Europe Bicycle Touring
All rights reserved ;July 2024
Last bike trip June 2024

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By David May

Cycle in the Dolomites and near Lake Garda, far northern Italy

Bike Rating: Excellent
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Nature of the rides

My experience of the Dolimite-Garda region consists of a short bike visit in 2022, a guided bicycle trip in 2024, watching and rewatching many biking videos, and 7 visits as a hiker. In my opinion, the landscapes of this area are superlative.

Dolomite/Lake Garda rides are of several types: For riders with road bikes or e-bikes, there are climbs to high passes and thrilling descents. The most famous of these is the Sella Ronda, a 51.5 kilometer ride with 4 passes and 1691 meters of ascents and descents that return you to your starting point. But there are countless others, for example the climb above Lake Garda, partially in a slot canyon, the "Strada della Forra", the Ponale route from Riva del Garda to Ledro lake with incredible lake views, the tour of the Brenta Dolomites via Madonna di Campiglio, the 2000 meter climb from Bolzano to the Passo Pennes (Penserjoch),looping through Vipitino back to Bolzano on the Brenner cycle route.

Brenta Dolomites viewed from near Madonna di Campiglio

For riders on hybrid bicycles or who do not wish to do major climbs, there are many valley rides or loops with moderate climbs. From a base in Toblach (Dobbiaco) there are 5 beautiful valley rides (Pusterina, Sexten, Drau, Gsies, and to Cortina di Ampezzo); the descent from Nauders, Austria or Gluns (Gloreza) to Merano or Bolsano; or the Caldaro loop from Bolzano (a 160 meter climb); and at but not least the bicycle loop in the high meadows of the Alpe di Siuzi (Seiser Alm) National Park (easy climbs of 300 meters) accessible from Kastelruth or Seis by cable car (no automobiles unless overnighting there).

View from the hiking/biking path in the Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)

How to Cycle it

If you are doing a self-organized trip, access to biking locations is by car or by train from the Munich, Innsbruck, Verona, or Venice airports. Many locations have bike rentals. One company has a network of rental stations, such that you can rent in one location and return in another.

Very many bike tours are available for this region. Guided tours, that transfer you and your bicycle among locations and provide transport in inclimate weather, have the additional advantage of being able to use safe downhill bike paths and routes without need for the climbs. Some guided tours also provide cultural explanations and experiences. In 2024, after many years of self-organized bike trips, I took a guided VBT Dolomite-Garda tour in 2024, and the routes, bicycles, biking, and hotels were all excellent.

Self-Guided tours take care of the organization of meals and lodging, and in many cases, rent bicycles. Compared to guided tours they much less expensive, particularly if organized by a European company acting directly.

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