day except Thursdays from late March to November —follow the link to check opening times.
On to Trento
The villages in the valley tend to be located a little away from the river, so the cycleway will take you past the villages rather than through them so you need to make a conscious effort to make side-trips. My suggestion would be to stop off at Egna/Neumarkt, a wine-producing centre and pretty village with arcaded streets and Venetian-influenced architecture. You could also stop off at the nearby Klösterle Sankt Florian once a hospice for pilgrims (including Albrecht Dürer on his way to Venezia). Look out also for the Schlöss Haderberg on a rocky spike above Salurn. In an area with so many castles this has perhaps the most dramatic location.
A bicigrill is a cafe beside a cycleway. The name comes from the Autogrills on Italy's autostrade. The bicigrill by the bridge at Salurn is, for me at least, always a welcome sight and an obligatory stop. It's something of an institution, although it now has a rival for your affections a a few kilometres further on: the Bicigrill Faeda aka Bike Break. If you're heading on towards Verona, look out for another institution the Bicigrill Nomi near Rovereto.
A few kilometres even further on, near Mezzacorona, is La Cacciatora restaurant. Not a bicigrill, but a popular stop on the route. Recommended, but it gets busy.
After Salurn you come into the Trentino. The first town on the Trentino side of the border is Lavis and the route detours into the town in order to cross a bridge over a tributary of the Adige. Lavis has an attractive historic centre with a couple of nice bars and cafes so it’s worth seeking out. Look out for the frescoed bookshop. There’s also a bar on the bridge on the route itself.
The Moser Museum
At Lavis cycling fans may want to turn off the route to visit the Museo dei Moser at the Cantina Moser vineyard (Maso Villa Warth).
The Moser family has produced more than its fair share of cycling champions - the Gazzetta dello Sport (Italy's main sports paper - you'll find it in every Italian cafe and bar) called them a dinastia: producing eight professional cyclists. (Including Gilberto Simoni the total comes to nine). The village they come from, Palù di Giovo, has produced four pink-jersey winners.
You can reach the Cantina Moser taking the SP131 out of Lavis (avoiding the SS12). Note that visits are by appointment - the email address is email@example.com.
The city of Trento has launched a new cycling event La Moserissima named after Sr. Moser. It's a non-competitve cycling event for vintage bikes (biciclette di epoca) inspired by Toscana's Eroica — the course is 55 kilometres over a mixture of surfaced and unsurfaced roads with a respectable but not scary amount of climbing (678 metres total altitude gain). There are stops at the Cantina CAVIT as well as the Cantina Moser. Judging by the promo video it looks quite fun if you're into the retro thing:
Trento is a few kilometres further on. Trento is definitely worth a stop - even if it’s only a brief one to visit the Piazza del Duomo - this is only a couple of hundred metres or so off the route (but sadly, not signposted), with the frescoed palazzi and the nearby Palazzo Geremia on the Via Belanzani.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs etc
Tourist information sites with accommodation search and booking facilities:
- bolzano-bozen.it: accommodation search
- suedtirol.info: accommodation search
Find and book places to stay with Booking.com
Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:
- Lana | Meran (Merano) | Bozen (Bolzano) Auer (Ora) | Salurn (Salorno) | Lavis | Trento
- Bozen area | Meran area | Oltra Adige/Bassa Atesina area
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.
- Meran: Jugendherberge Meran
- Bozen: Jugendherberge Bozen
- Salurn: the Jugendehaus Dr Josef Noldin the same cooperative runs a hostel at nearby Montan
- Trento: Ostello Giovane Europa
At Algund there's the Camping Via Claudia Augusta. A little further on in the centre of Meran is the Camping Meran. The nearest campsite to Bozen is the Moosbauer. It's a busy site but they seemed to be able to squeeze in cyclists even when they are turning campervans away.
There are several campsites within relatively easy reach of the route between Bozen and Trento. The closest campsite to Trento is at Lavis - the Albergo Camping Moser (Via Nazionale 64, Nave San Felice Lavis - 0461 870248). The hotel has no website and no email, but you can see the campsite entrance on Google Streetview. There are also several campsites around the Lago di Caldonazzo. Update: I've just discovered the Agriturismo Locanda de L'Arguta just off the route, a little way south of Trento. this might be your best bet if you want to stay somewhere near Trento.
There's a campsite on the Marling variant: the Zum Guten Tropfen at Nals. There are also a couple at the Kalterer See (Lago Caldaro).
Transport and services
There are rail stations all along the route. The stations on the route offer both local, national and international connections. For local services, the best bet is probably the trenitalia regional services. DeutscheBahn also offer services connecting with München (Munich) and Innsbruck to the north an Venezia, Verona, and Bologna to the south.
Left luggage and bike storage
With branches in the stations in Bozen and Trento, Basecamp Dolomites (it/en/de) offer luggage and bike storage. Rates are: 5 € for up to 5 hours, and then 0,90 € per hour for 6 to 12 hours, and 15€/day for over 12 hours (all prices are per piece of luggage —I don't know if there is scope for negotiation if you have a bike and four panniers). They are open 365 days from 9:00-11:45 and 12:15 – 18:00.
Bike shops on this section of the route
- Meran (Merano): Busselli Bike | MC Bike | Flarer
- Nals (Nalles): Tobike
- Bozen (Bolzano): Zago Cicli | Comfort Bike | Zanolini | Biciclette Fausto |Alpina Cicli Claudia Augusta Straße 23a, +39 0471 260 159
- Leifers (Laives): Bikesport Neri
- Neumarkt (Egna): Ebike-Dreams
- Lavis: Tutto Bici | Patrick Bike
- Meano: Bike Service Moser
- Trento: Casa del Ciclo | Simone90 Via Bepi Mor 103 | Moser Cicli | Cicli Giovanni Baldo (Corso 3 Novembre 1918, 70) | Miori Massimo (Via Antonio Gramsci 10)
If you know of other bike shops, or you spot a mistake, please let me know.
General tourist information
The two main regional tourist information sites are:
Useful local sites include:
- merano-suedtirol.it (de/it/en/nl/fr/pl/ru) is the main tourist information site for Meran
- meranerland.com (de/it/en/nl)
- bolzano-bozen.it (de/it/en/ru/fr/jp)
For information about the wine road:
Cycling information websites
- the official regional tourist information site suedtirol.info has an excellent cycling section: suedtirol.info: biking-tours (de/it/en/nl/cs/pl/fr/ru)
- suedtirol-rad.com (de/it/en) - bike Rental shops in the region
Other useful information
- listing of outdoor pools/swimming facilities around Meran and Bozen (if that link doesn't work try: listing of swimming pools in the Südtirol)
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
- Via Claudia Part 5: The Vinschgau
- Via Claudia Part 6: Algund to Trento
- 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