Published on: 11 June 2019 | Last updated: 15 February 2020
A beautiful cycleway that follows the Sarca river as it flows through the Val Rendena between the Brenta Dolomites and the Adamello group. The core of the cycleway runs between Carisolo and Tione di Trento, but you can start at Sant’Antonio di Mavignola, or continue on to Ragoli.
At a glance
Easy — almost entirely downhill or flat.
Almost completely traffic-free except for very short sections through a couple of villages.
The whole route is on paved cycleways or roads.
The central section of the route is supported by a bicibus service, and, in addition, there are bicibus services connecting the route with Dimaro in the Val di Sole, and with Riva del Garda and Torbole.
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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|Sant’Antonio di Mavignola to Carisolo/Pinzolo||4 kms|
|Carisolo/Pinzolo to Caderzone Terme||5 kms|
|Caderzone Terme to Piazzo||4 kms|
|Piazzo to Tione di Trento||9 kms|
|Tione di Trento to Ragoli||5 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.
Getting there and back
There’s no railway line on the cycleway, but there is a station at Dimaro in the neighbouring Val di Sole. There is a bicibus service that runs between Dimaro and Carisolo via Madonna di Campiglio. The service operates between mid-June and mid-September with four buses a day in either direction every day.
There’s another bike-bus to take you back to Carisolo from Tione di Trento (it also stops at other places along the route). There are five buses a day in each direction. You could then take a bus from Carisolo to Dimaro.
There are also bicibus services which should enable you to get from Torbole or Riva del Garda to Carisolo in a couple of hours. Although, rather than trying to do the cycleway as a day-trip, the best option might be to base yourself in the the area for a couple of nights, possibly making use of the bicibus to ride the Val di Sole cycleway (italy-cycling-guide.info: Val di Sole cycleway).
The Val Rendena cycleway has three main sections. The first is a steepish descent from Sant’Antonio di Mavignola to Carisolo and Pinzolo. The second runs between Carisolo/Pinzolo and Tione di Trento, and the third between Tione di Trento and the Lago di Ponte Pio.
The 16-kilometre middle section between Carisolo/Pinzolo and Tione di Trento links the main towns and is the core of the route, and is supported by a bicibus service. The first and third sections are well worth doing, but a little more off the beaten track.
You can ride the ciclabile in either direction, but the climb from Carisolo to Sant’Antonio di Mavignola involves a four-kilometre climb with a gradient of a bit over 7 per cent (an altitude gain of 288m). There’s a gondola lift between Pinzolo-Campiglio Express gondola lift, but it’s a relatively expensive option as it looks like you have to buy a two-hour bike pass (18€). The road from Madonna di Campiglio isn’t especially busy and offers some cracking views of the Brenta Dolomites, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re nervous in traffic.
There are several points where there are branches off the main cycleway, but the main variant is to the north of Carisolo where there are two branches: one goes via the little church of Santo Stefano and then crosses the river Sarca and follows the right bank (looking in the direction the river flows). The other branch follows the left bank, before it too crosses the river, and the two branches join.
The Val Rendena cycleway forms part of the DolomitiBrentaBike mountain bike route. You can continue following the DolomitiBrentaBike to Dimaro, or in the other direction, towards the Lago di Molveno.
If you are staying in the area, you could make use of the bike-bus service to Dimaro to ride the Val di Sole cycleway. You could also do a side-trip into the Parco dell’Adamello Brenta along the beautiful Val Genova is well worth the time. The road into the Val Genova continues for 16 kilometres but only part of it is asphalt surfaced (at least 6 kilometres and probably more).
You could also use the cycleway as part of a longer road itinerary, for example:
- continue on from Tione di Trento to pick up the Valle del Chiese cycleway to the Lago d’Idro and then from there take the Valle del Ledro cycleway before descending to the Lago di Garda via the Strada del Ponale;
- or continue to Comano Terme and then return to Riva del Garda via the Lago di Tenno, or the Sarca and Giudicarie cycleway back to Arco and Torbole on the lake.
What to see along the way
Probably the star sights along the way are the churches of Santo Stefano near Carisolo, and San Vigilio in Pinzolo.
The churches were decorated with frescos by Simone Baschenis and other members of the Baschenis family — a family of painters who lived in Lombardia but also worked in this valley and the neighbouring Val di Sole. Their work spans several generations and a couple of centuries. You can see you can see other examples of the Baschenis’ work in chapels at Sant’Antonio di Mavignola, Pelugo and Ragoli.
In more detail
Sant’Antonio di Mavignola to Pinzolo and Carisolo
The route starts from the centre of Sant’Antonio di Mavignola in front of the tiny Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Abate (definitely take a look inside the little chapel if it’s open).
If you are coming from the Madonna di Campiglio turn right: there are two roads you can take, and both lead to the same place. The first turning is just before the sign indicating that you are leaving the village, and, if you miss the first turning, the second one is immediately after the sign.
You need to take the Vecchia Strada (old road) also shown on the maps as the Via Folgarida. The only sign is an MTB route sign for the Vecchia Strada (MTB 960 – Trail Vecchia Strada).
The Vecchia Strada was built in the nineteenth century by the owner of a hotel in Madonna di Campiglio, as the first step in turning an abandoned monastery into a successful summer resort popular with the nobility of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The road became the old road with the building of the modern strada statale that made it possible to reach Madonna di Campiglio in winter as well as summer.
You can see why the road was impracticable in winter: it’s pretty steep in places. The surface is generally pretty good, but there are a couple of rough spots to watch out for, as well as two or three drainage channels.
After 2.7 kilometres (according to the sign at the bottom) the road comes out onto a bridge over a river, turn right heading for Carisolo. On the way to Carisolo, and neighbouring Pinzolo, you pass the Birrificio Val Rendena brewery.
A little after the birrificio you come to a junction with the start of a branch of the cycleway on your right-hand side. This is the start of the branch of the cycleway that follows the left bank of the river. There’s another branch of the cycleway on the other bank; the two meet at a bridge a little way after Pinzolo.
If you want to go to Carisolo, it’s better to stay on the road and then turn right at the next junction (by the Hotel Edelweiss). If you want to go to Pinzolo, then you should stay on the road and then turn left.
You have several options here depending on whether you want to visit the church of Santo Stefano near Carisolo, or the church of San Vigilio in Pinzolo. (Or both. Or neither).
Carisolo and the church of Santo Stefano
To reach the church of Santo Stefano, you need to head through the centre of Carisolo, to the Piazza II Maggio. Look for the (brown) signs for the Chiesa di Santo Stefano and the Località Antica Vetreria (glassworks). Keep following the Via Negrelli (and the signs) as it leads out of town. Turn right when you get to the Via Santo Stefano and follow it as it heads uphill, leading you to the church. The road has been tarmacked for most of the way, but as you get near to the church, the tarmac gives way to stone setts (paving blocks).
The Chiesa di Santo Stefano is high up on the valley side, in the sort of location that has probably been a sacred place for thousands and thousands of years. Inside the church, there are a couple of fabulous frescoes by members of the Baschenis. The first fresco, by Antonio Baschenis, depicts the Last Supper — look for the river shrimps on the table. The other fresco, by Simone II Baschenis, shows the passage of Charlemagne (Carlo Magno) as he came through the area (his army is said to have camped at the Campo Carlo Magno on the way from the Val di Sole into the Val Rendena).
During the peak summer months the little church is opened up by volunteers (see visittrentino.it for opening times, or ask at the helpful tourist office). If you’re planning on visiting the church it’s definitely worth downloading the sections of the audioguide (see the resources section later on).
Once you’ve visited the church, you can then pick up a branch of the cycleway on the right bank of the river: return down the Via Santo Stefano, and then, when you come to the junction with the Via Negrelli, turn right and head for the Antica Vetreria. After the Antica Vetreria, the road leads to the river and the cycleway on the other side.
The cycleway on the right bank bypasses Pinzolo. If you also want to visit the church of San Vigilio, then the best option is to return the way you came and then go into Pinzolo.
The Chiesa di San Vigilio in Pinzolo is best known for the danza macabra painted by Simone II Baschenis on the exterior wall of the church. A danza macabra (danse macabre or Dance of Death) is a mural showing the great and the good of the Middle Ages in a dance with skeletal figures. There are a small number of these scattered across Europe — see en.wikipedia.org: Danse Macabre). The danza macabara in Pinzolo has been beautifully restored and is well worth the detour.
If the church is open, don’t miss the opportunity to see the frescos, by various members of the Baschenis family, inside. The church is only open during the summer months (June to September). It should be open in the mornings, and in July and August in the late afternoons (check opening times with the tourist office or the tourist information website campigliodolomiti.it: chiese in Val Rendena)
Once you’ve visited the church of San Vigilio, the easiest option is again to return here and take the cycleway on the left bank. You could join the cycleway at the next bridge downriver, but the access is by steps, so this is the most convenient joining point.
Pinzolo to Spiazzo
The left bank branch of the cycleway continues from its starting point just after the birrificio, skirting round Pinzolo, to a big playground, a pineta (pine wood), and a timber bridge with a roof of wooden shingles, where you cross over the river.
The cycleway skirts around Caderzone Terme, passing a golf course. As you approach Strembo, there is a little park (the Parco Crosetta) with a play area and a bicigrill. There is a short break in the traffic-free cycleway as the cycle route goes past the town’s recycling point, and the cycleway restarts again at a roundabout on the corner with a beautiful marble drinking water fountain.
After another couple of kilometres further on (at the 7-kilometre point) you cross back over the river and turn right. The next village is Spiazzo. As you approach Spiazzo, there’s the Bar Minigolf which has a workstation with an e-bike charging point as well as a pump and set of tools. There’s also a cool-looking play area a little further on.
Spiazzo to Vigo Rendena
At Spiazzo the traffic-free cycleway gives way to a stretch of very peaceful road that takes you through the neighbouring village of Fisto. Look out for the garden on your right-hand side with an extraordinary collection of old saucepans and old toys.
The road takes you past the 8-kilometre marker and into the centre of the village where turn right by the water fountain. The dedicated cycleway resumes near Ches, after a bit under a kilometre. Turn off to the right going downhill again towards the river. Look out for the sign for Tione di Trento on the right-hand side (as well as a sign for the Bicigrill Vigo).
The cycleway follows the left bank of the river, and then, after 1.4 kilometres, you come to another bridge where you cross back over to the right bank (although you could also continue on the left bank until the next bridge).
On the other side of the bridge (at the ten-kilometre point) there’s another play area, as well as a bar-ristorante (the Biergarten Parco Masere). Bear left and cross over another bridge, following the signs for Tione di Trento.
The cycleway continues following the river, passing Vigo Rendena and Darè. Just after the 11-kilometre marker, you pass the Bicigrill di Vigo Rendena on your right-hand side. A little further on there’s the Camping Val Rendena, and just beside it the Ristorante-Pizzeria Le Fontane. There’s also a play area with a picnic area equipped with barbecues.
From here the cycleway passes Javrè and Villa Rendena.
Vigo di Rendena to Tione di Trento
A little after the 12-kilometre marker, you come out onto a road where you turn left, and then when the road forks, bear left (the road to the right leads to Javrè). The route takes you past a magazzino (Council depot) and then there is a short climb to a little chapel where you turn left, onto another section of traffic-free cycleway.
The cycleway heads downhill towards the river, and then there’s a short, but pretty sharp climb (signed as 15%) before you cross over a local road (the SP34). The route keeps on climbing to the main road (average gradient a little over 5 per cent) for a bit under 400 metres.
Turn left at the road and follow the cycleway as it runs beside it for a brief stretch before heading back downhill towards a modern white bridge over the river at the 15-kilometre marker point.
After the bridge, the cycleway comes out beside the SP34 again and runs beside it for a short stretch towards Tione di Trento.
The cycleway brings you to a pedestrian crossing leading to a play area and sports ground on the other side of the road. The next stretch of cycleway takes you to Ragoli, 5.5 kilometres away. It begins almost directly after the sports ground on the other side of the road. Cross over the road and continue straight on with the sports ground on your left-hand side.
If you’re heading for Tione, you need to follow the SP34 as if crosses back over the river and takes you into the village. On the other side of the bridge, on your right-hand side, there’s a short footpath that takes you to the little Chiesa di San Vigilio.
Tione di Trento to Ragoli
The Val Rendena cycleway continues from Tione di Trento, following the left bank of the Sarca. It is virtually flat, with the very slightest of downhill gradients. It skirts around Preore and Ragoli.
There’s another Baschenis church (the Chiesa di Santi Faustino e Giovita) between the two villages. The well-preserved (and beautifully-restored) frescos on the vaulted ceiling of the little church were painted in the 1500s by Cristoforo Baschenis assisted by his young son Simone. I haven’t been able to find any information about whether the church is open to visitors, but you can, of course, look through the windows.
To get to the church, bear left when you come to a fork in the cycleway, and take the branch that leads toward Ragoli. When you come to a junction turn right and then right again onto the Via Marconi which takes you to a roundabout and to the church.
The other branch of the cycleway continues for a kilometre and a half before coming to an end a little after Ragoli. You can continue following the SP34 as it leads to Stenico, and on from there to Ponte Arche. If you’re thinking about using the cycleway as part of a longer route you could head from Ponte Arche towards Villa Banale and the Lago di Molveno, or you could head south and pick up the Giudicarie and Sarca cycleways which take you most of the way to the Lago di Garda. For more information see: italy-cycling-guide.info: Valley of the Lakes.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs etc
The area is a popular holiday choice in winter and summer, so there are lots of hotels and B&Bs, Carisolo and Pinzolo have the greatest range of choice and convenient location.
Tourist information websites with accommodation search facilities:
Find and book places to stay with Booking.com
Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:
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.
Places to eat and drink
You are never very far from a village, but there’s only a limited number of places to eat and drink that are directly on the route (distances are from Sant’Antonio di Mavignola):
- Caderzone Terme (kilometre 10 ): Bicigrill Parco Crosetta
- Spiazzo (kilometre 13): Bar Minigolf Spiazzo
- Pelugo (kilometre 15): Biergarten Parco Masere
- Vigo Rendena (kilometre 17): Bicigrill Vigo
There’s also a bar (Bar Arno) a short distance off the route at Tione di Trento. The Ristorante-Pizzeria Le Fontane a short distance further on from the Bicigrill Le Fontane is the most convenient place for a lunch stop (and it’s good).
I would highly recommend the Baita Magnabò near Carisolo for good local cooking, but it’s more of a place for a proper sit-down lunch or dinner rather than a lunch-stop. It’s also very popular and busy.
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.
There’s a bicibus service that runs between Dimaro and Carisolo via Madonna di Campiglio. The service operates between mid-June and mid-September with four buses a day in either direction every day.
At Dimaro there are train services via Mostizzolo to Trento.
There’s another bike-bus to take you back to Carisolo from Tione di Trento (it also stops at other places along the route). There are five buses a day in each direction. You could then take a bus from Carisolo to Dimaro.
You can also catch the Pinzolo-Campiglio Express funivia back from Pinzolo to Madonna di Campiglio. In 2018 a 2-hour ‘Bikepass’ cost 18€ for adults, and under-16s pay 13€. The funivia runs between the end of June and the beginning of September.
Tourist information websites
If you’re planning on spending any time in Carisolo , then be sure to check out the audioguide to Carisolo produced by the Pro Loco Carisolo (prolococarisolo.it: Audioguida Carisolo). It’s available in Italian, English and German. You can download the individual sections for the parts you’re interested in. You may also be able to rent the audioguide from the tourist office.
Information about the route
campigliodolomiti.it: Ciclopedonale Val Rendena includes a link to a download of the map/flyer for the route as well as information about what there is to see along the route (Ciclopedonale della Val Rendena flyer ). The site also has information about playgrounds along the route and e-bike hire: campigliodolomiti.it: bike hire and campigliodolomiti.it: Val Rendena playgrounds.
Information about cycling in the area
The Madonna di Campiglio/val Rendena area claims to have the largest bike in Italy. There’s an overview of the route in the area on this page (in Italian only): campigliodolomiti.it: mappe e itinerari bike. You can also download (the maps of the Brenta Bike Park and the Bikeland MTB Campiglio) from here: campigliodolomiti.it: downloads page .
The DolomitiBrentaBike route has its own, comprehensive, website: dolomitibrentabike.it .
The Val di Sole tourist office produces a useful leaflet showing the bike-friendly train services serving the Val di Sole together with linking bike-bus services to the Passo del Tonale and Val Rendena (Carisolo): valdisole.net: Find your bikebus & biketrain
You can download a pdf copy of the timetables for the Trentino Trasporti trains from the train section of the company’s website: trentinotrasporti.it: train.
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
Places and attractions
There’s an excellent guide to places of interest along the route on the campigliodolomiti.it tourist information website: campigliodolomiti.it: Discover Val Rendena by bike.
To check the opening times for church of Santo Stefano and San Vigilio) go to: campigliodolomiti.it: Chiese in Val Rendena.
Maps to print out or view offline
About the maps
The maps are in two versions: A4 portrait format - for printing and maybe also for viewing on an iPad, and A5 for smaller tablets and smartphones. (A4 and A5 are international paper sizes).
Links open in new windows unless you ‘save as’ etc.
- Val Rendena cycleway gps files
(.zip file containing 7 gpx files)
- Italy Points of Interest
POIs are like waypoints, but while you can usually only store a limited number of waypoints on a device, you can store thousands of POIs. These files include information about campsites and hostels, bike shops, train stations, drinking water sources as well as warnings for tunnels and roads where bikes are banned. Please check the ReadMe file for instructions. Updated April 2018. The file format is only compatible with Garmin GPSes .
GPX? POI? WTF? … about the GPS files
The GPS downloads are zip files containing files with tracks and waypoints. You can use these with a GPS (eg a Garmin), or using an app on a smartphone or tablet. Depending on the software you use, the track files will display the route on a map, and let you view an altitude profile. The waypoint files show the location of places of interest, as well as other useful things like drinking water sources, train stations and campsites etc.
The track files will just display a line on a map; they won’t give you turn-by-turn directions.
The POI files will only work on Garmin GPSes. They work best on the handheld receivers (eg the eTrex family). They also work, but not as well, on the Edge cycling GPSes.