“Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need…They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us.” Robert Macfarlane
The Dolomites in northern Italy (near Austria and Switzerland) are renowned as one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world and are, in fact, a UNESCO World Heritage site. These mountains aren’t the highest, with the tallest peak just under 11,000 feet. However, the jagged edges, sheer cliffs, and unique colors and shapes create vistas like no other. Although we are firmly entrenched in Italy for most of this trip, the views, architecture, food, and culture will definitely make you feel like yodeling. What a combination!
The Dolomites are an outdoor-enthusiast mecca, in part for activities like skiing in the winter months, and hiking, biking and mountain climbing in the summer months. It is the perfect destination for cycling because of the miles and miles of easy-to-navigate cycle paths, many of which wind through flat and beautiful alpine valleys (not to worry – if you are the type who wants more of a challenge, we may be able to find you a mountain pass or two to pedal!)
Another bonus are the beautiful towns in the area. The province of South Tyrol, where most of our tour takes place, is a wonderful combination of Italian and Germanic cultures. We pass cute wooden alpine huts in green pastures and visit small towns that look like they would be perfectly situated in Switzerland or Austria. You’ll fall in love with Cortina d’Ampezzo, San Candido, and Bolzano. We even cross the border on bikes and spend part of our day in Austria visiting the bustling town of Lienz!
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Trip Favorite Moments & Reviews
“Riding through fields of wild flowers with beautiful hills and mountains surrounding us. The combination of the beauty and the fragrance can’t be captured. It can only be experienced.”Dan M.
“We can’t imagine a more enjoyable week of biking anywhere. It was simply the best of the best!”Rich and Nancy M.
- Dates: June 16 - 22, 2019
- Cost Per Person: $3,300
- Optional Single Supplement: $750
- Private Tour Minimum: 8
- Activities: Biking
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Guides: Giovanni Ramaccioni, Jeff Whitmire
Other Info: Bike Rental €25/day with e-bike option at additional charge.Book this Tour
- Excellent biking – in fact, some of the best we’ve done anywhere – mostly on paved bike paths through the mostly flat valleys, with optional, more challenging extensions
- Astounding alpine scenery with the Dolomite mountains as a dramatic backdrop
- A melting pot of cultures: Italian, Austrian and Tyrolean
- Four-star hotels and delicious Tyrolean-Italian food
We meet in Venice (doesn’t that sound romantic?) and shuttle two hours north to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy’s most famous ski town and the host of the 1956 Winter Olympics (we bike right past the ski jump, still standing). You have time for lunch while we fit the group on their bicycles, then head out for an introductory, mostly downhill ride on a combination of paved and gravel bike paths to San Vito di Cadore, another cute mountain town. There is always time to enjoy a quick Italian-style espresso for extra energy, and then you can ride your bike up to Cortina (or you can choose to ride in the van). We’ll toast to the beginning of a fun week with an aperitif, and share our first northern Italian meal tonight. If the crisp mountain air hasn't made you want to crawl under your down comforter, perhaps you'll have energy to explore the pedestrian-friendly town tonight. Biking Distance: 12 or 25 kilometers
If you have ever dreamt about cycling over a high mountain pass, today is your day! You can choose to take the “short route” up through the mountains past Lake Misurina and then back down. Our destination for either route is San Candido, a small and picturesque ski town in the valley below. We begin our ride today with a 13-kilometer climb on a bike path up the pass to Cime Bianche (white peak). As an alternative, you can ride in the van to the top of the pass, but it is nicely pitched and a good "doable" challenge for most, so we’ll encourage you to do it! From the top, it is almost all downhill through conifer forests and past alpine lakes, with mountain views to the left and right. En route you’ll have the opportunity to stop for lunch, visit a beautiful forested cemetery (this area was the stage for many battles in WWI) and catch a quick glimpse of the famous Tres Cime (“three peaks” that are distinctively shaped) right from the trail. Biking Distance: 34 or 38 kilometers
Today’s destination? Austria! San Candido is only about eight kilometers from the border and we’ll quickly make our way on the Drava River bike path, following the river downstream through the town of Abfaltersbach and then to the medieval town of Lienz, Austria, to enjoy a typical Austrian mountain town for lunch. You can choose to ride the path back all or part of the way back to San Candido, or hop on a local train with your bike. Tonight’s dinner at the hotel is a multi-course affair with an amazing variety of dishes. Biking Distance: 41, 44, 68 or 90 kilometers
Today we head west on the “Ciclabile della Pusteria” bike path. We start out heading slightly uphill through the valley, with beautiful alpine meadows and mountain views on either side, to the town of Dobbiaco, where you can visit Latteria Tre Cime Mondolatte, a local cheese factory. Our lunch stop is in the town of Brunico. Here the grade changes from ascent to descent with a long pull down into Bressanone following the river. En route you can stop off to discover the Loden wool museum, Varenna Lake, and Novacella Abbey. Bressanone is the cultural center of the valley, a typical half Italian – half Austrian town with a beautiful old center worth wandering about. Tonight we have an Austrian-style buffet for dinner, and an excellent list of local wines from which to choose. Biking Distance: 37, 61 and 83 kilometers
Today’s ride parallels the Isarco River, with views of fruit orchards and many vineyards on the slopes of the valley. This is a mostly flat ride on a bike path through a steep-walled canyon that opens up into the main agricultural valley of the region, and we follow the river all the way to Bolzano, the capital and largest city of the province of South Tyrol. The “Rosengarten” – one of the most well-known mountains in the Dolomites – can be seen glowing pink at sunset from the old town center and is something to behold. This afternoon and evening is free to do as you like. We recommend a visit to the small and fascinating Ötzi museum (Ötzi is the famous ice man frozen in death over 5000 years ago and found in the nearby mountains) and the cute Bozner Brewery. There are dozens of great restaurants to choose from for dinner tonight. Biking Distance: 44, 59 or 69 kilometers
We’ll ride on the Via Claudia Augusta road, a Roman Imperial way that has been converted to a bike path. We are heading northwest from Bolzano up another gradual scenic valley and straight towards the heart of another group of high mountains. Our lunchtime destination is one of the most beautiful towns in the region, Merano, with its stunning historic center, spas, and nearby wineries where you’ll have the option to stop and taste the local vino. If you get back from your ride early, you can visit the tasting rooms of local wineries, or take the cable car up to San Genesio for a view of the peaks and the entire valley spread out below. We return to Bolzano for our final evening meal, a fancy farewell dinner at our hotel. Biking Distance: 33 or 75 kilometers
Our final morning ride is a beautiful out-and-back on the bike path along the river and through the main Adige valley, an enormous fruit- and wine-producing region. Once we get to the sleepy town of Bronzòlo we’ll grab an espresso, turn around and pedal back to the hotel, arriving in time for a shower before checking out. You are then free to catch a train to your next destination, possibly back to Venice or to the major airports in nearby Milan or Innsbruck. Biking Distance: 27 kilometersBook this Tour
NIGHT 1 >> HOTEL CORTINA / CORTINA D'AMPEZZO
This beautiful alpine-style hotel is in the historic center of town, and the friendly staff will treat you like the special guest you are.
NIGHTS 2 & 3 >> HOTEL VILLA STEFANIA / SAN CANDIDO (AKA INNICHEN)
You’ll love this elegant hotel and its sweeping gardens, mountain views, and delicious multi-course dinners they serve us each night.
NIGHT 4 >> HOTEL GOLDENER ADLER / BRESSANONE (AKA BRIXEN)
Built about 500 years ago, this was the city's first hotel in Brixen. Of course, this four-star property has been adapted to modern times, and what we love most is its position on the Eisack River Promenade at the entry to the old town.
NIGHTS 5 & 6 >> HOTEL PARK LAURIN / BOLZANO (AKA BOZEN)
A gorgeous 100-year old hotel that is just a two-minute walk in either direction to the main piazza of town or the train station. The hotel has amazing gardens, a heated swimming pool, an impressive art nouveau ambience and an elegant restaurant.Book this Tour
Arrival & Departure
We meet in Venice, Italy on the first morning of the trip and shuttle north to our tour area in the Dolomites. We finish the tour in Bolzano with a short walk to the rail station, which has good connections to Innsbruck (2 hours), Milan (3.5 hours) or back to Venice (3.5 hours). We will provide more information on transportation in the Pre-Departure Packet.
- Our local guide joins at least one other Zephyr guide, with a third guide added if necessary.
- Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
- All of your dinners (except one free night in Bolzano) and breakfasts are included. Gratuity for these meals is also included. We leave lunches open so that you have time to explore and enjoy the local flavors en route.
- All your transportation is included once you meet your guide on the first day.
- NOT INCLUDED Bike rental, beverages, desserts, one dinner, lunches, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses and travel to and from the destination.
The majority of the paths we’ll be on are paved trails separate from car traffic, but there are a few gravel sections and very limited sections where we will be sharing with cars.
It’s all about the adventure! (It’s even in our name) We wouldn’t want to disappoint by providing a guide with you the entire way, holding your hand. We will provide detailed route directions before each day’s ride as well as have GPS units available. Our guides will be available in case anything comes up but you won’t need to worry about staying with the pack or keeping up with faster riders.
We have available for rent very nice 27-speed touring bicycles that are suitable for the road conditions we encounter on this trip. You have your choice of drop down or upright handlebars and standard or SPD pedals. You can also rent a road bike or an e-bike for an extra charge. Bicycle rentals come with a front handlebar or rear bag and a lock but you must bring your own helmet.
Changes to Your Itinerary
While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We will attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.
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