Published on: 12 April 2019 | Last updated: 27 February 2020
Using this guide
This page is the introduction to a series of articles, it is intended to provide an overview of the route, together with information on how to get to and from the start and finishing points. The downloads section at the bottom of the page includes downloads of GPS files as well as maps in PDF format.
The route is described in more detail in the articles in the series. You can navigate between them using the Next/Previous arrows at the end of the main article, or the list of links at the bottom of the page (and in the sidebar if your screen is wide enough).
After Meran the main Etschradroute follows the river as it flows south and joins with the Eisack (Isarco) near Bozen (Bolzano). The ride changes too: the cycleway continues on the top of the high flood-protection embankments and you ride looking over the vineyards and fields of apple trees that fill the wide, flat, floor of the Adige valley.
At a glance
Easy — completely flat.
Almost all on traffic-free cycleways.
Entirely on asphalt-surfaced cycleways or roads..
The main alternative option is to turn off the cycleway at Sigmundskron (Ponte d’Adige) and follow the Überetsch cycleway as it climbs to Kaltern (Caldaro).You then rejoin the main route again near Auer (Ora).
Bozen (Bolzano) is 5 kilometres off the route following the Eisack (Isarco) river. It’s well worth considering as a side-trip, or if you’re planning on heading north along the Brennerradroute.
Distance: this guide isn’t divided into daily stages, as people differ in how fast and how far they want to travel each day.
‘Traffic-free’: many cycle routes include sections with roads with restricted access for residents or people working on the adjoining land. You may, very occasionally, encounter an agricultural vehicle like a tractor pulling a trailer of hay, but most of the time there is no motorised traffic. They are often indistinguishable from the cycleways that are legally set aside for the exclusive use of cyclists and pedestrians.
Map and altitude profile
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|Meran to Terlan (Terlano)||19 kms|
|Terlan to Sigmundskron (Ponte d’Adige)||7 kms|
|Sigmundskron to turning for Bozen (Bolzano)||2 kms|
|Sigmundskron to Auer (Ora)||17 kms|
|Auer to Salurn (Salorno)||14 kms|
About this table
The table doesn’t necessarily show the distances from one city centre to the centre of the next town — if a route skirts around a town the distances are measured to the nearest point on the route from the centre.
Meran to Sigismundkron (Ponte d’Adige)
The route through Meran is well signposted. Look out for a sculpture with a bike wheel surrounded by padlocks. The padlocks were left on a nearby bridge by young soldiers at the end of their military service. When the bridge was refurbished the locks that left were moved to this the sculpture here. One typical inscription reads:
Fratelli per 1 anno, amici per la vita. E’ FINITA!!
(Brothers for a year, friends for life. IT’S OVER!!).
From Meran, the cycleway continues along the left bank of the river. This isn’t the most interesting part of the route as you have the river on your right-hand side and the rail line on the other. On the other side of the river is the SS38 road. The SS38 is off-limits to bikes, but the cycleway has good links to the villages along the way.
Unfortunately, there are very few shady places on this section of the cycleway. There are some picnic tables that have been planted with trees, but these are still quite young and offer very little shade. However, near the Lana-Burgstall train station, there’s an old railway bridge that takes you over the river and to a rest area with shade and water and a specially-constructed green cupola which is about as shady as you can get. Next door to the bridge is an old electric locomotive, the Apfel Express (Apple Express) that used to transport apples on a branch line. There’s also a bridge over the railway line which gives you direct access from the cycleway to the train station.
At Gargazon (Gargazzone) there is an underpass that takes you under the railway line and to the open air swimming pool (naturbad) just on the other side of the tracks.
Options at Sigmundskron
At Sigmundskron (Ponte d’Adige) you have the option of taking a variant of the Etschradroute that follows the Überetscher Bahn railway as it heads for Kaltern and the heart of the Südtirol wine country around the Kalterer See (Lago di Caldaro).
Even if you are planning on heading south, the Überetsch cycleway is well worth the effort. You could either do it going to Kaltern and then coming back the same way, or going to the Kalterer See and then rejoining the main Etschradroute near Auer (Ora).
As you come into Sigmundskron you come to a junction with the road, and a sign indicating that you need to turn right and cross over the bridge. My advice is to ignore the sign, and instead turn left following the sign for the Radstation Wiesl . There’s a short stretch on the road before you bear right. The road then takes you past the Radstation, over a level crossing, and to an old steel rail bridge. This is the start of the Überetscher cycleway. Go over the bridge if you want to take this variant, otherwise stay on the left bank of the river.
In front of you should see a castle on a hill — this is the Schloss Sigmundskron (Castello Firmiano).
Sigmundskron to Auer
A kilometre or so further on, you come to the point where the Etschradroute meets the Brennerradroute. Turn left for Bozen (Bolzano) a bit more than 5 kilometres from here, or turn right to continue south.
The next stop is Auer 16 kilometres further on along the Etsch/Adige. For a little over 3 kilometres, the cycleway follows a narrow strip of land between the Etsch and the Eisack as they flow in parallel before they merge to become the Etsch. At the Bozen city boundary, the route crosses a bridge over the Etsch and picks up a quiet country lane. On the outskirts of Auer you make a short detour to go under the rail line. Turn left if you want to go into Auer, which is a little over a kilometre away, otherwise turn right.
Auer to the Salurn (Salorno)
From Auer, the cycleway continues towards the end at the border with the Trentino region. It’s an enjoyable cruise, but by this point, you may have decided that you’ve seen enough vineyards and apple trees. If you want a bit of a change of scenery or a stop for an ice cream, then the Neumarkt (Egna) with its attractive altstadt (old town) is a short detour off the route.
You could also stop off at the nearby Klösterle Sankt Florian once a hospice for pilgrims (including Albrecht Dürer on his way to Venezia).
The cycleway brings you to the bicigrill at Salurn (Salorno). A bicigrill is a café 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.
The bicigrill is pretty much at the end of the Etschradroute (or at least before the cycleway crosses into the Trentino and becomes the Ciclabile Valle dell’Adige). Look out for the Schlöss Haderberg on a rocky spike above Salurn. In an area with so many castles, this has perhaps the most dramatic location.
Articles in this series
- italy-cycling-guide.info: The Etschradroute: Introduction
- Etschradroute: Part 1: Reschensee to Algund (Lagundo)
- Etschradroute: Part 2: Algund to Salurn (Salorno)
Places to stay
This is a popular tourist area so that there are a lot of accommodation options — although in high season there is also a lot of demand. The main towns are Meran and Bozen, but almost all of the villages along the way will have at least one hotel or gästehaus .
Merano (Meran) | Marlengo (Marling) | Bolzano (Bozen) | Appiano | Tesimo (Tisens) | Nals (Nalles) | Andrian (Andriano) | Leifers (Laives) | Kaltern (Caldaro) | Auer (Ora) | Egna (Neumarkt) | Salurn (Salorno)
There are hostels in Meran (Jugendherberge Meran) there’s also a jugendherberge in Bozen (Jugendherberge Bozen) and Salurn (the Jugendhaus Dr Josef Noldin ). There’s also the Gästehaus Castelfeder but it’s tricky to get to without going on the busy SS48.
Campsites on this section of the main Etschradroute:
- Schlosshof Ferienresort
- Camping Zum Guten Tropfen near Nals (Nalles)
- the Camping Tisens at Tisens near Nals
- the Camping Steiner in Leifers
- at Auer the Hotel Markushof also runs a campsite
- Camping Ganthaler at Terlan (Vilpiano)
- the Camping Obstgarten is a friendly site near
Campsites at the Kalterersee
- the Camping Sankt Josef and the [Camping Gretl am See at the Kalterersee. When I stayed at the Camping Sankt Josef, the main area of the campsite — for campers and caravans was absolutely crammed, but fortunately there is an area devoted to tents around two sides of the site, so there was enough space. At 13€ it was good value
Places to eat and drink
South from Meran, there are far fewer places along the cycleway itself and you may need to make a detour into the villages along the way.
- Sinich (kilometre 89): there’s a bar on the corner of the OBI building (OBI are a German DIY/Home/Garden retailer). There are several other places along the main road.
- Sigmundskron (kilometre 110): Radstation Wiesl (weekends only)
- Branzoll (kilometre 119): there’s a café-restaurant (Zur Brücke) by the bridge, just after you cross over the river, a couple of kilometres from the village itself. I must admit it’s always seemed to be closed whenever I’ve come past. Alternatively, there’s the Pizzeria Vadena, which is 300 metres or so away on the road to Pfatten (Vadena). Turn right just before the bridge and take the cycleway beside the road.
- Auer (kilometre 127): there are several places to eat and drink in Auer, a short detour from the route, just follow the signs. The closest option to the cycleway is Viktor’s Imbiss a short distance away, on the other side of the river, on the road to Kaltern (closed on Mondays).
- Neumarkt (kilometre 131): if it’s Monday and Viktor’s Imbiss is closed, there’s another imbiss a bit under three kilometres further on, between Auer and Neumarkt (closed on Wednesdays). It’s OK, but located quite close to the main road, so if you may want to consider making the detour to the attractive centre of Neumarkt. There may also be a place a little further on along the radweg, but I can’t say for sure it’s still there. I would also recommend theFischerhof restaurant on the other side of the river in Kurtatsch.
- Salurn (kilometre 141): the last time I passed by, there was the Bike Café at the bridge at Salurn, but I haven’t been able to confirm whether it is still there.
- Meran (Merano): Busselli Bike | Fin Sports (Bike and More) | Flarer | McBike | Salvadori (Via IV Novembre 62A)
- Bozen (Bolzano): Alpina Cicli (Claudia Augusta Straße) | Biciclette Fausto | Cicli Marchetti | ComfortBIKE | Sportler (Bozen) | Zagocicli | Zanolini
- Nals (Nalles): Tobike Nals
- Lana: Staffler Bike
- Leifers (Laives): Neri Diego (Via Galizia 1) Unterkofler P (159 Via John F Kennedy)
- Eppan: Sanvit Bike & Fitness
Distances are from the start of the cycleway at the border with Austria. Distances are (roughly) to the nearest point on the route.
If you know of other bike shops, or you spot a mistake, please let me know.
Meran, and the stations on the route after it, is served by trains from both the national Trenitalia, as well as the regional SAD company (and you may also see trains operated by Trentino Trasporti). Trenitalia tickets are valid for travel on services operated by the regional train companies.
If you catch a train from one of the smaller stations it may only have a ticket machine for the SAD company, and stations outside the Südtirol may not be listed. Don’t worry; you can sort it out with the train manager when you get on the train.
General tourist information
The Südtirol has excellent regional tourist information website: suedtirol.info (de/it/en/nl/cz/pl). Useful local sites include:
- naturns.it (it/de/en)
- suedtirols-sueden.info (bolzanosurroundings.info) is the main tourist information website for the southern Südtirol (de/it/en)
Places and attractions
- Messner Mountain Museum Firmian (Sigmundskron)
- listing of swimming pools in the Südtirol
- listing of outdoor pools/swimming facilities around Meran and Bozen.
- Naturbad Gargazon
- suedtiroler-weinstrasse.it has information about cycle routes in the Südtirol wine country