A Guide To Cycling Around Italy

As Ernest Hemingway once said, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best.” Cycling, like walking, is one of the best ways to explore the hidden nooks and crannies of a destination, discover secret spots, and learn of its paths, streets and alleys. 


Travel to: Italy 


This couldn’t be truer than in Italy. The whole country boasts an intricate network of cycling trails of varying lengths and difficulty. They weave through majestic mountains, and sparkling coastlines, past lakes and rivers, linking towns, communes and cities.

In this incredible country, cycling holidays are not only prevalent but they are highly sought after.

cycling in italy

Cycling in Italy

Ciclovia del Mincio

  • Popularity: High
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 35 km (21 mi)
  • Best Time: Springtime
  • Cool Stops: Borghetto, Massimbona, Riserva Naturale Statale Bosco della Fontana

Make your way south from the lakeside commune of Peschiera in Veneto to the city of Mantua (Italian: Mantova) in Lombardy for an active day trip. The Peschiera-Mantova Bike Trail is an easy trail that snakes along the Mincio River, carrying you past lush fields, charming ancient villages and medieval landmarks. Take your time and be sure to make a few stops along the way as it’s a fairly short route.

ciclovia del mincio

Ciclovia del Mincio

Val Venosta Bike Trail

  • Popularity: High
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 80 km (50 mi)
  • Best Time: March through November
  • Cool Stops: Church of St. Prokulus, Castello di Castelbello, Castel Coira, Malles Venosta, The Old Church of Graun

For a longer cycling trail, make your way to Val Venosta in the Trentino-Alto Adige region. Here, you can experience rural idyll at its best. Start from the Alpine town of Merano, which already boasts several points of interest, and follow the old Roman road of Via Claudia Agusta to Lake Resia. Cycle past apple orchards, old churches, and perhaps a castle or two. Just be prepared for a few uphill portions of the w along the way.

Val Venosta Bike Trail

Val Venosta Bike Trail

Valtellina Trail

  • Popularity: High
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 114 km (71 mi)
  • Best Time: Spring through Autumn
  • Cool Stops: Forte Montecchio Nord, Pian Nature Reserve of Spain, Morbegno, Val Masino, Valmalenco


Cycle the Valtellina Pathway from Colico to the charming town of Bormio about 114 kilometres away following River Adda on this stunning, mostly traffic-free route. No doubt, you will appreciate the change of pace. If you’ve got time (and the stamina), take a detour to Poschiavo in the neighbouring Switzerland.

valtellina trail

Valtellina Trail

Mountains of Lombardia

  • Popularity: Moderate
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 225 km (140 mi)
  • Best Time: July, August and September
  • Cool Stops: Livigno, Ponte di Legno, Bormio

While this tour starts easy enough, taking on the Mountains of Lombardia is not for the faint-hearted. Past Tirano, it starts ascending steeply from 500 metres to over 2,300 metres and gives you a bit of a respite before it climbs even higher. If the ride up doesn’t get you, the high altitude might. Then again, it’s all worth it to witness those alpine views and of course, to say that you’ve conquered those peaks.

mountains of lombardia

Mountains of Lombardia

The Coast of Toscana

  • Popularity: High
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Hard
  • Length: 317 km (197 mi)
  • Best Time: April and May to Late September and October
  • Cool Stops: Viareggio, Pisa, Populonia, Capalbio

Here, we have a cycling trail for the ages, a 317 kilometre route that runs from Viareggio all the way down to Chiarone Scalo along idyll coastal cycleways and rolling wine-country roads. You’ll be rolling past resort towns, Etruscan remains, epic cliffs and Tuscan vineyards. It’s an attainable route especially next to its long-haul counterparts, but still make sure to have a bit of fight in you, as there’s some climbing involved.

the coast of toscana

The Coast of Toscana

Biking in Tuscany was absolutely amazing. The views were breathtaking and the cafes delicious, and the area has many bike paths to enjoy. This made my bike tour feel safer and more enjoyable. My SmartHalo was able to locate all the bike baths, so I didn’t even need to think about that. You can really see the strides Italy in general has made to become more bike friendly.

If you’re biking in Italy, I highly recommend the coastline. On these paths you can really clear your mind and enjoy the sounds and breeze of the ride. I would also recommend planning ahead of time, to ensure that you are aware of all of the beautiful routes so as to not miss a special trip. Looking back, I would have loved to have known about the Riviera dei fiori, Liguria bike path that spans over 24 km and occupies the space of an old monorail road.

I will definitely be back in Italy soon to take in more, as I feel that I have barely scratched the surface on this beautiful country and its cycling culture. – Xavier, SmartHalo

Bourbons’ Bike Trail

  • Popularity: Medium
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 340 km (211 mi)
  • Best Time: April to June & September to October
  • Cool Stops: Casale Medievale di Bisignano, Bitetto, Castel del Monte, Minervino Murge, Venosa, the Ruins of Atella

Head down south to Apulia where Bourbon’s Bike Trail jumps off in the port town of Bari. This multi-section route takes you from the Adriatic coast to the Bay of Naples, past spectacular land on a whopping 340 kilometres trail. Witness the most breathtaking landscapes you’ll ever see, visit notable sights, and navigate urban roads. This cycling holiday is far from an easy endeavour, but its rewards outweigh any physical challenges. 

castel del monte

Castel del Monte

The Cities of Toscana

  • Popularity: High
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 348 km (216 mi)
  • Best Time: Spring, Early Summer, Late September through October
  • Cool Stops: Panzano, San Gimignano, Volterra, Siena, Val d’Orcia

This absurdly charming trail treats you to a journey through some of Italy’s most beautiful historic cities, as well as its most scenic country roads and hilltop towns. There are some pretty good climbs along the way so think twice before you tackle it, though if you do, it would be a pretty rewarding experience. 

florence duomo

Duomo of Florence

The Dolomites from West to East

  • Popularity: Medium
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 460 km (285 mi)
  • Best Time: May through November
  • Cool Stops: Forte Strino, San Michele Castle, Marmolada Grande Guerra, Sappada

There’s a reason why the Dolomites have reached such a legendary status. Standing tall as some of the most picturesque mountains in the world, cycling through the Dolomites might be one of the most incredible experiences of your life. Tackle the extremely challenging 460 kilometre route that runs from the West near Lombardia to the East in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. You’ll ride through quiet roads, through the centre of the Ladin culture, and even past popular spots like Sella Ronda and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Italy has such a wonderful cycling heritage and culture, from the highest peaks like the legendary Passo dello Stelvio to areas of unimaginable beauty. Having grown up watching the Giro d’Italia I’ve always been captivated by the mountains, the unique landscapes and passion that Italy has for cycling. I never get tired of exploring new roads.

Choose one area in particular and explore it in depth. I’m often asked where the best areas are to cycle and the reality is that they all offer something very special so it depends what you are looking for. Don’t try and cover too much ground going from one region to another in a short space of time. If you have a week to take on holiday then use that to really immerse yourself in one area. Learn about the history, explore the terrain and talk to the locals. They hold the key to many secrets you may never know even exist. – Mike, The Col Collective

Dolomites

Dolomites

Cycling in the Italian Alps – stunning views, decent roads and good a hard shoulder. I also really enjoyed cycling through all the small towns. They all had beautiful architecture, plazas with plenty of cafes and overall a lot of character and good vibes. On several of our rest days, we also drank some yummy red wine, which was usually accompanied by a huge, homebaked pizza – definitely something to look forward to after a few hard cycle days. Italy was also the first country we cycled the whole way across, and it was where we hit our first 1000km mark – that personal sense of achievement is also what makes our cycle trip in Italy so special to us.

Cafes sell cheap and delicious espresso. The perfect rest spot in Italy is at a small cafe in one of the town’s plazas. We spent many hours enjoying good coffee, while watching the world go by, amping ourselves up for the ride ahead. We also discovered some really quiet bike trails outside of Turin, which were awesome. Before heading there, know that learning a bit of Italian goes a long way. Even if you’re not confident in speaking Italian, most locals will really appreciate the effort, and you are more likely to experience a friendly encounter. – Kelly and Michael, Cycle Trekkers

VenTo Bici Tour Trail

  • Popularity: Low
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 679 km (422 mi)
  • Best Time: Spring, September to November
  • Cool Stops: Ferrara, Mantua, Pavia

Back in Northern Italy, the VenTo Bici Tour Trail has become a necessary addition to your cycling bucket list. Just under 700 kilometres, this bike trail from Venice to Turin might have novices gasping for breath. But, for the seasoned cyclists, it’s a rewarding experience. If you’d prefer to make the journey official, you can join the tour in June.

Ferrara

Ferrara

Within the span of a few hundred km. northern Italy lavishes the senses with ever changing landscapes. I enjoyed the Alpine scenery in the Brenner pass, the breathtaking spectacle of Lago di Garda, the fertile valley of the River Po and the picturesque urban landscapes of small and big cities alike. There is always something different and beautiful waiting at the next bend!

Most of the people I met were incredibly friendly and interested to share stories. I was even spontaneously invited to a wedding in Südtirol! Riding a bicycle and being exposed to the elements inspires compassion and sympathy, and I loved sharing my stories with the Italian people I met along the way. Interact with the locals! – Santiago, Meerkat Planet

Puglia Grand Tour

  • Popularity: High
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 726 km (451 mi)
  • Best Time: April, May, June and September
  • Cool Stops: Torre Sant’Andrea, Alberobello, Sassi of Matera, Castel del Monte, Barletta Castle

Why is this trail called the Puglia Grand Tour, you ask? Well, it’s because it’s specifically curated to showcase the best of this southern region. The tour rolls for 726 kilometres from the Baroque city of Lecce right on the heel up to the town of Rodi Garganico. You’ll switch from tracing the staggering coast to riding through the high plains inland, beholding olive groves, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and limestone cliffs. Best to bring a camera with you.

torre sant andrea

Torre Sant’Andrea – Via Giuseppe Milo