Traffic-free cycleways in the Trentino

Published on:  | Last updated: 15 February 2020

Overview

The Trentino region is an important cross­roads in Northern Italy. To the north is the German-speaking Südtirol, to the west the mountains of Lombardia, to the east the Dolomites, and to the south the plains of the Veneto and Emilia-Romagna.

The Trentino isn’t well known, at least in the English-speaking world, but even if you haven’t heard of the region, you probably have heard of the Lago di Garda, which it shares with the neigh­bouring regions of Lombardia and the Veneto.

The Trentino has its own distinctive identity and history: for centuries it was a princip­ality within the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the Bishop of Trento. The provincia had strong ties to Austria to the north, and was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until it became part of Italy in 1918.

Along with the Südtirol to the north, the Trentino has its own special autonomous status (its official name is the Provincia Autonoma di Trento). The two regions’ autonomy is one of the reasons why they have been at the forefront of the devel­opment of new traffic-free cycleways: the Trentino region has over 400 kilometres. These are among the best I’ve ridden in Italy and Europe. If you’re looking for high-quality traffic-free cycleways, then the Trentino region and the neigh­bouring Südtirol are the best places in Italy, quite possibly in Europe, to start.

Getting there and getting back

The main rail line between Verona and Innsbruck runs right through the region, so it’s easy to travel to and from Innsbruck, and München, to the north, and Verona and Bologna to the south.

What to expect: traffic, surfaces and signposting

The Trentino cycleways are mainly reserved exclus­ively for cyclists and pedes­trians (the official term is ciclope­donali), but you will come across some sections where farmers are allowed to use them for access, as well as some sections on quiet road through villages.

The region’s cycleways are all tarmac surfaced. Surfaces are very smooth —⁠ ⁠it’s not unusual to come across people on skates, and cross-country skiers in training. The only partial exception to this is the cycleway in the Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa where there’s a feeder route from Canazei that follows an aggregate-surfaced bike path.

Signposting is generally very good: you could follow some of the more popular routes without a map, but that’s not true for all of the cycleways.

In addition to the normal cycleway signs, most of the cycleways in the region are waymarked with wooden kilometre markers. These echo the kilometre markers that you’ll find on a lot of Italian roads. You can come across some cycleways that have sections that don’t have them, so the fact that the markers suddenly disappear may not mean that you have gone off the route.

Cyclists passing the 16-kilometre marker on the Val di Fiemme Val di Fassa cycleway near Predazzo

Cyclists passing the 16-kilometre marker on the Fiemme-Fassa cycleway near Predazzo

Overview map

  Map:  -Trentino-cycleways-overview-map-show map in overlay    |    -Trentino-cycleways-overview-map-show map in new window   

So what’s not to like?

The Trentino’s cycleways are excellent, but mostly they don’t connect. However, it isn’t difficult to combine them either using the train or bicibus, or taking to the road. For more inform­ation, and a map showing the cycleways and road connec­tions between them, see ‘Joining the dots’ later on.

The Adige valley

The mainly mountainous region is divided in two by the broad valley of the Adige river. To the west are the Brenta Dolomites as well as the Lago di Garda, and to the east the main part of the Dolomites.

The Adige Valley cycleway (Ciclabile Valle dell’Adige)

The Trentino’s major traffic-free cycleway is the Ciclabile Valle dell’Adige which runs for 90 kilometres from the border with the Südtirol via Trento and Rovereto to the border with the Veneto. This stretch of cycleway is part of an almost continuous traffic-free cycleway that follows the Adige (Etsch) river from its source near the border with Austria to the Adriatic coast. This section of cycleway is a key link in a couple of Italy’s major inter­na­tional cycleways (the Via Claudia Augusta and the Ciclovia del Sole), but, while many people use this cycleway as part of a longer route, you could easily use it for a day-ride or a short tour.

Bridge on the Adige cycleway near Rovereto

Bridge on the Adige cycleway near Rovereto

Distance: 81 kilometres
Surfaces: entirely paved
Difficulty/Terrain: very flat
Public transport: the whole route is within easy reach of the main train line between Verona and Innsbruck

Read more: Adige Valley cycleway

Mori-Torbole cycleway (Ciclabile Mori-Torbole)

This cycleway connects Torbole on the northern coast of the Lago di Garda with the Adige valley cycleway. It has some very scenic parts, but its main importance is as the most practical route between Trento and the northern Lago di Garda (if you’re headed for the southern part of the lake you can turn off at Rivoli).

Cyclists on the cycleway between Mori and Torbole on the Lago di Garda

Cyclists on the cycleway between Mori and Torbole on the Lago di Garda

Distance: 13 kilometres
Surfaces: entirely paved
Difficulty/terrain: if you are heading toward the Lago di Garda, this cycleway involves a very limited amount of climbing, but heading the other way there’s a fairly steep (10%) climb out of Torbole

Transport connec­tions: Mori is on the main Verona-Innsbruck rail line, and there are ferry services on the Lago di Garda that stop at Torbole

Read more: Mori-Torbole cycleway

To the west

Most of the Trentino’s cycleways are in the hills and valleys to the west of the Adige.

Valle del Sarca cycleway (Ciclabile Valle del Sarca)

The Sarca cycleway follows the Sarca river north from the Lago di Garda. It is one of Italy’s most scenic cycleways and deserves to be much better known than it is. At the moment the cycleway ends at Sarche, but the Trentino region has plans to extend the cycleway to connect it to two others in the area: the Ciclabile dei Giudicarie and the Ciclabile Valle dei Laghi. The Giudicarie cycleway uses a spectacular stretch of the old road along the side of the Forra di Limarò (Limarò gorge/canyon), deep, dramatic, river gorge carved by the Sarca river. The Ciclabile Valle dei Laghi is a shortish cycleway that takes you to the beautiful Lago di Terlago.

Cyclists on the Sarca cycleway near the Lago di Garda

Cyclist on the Sarca cycleway near the Lago di Garda

Distance: 24 kilometres
Surfaces: entirely paved
Difficulty/terrain: mainly flat, but with some short climbs
Transport connec­tions: there’s a BiciBus service between Sarche and Molveno, but no service between Sarche and the Lago di Garda.

Read more: Valley of the Lakes

Val di Sole cycleway (Ciclabile Val di Sole)

The Val di Sole cycleway starts near Pejo and follows the Noce river through the Val di Sole.

Cyclists on the Val di Sole cycleway near Pellizzano

Cyclists on the Val di Sole cycleway near Pellizzano

Distance: 34 kilometres
Surfaces: entirely paved
Difficulty/terrain: mostly downhill or flat, but the final section involves more climbing
Public transport: train services from Trento to Mezzano on the route, as well connecting bicibus services

Read more: Val di Sole cycleway

Alta Val di Non cycleway (Ciclabile Alta Val di Non)

The Alta Val di Non cycleway is a circular cycleway on the high altopiano of the Val di Non. It offers some fabulous views looking west towards Brenta Dolomites and the Alps of Lombardia.

There are plans for a cycleway to connect the Val di Non cycleway with Mendola and offer a link between the Trentino and the Adige valley. At the time of writing (2020) part of this connection was under construction, but the other part had stalled due to contro­versy over the proposed route.

Distance: 19 kms
Surfaces: entirely paved
Difficulty/terrain: moder­ately challenging. There are no big climbs on the cycleway, but quite a lot of small one
Transport connec­tions: limited —⁠ ⁠no train or bicibus

Read more: Alta Val di Non cycleway

The Alta Val di Non cycleway near Sarnonico

The Alta Val di Non cycleway near Sarnonico

Val Rendena cycleway (Ciclabile Val Rendena)

The main cycleway starts at Carisolo and runs for 18 kilometres river as it runs between the Brenta Dolomites and the Adamello group on the border with Lombardia.

Bridge on the Val Rendena cycleway near Pinzolo

Bridge on the Val Rendena cycleway near Pinzolo

Distance: 18 kms (with options to extend to 28 kms in total)
Surfaces: entirely paved
Difficulty/terrain: mostly downhill or flat, but the final section involves more climbing
Public transport: in the main summer season there are bicibus services along the main route, and connecting it with the Val di Sole and the Lago di Garda

Read more: Val Rendena cycleway

Valle del Chiese cycleway (Ciclabile della Valle del Chiese)

This cycleway/cycle route follows the Chiese river as it flows into the Lago d’Idro. The route consists of two sections of cycleway which are now, thanks to the building of a new section of road, linked by quiet roads.

Distance: 19 kms (plus a 7-kilometre variant and a 4-kilometre section connected by quiet road)
Surfaces: entirely paved
Difficulty/terrain: easy, mostly flat
Public transport: in the main summer season there is a bicibus connection with the Val di Ledro and Riva del Garda

Cyclists on the Valle del Chiese cycleway near Condino

Cyclists on the Valle del Chiese cycleway near Condino

Read more: Valle del Chiese cycleway

Valle di Ledro cycleway (Ciclabile Valle di Ledro)

The Valle di Ledro cycleway runs between the Lago d’Ampola and the Lago di Ledro, in the hills to the west of the Lago di Garda. You could ride it on its own, but, if you have an off-road capable bike, you can continue to Riva del Garda via the spectacular Strada del Ponale. A truly memorable ride.

Kilometre marker on the Valle di Ledro cycleway

Kilometre marker on the Valle di Ledro cycleway

Distance: 13 kilometres
Surfaces: entirely paved
Difficulty/terrain: easy, mostly downhill or flat
Public transport: in the main summer season the cycleway is linked by bicibus services to/from Riva del Garda

Read more: Valle di Ledro cycleway

The Eastern Trentino

While the western half of the region has most of the cycleways, the eastern part has two popular routes that provide important gateways to the Dolomites and the Veneto.

Fiemme-Fassa cycleway (Ciclabile delle Dolomiti di Fiemme e Fassa)

The Fiemme-Fassa cycleway takes you to Campitello di Fassa in the heart of the Dolomites. The cycleway is one of the best routes into the Dolomites, but a bike-bus service means that it is also an accessible and popular day ride.

Cyclists on the Val di Fiemme Val di Fassa cycleway near  Moena

Cyclists on the Val di Fiemme Val di Fassa cycleway near Moena

Distance: 42 kilometres
Surfaces: entirely paved
Difficulty/Terrain: mostly flat or gently downhill, although the section near Moena currently involves some short sharp climbs
Public transport: the route is supported by a regular ‘Bicibus’ service (a coach with a massive trailer for bikes)

Read more: Fiemme-Fassa cycleway

Valsugana cycleway (Ciclabile della Valsugana)

Cyclists on the Valsugana cycleway

Cyclists on the Ciclabile della Valsugana cycleway near Grigno

The Valsugana cycleway starts at the Lago di Caldonazzo in the hills above Trento and continues, following the Brenta river, through the deep, dramatic Canale del Brenta and into the Veneto. The cycle route carries on in the Veneto, mainly following quiet public roads, to Bassano del Grappa. You could continue, following the Brenta, to Padova and the coast south of Venezia —⁠ ⁠although at the moment there is a gap in the cycleway for a few kilometres south of Bassano del Grappa.

Distance: 79 kilometres (49 kilometres in the Trentino)
Surfaces: entirely paved
Difficulty/Terrain: easy —⁠ ⁠mainly gently downhill
Traffic: the Trentino section of the cycleway is almost entirely traffic free, but the continu­ation to Bassano del Grappa is mainly on quiet roads that get busier as you approach the town
Public transport: the whole route is within easy reach of the train line between Trento and Bassano del Grappa. There’s also a shuttle bus between Trento and the Lago di Caldonazzo.

Read more: Valsugana cycleway

Overview map

Trentino cycleways and road connec­tions

  • ━━━━━   Cycleway
  • ━━━━━   Strada del Ponale (off-road)
  • ━━━━━   Road connection

  Map:  -Trentino-cycleways-overview-map-show map in overlay    |    -Trentino-cycleways-overview-map-show map in new window   

Joining the dots

There are public transport options that help to fill the gaps. These are:

  • train services between Trento and Mezzana on the Val di Sole cycleway, and between Trento and Bassano-del-Grappa serving the Valsugana cycleway.
  • a network of bike-bus serves running out of Riva del Garda

Unfortunately, there’s no bicibus or train service linking the Adige valley with the Val di Fiemme cycleway, the Val di Sole and Alta Val di Non cycleways. However, the good news is that the roads between them are reasonably quiet, and not partic­u­larly steep.

Coming soon …

There are ambitious plans for a cycleway around the Lago di Garda. In the Trentino region this will involve a section suspending a cycleway from the rock face between Riva del Garda and the border with the Veneto, where it will link with a recently-opened stretch of cycleway a sbalzo . Note however that you have to do this as a loop from Limone sul Garda as bikes are banned from the road (because of a long tunnel).

I’ve also seen press reports of discus­sions of a link between the Val di Sole cycleway and the Passo del Tonale where it would link with the Ciclovia del Fiume Oglio in neigh­bouring Lombardia. This might in turn form part of a larger project for a cycle route linking with the Etsch/Adige valley. However, this looks like it will be a long way off.

Other routes

The Fleimstalbahnradweg (ex-Ferrovia della Val di Fiemme)

For part of its course, the Fiemme-Fassa cycleway uses a section of the old rail line that once linked Auer (Ora) in the Etsch (Adige) valley with Predazzo in the Val di Fiemme. I’ve ridden the cycleway between Auer and the Passo di San Lugano, and it’s defin­itely rideable (although most of the surface is compacted aggregate). Since I rode it in 2017, the route on the Trentino side between Castello di Fiemme and the Passo di San Lugano has been added to the OpenStreetMap maps, but I don’t have any more inform­ation on the types of surface etc.

More information

Places to stay

Hotels and B&Bs

The Trentino is a popular holiday destin­ation so there are lots of hotels, B&Bs and agrit­urismi (farmstays), but it isn’t cheap.

visittrentino.info, the main tourist inform­ation website for the region has an accom­mod­ation website, and the individual holiday areas within the region also have their own accom­mod­ation listings.

Hostels

There are hostels in Trento (Ostello Giovane Europa) and Rovereto (Ostello di Rovereto). There are also a couple on the Lago di Garda: the Ostello Benacus in Riva del Garda, and the Meet Hostel in Peschiera del Garda. In addition, on the Lago d’Idro there’s a hostel (the Active Hostel).

Campsites

All of the routes have campsites within reach, and generally several.

Services

Bike shops and bike rental

See the guides to the individual cycleways for listings of bike shops. The northern Lago di Garda is a major mountain-biking destin­ation and possibly has the highest concen­tration of bike shops anywhere in Italy. The major cycleways have shops offering bike rental, although dedicated bike shops are less common.

Guest Cards

If you’re spending time in the region, it’s worth checking out the Trentino Guest Card. The major benefits for cyclists are free use of the train and bicibus services, as well as free entry to many museums and other attrac­tions.

The card is available from parti­cip­ating accom­mod­ation providers (including hostels and campsites). For a list see: visittrentino.info: Guest Card: parti­cip­ating accom­mod­ation providers . You need to be staying for a minimum of two nights — but the website also suggests that you ask about the card even if you are only staying for a single night, as you can buy it for a very special price. If you’re planning on doing a lot of sight­seeing, you can also buy the card for 40€ for a week.

There’s a pdf map/brochure if you want to find out more. There’s also an app for Android/iOS.

Most of the holiday areas in the region have a local Guest Card that offers similar benefits.

Transport

The main train line through the region runs through the Adige valley — with Verona to the south and Bozen (Bolzano) to the north (and after that, the line continues to Innsbruck and beyond).

There are three companies running services along the line:

  • Trenitalia
  • Deutsche Bahn/ÖBB Eurocity
  • Trentino Trasporti

Trenitalia operates services to Brenner on the border from Verona and Bologna. These can get very busy, and you may find that there’s no space left. Don’t forget that you need a ticket for your bike (3.50€, or the single fare).

The Deutsche Bahn/ÖBB Eurocity services have a dedicated wagon for bikes. However, you have to have a bike reser­vation, which costs 10€. They are a good option if you are planning to head for, say, Innsbruck or München, but less handy if you are only planning a short hop.


The regional train company (Trentino Trasporti) also operate trains in the region. There are two lines: one runs between Trento and Mezzana in the Val di Sole and the other between Trento and Bassano del Grappa. The company also runs some trains between Trento and Bozen (Bolzano).

Bike tickets on these lines cost 2€.

I don’t know whether the Trenitalia passenger and bike tickets are also valid on Trentino Trasporti trains, and vice versa. So it would be worth asking, or taking the safety-first approach by buying additional tickets for this part of your journey.

Note that in Trento the Trentino Trasporti station is next door to the main Trento station.

Boats on the Lago di Garda

During summer the towns on the Lago di Garda are served by frequent boat services. You could use these to connect with the mainline train network at Peschiera del Garda. The most bike-friendly option are the two old car ferries, which have a huge amount of space for bikes. These sail a couple of times a day in either direction, giving four sailings in total. The smaller boats (batelli) have only limited space for bikes, and bikes aren’t allowed on the fast hydrofoil services.

Ferryboat coming into shore at Torbole on the Lago di Garda. The picture shows one of the larger boats with more capacity for bikes

Ferryboat coming into shore at Torbole on the Lago di Garda. The picture shows one of the larger boats with more capacity for bikes

Resources

Tourist information websites

The main tourist inform­ation website for the region is visittrentino.info but there are also excellent sites for local areas. The cycling section of the regional site also has an extensive cycling section, and is the best starting point for inform­ation about cycling in the area (visittrentino.info: cycling-and-mountain-biking).

Travel information

The visittrentino.info regional tourist inform­ation website has a useful page on taking your bike on public transport in the region: visittrentino.info: cycling-and-public-transport. For inform­ation on taking your bike on Trentino Trasporti trains see: Trentino Trasporti: Transporting Bikes


For inform­ation about ferry and boat services on the Lago di Garda, go to the Lago di Garda section of navigazionelaghi.it. Note that many services only operate in summer, so the winter timetables aren’t much help for travel planning.You can also download the timetable as a pdf: navigazionelaghi.it: Lago di Garda timetable Summer 2019 .

Maps and gps tracks

Each of the guides is accom­panied by maps and gps files to download.

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