Bike tourism is on the rise across Europe, as a growing number of tourists opt for active, eco-friendly ways to explore the countryside. Italy, with its picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and deep reservoir of history and culture, is ideally suited for two-wheeled sightseeing.
Whether you go solo or book with a tour operator, cycling adventures allow you to choose your own pace and relax in the knowledge that you’ll be burning off that delicious food on a daily basis! Italy’s cycling routes offer something for every type of cyclist — from road and race cyclists, to mountain bikers, to easygoing ebike explorers.
Here are five of the best cycling routes Italy has to offer.
Area 24: Short, sweet, and stunning
The area 24 cycling route takes you along an old rail line that follows an easy 15 miles of epic Ligurian coastline. Exploring this route can make you feel like you’re driving in a glamorous car commercial, except you’re on a bike with the ocean breeze flowing through your hair. You may recognize the stunning coastal landscapes as backdrops for countless movies. Want to rack up more miles? From here you can easily connect to many other inland cycling routes or explore off-road options fit for mountain biking aficionados.
Destra Po: 130,000 acres of untamed splendour
At 77 miles, Destra Po is one of the longest cycling routes in Italy. Cyclists follow the Po River from the Renaissance town of Ferrara to the river delta on the Adriatic Sea. The Po Delta Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the few remaining wild areas in Europe. The route remains flat the entire way (perfect for beginners). Discover a fascinating example of how large urban populations can coexist in harmony with abundant biodiversity.
Tuscany: On two wheels
Let’s be honest, the only bad way to take in the Tuscan landscapes would be with a paper bag over your head. But a Tuscany bike tour on the Ciclovia dell’Arno is near the top of any list. This bike path follows the Arno river from its source near the village of Stia all the way to its mouth on the Tyrrhenian coast. It’s great for beginners or those travelling with kids, as the entire route gently slopes downhill for 136 miles. The Ciclovia dell’Arno will take you through Tuscan landscapes, quaint villages, Apennine mountains and pristine nature reserves. You’ll even take a quick spin through Florence, where you’ll visit a swimming pool, a lake and mini-golf course.
The Dolomites: camera-friendly cycling
Explore 40 miles of gorgeous mountain vistas and charming villages as you wind your way through Italy’s Dolomite mountains. Don’t worry about being in peak shape; when your legs get tired, just climb aboard the Bike’n’Bus service. Highlights of the Dolomites bike route include the village of Pieve di Cadore, birthplace of famed painter Titian, and the chic resort town of Cortina d'Ampezzo, site of the 1956 Winter Olympics (and the 1981 James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only). Want to keep going? At Dobbiaco you can connect with the Eurovelo 7 route, which takes you to southern Italy or all the way up to Norway.
Via Francigena: Big, beautiful and brand new
At 620 miles end to end, Italy’s longest sign-posted cycling path follows a pilgrimage route from the famous St-Bernard Pass in the Italian Alps to the steps of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Via Francigena was first charted in 990 by an Archbishop of Canterbury with the awesome name of Sigeric the Serious when he travelled to Rome to receive his cloak of office from the Pope. Winding past olive groves, vineyards and hilltop towns, it’s often called the most beautiful cycling route in Italy.
Let the cycling adventures begin!
Many vacationers are becoming concerned about the environmental impact of their holiday abroad. Exploring Italy by bike is a great way to go green, get fit, and revel in the direct experience of the sights, sounds, and smells of your environment